Posts Tagged ‘Cloud computing white paper’

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.

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.”

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…