Posts Tagged ‘Cloud computing resource’

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.

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?

Scalability Requires People and Services, Not Just Technology

Scalability is one of the most attractive features of the cloud.  It lets you meet demand-based business requirements, whether those demands are the results of ads, business growth, seasonal activity or economic cycles.

However, scalability is more than just provisioning more technology and/or increasing a data center footprint.  Scaling horizontally to add hardware is the easy part.  Data centers have been doing it for years, first as managed service offerings and now as enterprise caliber cloud offerings. 

However, the ability to scale vertically is one of the most attractive features of an Enterprise Cloud.  As your business grows, it also becomes more complex, and an Enterprise Cloud offers not just the infrastructure but also the service offerings you need, such as advanced data management services, enhanced security services and multi-site integration to support the complexity of your business.

Storage Tiering Services

As your data grows to multiple terabytes, you need storage tiering to deliver the right scaling costs at the right performance levels.  Tiered storage, where different classes of storage are defined and  available depending on the storage tier/data requirement, allows for the matching of performance and costs to the specific data-set and application(s). 

Enhanced Security Services

Similarly, as your technology footprint grows, you need additional security services beyond the standard firewall, VPN and related security access.  Examples include host-based intrusion prevention, log management/analytics and, in many cases, security information event management (SIEM).  Additional monitoring/reporting tools that report on capacity, performance and health are needed to make informed decisions across the application(s) architecture. 

Multi-site Integration

In addition, since everything is not likely to be in the cloud, you need the ability to inter-connect your Cloud environment to collocated or other managed environments as well as SaaS or self-hosted application infrastructure. This version of the hybrid cloud will continue to build in demand and necessity as more enterprises embrace the various delivery mechanisms, including SaaS, Managed Services, Cloud, Colocation, etc.  Finally, the Enterprise Cloud gives you access to the technical specialists and experts that can help you manage the new challenges.

When you think about scaling your business, recognize that three components—technology, services and people—are needed to scale it.  The Enterprise Cloud makes all those components available as you need them.

Will your data grow beyond your current data center practices  in 2012?

Learn more about SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud Services.

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.”


Five Considerations When Evaluating Cloud Computing Architectures

An excellent starting point for an organization looking at cloud computing platforms is to examine its IT architecture.  Only by aligning the architecture – compute, network, data center, power and storage resources – with applications can a company be on the path to achieve the reliability and performance it requires within a cloud environment.

In cloud computing, true protection is an outcome of the right architecture for the right application.  Organizations need to fully understand their individual application requirements and, if using a cloud platform, the corresponding cloud architecture.  With that knowledge, they can make informed decisions about what cloud platform best meets the reliability and performance requirements of their specific applications.”

Here are five considerations for companies looking at cloud computing architectures.  

Availability.  Not all applications are created equal, nor are all cloud platforms the same.  Organizations need to tier their applications, identifying which applications need to be highly available, which can accept downtime and how much downtime is acceptable.  They need to understand the business risk associated with a lack of availability of their data.  For those applications that need to be highly available, businesses should consider enterprise-class technologies that have been rigorously tested versus looking at building something internally. It’s also important to look at multi-site solutions and disaster recovery/business continuity planning.  For most businesses, this means working with a service provider or consultant because they usually have access to greater levels of expertise and provide these services as their core business.

Security.  Security is still the primary concern for businesses regarding the cloud.  Concerns include the loss of control of their sensitive data, the risks associated with a multi-tenant environment, and how to address standards and compliance.  Organizations need to know how a shared, multi-tenant environment is segmented to prevent customer overlap.  How is the solution architected and is the service provider’s cloud infrastructure – network, virtualization and storage platforms – secure?  

Manageability.  Businesses need to understand what they are accountable for versus what they expect from a service provider.  Most public cloud vendors do not provide administrative support.  Organizations need to either have the technical expertise in-house to design the right solution or seek the services of an outside provider.  There should be an understanding of what level of management their applications require and have an identified change management process.  

Performance.  As with a more traditional hosting model, it’s important to understand workload demands on the infrastructure.  Companies also need to understand what the bottlenecks are and how the cloud architecture they have or are evaluating can meet those needs. Organizations should perform their own testing to understand how a cloud environment affects compute, storage and network resources.

Compliance. Organizations need to understand where their data will reside as well as who will interact with it and how.  They need to understand which areas of compliance the service provider controls and how to audit against the standards and regulations to which they need to adhere.

Building Cloud-friendly Applications

Today we hear from  Sarabjeet Chugh, Director of Technology Business Development (Cloud Services and Infrastructure)

Cloud adoption is progressing rapidly.  Many companies are in the process of determining their migration strategy, and most vendors are refining their processes to provide a smoother on-ramp to the cloud. 

Now that cloud is a reality, we need to think about how application development has to evolve to fit the cloud.  The application life cycle is broken.  Programmers write code, run tests and “throw it over the wall” to Operations, where technicians then struggle to accommodate the resource requirements of the application.

Old Code is Often Slow Code

Applications heavy from poorly structured code that requires multi-gigabytes of memory and have a huge storage footprint can run in the cloud, but the expense will become obvious.  Further, such applications offer few options and little flexibility to mitigate expenses. 

New Technologies Improve

A cloud-friendly application is one that can be deployed on any platform, locally or in the cloud.  To achieve such an application, new application development frameworks, such as SpringSource from VMware, have emerged that help to tease out the application’s business logic from underlying resource requirements. They also improve developer productivity by providing supplementary web services, message routing, authentication and application-level services, such as memory caching and contingency handling.

By insulating the infrastructure-dependent components and permitting them to be resolved in the production environment, the application can be more portable, reusable and maintainable.   For example, a cloud-friendly application could run in your data center but failover to SunGard if an incident occurs.  Similarly, server images could be transmitted to SunGard and brought up with full affinity and metadata information.

Does your company have standards for writing portable code?

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

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.”

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…