Posts Tagged ‘private cloud computing’

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.

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.

DocuSign Bolsters Global Network Infrastructure with SunGard Hosting and Managed Network Services

When you support large financial companies, your data center gets audited. Period. It used to be that clients demanded the audit themselves. Now, with the passage of Sarbanes Oxley in 2002, the U.S. government requires audits on a regular basis. Every 3-party IT vendor for a financial company undergoes the same audit that the client undergoes for its in-house environment. It’s the law.

Another layer of regulations come into play if a 3-party IT-vendor handles records that contain electronic signatures, whether emails, contracts or faxes. Something called “SSAE 16 Type II” went into effect on June 15th of this year. It requires certain tested solutions have to be in place for the network, and practices, policies and procedures across the whole data center have to meet certain standards.

So, what if you’re DocuSign, the global leader in electronic signature technology for the financial industry, and you expect business to grow rapidly? A cloud infrastructure would be perfect to support that growth—technology ready when you need it without upfront costs. What’s not to love?

The catch is the cloud vendor has to meet the same 3-party IT-vendor regulations that DocuSign and DocuSign’s financial customers have to meet. None of this “it’s the customer’s responsibility to…” nonsense. DocuSign is not about to risk their 100% record for passing audits with their Fortune 500 clients or their 99.99% availability record.

Only an Enterprise Cloud with Internet and private fiber networks with managed network services and multi-location facilities that meet SSAE 16 Type II requirements can provide the security and stability they need.

And now you know why we at SunGard are so proud that DocuSign has signed with us.

Which of your applications could fit into an Enterprise Cloud?

Learn more about SunGard’s Enterprise Cloud Services

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

 

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.

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.”

Guest Post: Jim Dunlap on Cycle30′s SunGard Cloud Solution

We recently asked Jim Dunlap, President of Cycle30 and one of the first customers using Sungard’s Enterprise Cloud Services, for his thoughts about SunGard’s Cloud.  Here’s what he had to say.

1.  Last year, Cycle30 adopted a cloud computing solution.  What do you see as the  key business benefits of cloud computing?

“Cloud computing allows us to evolve our application platform as rapidly as our business needs dictate.  Provisioning a virtual machine does not require the detailed planning it once did because we can always scale resources up or down later.  

A second benefit is the ability to support a heterogeneous environment on the same hardware. We run a mix of Linux and Microsoft virtual machines and they happily coexist on shared cloud resources.  The third big benefit is availability.  SunGard’s cloud shields us from underlying physical hardware failures, because our virtual machines migrate across hardware hosts transparently to the end users.”

2.  Just as it was when managed services emerged 10 years ago, security is a big consideration for businesses considering moving to the cloud.  Was this a concern for Cycle30 and how were you assured?

Security is a big concern for Cycle30 and our customers.  However, SunGard’s cloud offers unique flexibility in provisioning resources and that allows us to leverage our corporate security systems.  We can present and protect the cloud resources as if they were inside our security perimeter.  A similar approach is possible when incorporating cloud resources into high availability and disaster recovery planning.”

3.  Time to market was important to Cycle30 – how did utilizing a cloud environment help you address your timing goal?

“Cycle30 use a mix of Sungard’s cloud and our own private cloud, also hosted on Sungard’s infrastructure.  We built our own cloud, which involved careful planning, procurement and installation.  While that was in process, we started using Sungard’s cloud.  With very little overhead or ceremony, we rapidly spun up development and test environments on Sungard’s cloud, safe in knowing we could transition those resources to our own hardware later.

Now that our own cloud is firmly in place, utilizing SunGard’s cloud resources has become even easier. We can now decide almost on a machine by machine basis where new resources should be created.   This gives us unprecedented reaction times to new business requirements, while also permitting migrations between the environments to constantly optimize our service and cost levels.”

 

Can Cloud Computing Improve Your Security?

Cloud Security continues to dominiate the cloud conversation.  I asked Nik Weidenbacher, director of product engineering for cloud computing to give us his thoughts on cloud improving security.  Nik and his team are responsible for designing, building and testing the infrastructure for SunGard’s Cloud Computing Service…CM

Can Cloud Computing Improve Your Security?

Obviously, the answer is “it depends.”  How good is your security now?  A number of factors play into that question.

Security in a Data Center

If your technology runs in a traditional data center and you move to a cloud where the same technology is used, security is quite similar.  Essentially, you’ve been using virtual local area networks (VLANs) to separate your departments, and now your cloud provider use that same technology to separate your departments and to separate other tenants from you. 

Security in a cloud

If your company doesn’t use a technology like VMware to run multiple operating systems within VLANs, than the security landscape changes significantly.  A physical switch connecting the network to one machine in your data center is now replaced by software switches connected to multiple machines and managed by a “hypervisor.” 

Just as you secured that physical switch in your data center, the cloud technician must secure the software switches and the hypervisor to control who can/cannot access it, and they also need to adding invasion protection software to thwart unauthorized outside access. 

Then they have to consider security maintenance.  Are patches being received, evaluated and placed operation on a timely basis?   Clouds have lots of moving parts and, since it is the weakest link that is most vulnerable, you have to think about security everywhere all the time. 

Security gains

Ultimately, the most important security question is “who’s running your cloud.”  Many companies can’t afford all the software and technical skill it takes to manage a highly-secured data center, so they aren’t doing it.  A cloud provider can share that cost among many companies to not only provide a more secure environment but also to pay constant attention to it.  Similarly, where PCI-DSS certification for credit card transaction may be an on-going project in a company, the cloud provider may already have that security in place. 

What additional security measures could your organization gain with the right cloud provider?