Archive for January, 2011

Guest Post: Jim Dunlap on Cycle30’s SunGard Cloud Solution

We recently asked Jim Dunlap, President of Cycle30 and one of the first customers using Sungard’s Enterprise Cloud Services, for his thoughts about SunGard’s Cloud.  Here’s what he had to say.

1.  Last year, Cycle30 adopted a cloud computing solution.  What do you see as the  key business benefits of cloud computing?

“Cloud computing allows us to evolve our application platform as rapidly as our business needs dictate.  Provisioning a virtual machine does not require the detailed planning it once did because we can always scale resources up or down later.  

A second benefit is the ability to support a heterogeneous environment on the same hardware. We run a mix of Linux and Microsoft virtual machines and they happily coexist on shared cloud resources.  The third big benefit is availability.  SunGard’s cloud shields us from underlying physical hardware failures, because our virtual machines migrate across hardware hosts transparently to the end users.”

2.  Just as it was when managed services emerged 10 years ago, security is a big consideration for businesses considering moving to the cloud.  Was this a concern for Cycle30 and how were you assured?

Security is a big concern for Cycle30 and our customers.  However, SunGard’s cloud offers unique flexibility in provisioning resources and that allows us to leverage our corporate security systems.  We can present and protect the cloud resources as if they were inside our security perimeter.  A similar approach is possible when incorporating cloud resources into high availability and disaster recovery planning.”

3.  Time to market was important to Cycle30 – how did utilizing a cloud environment help you address your timing goal?

“Cycle30 use a mix of Sungard’s cloud and our own private cloud, also hosted on Sungard’s infrastructure.  We built our own cloud, which involved careful planning, procurement and installation.  While that was in process, we started using Sungard’s cloud.  With very little overhead or ceremony, we rapidly spun up development and test environments on Sungard’s cloud, safe in knowing we could transition those resources to our own hardware later.

Now that our own cloud is firmly in place, utilizing SunGard’s cloud resources has become even easier. We can now decide almost on a machine by machine basis where new resources should be created.   This gives us unprecedented reaction times to new business requirements, while also permitting migrations between the environments to constantly optimize our service and cost levels.”

 

What CFOs Need to Know about Cloud Computing

Cloud team member Janel Ryan touches on what CFOs need to know about cloud computing…CM 

Today’s business environment requires CFOs to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.  Considering cloud computing, a CFO will likely hear a lot of hype, but the most important thing to consider in a cloud solution is “which business problems do I want to solve?”  Consider these:

Maximize Cost Efficiencies

From a cost saving perspective, cloud computing can preserve capital, turning a large, upfront CapEx into an OpEx.  Cost savings stem from providing a “pay as you go” model. 

Strategy

Cloud computing is not one-size-fits-all.  As you review your business needs and priorities, understand some applications will be a better fit for cloud.  The low barrier to entry in terms of capital outlay can make it possible for you to reach new customers across the globe.  Further, new customers can come online faster because resources are readily available and scalable. 

Improve Time-to-Market 

The scalability of cloud computing allows for shorter development cycles.  It lets your development team speed the time-to-market.  The resources they need can be made available with little more than an “I need X amount of computer power” request.  That means temporary resources needed for proof-of-concept projects or new product development can move forward without capital investment. 

Accommodate Unpredictable Demand  

Retail and financial business in particular are subject to boom times and quiet times in their business cycles.  Cloud lets you expand and contract IT resources in sync with those cycles.

 Your specific business priorities dictate what you need in a cloud, along with such considerations as data sensitivity, security levels, and compliance requirements. Only by keeping your priorities in mind can you cut through the hype and make sure your cloud provider offers the capabilities that matter most to your company’s success.

Two Hidden Advantages of the Cloud

It’s easy to point to the cost savings, elasticity and productivity improvements as advantages major reasons to move to the cloud.  But there are other, less obvious advantages that should not be overlooked.  Given the speed of change in today’s business environment, the following two advantages may well be the one that lets you leap ahead of the competition.

Application Selection

First, with cloud computing your business units have the flexibility to select applications that suit their needs most closely, rather than be constrained to applications that fit your IT department’s current stack.  Adding a different platform, database type or technical skill to your cloud is much simpler for a cloud vendor than an IT department that, most likely, must secure hardware and people to support an errant application. This frees the business unit to make better product and profitability decisions.

More and Sooner Product Productivity

Second, the elasticity of a cloud is usually thought of in terms of the ability to accommodate an application during a peak time, but that elasticity also applies to new products and workflow improvements.  IT costs are one of the major expenses that constrain new products.  Many new products require larger, upfront IT investments that greatly lengthen the time before a product hits the “break-even” point and profitability. 

What if you could cut a few months, or a few quarters, out of that equation by more closely aligning the IT costs with the revenue growth of product?  How many more product ideas would be profitable under that scenario?  How many more workflow applications could win approval if their cost of implementation aligned more closely with the productivity improvements they render? 

 A Better Business Model

In the long run, cloud computing changes the business model for evaluating products, services and workflows, which means “life beyond the cloud” offers values over and above the immediate cost savings, elasticity and productivity improvements of moving to a cloud. 

 What new products or applications would your company introduce if IT costs aligned more closely with projected profits or improvements?