Posts Tagged ‘cloud computing providers’

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.

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

The Cloud and its Continuum of Availability -PART 1

One of the major benefits of  cloud computing is availability and that availability comes in a continuum that ranges from high availability to high resilient, warm failover, failover and recoverable, with many nuances in-between.   This continuum of availability enables clouds to fulfill  application and business needs at many different price points.

High Availability for Mission-critical Apps

High availability is used for 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 communication replicates the data in near real-time.  That is, data from the first system immediately updates the second system.  The second system mirrors the first and is ready to go into operation if the first system fails for any reason.

Asynchronous communications sends data from the first system to the second, where it waits in queue until the second system is free to accept it.  Again, the business need determines which communications method is better.

High Resiliency for Continuous Uptime

High resiliency is used for applications that do not require high availability.  In a highly resilient environment, automatic systems detect the failure of a system component—whether it is a server, a full blade or the VM software—to quickly shift to an alternate component to keep the application running in the current site.

Warm failover and failover are used for less critical applications.  In warm failover, a second site stands ready to be activated and made current as quickly as possible.  In failover, a second site is brought up using a previous copy of the primary site.  Usually the copy is from the previous day, but it can be old depending on the business need.

Recovery for Back-up.

Recovery represents the other end of the continuum.  Recovery is used as a back-up to a production system already in the cloud or as a back-up 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 available, 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 importance of your applications to your business and devise the appropriate level of availability for each application you move to the cloud, along with any need for cloud resources to facilitate recovery of applications you do not move to the cloud.

How does the continuum of availability fit with your move to the cloud?

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

Multi-site Options Allay High Availability, Recovery and Interconnectivity Concerns

Organizations moving essential business applications to the cloud are often concerned that they will gain cost-efficiency and on-demand capacity but loss application availability.  Given the importance of production applications to the continuity of your businesses, those concerns are legitimate.

Fortunately, new capabilities being added to our Enterprise Cloud Services address those concerns.  Today, we are making high availability (at the 99.95 level) part of our Enterprise Cloud Services and including that commitment in our standard Service Level Agreement (SLA).  In doing so, we are going beyond the norms for the cloud computing industry.

Our high availability commitment is possible because of enhancements to our fully redundant architecture.  It now utilizes two geographically diverse production sites integrated with recovery capabilities.  These enhancements afford seamless cloud services continuity and greater availability assurances for your applications.

In addition, we have added a new option for cloud applications that do not require high availability: Managed Multi-Site Recovery.  With this option, a secondary cloud site becomes available for recovery within four hours of an outage at your primary cloud site.  That four hour recovery time objective is backed by your SLA, too.

Because more and more organizations operate in the hybrid world of cloud, co-location and managed services, we are now offering the ability to interconnect applications running on our Enterprise Cloud Services with other environments hosted in our data center(s).  This connectivity can be done within the same site or between multiple sites.  That means data from your legacy environments can be shared easily with your cloud-based applications to maximize business value.

Finally, we now provide active management for Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Active Directory and Hosted Blackberry Services to reduce your IT administration burdens and help ensure production workloads are available

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

 

Understanding the Impact of Multi-Tenancy Design Concepts

Understanding the Impact of Multi-Tenancy Design Concepts

Today we hear from Chip Childers, product architect for SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud Services and partners with our product management and product engineering teams to drive the overall solution design of the service…CM

As you evaluate different cloud providers, it is important to understand the different concepts providers can use to deploy multi-tenancy.  Different concepts facilitate—or limit—the way in which a provider can respond to changes in the service needs of clients.

General Purpose Clouds

For example, some vendors design their clouds as commodities.  They focus on providing low cost access to computing power in  homogenous environments.  This type of general purpose cloud can scale quickly and easily to support large numbers of similar users.  As they become saturated, however, you may begin to see variations in performance, as some users expand their usage and experience spikes that place constraints on all other uses.

Performance variations can affect computing power, storage and I/O or network traffic.  Most providers already have solved performance problems associated with sharing VM RAM and CPU power, and most have deployed one or more of the many solutions for storage and I/O performance issues.  Consequently, network performance is usually the first noticeable bottleneck.  While it is important to know how your provider will handle performance variations wherever they appear, it is especially important to know how network issues will be handled. 

The Concern: Network Latency

Networks experience varying levels of latency based on where the users and their data reside and how much bandwidth has been allocated each user.  The easiest solution to network issues within a cloud is to physically separate heavy users from lighter users.  This means moving the heavy user to a private cloud where resources can be adjusted to meet the requirements of peak periods, more users and new applications.   

The Answer: Scalability and SLA

To reduce your risk of incurring more costs from your cloud provider, look for an enterprise provider that has scalability at every level of the cloud—SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.  And look, too, for a provider offering a Service Level Agreement that addresses the performance requirements for the services most important to your business.  These are the attributes of an enterprise level provider with the elasticity to meet your future needs. 

 

 

 

What distinguishes an Enterprise Cloud from other clouds?

Today we hear from Nik Weidenbacher, Product Engineering at SunGardAS  – Carl M.

Most people have a general understanding of public and private clouds and the differences between the two offerings. 

When talking about Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), typically a private cloud is in a company’s data center while a public cloud is operated by a provider and shared by multiple companies.  That is a good start, but neither definition explains what an Enterprise Cloud is.

An Enterprise Cloud offers a virtualized, multi-tenant infrastructure that can provide many of the same benefits as running a private cloud for your company, without requiring the same up-front investment.  Unlike most public clouds, an Enterprise Cloud also lets you control many of the resources and policies you are used to controlling, such as IP addresses, network layout, network transport (in addition to internet), and monitoring and backup policies.  In addition, all VMs can be protected by an enterprise-class firewall. 

Most public clouds require you to provide your own firewall protection, as well as determine how to secure your data on disk and as it traverses the network. Most also provide a “self-service” portal that lets you configure your own server with OS, RAM, etc., run your own programs and make everything work yourselves. These features are good for companies that have high-level technical people and want to save money on computing power. 

For companies that want to focus less on IT operations and use their high-level technical people for important business goals, an Enterprise Cloud is more appropriate. The Enterprise cloud offers management and systems monitoring services just as your own staff would. If an application hangs or crashes, the Enterprise Cloud technicians take action to restore it. They also install patches and new software releases, take back-up copies, and proactively monitor uptime, storage capacity, usage, etc.

In short, an Enterprise Cloud  provides the infrastructure and computing resources you need for today and tomorrow, along with the management and monitoring services you need to make sure your operations is up and running smoothly. Just as you leverage cloud hardware, you can leverage cloud expertise for your competitive advantage.

What advantages could you company reap with Enterprise Cloud services?

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

SunGard Launches Enterprise Cloud Services

Today SunGardAS announced the general availability of our Enterprise Cloud Services.  SunGard’s cloud platform leverages best-in-class VBlock technology from EMC®, VMware® and Cisco® to deliver high availability and security.  SunGard fully manages the multiple components of the IaaS platform, including all necessary compute, network, storage and security resources.    

We have leveraged our expertise as a managed service provider to offer a fully-managed cloud environment. Our customers do not want to trade managed services for the financial flexibility and speed of provisioning that a cloud offered.  They want both.  Now they can have it. 

Who should consider SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud?  Any business that has critical applications where 24/7/365 availability and service levels are key.  A general, public cloud works best when you need straight computing power for a particular task.  But when you have business-critical applications (if they go down, you lose money) you need a trusted partner whose expertise you can leverage, and whose core enterprise-grade cloud offering includes managed services backed by SLAs covering both the VMs and the hardware.

 Questions about SunGard’s fully managed Enterprise Cloud Services?  Click here to learn more…

Should Email Live in the Cloud?

It’s a question a lot of people are asking.  Let’s hear from Matt Carey, senior director, product marketing, at SunGard Availability Services and one of the Cloud team members on the topic. 

Should email live in the cloud?  The customers I’ve talked to say yes, and the analysts agree that email is the #1 application being evaluated for migration to the cloud. 

Fact: 71% of companies will adopt cloud

Recent research  by SunGard and IDG Research among key decision makers from mid- to large-sized companies shows 71% of respondents will be operational within the cloud over the next 18 months.  Forty-size percent already have implementations in progress, 12% will be operational within the next 6 months and the remaining 14% within 12 to 18 months.

Fact: 59 % see email as the most popular candidate for cloud

Email rated as the most likely production application to be moved to a cloud by these same respondents, followed by CRM/BI/Business Analytics and E-Commerce/Transactional applications

The drivers of this trend to migrate email to the cloud are the economics and the elasticity.  The economic appeal is obvious.  It is a labor-intense application requiring 24/7 monitoring and management.  Because the cloud is elastic, you can turn-up or turn-down the infrastructure as needs dictate, rather than always support the peak scenario.

Right for you?

Regardless of what others are doing, is moving email to the cloud right for you?  To make that decision, you need to consider a couple best practices.  First, you need to determine your existing costs associated with hosting and managing your email application, so you have a baseline for comparison. 

Next you should assess internal SLA’s related to availability and uptime.  Does your IT staff or current provider have the skill set and management infrastructure in place to ensure the application is resilient and available to meet company’s needs?  Don’t forget to include your disaster recovery, back-up and storage requirements, too.

Still not sure if moving a production application like email to the cloud is the right thing to do?  Consider a Cloud Assessment from a third-party who can assess your environment to determine which specific applications are good candidates to migrate to a cloud environment.  Just make sure they have the ability to also manage the migration process.

 Will email be your company’s first application to move to the cloud?