PROFESSIONAL SERVICES – BUSINESS EFFICIENCY STRATEGY
HELPING ENTERPRISES BUILD A ‘CLOUD STRATEGY’
Our Business Efficiency Cloud Strategy Consulting services help an enterprise build a ‘best-of-breed’ private cloud solution comprising of IaaS and SaaS portions of the ‘Cloud Stack’. We use OpenStack as the IaaS platform and CloudFoundry as the PaaS. This is the same technology that Intel, IBM and HP use (with minor variations) to provision their cloud services. Several other IT organizations also provision CloudFoundry on OpenStack as their landing platform for SaaS applications. The systematic approach includes formulating a strategy of consolidation ‘inside-out’ – meaning that we take your Data Center and ‘Cloud-Enable’ the Data Center first. This internal transformation makes it easier to move towards the Public cloud;
1. Setting a ‘Cloud Direction’ for adopting Cloud computing
2. Setting a Roadmap for PaaS which is flexible to support multiple Application Frameworks,
3. Creating a ‘Playbook’ for SaaS applications
4. Creating an ‘Elastic’ model by automatic provisioning of Virtual Machines and Bare Metal if necessary.
5. Setting a roadmap for Cloud Computing Services to be offered and how they are to be consumed based on Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) guidelines.
6. Setting a ‘Cloud Adoption Roadmap’ that eventually leads to adopting the Cloud Maturity Model (CMM) through each higher level of CMM.
7. Using proven moethods and technology utilized by large and successful Cloud implementations as a guide.
8. Designing a Cloud Strategy that will enable your organization to eventually move to a ‘Federated Interoperable Cloud’ if necessary in the future.
9. Strategy for migration of Legacy Apps to ‘Cloudware’. Whether they are Custom Apps or Packaged Software Solution that come with an installation kit, our strategy will enable your organization to have the appropriate infrastructure. Most organizations have both types of Apps. An appropriate IaaS will allow for total control of the Packaged Solution while a carefully architected PaaS will allow for Custom Applications to land on you Cloud Infrastructure. For custom Apps, our goal is to provide you developers a PaaS solution that allows developers to abstract themselves from the underlying infrastructure. The main reason is that most developer’s do not want the responsibility of a Systems Administrator (as the IaaS comes with that additional responsibility). The vectors for PaaS that we focus on are; (a) Agility – Can a developer land Apps within a day (b) Elasticity – Most organizations with growing IT needs are looking for Elasticity. We ensure that Elasticity is tandem with resource utilization in the Cloud architecture (c) Designed for Failure – This means that the PaaS meets high availability requirements as some apps will require that critical feature (d) Support for Diversity – Since CloudFoundry supports a diverse set of Application Frameworks, Tools and Run-time environment, we adopted this as a standard.
Providing and Using Existing Cloud Services
Cloud computing is about the provision of services on the Internet. Like any service, the Cloud service has a provider and a consumer. It exposes capabilities that the provider has that are of value to the consumer. Some organizations may want to adopt existing platforms provided by national and regional vendors if their cloud services offerings have the facility of allowing the client to own and operate their own cloud withing the providers cloud. This means that the cloud provider must allow for;
1. Owning and operating computer hardware (IaaS)
2. Owning and operating computer hardware and systems software (PaaS)
3. Owning and operating computer hardware, systems software, and software applications (SaaS)
In many cases, an organization uses cloud services in order to provide added services to the people and organizations that it deals with. This is obviously the case when a company buys IaaS or PaaS from a cloud provider and runs a software application on top of it. The cloud service consumer develops the added service and provides it for the benefit of end users. It is also the case when a company buys SaaS from a cloud provider and uses that service to support its business operations. And it is the case when an enterprise’s IT department uses the cloud to provide the services needed by other departments. Using the cloud to provide added services means that those services must be developed on, or ported to, the cloud.
In other cases, for example, when a company uses a SaaS CRM solution, organizations and individuals simply use cloud services and added services to support their business and leisure activities. This has many benefits, but there are some pitfalls to avoid. And this why it is extremely important that an organization must formulate a strategy with the help of professionals and plan properly before jumping into the ‘Cloud’.
Does Your Organization have a cloud migration strategy?
Over the past decade, cloud services have rapidly become one of the most defining technologies in IT. The hype surrounding cloud services may make it seem like all of an organization’s resources should be migrated to the cloud immediately. And this hype certainly has merit.
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models. There is no denying that, in certain cases, cloud services can be tremendously beneficial. In others, however, a cloud migration probably doesn’t make sense.
Cloud Computing is a term that doesn’t describe a one ‘single thing’ – rather it is a general term that sits over a variety of services from Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) at the base, through Platform as a Service (PaaS) as a development tool and through to Software as a Service (SaaS) replacing on-premise applications. For organizations looking to move to Cloud Computing, it is important to understand the different aspects of Cloud Computing and to assess their own situation and decide which types of solutions are appropriate for their unique needs.
Cloud Computing is a rapidly accelerating revolution within IT and will become the default method of IT delivery moving into the future – organizations would be advised to consider their approach towards beginning a move to the clouds sooner, rather than later
Whether an organization chooses to build a ‘Private Cloud’ from scratch or adopt an existing cloud, as part of our Business Efficiency Cloud Strategy services, we work with organizations and evaluate all factors that should guide a cloud migration strategy and help determine whether to move on-premises workloads to the cloud. For example; Organizations need to take a hard look at their existing investments in infrastructure — from hardware to application portfolios to network architecture and beyond — to determine if a move will be beneficial. Some of the migration questions are technical, such as whether a given application can perform adequately in the cloud; some questions will involve nontechnical, budgetary issues, such as whether a cloud migration is cost-effective given current investments in infrastructure.
a. Examine an organization’s existing data center investment. Despite technologies such as server virtualization, there are real costs associated with deploying on-premises servers. There are not only licensing costs involved, but also costs associated with hardware resource consumption and support infrastructure. As such, there is almost always a significant investment associated with an on-premises server. Outsourcing a server’s data and/or functionality to the cloud may mean abandoning your on-premises investment unless an on-premises server can be repurposed.
Although this rip-and-replace approach to cloud migrations may not make financial sense for organizations that have a large investment in an on-premises data center, an organization can still benefit from migrating certain on-premises resources to the cloud.
No matter how good it is, any server hardware eventually becomes obsolete. Enterprise-class organizations have traditionally coped with this expected obsolescence by adopting a hardware lifecycle policy. An organization, for example, might choose to retire servers after five years. That being said, an organization could integrate a cloud services roadmap into its hardware lifecycle policy. Doing so allows IT teams to migrate on-premises resources to the cloud instead of moving them to newer hardware.
The prospect of using cloud services is often particularly attractive for smaller organizations and startups. In the case of a smaller organization, the use of cloud services provides access to enterprise-class hardware and fault-tolerant features that would otherwise be unaffordable. Similarly, startups can benefit from cloud services because they can get their operations running quickly without having to invest in on-premises data center resources.
b. Examine the Application requirements for a cloud migration. In the case of application servers, administrators must consider whether the application can function in the cloud. Likewise, the application’s performance must be considered. Compatibility usually isn’t a big problem for newer applications that run on top of modern operating systems. It is also easy to assume that performance won’t be an issue for such applications because most cloud providers will allow hardware resources to be allocated to hosted servers on an as-needed basis. However, two major considerations must be taken into account for such applications.
The first is performance. Even though you can provision the hosted application server with nearly unlimited compute and memory resources, Internet bandwidth may impede application performance. It does little good to have a high-performance hosted application server if Internet bandwidth limitations stand in the way of a good user experience. The second consideration is application portability. Although it is often easy to migrate a virtualized application server to the cloud, the application might have external dependencies that rule out (or greatly complicate) a cloud migration. For example, the application might have an Active Directory dependency or require access to an on-premises SQL server database.
For older applications that run on legacy operating systems, a move to the cloud may not be an option. Lab testing is the only way to know how an application will behave in a cloud environment. Testing helps determine the steps that are involved in moving the app there.
Another consideration for moving application servers to the cloud is hardware scalability. It is a common view of IT professionals analysts have suggested that cloud services are ideal for hosting hardware-intensive workloads because cloud services generally offer nearly unlimited scalability. While a cloud service provider can usually scale its offerings to meet even the most demanding workloads, this scalability comes at a price.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers such as Microsoft, Rackspace, IBM, HP and Amazon Web Services charge customers a resource consumption-based monthly fee. As such, a cloud-based high-performance computing environment can become cost-prohibitive. It can cost upward of $10,000 per month to operate a single high-performance application in the cloud. The bulk of the cost is due to CPU and disk I/O consumption. We can help lower these costs with an appropriate strategy.
c. Will Virtualization ease a cloud migration? Regardless of organizational size, one of the considerations is whether the workloads targeted for cloud migration have been virtualized. In some cases, it’s much easier to move workloads to the cloud if on-premises servers have already been virtualized. In fact, some providers will allow an organization to port virtual machines directly to the cloud. If on-premises servers have not been virtualized, a migration to the cloud is likely still possible, but the process may involve more work. Another factor to consider is the on-premises network. If an organization plans to keep resources on-premises (even temporarily), the cloud network must function as an extension of the on-premises Active Directory forest. This means that the organization will typically have to deploy cloud-based domain controllers, DNS servers and possibly DHCP servers. More importantly, the organization will have to figure out how to establish a secure communications path between the cloud-based virtual network and the on-premises network.
This requirement usually isn’t a deal-breaker for organizations with an existing on-premises network, but it does mean that a significant amount of planning may be required before beginning the migration process. As an organization contemplates the risks and benefits of cloud migration, it is important to keep in mind that cloud migrations are not an all-or-nothing proposition. Organizations do not have to go “all in” with cloud migrations. In most cases, it will make sense to move certain services to the cloud while continuing to operate others on-premises.
Public vs. Private Cloud? Which is more suited for your Organization.
For the past five years, a deep debate on ‘Cloud Adoption’ has been going on throughout the IT industry and the businesses. How will cloud computing effect their businesses? Should you adopt a public cloud approach (off-premise IT capabilities or applications, provided by others) or opt for private cloud (on-premise enablement of cloud capabilities with existing IT)? Not unlike a typical political debate, there have been and continue to be highly motivated players on both sides of the aisle, lobbying aggressively for their points of view.
The pro-public crowd has long argued that the ability to consume IT and related services on a pay-per-use model, the speed of access to resources, and the flexibility to add and drop capacity make their approach the only way to go. The pro-private camp is quick to remind clients that enabling private cloud capabilities — either on site or in a private hosted environment — provides the highest levels of management visibility, control, security, privacy, and physical data proximity. The peace of mind of knowing exactly where your key business and client data resides at all times.
What is the “right” answer for your organization? Once you have decided to enter the Cloud, you will have to make several conclusions about cloud solution approaches. For some organizations, either a public or private cloud can be the right choice today with little differences. For some, the best solution may be a hybrid cloud approach. By developing the ability to mix and match the best elements of private and public clouds, a company can evolve its existing IT assets while selectively using other forms of cloud for greater flexibility and rapid business innovation. Hybrid cloud models using both private, dedicated IT resources and public variable infrastructure are likely to be less expensive for clients than either private or public clouds alone.
Regardless, as with any new technology area, it’s important to align with cloud ecosystems that are based on open technologies in order to maintain choice and vendor interoperability. Of course the Infrastructure matters, regardless of which type of cloud model you choose. It’s also essential to include IT security plans as a key element of your overall cloud strategy.