cloud

7 criteria for choosing an IaaS provider

Choosing the right cloud partner is crucial for software developers. A reliable infrastructure provider can successfully run a data center, provide around-the-clock IT support and create dependable disaster recovery plans. What’s the best way to choose an IaaS provider? Here are 7 questions to consider when making a decision:

cloud gears

Shutterstock/Sashkin 1

Does the IaaS provider have a robust infrastructure? Look for a fully managed IaaS cloud solution running in an enterprise-class data center with secure, reliable cloud services to support and deliver hosted software solutions.

What are the revenue opportunities? Ask what opportunities exist to generate additional revenue with services that create annuity income, including disaster recovery, application monitoring and service desk offerings.

Does the solution follow industry best practices? Accept only a best-practices approach based on ITIL v3 standards; the provider should have 24x7x365 monitoring and management in place, as well as highly automated processes with a wide range of sophisticated software tools, all combined with real-world experience working with software companies to deliver hosted solutions.

What type of flexibility is offered? Explore the cloud solution provider’s ability to deliver flexible capacity to accommodate fluctuations in customers’ production workloads as well as on-demand capacity for training, demonstration, proof-of-concept or test/development.

Is the approach customizable? Look for a consultative approach to architecting a cloud solution tailored to the software solution’s requirements rather than being just another cookie-cutter cloud offering. Alternatives such as legacy operating systems, hybrid solutions and managed appliances should be offered.

What are the SLAs? Examine the provider’s service level agreements. There should be a designated service level manager overseeing stringent SLAs backed by stiff financial penalties to ensure target resolution times – not just target response times – are met.

Is the solution industry recognized? Choose a provider with a proven, industry-recognized solution that has earned certifications and awards and that fares well in comparative rankings.

Moving to cloud won’t solve on-premise organizational issues

Getting ready to move your operations to the cloud? Make sure your on-premise environment is efficient first, or you’ll just drag those inefficiencies with you to the cloud.

Graphitx /Bigstockphoto.com

Graphitx /Bigstockphoto.com

At Logicalis, we strongly recommend our clients perform remediation of their systems before making the jump to the cloud, to eliminate these inefficiencies and ensure a smoother move to off-premises systems.

We typically see remediation having the most impact on these systems:

  1. Virtualization: Remediation of virtual environments is directly related to remediation of management abilities through the development and execution of ITIL best practices as part of an IT service management (ITSM) strategy.  Research shows that a typical IT environment is only about 50% virtualized. That clearly leaves the other 50% to be virtualized. The ROI and other benefits of extending virtualization are well established.  But companies also need to rationalize the systems they have already virtualized. It is common to see organizations with 100 physical servers that have been transformed into 200 or more virtual servers.  Because virtual machines have the same support, security and compliance issues that physical machines do, the cost of server sprawl can be significant.
  2. Blade Servers: Throughout the data center, blade technology has initiated change. Blades are modular, need fewer cables, require less floor space, use less power, require less cooling and can be managed by integrated management tools. These and other dramatic efficiencies have enabled the blade form factor to take the data center by storm.  Additionally, an investment in the blade chassis is protected over time because additional blades can always be added.
  3. Converged Storage: Rather than buying more storage than is needed “just to be sure,” as many IT departments do, CIOs need to carefully select a specific storage solution that meets the company’s current needs, yet leaves future options open.  Converged storage area networks (SANs) for virtual server farms, for example, allow IT pros to assign virtual storage and provide high availability with commands from the hypervisor environment the way they manage virtual servers. It’s important, however, to keep an eye on where storage is headed.  Recent advancements in flash and direct-attached storage may soon provide services that were traditionally only supported through a SAN.

Next steps: Take a quiz to gauge your organization’s readiness for the cloud, or complete our cloud readiness assessment for a more detailed look at your systems.

4 steps to boost confidence in the cloud

It seems like everyone is moving to the cloud in some form, but with recent large-scale data breaches and the NSA revelations still fresh in most people’s minds, not everyone is confident that they should puttheir data in the cloud. We put together 4 steps that can help you (or your CEO) feel more comfortable storing data and running applications in the cloud.

1. Identify the right strategy. The key to confidence on the road to cloud computing starts with developing the right plan. Consult with a cloud expert who can help you develop a proven cloud strategy, avoid compliance issues, determine how to best balance your capital expenses and operational expenses for the best ROI, examine where automation fits into your plan, and build a rock-solid service model that fits your company’s needs and budget.

Melpomene / bigstockphoto.com

Melpomene / bigstockphoto.com

2. Assess what you already have. A comprehensive assessment of any IT environment begins by identifying what’s in it. There are off-the-shelf tools available to collect data on everything in an organization’s IT environment. For example, there are tools that inventory every device in the physical environment, others that examine a virtual environment and others that look at the application layer. No single tool is going to be enough. CIOs need to determine more than just how many devices they have; they also need to understand where the systems are under or over-utilized as well as the dependencies of the various workloads.  A detailed assessment will identify what resources are being used effectively as well as where there are inefficiencies associated with server sprawl.  Inefficiently used servers – virtualized or not – still waste time and money.

3. Examine and assess current conditions. During an initial cloud assessment, the IT team should also examine the condition of the data center facilities where the virtual infrastructures live: Are they energy efficient, are they overheating, are they overcrowded?

“I met with an IT director recently whose data center was jammed full of devices, only half of which were turned on,” says Kevin Gruneisen, Senior Director of Cloud and Data Center Solutions, Logicalis US.  “When I asked him how he knew what systems he actually needed, he said, ‘I turn it off, and, if someone screams, I know I need it, and I turn it back on.’ A detailed assessment of your IT environment in preparation for a move to the cloud can provide the data you need to progress from a reactive to a proactive approach to IT management. Instead of having to guess if an asset is needed or not, you will know.”

4. Update BC/DR Plans. The status of disaster recovery and business continuity is another area of uncertainty in many IT environments. Most IT departments have a BC/DR plan, but too many haven’t updated it on a regular basis. They dutifully send their tapes off to a storage facility and think they are protected. A review of the availability requirements for mission-critical data can be a startling eye opener. Having to send a team of technicians to the tape storage provider to download their raw data and return with a trunk full of tapes that still need to be uploaded, may not, in fact, be possible within an acceptable recovery window.  As part of this step, be sure to re-evaluate available DR services.  Advances like DRaaS with high availability replication can recover data and have the company up and running in hours instead of days…or longer. Thinking about disaster recovery, as a result, has become a whole lot easier for those IT directors who are willing to evaluate their risk of downtime and consider new ways of protecting their data.

New research highlights the benefits of cloud-based BI solutions

As the business intelligence (BI) market reaches $13 billion, IT leaders searching for new solutions are increasingly choosing cloud-based tools to analyze their operations. For good reason, too—BI solutions with their roots in the cloud consistently receive higher satisfaction scores and often cost less to implement when everything is said and done.

Kikkerdirk/Bigstock

Kikkerdirk/Bigstock

Consider this research:

  • 54% of IT leaders would choose a cloud-based BI solution for a new environment, against just 14% who would prefer on-premise
  • 80% of those who choose cloud BI are satisfied with their service, versus only 51% who are satisfied with their on-premise solution
  • Cloud has a definite speed advantage: 83% of respondents say they can implement cloud BI faster, against only 4% for on-premise
  • Cloud also has a cost edge, with 68% of cloud BI implementations coming in at or below expected costs, while 54% of on-premise solutions met their cost expectations (this means nearly half of on-premise implementations exceeded cost estimates!)
  • 44% said on-premise requires more user training, vs just 5% who think cloud needs more training for employees to learn
  • On-premise solutions also lag behind in frequency of use, with 51% saying that cloud BI is accessed more often by more employees, against just 18% for on-premise
  • Predictably, literally 0 respondents said on-premise was better for mobile accessibility

Do you have any experiences that make you for or against cloud BI? Tell us about it below.

Cloud security still a top concern for CIOs

A new Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) membership study shows that even though cloud adoption is rapidly growing, security concerns are the top factor limiting the use of it entirely. This is likely due to the lack of proper standardizations. Organizations need to understand the full security measures of their cloud service provider and how they impact their organization.

Melpomene/Bigstockphoto.com

Melpomene/Bigstockphoto.com

These worries about security are likely based on recent events, such as data breaches, data loss, account hijacking, unmanaged APIs, shared technologies in one cloud and lack of security processes with the large volumes of data. Overall, 67% of respondents said that security is a limiting factor in their cloud plans, although this is down from 80% in 2012, reflecting a growing trust in the cloud. Worries about reliability are down as well, with only 36% of respondents expressing concern, down 8% from 2012. However, more CIOs are concerned about regulatory issues (56%) and vendor lock-in (46%), both of which are up from 2012.

Is security a major challenge for your organization when using the cloud?

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