Archive for the ‘Cloud Computing’ Category

Effective Cloud disaster recovery

December 12, 2011

As the cloud gains steam and expands, disaster recovery has become more effective. Creative ideas involving replication have evolved as it pertains to recovery solutions for disasters.  Not always inexpensive, the best solutions provide almost instant recovery times.

Continuous data protection (CDP) using virtual machines for data replication in the cloud is probably the most reliable solution to date.

(For the purposes of this discussion, bandwidth is plentiful and security procedures have been established.)

There are two very good solutions for CDP disaster recovery on virtual machines:

1. Pure cloud  

This solution is straight forward. If you’re running your applications purely on the cloud, with nothing local, then the managed service provider (MSP) can be responsible for disaster recovery. If the primary cloud site fails, a secondary cloud site will take over with a “flick of the switch” of duplicate data and virtual machines running the applications. After recent outages at Amazon’s AWS, MSPs are ensuring they have more reliable disaster recovery solutions.

2. Replication to virtual machines from local systems

This solution works well for companies that want their data on the premises, as well as in the cloud. There are a few steps:

a.   Service provider installs an on-premise device that replicates all local data.

b.   On-premise system replicates with virtual machines in the cloud.

c.   In the event of an on-premise disaster, the “switch is flipped,” and the virtual machines in the cloud take over.

Cloud software capable of replication include CommVault Continuous Data Replicator, EMC Atmos and the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP). IBM, AppAssure, Iron Mountain, and Simply Continuous also provide these disaster recovery cloud services.

Remember, these solutions must be clearly identified in any service-level agreement (SLA) with the MSP. A key element will be the recovery time objectives (RTO). How long can the system be down before the business is impacted?  There are some key areas you want to make sure are covered, and that you fully understand, to make sure they meet your business needs and that no surprises come up should disaster strike.

1. Read the Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Read and understand the SLA being offered by your cloud service provider. Understand what constitutes a disaster, ask questions and walk through scenarios to be sure you fully understand what constitutes a disaster and the specifics around a DR event. Who declares a disaster, what processes and technologies are in place to minimize the impact to customers, and how long will it take to restore service. If a few hours of downtime seems like an eternity, and if your business cannot survive it, a cloud service may not be right for you.

2. Recovery Point Objective

The word disaster implies that bad things have happened, and when it comes to an IT service, that usually implies data loss. Make sure you understand the recovery point objective of the service so you know just how much data loss is possible in the event disaster strikes.

3. Recovery Time Objective

Communicate to all stakeholders the time that has been agreed to in your Service Level agreement for recovering from the disaster.  Make sure that all stakeholders have agreed to the recovery time before signing up with the cloud service.

Cloud computing can be a time saver…..

April 12, 2011

Businesses and organizations of all sizes and orientation are undergoing a massive shift in how they acquire IT services and solutions. Today, provisioning new applications and services can be a complex design and integration exercise, with the business itself having to bear the risk and burden of the deployment. More and more, CIOs are looking for simplified approaches like Cloud services and managed services relationships that enable them to focus on their core business.

On average the typical IT department spends 70% of its budget on maintaining its existing infrastructure and only 30% on innovation to generate a competitive advantage for the business. The biggest challenge CIOs face is the need to react much faster to business demands and to get ahead of the curve toward using IT as a competitive differentiator.

While cloud computing adoption has been swift among startups and small-to-midsize businesses with little or no legacy IT operations, larger enterprises have been slower to adopt cloud-related services. Selecting the right providers and services is a gamble when products, pricing and performance change daily. Also, companies that have large capital investments in custom software or infrastructure can find it difficult to make a case for scrapping it all. Then there are the issues of integration, standardization, security and control.

But when the time is right, the cloud can be the way to grow, no matter the size of the enterprise. Not only can software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS) be fast and relatively cheap enablers of corporate growth, they can enable IT groups to serve the expanding enterprise more strategically. The cloud allows IT organizations to focus its efforts on improvement and innovation.

 

How to make sense of messy data? Google refine is an excellent solution….

March 2, 2011

Do you want to make sense of messy data? Google refine may prove to be the right tool!

It allows for cleaning up messy data, transforming it from one format into another, extending it with web services, and linking it to databases like Freebase or MySQL to name a few. Another great feature of this tool is of course the “no cost feature.”

 

A Move to the Cloud will actually benefit cyber security protection

February 7, 2011

A recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies observed the fact that the use of cloud computing technology could actually benefit national cyber security and data protection practices.   The study, by Network World reports, explains how actual cloud computing can actually “aggregate and automate” cyber security, because it takes data protection responsibilities away from customers and businesses and gives them to service providers, which are generally more capable of dealing with cyber threats.

“The move to the cloud is not a silver bullet that will solve all cyber security problems, but it is part of a larger move to a more mature infrastructure that includes the automation of security practices and monitoring,” the report goes on to state

It goes on to say that security practices will be further enhanced if government agencies can find a way to work more effectively with cloud service providers.

Both cloud computing and Cyber security are expected to play larger roles in government in 2011. In December, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo to federal agencies urging them to adopt a “cloud-first approach” to IT solutions.

Server Virtualization will be the common trend for 2011

January 5, 2011

The adoption of server virtualization, otherwise know as the “Private Cloud,” started years ago, but we will definitely see it become more of a common trend in 2011 as companies look to drastically improve efficiency and availability of IT resources. The trend of having one server/one application is going away, making way for the adoption of virtualization technique that runs multiple operating systems/applications on a single hardware. With this technology in place, costs can be reduced 50 – 70% with respect to hardware and IT administration.

Benefits of virtualization include:

  1. Multiple operating systems/applications on a single system
  2. Improved utilization of power and hardware while reducing server administration costs
  3. Higher availability and improved performance of enterprise applications
  4. Business continuity through improved disaster recovery and higher availability in the data centre
  5. Improved enterprise desktop management and control

The virtualization market includes server virtualization infrastructure, hosted virtual desktops and server virtualization management. VMware, Microsoft and Citrix are the leading providers in server the virtualization infrastructure market. The server virtualization management market is currently wide open with more than 100 vendors supplying products that meet some of the requirements in the management stack. The big four management software vendors are BMC Software, CA, HP and IBM/Tivoli.  On the other hand, the hosted virtual desktop market is quite crowded and full of opportunities

Corporate America heading “To the Cloud”….as they say…with Skytap

January 4, 2011

Skytap, the leading provider of self-service cloud automation solutions, just announced an oversubscribed $10 million Series C round of funding led by OpenView Venture Partners with participation from existing investors Ignition Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Washington Research Foundation. The investment will be used to scale sales and marketing, and accelerate innovation of the company’s flagship cloud automation platform. Scott Maxwell, senior managing director of OpenView Venture Partners, will join Skytap’s board of directors.

Since its launch in 2006, Skytap has broadened its portfolio of cloud solutions and built a comprehensive cloud automation platform. Based on the breadth of its offerings and rapid customer adoption, Skytap has experienced both usage growth and year over year revenue growth of more than 300 percent.

Along with this funding and the company’s rapidly growing customer roster, Skytap has received numerous accolades based on the superiority of its cloud automation technology. Recent awards include: SD Times 100, Red Herring 100, AlwaysOn OnDemand Top 100, SearchCloudComputing Top 10 Cloud Computing Startups and the 2010 Best of VMworld finalist.

Skytap has built one of the strongest partner networks in the cloud industry enabling Fortune 1000 enterprise customers and government and defense agencies to accelerate their transition to the cloud. Earlier this year, Skytap was selected by Google as a cloud partner for the Google Apps Marketplace launch, and global IT leader CSC selected Skytap to power its prestigious CloudLab offering.

My question to Microsoft (re a new competion with Google)

October 28, 2010

Microsoft–once again–finds itself at a crossroads with the departure of its Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie.

In his memorandum/post today, Ozzie predicts a “Post-PC” world where Cloud Computing and Continuous Services will drive the marketplace.

The question is will Microsoft be able to transform quickly enough to compete with Google?