Posts Tagged ‘Cloud computing comparison’

Considerations for Choosing a Cloud Provider

For many organizations, cloud computing is cost-effective for at least some applications.  Determining which applications are appropriate for the cloud takes careful evaluation.  The following checklist covers some of the factors you need to consider before selecting a cloud computing provider:

  1. Does the cloud you are considering meet your business availability needs?  What information can the provider give about historical and recent cloud availability?  What investment has the provider made in resilience and high availability?
  2. What service level agreements does the provider offer?  What compensation is available if the service is lost?
  3. Do you need the cloud provider to comply with certain regulatory requirements?  Where will your data reside, and is that location acceptable?  Does data archiving meet your regulatory requirements?
  4. o the cloud services meet and exceed your IT and data security policies, or do they fall short?  Will it be in a private or public cloud?  Will it be in a secure data center?
  5. Where is the data actually stored and who has access to the data?  What happens to the data when production tasks are completed?  How are archives accessed?  How is the data finally destroyed?
  6. What will costs be tomorrow?  What are your baseline costs?  Agility, flexibility, and strategy are part of the future costs, but you need a baseline for comparison.  How is the agreement structured?  Can the provider change the cost of the service to you?  If so, how much notice is required?
  7. How viable is the cloud provider?  It is important to select a provider with sufficient resources and services to provide the high levels of availability, resiliency, and security your business requires.  Is cloud computing part of the provider’s core business, or is it a new venture that could fail if it does not attract and retain sufficient customers?  Does the cloud offer multiple, highly resilient data centers with very strong network links between them?

In a business environment where information availability is critical, it makes sense to proceed cautiously, using a deliberate and systematic approach to mitigate risk.  A sensible first step is to testing a cloud provider with a non-critical process.  This lets you gain hands-on experience without risking major problems with day-to-day operations.

Does your organization have a business impact analysis (BIA) that audit all your business processes and defines the availability, resiliency and security each needs?

For more information, visit our Cloud microsite

Seven Ways Enterprise Cloud is Transforming the IT Market – Part II

In Part I, we recapped four of seven roles cloud computing plays today or will play in the near future, as discussed by Indu Kodukula, CTO of SunGard Availability Services, in an interview with Sramana Mitra  for Mitra’s  blog series,  “Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing.”  Here we complete the discussion with the final three roles Kodukula foresees.    – CM

Cloud as CPU and Storage Provider

We are also going to see independent computing components available on demand.  That is, compute on demand, storage on demand and, hopefully soon, network on demand.   Most likely, a relatively small number of providers will exist, and mid-size companies will use such services.  This means their investment in infrastructure is definitely going to go down.

Enterprise Cloud as Services Provider for SaaS

SaaS  vendors who run their cloud application on a commodity cloud will need more sophisticated capabilities for load balancing, monitoring, availability capabilities, etc., as the size and complexity of their businesses grow.  We have a great deal of intellectual property in our services that other providers do not have.  We see a time when SaaS vendors might manage their cloud applications on top of SunGard’s services in a commodity cloud.

That scenario would let SaaS vendors take advantage of both enterprise-grade cloud and the economies of a commodity cloud, if we do not happen to offer the lowest priced infrastructure.   As a result, we could end up with many customers who use our services as part of an SaaS application without our being the cloud provider and, possibly, without the commodity cloud vender knowing—or caring.

Enterprise Cloud as Services Provider to Commodity Clouds

We see down the road that some commodity clouds will buy services from us to use with their clients.   Just like SaaS vendors, as their size and complexity grows, they, too, may need the enterprise-class production services as their businesses grow.

In fact, one company using a commodity cloud has already arranged for recovery services to be delivered from our data center.   Their application is set-up to replicate over to us, because of the sophisticated intellectual property we have in our availability services.

Similarly, one can easily see the entire recovery process—the setup of the replication on an ongoing basis, the migration of the application and the failover of the application—going from, say, Amazon over to our data center.  Or, perhaps, all those availability services will be provided on Amazon’s infrastructure from someone like us—which would open up a price point that could be lower than what we offer today.

To summarize, the cloud is going to transform the industry.  Some people think that is hype, but it is not for  one simple reason: the utility model of cloud computing is amazingly compelling.  It is not just about cost.  The fundamental value of the utility model is you can tie the investment success to the business success.   Beyond that, the cloud lets you combine the applications, the resource management services and the infrastructure in ways that not only minimize costs but also raise the level of expertise available to you.

What applications would you move to a production-ready cloud to lower costs and decrease distractions?

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

Seven Ways Enterprise Cloud is Transforming the IT Market – Part I

As part of his blog series, “Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing,”  Sramana Mitra recently interviewed Indu Kodukula, CTO of SunGard Availability Services, about the many roles he sees cloud computing fulfilling today and in the future.   Today, we recap four of the cloud computing roles they discussed.  In our next blog, we’ll recap three more roles cloud competing could play in the future.    – CM

For nearly 30 years, SunGard Availability Services focused on two specific businesses: disaster recovery (DR)—helping clients recover their applications after a service disruption,  and managed services—running production applications on behalf of our clients.   Today, we have over 10,000 clients, mostly mid-sized companies between $100 million to $1billion in annual revenues.  We have 50 data centers, over 3500 employees and $1.5B in annual revenues, and we have expanded our services to include the cloud computing environment our clients need—enterprise-level and  production-ready.

Our businesses give us a unique perspective on the IT requirements of mid-sized companies.  When cloud computing emerged in 2009, we recognized the opportunity immediately.  But, because of our background and market, we saw the best uses for cloud computing  quite differently.

Cloud as Development Environment.

The first use cases of cloud computing revolved around SaaS software companies making use of the pay-as-you-go pricing model for cloud computing.  This model enabled software companies  to buy  resources as needed, which is a tremendous advantage over laying out a huge CapEx (capital expenditures) upfront—before  you even know if the product is going to make money.   Today, using a commodity cloud, like Amazon, for the development and testing of new products is widely accepted.

However, among our clients, we didn’t (and still do not) see much development of entirely new software applications, so we knew a commodity cloud was not the best choice for our clients.   While we, too, see constraints around CapEx among our clients, what we see more often is overstretched IT staffs.  With this insight in mind, we took a different approach to cloud computing.   We made the decision and, subsequently, the investment to build a production-ready enterprise cloud.

Enterprise Cloud Computing.

Many mid-sized enterprises run heterogeneous environments, have special performance requirements or are in a highly regulated industry.   They want to take advantage of the cost-saving cloud computing offers, but their applications are not cloud-ready.

Further, they do not see rewriting applications in which critical business logic –logic that has developed over the last 25 or 30 years—to meet a cloud stack as a compelling business need.   Consequently, they will need a place to house that application for the foreseeable future.   We think the ability to deliver these types of applications over the Web and from the utility of the cloud model is definitely going to be the default model for delivering enterprise IT services five years from now.

The trends has already begun.  We are seeing more and more mainstream departmental applications and new applications moving to the enterprise cloud not for development but, rather, for production.   Even we at SunGard are “eating our own dog food,” so to speak, and converting our internal applications to our enterprise cloud over the next 18 months to take advantage of cloud economies.  That is a pretty compelling message to our clients.

Recovery in the Cloud

From the beginning, our DR business model encompassed a shared inventory that matched the customer’s infrastructure.  Now, by adding production-ready cloud services to our DR services, recovery becomes more about providing a “continuum of availability,” rather than recovering everything at one point when a catastrophe happens.  We call this new approach “recovery in the cloud.”  With cloud computing and DR services together, a client can decide the level of availability it wants for a particular application.   For a tier one applications, it may be no more than 15 minutes of down time; for tier two, no more than four hours; for tier three, 24 hour, and maybe for the rest, a couple days.

Our cloud services let us run tier one applications for our clients or, alternatively, provide a recovery platform where they can run the applications themselves.    These capabilities were deliberate design goals for our cloud strategy, coming directly from an understanding of client needs.

Enterprise Cloud as a Consultant

Many of our clients face challenges involving an IT staff under press to be more efficient, as well as issues around consolidation, new service roll-outs and new revenue opportunities.   We, too, have faced many of these issues and found solutions.

For example, we have significant experience with decision support and analysis using data warehousing and large-scale data volumes.  Similarly, we have production experience with many common departmental applications, and we have a great deal of knowledge about how clouds manage applications and resources.  In addition, we have specialized availability knowledge that even a Fortune 50 company would value.

We  find many of the next generation application service providers need help building applications for the cloud.   So, we are building up a team of solution architects who can sit down with entrepreneurs and help them design their applications.

Cloud application consulting is but one of the new services we expect to offer.  As the cloud environment matures, we expect to see the need for. . . (to be continued)

Are you writing your application to make the best use of cloud resources?

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

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.

Should you Negotiate your SLA?

Solutions Marketing Manager Janel Ryan discusses service level agreements today. –  Carl M

Much has been written in the few months about negotiating a better Service Level Agreement (SLA) with your cloud vendor.  Before you follow that advise, you may want to consider a few key points.

Be Realistic

First, If you are going to negotiate with your cloud provider, you have to be realistic about the performance you need and you have to be prepared to pay for those services. No vendor is going to take on more responsibility without charging more, no matter how hard you press.

Review the Architecture

Second, you’ll need to determine whether the vendor is capable of providing the service or performance level you are requesting.  Recognize that the services offered by the provider are usually governed by the cloud’s architecture and how it is implemented.  A cloud architected for inexpensive IaaS and quick provisioning may not use the most agile, efficient and self-managing software for storage, network and hypervisor.

Ask questions like, what uptime are you engineered for?  What exclusions would prevent you from obtaining an SLA remedies. Do they adhere to industry standards, like ITI for service management; ISO-9001:2008 for business processes, and  ISO 20000-1 for continuous improvement?  Do their internal procedures adhere to COBIT standards for governance?

Consider Walking Away

Finally and most importantly, if a cloud provider does not offer the SLA commitments you want and need, you are probably talking to the wrong provider.  Providers know what they do best and they know what is not in place.  If you need additional services, redundancy, a geographical distributed architecture and the vendor does not offer it, it is time to walk away.  Pushing a vendor out of his comfort zones adds more risk to an SLA, rather than adding more trust and confidence.

The clearer you are about your company’s needs for latency, redundancy, recovery, security and compliance, customer support, and technical support requirement, the easier it will be for you to select a cloud provider that can become a trusted partner.   Ask for a copy of the SLA early in your conversation with a vendor.  It could save you considerable time.

What improvements in service and support would benefit your company when it moves to a cloud?

What does an Enterprise-Class Cloud Really Mean?

One of the most critical decisions a CTO can make is selecting the cloud environment for his or her company.  It is intimidating, complicated and crucially important.  When making that decision, it helps to know the attributes of the enterprise-class cloud, the “gold standard” for cloud computing.  Here are just a few.

Fully managed and Highly Consultative

By partnering with a leading vendor, you can leverage their IT expertise to architect the high-quality operations, recovery and business continuity processes your organization needs.  Their consultative approach helps to protect you from the many vulnerabilities experienced by companies acting without expert guidance.

An enterprise-class cloud is service-rich and supports fully managed operations for both cloud-ready and non-cloud-ready applications (which require dedicated solutions).  It comes with a holistic Service Level Agreements (SLA) that covers the complete environment—from performance levels for each component to 24/7/365 support, security, production processes, problem resolution steps and required staff certifications, along with ITIL, ISO9001 and governance procedures.

Resiliency

While the vBlock that underpins most enterprise-class clouds is highly resilient and redundant, it cannot prevent a server from crashing or a power outage from occurring.  Consequently, individual vendors are responsible for overall resiliency, whether that means automating failover capabilities or establishing integrated, multi-site, disaster recovery locations.  Similarly, vendors must specifically build into their offerings the security to monitor the access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification and destruction of data by users and programs.  It will serve you well to question potential vendors diligently about their resiliency capabilities.

Different Expectations for Different Use Cases
Different use cases require different levels of quality (reliability, up time, security, etc).  Once you define the requirements for your application, you can determine the price-performance trade offs your company can afford to make.  For example, a commodity cloud (like Amazon) offers:

  • Unlimited capacity,
  • Quick provisioning (turns on fast; shuts off fast.  Swipe your credit care and run your job),
  • Low cost and lots of control (e.g., root access and API-level access) and self-service.

However, the trade-offs include:

  • A weaker security infrastructure,
  • Little, if any, technical support (i.e.,  no consultation on set-up or phone support), and
  • No backup or disaster recovery plan except the one you devise and request.

Use cases for Amazon might include a test site or support for a start-up company that needs a cheap development environment with a high degree of control.

By contrast, an enterprise-class cloud (like SunGard’s) offers:

  • Consulting to assess and deploy applications wisely,
  • High-quality security, uptime and compliance,
  • High levels of customer support,
  • A service-rich environment,
  • Fully managed operating system and VMware for  provisioning, and
  • Architecture with built-in resiliency.

The trade-off for the enterprise cloud is that more time is required to move to the cloud.  Use cases include production environments that need security and compliance capabilities.

Not all clouds are created equal.  It pays to ask questions about every aspect of the cloud environment, carefully identify your company’s needs and match them to the capabilities of the vendor and make sure your SLA spells out the service levels you expect.

Does your company have service level requirements for your data center?

Download SunGard’s white paper,All clouds are not created equal.”


ZL Technologies Transforms Business Model with SunGard Cloud

ZL Technologies Transforms Business Model with SunGard Cloud

For the last 12 years, ZL Technologies, Inc. (ZL) has provided large-scale record-management services to top global institutions in the finance industry.  They are specialists in records management, archiving and e-discovery solutions.

ZL’s business has a number of unique characteristics.  For example, firms frequently need to search masses of historical emails for specific information for litigation.  Databases quickly grow as institutions generate more electronic data each day and regulations specify how long records are kept.  Regulatory requirements for security and governance are tight, and regular audits of IT-vendor processes are required.

To grow their business, ZL developed Unified Archive®, a new SaaS offering that leverages the cloud.  The cloud enables ZL to grow their business, as well as meet unpredictable customer demand, without the need to build and staff new, costly IT infrastructure.

ZL selected SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud Services, configured as an on-demand, fully managed, virtual private data center, to support its Unified Archive application.  This IaaS set-up provides multiple layers of protection, including redundant firewalls, segregated Layer 2 networking and integrated virtual private network (VPN) connectivity—all critical requirements for ZL.  Under SunGard’s managed services agreement, we will monitor, patch, backup, maintain and troubleshoot to reduce ZL’s provisioning and administrative burdens.

Stephen Chan, ZL’s co-founder, termed our Enterprise Cloud services “a highly secure and resilient platform, based on IT security best practices, and architected for compliance.”  He said we are helping them “break a major price barrier,” which will let them”reshape” the economics of their solutions.

Chen said he looked at a number of competing solutions, but found SunGard’s to be the best fit for making their SaaS business model work. Also, flexible and elastic pricing, which turns IT infrastructure into an operating expenditure rather than a capital expenditure, were essential.

ZL is a great example of how a company can transform their business using the cloud.  We welcome them as a new client.

Does your company have special regulatory and security needs that could benefit from SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud offering?

Visit SunGard’s Cloud Computing Microsite for videos, case studies and a host of cloud computing information.

Unified Archive is a registered trademark of ZL Technologies

 

New Measurements for Cloud ROI

Even though Cloud may be a relatively new phenomenon for your company, you can still begin to measure your return on investment (ROI) if not in real numbe, at least in the ways it is changing your organization.  Here are a few examples.

New Opportunities

More new opportunities become viable.  First and foremost, the IT investment to support a new product is greatly reduced.  IT resources can flex with a project—robust during development, then reduced, then scaled up as a product takes off.  From a business plan perspective, this means the  Number-of-Sales-to-Breakeven  is lower, and the  Time-To-Breakeven is sooner. 

Better Planning

Likewise, lower IT costs mean your Pricing Structure can have more flexibility and/or better margins.  Because the IT resources to support each new sale is a known cost—rather than a “best we can tell” allocation of blanket IT costs—Profitability-Projections are more reliable.  Finally, no Point-of-Diminishing-Returns exists where IT  hardware and staff are max-ed out and a CapEx infusion is needed for future sales. 

Faster Start-up

The time between approval of a project and the start of work is shorter.  Provisioning the resources takes less time.  No more waiting for a purchase order to go through before the servers can be delivered, installed, configured and integrated.  As sales escalate, the elastic and flexible cloud environment provides the needed support in perfect step with your product’s success.

A Cost Transformation 

Long after you have garnered cost reduction from the move to the cloud, you will benefit from the way cloud computing aligns IT costs with revenues.  Consequently, more business plans can meet your criteria as viable product opportunities.

What previous business ideas would pass profitability requirement in your company if you used cloud computing?

 Download SunGard’s white paper, All clouds are not created equal.”

Are you Ready for Cloud?

Solutions Marketing Manager Janel Ryan discusses how to evaluate your organization’s readiness for cloud –  Carl M

As companies evaluate cloud computing as part of an overall business delivery model, deciding which applications are candidates to move to cloud and which need to remain in legacy environments is part of the planning process.  Identifying business requirements up front creates the right basis for planning cloud projects, timelines, and resources.

The demand for consulting services designed around cloud readiness is being driven by customers looking for solutions that can get cloud technologies and legacy technologies – dedicated hosting or on-premise – to work together.

Discovery Phase

A cloud readiness assessment can be viewed as a series of stages.  During the Discovery phase, a thorough examination of your current IT infrastructure gathers details about your business systems, their usage, performance, capacity, and application interdependencies, etc.  Due to the complexity of IT environments and numerous IT demands, many large companies may not have a complete documentation or understanding of all their application environments.  Most companies use a consultant during the assessment process because the specific expertise needed for this type of evaluation is not something an IT department normally has available to spare.

Analysis Phase

During the Analysis phase, you and the consultant review the data on each application and confirm its continued need, use and importance with users. You also need to confirm access, performance, security, compliance and other special requirements for each application.  From there, you can discern and compile the infrastructure requirements.

Validation Phase

In the Validation phase the initial findings are laid out and you determine a strategic vision for using cloud computing.  You and the consultant explore different scenarios and options, and you determine which applications are ready to deploy, which could be ready if security, compliance and other requirements can be met by a vendor and which cannot be moved for whatever reason.  Your consultant should be able to articulate how various vendors deliver their technology and should identify those vendors that could potentially meet your needs.

Migration Planning Phase

Based on your strategic vision, you select your vendor and proceed to the Migration Planning phase.  Here you lay out a plan for preparing migrating, testing and moving to live production for each application.  You also set critical requirements for security, storage, performance, etc. along with the timeline for accomplishing each move. 

Some companies take longer than others to plan and execute their moves to cloud computing.  Regardless of the time it takes, the more meticulously you perform these four tasks, the more smoothly your migrations will go and the better your cloud computing experience will be. 

 Download SunGard’s white paper, “All clouds are not created equal.”

What’s in a Private Cloud?

Today we hear from Gregory Smith, Senior Product Architect, Cloud Computing

Many companies have a virtualized infrastructure, but in reality, a virtualized data center is not the same as a private cloud. Most virtualized data centers lack the automation and processes to manage them as private clouds.

In the ‘90s when Fortune 500 companies implemented VMware’s virtual infrastructures, their equipment became more efficient and cost-effective, but because most companies kept the same practices, policies, procedures and methods in place, IT’s ability to respond to user needs did not change much. 

For example, provisioning did not get simplified or faster. For most it still involves a string of people to purchase the hardware, deliver the hardware, lay down the company image, create the user account, update the asset management system, obtain the login information and load the appropriate software (a list of applications that may or may not exist on paper).

Even when they added VCloud Director or VCenter Orchestrator, IT added them on top of the environment to track the current policies more exactly. Nothing streamlined or improved the procedures and processes. 

A private cloud offered by a trusted vendor is designed from the ground up to support the most efficient processes for the user in addition to the most efficient use of resources. A private cloud contains intelligent software for requesting resources and having those resources allocated rapidly. It also should come with a service level agreement (SLA) that specifies a certain level of availability and/or performance, with penalties for default. Few companies have this type of guarantee or recourse.

A private cloud also comes with actual prices (i.e., chargebacks) for services. This enables a company to see the exact cost of resources used by a particular business unit, not just estimated costs based on a formula or a cost model that must be revamped every year as hardware depreciates and is refreshed and expanded.

Could a Fortune 500 company bring in the expertise to build request, allocation, and chargeback software; revamp its procedures, and run as efficiently as a private cloud? Yes, but virtually no CFO would foot the bill for that upgrade. Especially when he or she could leverage the investment a cloud provider has already made—and save costs while he does it.