Posts Tagged ‘managed services’

A Cloud Success Story

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

The hype about cloud service models is overwhelming — so much information has been published and still companies are unsure how to take advantage of this delivery option. Rather than run down a list of benefits, the best and simplest way to show the capabilities and positive gains of cloud computing is to take a look at a real-world cloud scenario involving remote backup.

Situation:
This international provider of payment processing solutions services approximately 3,500 financial institutions across six different continents. But with a limited internal IT department, the business found it harder and harder to meet the increasing IT demands of their financial institution customers.

Critical Issue:  
As a financial services provider, the business is required to maintain strict data protection standards for the backup and recovery of user information. Unfortunately, the business was faced with severe data management growing pains as a result of corporate-driven expansion. And because of the critical, confidential nature of the data, the business needed to do something fast to accommodate growth trends and regulatory compliance.

Reasons:
Increased IT demands negatively impacted current processes by straining already overloaded resources, plus compromising data security and the ability to fully meet regulatory compliance. Specifically, the company needed to streamline remote server backup activities and simplify the data recovery process in order to alleviate the pressure placed on IT and satisfy industry regulations. Spiraling out-of-control IT costs were also an issue.

Capabilities Provided:
Consonus employed a cloud-based solution that encompassed a more centralized structure; a fully automated approach to accommodate growth, meet industry compliance standards, and ease the burden on IT.  Consonus Remote Backup Service™ (RBS™) was the ideal solution to address all of the company’s requirements.

Results:
Consonus RBS is an alternative to traditional backup methods, replacing conventional solutions with a fully-automated cloud option. As a result, the company experienced immediate benefits that included:

  • 77%  cost reduction in backup and recovery contracts
  • A projected savings of $450K on IT expenses over the next three years
  • Scalability and flexibility that adapts to the fluctuating needs of the business
  • Secure information that is protected to the highest industry standards at a Consonus SAS70 Type II audited data center
  • Improved performance and optimized efficiency
  • Decreased strain on internal IT department and existing IT assets
  • Full control over all data

This cloud implementation has proven to be so reliable and cost-effective that the company became one of the first channel partners to join with Consonus in providing RBS to their own financial customers. Now the company’s IT department can focus on core strengths and revenue-generating activities as the business continues to thrive and meet future data management demands.

UNCC SaaS Conference: A Recap

Monday, April 12th, 2010

The second annual SaaS Conference, held last week on the UNC Charlotte campus, was not as well-attended as last year, but it did provide great insight into emerging trends in the SaaS sector as well as cloud computing in general. 

While IT old-timers contend that SaaS is merely the new name for the Application Service Provider (ASP) model of the ‘90s and therefore nothing new, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a firm new home for SaaS within the cloud computing framework, giving it the credibility that ASP never had. 

Gartner, one of the presenters at the event, has been tracking trends and issues in the SaaS sector for nearly a decade and indicated this week that SaaS is more mature than the more recent phenomenon of cloud computing, however both are certainly here to stay.  Gartner also stated that it’s currently unclear whether cloud computing will follow the same trends as SaaS, but SaaS is definitely a healthy and growing business model.  With respect to reduced ROIs, Gartner presented some surprising findings related to the length of time required to deploy SaaS solutions in larger enterprise environments as a result of training and integration delays.

Other topics included a presentation by Womble Carlyle from Sandridge & Rice regarding legal risk and concepts when utilizing third party SaaS providers.  Discussions also focused on hidden costs, management overhead, and operational and security risks.  In addition, some information was presented regarding which cloud service model (IaaS, PaaS, or private) is the most appropriate methodology for various SaaS deployments

Thanks to the UNC-Charlotte College of Computing and Informatics for brining the developers, presenters, practitioners, and service providers together for this informative event.

Daniel S. Milburn, CISSP
SVP, COO of Hosting & Infrastructure Services

Change: The Case for IT Outsourcing

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

I remember the days when desktop computers were still a novelty and anyone who could print in a typeface other than Courier 10 called themselves a desktop publisher.  Local area networks were only discussed in big companies with now nostalgic terms like Token Ring and ArcNet.  Most business owners never thought about IT as long as they got their financial reports – on paper.  And small business systems might go down for as much as a day, producing only mild annoyance.

Now 25 years later, nearly every person in America has at least one personal computer, a mobile device, two dozen user IDs, Internet connected home entertainment systems, and a strong sense of paranoia that someone somewhere is using their personal credit card number to buy a brand new car!

Today, the business owner has to worry about their Internet “presence”, confidentiality of employee and customer data, a bewildering array of data storage environments, operating systems, email applications, and security devices. Minutes of down time can cost companies their reputation, old and new customers, and real dollars.  And there is no “Off” switch.

The ability for small businesses to staff and train people with network, storage, application, operating system, and data security skills is nearly impossible – especially since most won’t know whether they have technically proficient people or people who merely think they are technically proficient.

Unless you are big enough to hire experts in all the necessary areas, or lucky enough to stumble upon someone who can recognize such talent, many existing small businesses (and most new businesses of any size), are looking to push all those service level requirements out to providers that have the scale, expertise, and proven track records to guarantee success.  Let the service provider take the 2AM phone call!

Fortunately, there is a wide variety of managed services available to the small business or mid-size company that provide the opportunity to push the complexity, capital investment, and service level attainment to a third party service provider for a simple monthly fee.  For example, there are many IT issues surrounding file and email archiving. A significant amount of know-how is required to archive data efficiently and securely.  Additionally, a large number of companies don’t even know their backups aren’t working correctly until they try to recover something or experience litigation. Not fun.

No matter what IT strategy you pursue, one thing is clear:  “do-it- yourself” is great for new hinges and lighting fixtures, but is very risky when it comes to business critical applications and IT infrastructures.

The IT landscape is forever changing. To better accommodate these advancements, it’s imperative for a business to develop an adaptable strategy that accommodates change.  IT outsourcing just makes good business sense. It can effectively save time and money, allowing you to concentrate on growing your business.

Leave IT to the experts so you can better prepare yourself for change the future is sure to bring.

Daniel S. Milburn, CISSP
SVP, COO of Hosting & Infrastructure Services

Groundhog Day in Data Protection Land?

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Did anyone else catch the irony? Symantec’s recent announcement on the general availability of NetBackup™ 7, the next major release of their flagship data protection suite, landed squarely on Groundhog Day 2010. One of my personal favorite holidays and movies notwithstanding, the timing invoked Bill-Murray-like groans of “Here we go again!” to many of those tasked with managing data protection applications in their respective organizations.

Another Upgrade?
It seems only yesterday that many of us were just putting the specter of the NetBackup 5.x to 6.x upgrade behind us, with its significant changes in the underlying code base as well as the migration of catalogs from flat file to a new RDBMS structure. We finally just figured out new features and performance tunings after a number of maintenance patches (OK bug fixes) and finally got our arms around the true power and exceptional capabilities of the release somewhere in version 6.5.

Now version 7 looms like that mythical rock that we get to push up the mountain one more time. But when we actually are brave enough to poke our head out of the burrow this time, we will rejoice in the fact that this new release casts a much different, and more attractive, shadow than we’ve seen in the past.

Data Protection at its Best
Symantec has capitalized on their new structural platform introduced in v6 to move forward and integrate five products into one: NetBackup, Puredisk, Realtime (Continuous Data Protection), NOM (Network Operations Manager), and VBR (Veritas Backup Reporter).

What this really means for IT organizations is the ability to address most of today’s key data protection challenges, which I prioritize as:

  1. Using integrated data de-duplication to help with protecting the relentless juggernaut that is data growth
  2. Utilizing integrated replication in support of the ever-increased blurring of data protection and disaster recovery
  3. Employing advanced data protection techniques for virtualized environments
  4. Improving visibility into and management of the expanding data protection ecosphere
  5. Support for the advance of new environments needing protection, including Windows 7 and Exchange 2010

But as promising as this seems on the surface, what do the tea-leaves portent around ease-of-adoption? Symantec reports that 200 customers participated in beta testing with a 96% “recommend adopting” result. In addition, some 500 real world customers participated in the “first availability” phase—the most ever. Symantec claims to have doubled the number of system tests including a 24% increase of test case scenarios over their very successful 6.5.4 release.

NetBackup 7 promises to be one of the best “dot-oh” releases from Symantec/Veritas. More promising is the feature rich set of options now fully integrated that solve real world business challenges presented to IT Operations teams. Moreover, any managed services or solution provider worth its salt is already prepared to help transition customers forward. With 7.1 release already visible on the roadmap, it is very worthy of our attention now, fully anticipating we will be smiling, for sure, come Independence Day.

Steve Bulmer
Chief Technology Officer