What a solid cloud provider should be able to do

A SunGard executive talks about how CIOs are moving down the road to infrastructure as a service

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The journey to cloud computing in Canada has been a little slower than our neighbors to the South, however, we’re well on the train now.  Generally, I would say that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) was the first stop on the journey for companies as they could more easily parcel out an application, this was easier to compartmentalize.  Next stop for those organizations that have experienced the value of leveraging Cloud services are to stay on the train, head to the next stop and embrace Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).

A big driver is around agility – being able to respond to the needs of the business quicker. Another one is avoidance of risk, but some companies don’t necessarily look at it that way. Finally, a lot of companies see the value not having to acquire hardware again and welcome this with open arms. There are so many resources that get freed up by avoiding a hardware refresh, which tend to be larger capital expenditures. With the cloud, it’s all operating expenditures, and more importantly well-defined and controlled operating expenditure. But you are avoiding risk too, because when you’re upgrading hardware infrastructure and there is a migration or transition involved, there is a risk which may result in downtime. Working with a cloud provider is a way to move that risk away from themselves. Ultimately, they want to get out of the business of managing and procuring hardware; they would rather focus on the application layer that directly impacts the business.

A lot of customers don’t have an effective business continuity plan. They may not even have an effective high-availability design within their data centre. That’s why the cloud makes sense; immediately they move onto a highly available platform, that with solid cloud providers is backed by contractual SLA(s). If you talk to an IT department today and ask them what their service levels are for a given application or pool of infrastructure, a lot of them would probably be challenged to give you a number. I don’t think they’ll express it in terms of an availability percentage. With the right cloud provider they’ll have a much better level of availability than they had on their own floor.

From a disaster recovery perspective, most cloud providers offer that option to layer in geographic resiliency to handle disaster scenarios and make that much easier to execute for the customer. A big part of the normal process for customers dealing with a disaster is getting that infrastructure at a target data centre up and running again. There’s also the side expense of having to fly people out to that remote data centre, but cloud providers can do that inherently. A solid cloud provider can offer contractually backed SLA(s) for how long it will take to recover the infrastructure from the point of disaster declaration, known as the recovery time objective (RTO) and the maximum amount of data loss expressed as a factor of time from the point of disaster declaration, known as the recovery point objective.

If you put multiple cloud providers side by side, there will be some variance in the service offerings. Some will be offering fully managed infrastructure as a service. Others will be bare-bones, and you end up nickel and diming over various pieces and seeing variability in your monthly bills, which no one wants. The most important thing for CIOs and their teams is understanding what they’re truly getting when they move into the cloud, and that it can make their lives easier, not more complex.

Hear more from Afshin Shams by watching our on-demand Webinar, Cloud Computing: Improve ROI on Your Data Centre Strategy.

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  1. If a service level is the measure that determines the availability of an application and most IT departments are not able to return a numerical value when asked about the resiliency of their pool of infrastructure I agree with your sentiment about a move to IaaS. It is essential to be able to measure and report on the up time of a business critical application and there’s no better place for it than in the hands of a capable Cloud services provider. Never mind the dollars saved on hardware procurement and replacement;)

    Shawn Taft / 9 years ago


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