Archive for November, 2011

How Managed Multi-Site Availability Changes the Cloud

As traditional on-premise computing and data storage moves to the cloud, many companies have questions about data outages.  What happens when the cloud experiences an outage?

It is unlikely that an entire cloud data center will go down, but it is not impossible, as Amazon’s recent outage in Dublin showed.  Fortunately, companies can look to managed multisite availability to provide a higher level of service to keep the customer environment up and running, even in the event of an entire site disaster.

The phrase “managed multi-site availability” essentially defined itself.  “Managed” refers to the ability of your vendor to help re-create your information technology in the event of a natural disaster or man-made incident.  A Do-It-Yourself (DIY) service provider offers infrastructure only, while a cloud provider offering managed services has all the capabilities and processes you expect with IT, like change management, security, operations control, and the ability to resolve problems and issues.

Multi-site means your vendor has multiple sites where the cloud is available.  That means you have options and different price points for satisfying back-up and recovery requirements in line with your business requirements, from high availability to highly resilient, failover and recovery, with many nuances in-between.

In effect, multi-site capabilities means the vendor has a “continuum of availability” at your disposal.  “Availability” refers to the how accessible an application must be.  The more important an application is to your business, the higher the availability it requires.

The availability requirements for production applications are much higher than the availability requirements for a development or testing environment.  To accommodate production applications, the cloud environment is built from the ground up for production-level availability.  It is not enough to add change management, security, operations control, etc. on top of a DIY environment.

How many applications in your data center require high availability?

Learn more about SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud Services.

Are More Applications Mission-Critical Than Your Realize?

Some applications are obviously mission-critical—the website of an e-tailer or the ATM machine at a bank.  However, the criticality of some application can go unrecognized unless you do a systematic qualify of each application.

To qualify applications, check these metrics for each:

  • Recovery point objective – how much data loss is tolerable?  All of today’s data entries?  The entire database, because restoring the database is easy?
  • Recovery time objective – how long can the business go without access to the application before customer service, sales, accounting, etc., suffer?  How much data can be rebuilt and verified inside that time window—a few day’s worth, a few hour’s worth?
  • Recovery resources – what space, equipment and staffing are needed to replicate the data?  Would those resources be available if other mission-critical systems were down, too?  If not, how much

Once each application is evaluated, determine whether all the mission-critical applications can be recovered simultaneously, as would be needed with a data center incident caused by a flood, hurricane or tornado.  If the recovery requirements exceed current equipment, network and staff resources, consideration of a cloud-based recovery solution is in order.

Cloud-based recovery solutions offer access to low-cost or pay-as-you-use recovery infrastructure.  They can be provisioned on demand in the wake of failure events, with sufficient security and guaranteed performance.

Could unrecognized mission-critical application be lurking in your data center?

Visit our Cloud Solutions Center for videos, white papers and case studies about SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud Services.

SunGard Availability Services Brings Enterprise-class Availability for SAP to the Cloud

Today we are announcing the availability of cloud-based SAP ERP Services.   You will probably see the formal announcement in the blogs, trade pubs and various news services, but we thought we would be remiss if we did not give you a heads-up here.  Don’t hesitate to contact me for more info.  Thanks,           -CM

For the last 10 years, SunGard has provided SAP production support services (SAP-hosting certified since 2009), so it is only logical that we extend those services to our Enterprise Cloud.  With our Enterprise Cloud as its foundation, our SAP ERP production-ready cloud services leverage the best-in-class Vblock™ platform with the multiple layers of availability, scalable and elastic resources, and cost advantages that make cloud computing attractive.

We have been certified as a cloud service provider by SAP, and we have optimized our infrastructure for SAP ERP production.  Our services include advanced SAP monitoring and range from configuration support to application administration, patches and updates.  Because the SAP ERP services interconnect with our hosted physical environment, we can provide flexible, hybrid solutions as well.

We meet the needs of SAP ERP environments ranging from  new development environments to full multi-landscape deployments, including:

Available
Availability features range from automated fail-over of virtualized systems to managed multi-site availability with secure data replication and managed SAP recovery options.  Our Service Level Agreement (SLA) covers 99.95% VM uptime in combination with a 99.9% SAP production uptime SLA.

Compliance
As a SAP-certified cloud services provider, we provides ITILv3 framework production application services in hardened data centers audited under SSAE 16 Type II criteria and certified to the ISO 20000-1 standard.

Security
We provides a range of secure network access, performance and security options, from Internet-based virtual private networks and private carrier circuits to geographic load balancing and intrusion detection systems (IDS).

Now, new SAP ERP installations can deploy with no upfront costs, low minimums for cloud resources and predictable, predetermined costs—making this an attractive, cost-effective alternative to in-house deployment.  Likewise, existing installations can leverage the on-demand resources and predictable costs of the cloud to reduce in-house data center costs when equipment upgrades approach.

Moving to the SAP ERP production-ready cloud services lets your in-house IT experts manage their production work, rather than being consumed with the day-to-day execution details.  In short, it frees them to focus more on the company’s IT priorities and initiatives.  We can help you get there.

How much time could your IT department save with an enterprise-class SAP ERP cloud?

See a demo of the SunGard Enterprise Cloud Services here.

Will Cloud Computing Replace the In-house Data Center?

David Ayers, Senior Product Manager for SunGard Availability Services, provides insights today on the evolving role of the data center and cloud computing.   –CM

Corporate data centers are definitely changing how they are used, but co-location and managed hosting have done that for some time.  Now, cloud computing will be one more tool a company has at its disposal to manage their technology.  So, will cloud computing replace in-house data centers?  Not for the foreseeable future.

Currently, corporations are shifting to the cloud the applications that make sense, while retaining the applications that manage sensitive data, that operate smoothly with little oversight or that make financial sense for one reason or another.  Applications that require a more scalable, more elastic environment will move to the cloud, along with those that run infrequently but require capital expenditures to support.

Over time, corporations may move more applications to the cloud as their comfort level increases and as usage patterns change.  In addition, they are more likely to build new applications for the cloud to reduce capital expenditures from the beginning.

The role of the in-house data center will not diminish in importance.  Instead, it will focus more on evaluating the optimal environment for the company.  With someone else worrying about capacity planning, bandwidth, firewalls, licenses and managing a cadre of vendors, the in-house data center can focus more on the next generation of business applications.

In the end, a cloud operates at a fraction of the cost of an in-house data center and it draws in applications that can benefit from those savings.  In-house data centers will use them as tools, where they can  oversee the work rather than actually do the work.

What advantages could your company reap with enterprise cloud computing services?

Download SunGard’s white paper, The Real Value of Cloud Computing.

Recovery In the Cloud, Part 2 – What CIOs Should Ask

Recovery In the Cloud, Part 2 – What CIOs Should Ask

Ram Shanmugan, our  Senior Director of Product Management for Recovery Services, offered the important points below in an interview recently with Smart Business Philly.  –Carl M.

Evaluating cloud providers is time-consuming and can be a nerve-racing task.  You don’t do it often enough to become expert at it and sometimes its hard to separate reality from hype.  Here are a few questions that go to the crux of most CIO concerns.

  1. Does the  provider offer meaningful service level guarantees for recovery of mission-critical applications?  Can it reliably recover mission-critical applications in the wake of failure?
  2. Does it support heterogeneous computing platforms (e.g., Windows, Linux) and hybrid architectures that meet the recovery needs of the entire IT portfolio?
  3. Does the staff have hands-on disaster recovery experience?  Has it recovered from a disaster?  Does it understand the entire disaster recovery lifecycle?  Can it provide audit-ready test reports?
  4. Does it provide options for high availability, as well as less crucial applications in a heterogeneous environment?  More specifically, can this partner support a broad portfolio of Recovery Point Objectives (i.e., for each application, the amount of downtime and data loss your business can sustain after a disaster) and Recovery Time Objectives (i.e., the recovery timelines and priorities your business requires for mission-critical applications and processes).
  5. What is the range of options supported for moving data to the cloud?  Does it use monitoring and automation tools to ensure rapid and effective response to failures?
  6. Can the cloud partner handle your current and future needs?  Can it expand and contract on demand, handle sudden growth or support large amounts of application data?
  7. Can clients pay as they go?
  8. Does the provider offer multiple levels of security and service options?  If some data is too sensitive for the cloud, will the provider use a private cloud for that data but use a shared cloud for everything else?

One size does not fit all, so cloud partners should offer a range of private, hybrid and physical environments to make sure your data is secure and can be recovered after a disasters.

What combination of shared, hybrid and private cloud makes the best economic sense for your company?

Visit our Cloud Solutions Center for videos, white papers and case studies about SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud Services.

Recovery in the Cloud – Part I, CEO Decision Drivers

Ram Shanmugan, our  Senior Director of Product Management for Recovery Services, was recently interviewed by Smart Business Philly magazine.  Below are some of the important points he discussed.  We’ll have more next week.  – Carl M.

“Weathering a storm” is more than just an off-hand comment these day. The U.S. experienced eight disasters costing over $1B in the first 6-months of 2011.  Few areas of the U.S were shared the business complications caused by tornado, blizzard, wildfires and floods.

Planning for erratic weather can be tricky.  Of course, you want secure data, redundant infrastructure and business continuity processes, but balancing those needs against the needs for revenue-generating IT projects is difficult.

Fortunately, “recovery in the  cloud” offers a cost-effective, reliable option.  It lets you formulate the right availability service for your applications, from mission-critical to important but infrequently used applications.

Four elements drive the decision to move to a cloud-based recovery service:

  1. Cost savings.  The ability to fulfill recovery needs and lower costs is the most significant driver,
  2. RPO/RTO.  The Recovery point objectives (how long you can tolerate an application being down) and the recovery time objectives (how long it takes to recover the application) determine the level of resources your need to avoid serious impact to your business.
  3. Reliability. The true value of a recovery environment comes during a time of disaster, and managed cloud-based solutions offer higher reliability in recovery of mission-critical applications than do in-house solutions.
  4. Skilled Resources.  In-house recovery solutions require an investment in specialized skills to support the recovery infrastructure.  Cloud-based recovery eliminates that need.

Can your IT department recover from an outage without incurring emergency resources and costs?

Visit our Cloud Solutions Center for videos, white papers and case studies about SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud Services.

The Cloud and the Availability Continuum – PART 2

Like dedicated hosting, cloud computing has to address availability.  Continued cloud outages, and the corresponding publicity, remind us of the importance of resiliency and availability.  One of the major benefits of cloud computing is scalability and efficiency of multi-tenant infrastructure.  However, even cloud infrastructures have to run in a physical data center somewhere, bringing us back to the critical nature of infrastructure availability.

Fortunately, the same availability you are accustomed to as part of a dedicated environment can be found in cloud computing.  Availability can be viewed in a continuum that ranges from high availability to failover and recovery, with many nuances in-between.  This continuum of  availability enables clouds to fulfill enterprise application and business needs at many different price points.

Platform Resiliency for Continuous Uptime

The first area to address availability is the resiliency of the platform itself.  Businesses requiring enterprise-class infrastructure need to look under the hood to determine how the infrastructure is architected and how resiliency is addressed.  A highly resilient environment should automatically
detect and address the failure of a system component—whether it is a server, network, a full blade or the VM —to quickly shift to a redundant component in order to keep the application running in the current site.

Failover

Failover is the capability to switch to a redundant or standby computer server, system, or network upon the failure or interruption of the primary environment.  Cloud computing has allowed failover practices to become less reliant on physical hardware and therefore more
available and less costly.  Service providers vary in the type of fail-over they provide as well as the time to respond, depending on the customers’ RPO and RTO needs.

A failover, or warm failover can be used for applications that require slightly less than real-time (e.g. hours VS. seconds).  In warm failover, a second site stands ready to be activated and made current as quickly as required.  Depending on the need, the time to failover depends on the Customer’s recovery time objective.  Sometimes the options can include the secondary site begin brought on line using a previous copy of the primary site.  Usually the copy is from the previous day, but it can be older depending on the business need.

High Availability for Mission-critical Apps

High availability addresses mission-critical production systems that require immediate, continuous, 24/7 access to data.  More technically, it means data must be duplicated at another location, usually in a different geographic area.   Essentially you are renting resources at one location and identical resources at another location, so costs are higher.

The communication method used between the systems also affects availability and costs.  Synchronous near real-time communication  pdates data from the primary system immediately  to the secondary system.  The secondary system mirrors the first and is ready to go into operation if the first system fails for any reason.

Asynchronous communications is where data waits in queue until the second system is free to accept it, so by its nature is less real-time.  Again, the business need determines which communications method is better.
Recovery for Availability

Recovery represents the other end of the availability continuum.  Cloud computing is changing the disaster recovery landscape.  The scalability and
flexibility of cloud computing platforms enable higher application availability.  Recovery can be used as a back-up to a production system already in the cloud or as a recovery solution to  another data center.  Further, the back-up can be on-line, ready to operate at the cloud site (like a warm failover) or off-line at a cloud site, as done in traditional recovery scenarios, since the cloud is a cost-effective recovery site for legacy systems.

As is obvious, different applications require different levels of availability, and applications should not be shoehorned into a “one size fits all” cloud
environment.  The best cloud providers will work closely with you to understand the business requirements of your business  applications  and devise the appropriate level of availability for each application you want to move to the cloud, along with any need for cloud resources to facilitate recovery of applications you do not move to the cloud.

Click here to view the SunGard Recover2Cloud Overview