Tag Archives: Public Cloud

How will Cloud Computing Affect IT Distribution

As Cloud Computing becomes more prevalent onsite hardware sales will feel the impact. However the Cloud has manifested itself in many forms and distributors will not necessarily suffer on all fronts.

Distributors must stay relevant to solution providers as the technology landscape shifts.† The danger for distributors is that solutions providers start dealing directly with Cloud providers, and miss out the distribution middle man.

Cloud Computing is not just another fad which distributors need to slightly adjust their business model to. In the past businesses tweaked their models through charging for services they had produced for free, such as tech support.

The Cloud phenomenon is different and appears to be here to stay, leading to distributors having a bit of an identity crisis. They want to get in on the action, especially as the industry is set to become a $241 billion industry by 2020. However they are unsure where they fit into the equation.

UBM estimate that up to 38% of all IT expenditure is going to move to purchasing off-premise solutions by 2013. To meet this a third of all solution providers are aiming to change their business model within this time period.

Where distributors may not loose out so badly is within the Private Cloud space. In this market companies are buying hardware in order to produce a Cloud infrastructure behind their own corporate firewalls. IDC estimates that Private Cloud implementations will grow at an annual rate of 28.8% through to 2015.

It is the SMEs which are more likely to jump two footed into a Public Cloud solution hosted by a 3rd party provider, producing no need for a distributor. This is the market where distributors they will loose out, and could be labelled as unnecessary purchasing mechanisms.

So what about the distributors who are supplying the Cloud providers themselves? There is a harsh irony in the way that IT distributors have supplied Cloud providers in the past few years inadvertently supplying the force that hopes to steal their sales. However distributors have no choice other than to supply the future.

For distributors the future is unsure but may not be a gloomy as some would have you believe. In the past they have proven to adapt well to changes in computing. The task now is to establish a firm identity in the Cloud space. Perhaps the safe option would be to specialise in working with companies implementing Private Cloud solutions.

The Steps to a Private Cloud Implementation

[pullquote author=”Tom Bittman – VP, Gartner”]In a poll of IT managers, 75% said they would be pursuing a private cloud strategy by 2012.[/pullquote]

The majority of individuals are familiar with cloud services and what it entails. But what many people are unfamiliar with is the different types of clouds that are available. What is the difference between a Public Cloud and a Private Cloud?

The traditional cloud that most people associate virtual services with is the public cloud. It is a standardized IT service/software/infrastructure that enables the delivery of data via the internet in a pay-per-use, self service way and stored with a third party. A private cloud on the other hand, is a type of cloud computing infrastructure created by an organization, that houses a set of personal devices and federated online services that is configured and controlled by that individual company and sits behind their firewall, rather than using someone elseís infrastructure. It is essentially a means of centralizing datacenter resources. There are a few things that private clouds do; they organize and preserve personal or work information, documents, media, and communications, they deliver that information to any device or service and they orchestrate integration of personal information across digital devices and online services. So organizations that choose private are utilizing the cloud and the benefits to being virtual but also have the comfort and security of storing and handling their own data.

What really sets the private cloud apart from the public cloud?

There are two things that set a private cloud apart from the commercially used public cloud; where the hardware is kept and how it is maintained. In a public cloud your data is stored with a third party, in their data center with other organizationís data as well.

The ultimate objective of the private cloud is to allow a company to manage their own technology infrastructure.

The benefits of a private cloud are undeniable; you have direct control over all aspects of the cloudís implementation including the hardware, the networking, the operating system, the way security is implemented and even the APIs used. The cost, ease of operation and management automation, and easy scalability are all considered advantages to private cloud as well. Locality and security also set private clouds apart from the traditional public cloud. You are hosting your own cloud infrastructure on a private LAN with no connections externally, so other people cannot access your data. You still physically have possession over your own data which is comforting to a lot of organizations with highly sensitive information.

What are the steps to implementing a private cloud?

There are many steps to implementing an effective private cloud. Below is a short list of 11 key steps to deployment.

Step 1: Begin by assessing the existing infrastructure and current requirements

The key to a successful private cloud implementation is to utilize as much of the existing infrastructure as possible. If the existing internet connections, datacenters, firewalls etc can be utilized then the project costs and lead times can be significantly reduced.

Step 2: Find the best IT partner for you

In order to be successful, practice some due diligence and find an IT partner with the expertise to design and implement a private cloud. That includes the infrastructure and IT management software for shared infrastructure, shared platforms and shared software.

Step 3: Test different virtual platforms

Once you have selected your IT partner the next stage is to test the platform that best fits your business requirements and budget. For example many larger organizations choose VMWare for its scalability and resilience, whilst smaller businesses choose HyperV due to its lesser cost and ease of use.

Step 4: Choose a hardware platform

A key element, and there are many variables, Nas or SAN, Fibre Channel, SAS or SATA drives, again each one has its own strengths and weaknesses in different environments.

Step 5: Standardized and documented procedures

It is important to have standardized and documented procedures clearly outlined for operating, deploying and maintaining the cloud. Everyone will need to follow the same guidelines to ensure proper execution and smooth operation.

Step 6: Determine scale

Take note of all the systems you plan on moving over to your private cloud. You do not want to overestimate and pay for something that will go unused or underestimate and not have enough room in your datacenter for all your data.

Step 7: Plan the project and migration

Agree on timeframes, procedures and contingency. Check with existing software vendors that their applications are compatible with your chosen virtual platform.

Step 8: Supportability and compatibility check

Verify every operating system and application that your organization will be running in the cloud is supported by the environment. This means doing a system compatibility check. You want to ensure that the systems you currently use will work in the cloud environment. It is important that you verify all of your systems are compatible, not only on paper and theoretically, but also on a Proof of Concept (POC) system and a lab. This way you are able to identify any problems and find the solutions to those problems.

Step 9: Run in parallel

A great advantage of moving to a private cloud is that you can run in parallel during the migration and after the migration. If an issue is experienced you can instantly access the old physical environment.

Step 10: Ensure that your platform is resilient

There are many advantages to a centralized private cloud however as all of your eggs are in one basket it is even more important to make sure that you have hardware and software resilience in place and that you have a solid backup and recovery strategy in place.

Step 11: Update your Disaster Recovery plan

To reflect that change in your environment it is essential to update your disaster recovery plan and perform a disaster recovery test to ensure that your Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives are met.

What is one piece of advice for those considering moving to a private cloud?

For anyone who is concerned about the security of the cloud a Private Cloud is the answer. The key thing to understand is that a Private Cloud is not a new thing, it is utilizing existing technology that has been around for many years and is utilized by hundreds of thousands of organizations worldwide.

Gartner Ramps Up IT Spending Expectations

Gartner have again ramped up their IT expenditure expectations for 2011.

The analyst is now predicting a spending increase of 7.1% worldwide. This would take global IT expenditure up to $3.67 trillion. Such growth is also expected to continue into 2012 according to Gartnerís Vice President Richard Gordon.

Hardware is one area where expenditure is increasing exponentially and Gartner now envisage companies worldwide spending $419 billion within this particular sector. This is a 11.7% increase from last years $365 billion.

Particular emphasis has been placed on Public Cloud spending which is predicted to reach $89 billion this year. By 2015 this is expected to be up to $177 billion representing 5% of total IT spending worldwide.

In addition Gartner predict that companies will collectively spend $13 billion more on software this year. Additional spending on ‘Software As A Service (SAAS)’ applications is expected to grow to $20 billion by 2015.

ďAt about $10 billion, Software As A Service already accounts for 10% of enterprise applications software spending, and by 2015 this share is expected to increase to close to 15% and to exceed $20 billion in annual spending,Ē Gordon said.

One main reason for revised projections has been the realised impact of the Japanese tsunami.† Despite production in Japan being slowed overall IT expenditure has not being affected.



Can the UK become to Cloud Computing what Switzerland became to banking? (Part 1)

The current hype surrounding Cloud Computing extols the virtues of having access to your data, at anytime from anywhere. So the theory of Cloud Computing goes, it doesnít matter where your data is stored so long as you have continuous access to your applications and documents.

This view of the Public Cloud does not take into consideration some fundamental technical and cultural concerns around data security and data protection. One of the main reasons cited for not adopting the Cloud is a fear of trusting a 3rd party with your critical data.

There is no one territory or organisation who has won over the hearts and minds of Cloud users. All countries have Cloud providers, and even now despite no technical barriers to data flow via IP (Internet Protocol) across borders and continents, there is a very localised approach to Cloud services, not just in country (e.g UK to UK) but within a geographically specific region. In a recent example, a Backup Technology US customer based in Houston was adamant they wanted their data to be separated from their main hub in downtown Houston, but they did not want their data to leave Texas. Luckily we were able to provide facilities in our Dallas data centre.

How do we break this localism ? It is very difficult to shift a cultural assumption that dictates that there is a comfort level from using services that do not operate on my own shopfloor, but not enough comfort to locate those services out of state or out of country.

I believe there is an enormous opportunity for a country to take the cultural lead in Cloud Computing and establish themselves as the safe haven for data in the Cloud just as the Swiss banking industry did 300 years ago by making itself the de facto place for banking security

In the second part of this blog I will examine the interesting parallels between events that are separated by 300 years !!

Part 2: Can the UK become to Cloud Computing what Switzerland became to banking? (Part 2)

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