Tag Archives: enterprise

Efficiency gains most compelling reason for cloud, say enterprises

SurveyThe majority of US enterprises will increase their spending on cloud computing by up to 50% this year, according to US based researcher Clutch.

Conversely, the research also indicates that 6% of enterprises will cut their spending on cloud. The survey of 300 IT professionals at medium to large enterprises could indicate the different uses for cloud computing, with some companies using it to manage costs while others use it as a strategic weapon.

The study found that nearly 30% of the sample will maintain their current levels of cloud spending, with 6% saying they will reduce their cloud computing budget. A significant minority, 47%, identified efficiency improvements as the main benefit of cloud computing. There were no figures on whether performance improvements may encourage companies to spend less money on cloud services in future however.

The statistics on the uses for cloud computing do not suggest this is a tactical, strategic investment, however. The most popular motive cited for enterprise cloud usage, in the US, would appear to be better file storage, which was nominated as the primary objective for buying cloud services by 70% of the survey. The next most popular application of the cloud, backup and disaster recovery, which was nominated by 62% of the IT professionals, is another cost item. However, the cloud was chosen for application deployment among 51% of the sample, but there was no breakdown of whether this was viewed as a cost saving measure or a tactical investment. Similarly, the figures for the numbers of buyers who used the cloud for testing, 46%, was not broken down into tactical and cost saving motives.

Storage costs are the easy win and prove the value of the cloud: tactical use may be a later development, said Duane Tharp, VP of technical sales and services at service provider Cloud-Elements. “The returns on file storage are pretty straight-forward. Every company needs file storage,” said Tharp. “The ease of adopting the cloud for file storage could prove the concept and pave the way for the adoption of other use cases later.”

Azure Backup gets fine tuned with speed, cache and retention improvements

AzureMicrosoft’s Azure has promised more speed, lower cache demands and better data retention among a range of improvement to its cloud backup services for enterprise data.

Azure Backup now uses a technology called Update Sequence Number (USN) Journal in Windows to track the files that have changed between consecutive backups. USN keeps track of these changes to files and directories on the volume and this helps to identify changed files quickly.

The upshot of this tweak is a faster backup time. “We’ve seen up to a 50% reduction of backup times when using this optimization,” said Giridhar Mosay, Azure’s Program Manager for Cloud and Enterprise. Individual file server backup times will vary according to numbers and sizes of files and directory structure, Mosay warned.

A new algorithm that computes metadata has slashed the amount of cache space needed for each Azure Backup by 66%. The standard allocation of 15% cache space per volume size being backed up to Azure has proved prohibitive for volumes greater than 10TB. The new algorithm makes the cataloguing of the file space to be backed up a much more efficient process, which creates so much less metadata that it demands only 5% cache space, or less. Azure is now modifying its requirement for cache space to a third of the old level.

Meanwhile the resilience of the system has improved as Azure Backup has increased the number of recovery points for cloud backups. This allows for flexible retention policies to meet stringent compliance requirements such as HIPAA (the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) for large enterprises. The new maximum number of recovery points has increased from 366 to 9999.

Other tweaks include more timeouts across the various phases of backup process to ensure that long running jobs complete reliably. Cloud backups will also run a bit more efficiently as a result of a decoupling of the processes of cataloguing and uploading the backup data. Intermittent failures, in the service to handle incremental backups, have also been identified and resolved, according to Mosay. “We are continuing our journey to make Azure backup enterprise grade,” he said.

New Microsoft Trust Center aims to offer stability in shifting cloud industry

MicrosoftMicrosoft has aggregated all the information about its cloud services into one single point of reference, in an attempt to clarify and simplify the increasingly ethereal nature of the cloud.

The announcement, in a blog on the company web site, comes in the same week that one of the new incarnations of HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprises (HPE), repositioned itself as a reseller of Microsoft’s Azure public cloud services.

With the onset of the cloud industry reshaping both the IT industry and companies, the software company turned cloud service vendor has moved to clarify the picture for enterprise buyers.

The new Microsoft Trust Center aims to unify all the different strands of its enterprise cloud services, as confused customers customer began to clamour for a single version of the truth, instead of having to choose between multiple references issued by a choice of Microsoft trusted resources. In the new scheme, the Microsoft Trust Center will be a consistent source of information about all its enterprise cloud services, such as Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, Microsoft Intune and Microsoft Office 365.

The Microsoft blog post says the Trust Center will be built on security, privacy and control, compliance and transparency. To this end it will advise cloud buyers on how Microsoft’s cloud services will observe international and regional standards, privacy and data protection policies and security features and function.

On Tuesday it was announced that HPE was to become a Microsoft Azure reseller partner, while in return HPE will become a preferred cloud services provider when Microsoft customers need help. The new arrangement, revealed by HPE CEO Meg Whitman in a quarterly analyst call, illustrates how the IT industry is being reshaped around the new hybridisation of computing services. The arrangement means HPE can sell its own hardware and cloud computing software to companies for the private, ‘on-premise’ part of the private-public combination. Meanwhile, the public cloud will be provided by Microsoft’s Azure computing service.

Transparency, according to the Microsoft Trust Center blog, is to be one of the foundations of cloud services.

Support for the cloud is over priced, say disillusioned CIOs

SupportThe vast majority of businesses now use cloud computing but most feel ripped off, according to a study.

Research firm Vanson Bourne has canvassed a sample of 200 chief information officers (CIOs) for their feedback on cloud computing. The results show that almost all (186 out of 200) use the cloud in some form. However, almost as many of them (160 of the 200 CIOs) agreed that ‘ripped off’ was the multiple choice answer that best described their feelings over support services.

If the survey was statistically significant and was representative of industry wide sentiment, then 80 per cent of British businesses feel they are paying a high premium for basic support on their cloud services. While the penetration of cloud computing is high, with 93 per cent of businesses now using ‘some form’ of the service, some 84 per cent of the total sample said that it has not met their expectations on reducing support.

The most common problems presented by the survey were: slow response times to customer service queries (which was identified by 47 per cent of the sample), call handlers lacking technical knowledge (41 per cent), over-use of automated phone lines (33 per cent), complicated escalation processes (28 per cent) and a lack of 24/7 cover (19 per cent).

The results suggest that support from service providers is poor, according to Richard Davies, CEO of service provider ElasticHosts, which sponsored the independent study.

Companies adopt cloud in order to remove the headache of managing IT and the burden on in-house IT staff, so they expect to provide less support themselves, Davies said. For precisely that reason, the cloud service provider must not run a skeleton support service, Davies argued. Too often, according to Davies, companies have to pay a high premium to get the same level of service they got from their internal support.

“When using any service, you want to be able to ask questions, whether to learn how to configure a server or to query a bill. You should be able to do this without having to pay a hefty premium,” said Davies.

Asking a cloud service a technical question frequently involves a long wait and a call that is re-routed through an automated service. Ultimately a human call handler will admit they don’t know the answer, according to Davies.

“The industry should be doing more to help customers,” said Davies, “the first contact for support should be an engineer with strong technical understanding of the service.”

The cloud is commoditising storage for enterprises – report

Cloud storageLittle known unbranded manufacturers are making inroads into the storage market as the cloud commoditises the industry storage, according to a new report by market researcher IDC. Meanwhile, the market for traditional external storage systems is shrinking, it warns.

The data centres of big cloud companies like Google and Facebook are much more likely to buy from smaller, lesser known storage vendors now, as they are no longer compelled to commit themselves to specialised storage platforms, said IDC in its latest Enterprise Storage report.

Revenue for original design manufacturers (ODMs) that sell directly to hyperscale data-center operators grew 25.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2015, in a period when overall industry revenue rose just 2.1 per cent. However, data centre purchases accounted for US$1 billion in the second quarter, while the overall industry revenue is still larger, for now, at $8.8 billion. However, the growth trends indicate that a shift in buying power will take place, according to IDC analyst Eric Sheppard. Increasingly, the platform of choice for storage is a standard x86 server dedicated to storing data, said Sheppard.

ODMs such as Quanta Computer and Wistron are becoming increasingly influential, said Sheppard. Like many low-profile vendors, based in Taiwan, they are providing hardware to be sold under the badges of better known brand names, as sales of server-based storage rose 10 per cent in the second quarter to reach $2.1 billion.

Traditional external systems like SANs (storage area networks) are still the bulk of the enterprise storage business, which was worth $5.7 billion in revenue for the quarter. But sales in this segment are declining, down 3.9 per cent in that period.

With the cloud transferring the burden of processing to data centres, the biggest purchasers of storage are now Internet giants and cloud service providers. Typically their hyper-scale data centres are software controlled and no longer need the more expensive proprietary systems that individual companies were persuaded to buy, according to the report. Generic, unbranded hardware is sufficient, provided that it is software defined, the report said.

“The software, not the hardware, defines the storage architecture,” said Sheppard. The cloud has made it possible to define the management of storage in more detail, so that the resources can be matched more evenly to each virtual machine. This has cut the long term operating costs. These changes will intensify in the next five years, the analyst predicted.

EMC remained the biggest vendor by revenue with just over 19 per cent of the market, followed by Hewlett-Packard with just over 16 per cent.

IBM and Box announce global enterprise cloud partnership

US enterprise tech giant IBM has revealed a new global partnership with cloud storage outfit Box to integrate their products and sell into vertically targeted enterprise markets.

More specifically the strategic alliance will combine Box’s cloud collaboration platform with a number of IBM solutions, including analytics, cloud and security. Both companies will sell the combined products.

“Today’s digital enterprises demand world-class technologies that transform how their organizations operate both internally and externally,” said Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box. “This extensive alliance between Box and IBM opens up an exciting opportunity for both companies to reach new markets and deliver unified solutions and services that can redefine industries, advance secure collaboration and revolutionize enterprise mobility.”

“This partnership will transform the way work is done in industries and professions that shape our experience every day,” said Bob Picciano, SVP of IBM Analytics. “The impact will be felt by experts and professionals in industries such as healthcare, financial services, law, and engineering who are overwhelmed by today’s digital data and seek better solutions to manage large volumes of information more intelligently and securely. The integration of IBM and Box technologies, combined with our global cloud capabilities and the ability to enrich content with analytics, will help unlock actionable insights for use across the enterprise.”

The alliance will focus on three main areas: content management and social collaboration; enterprise cloud, security and consulting; and custom app development for industries. The general thread of the announcement seems to be a desire to bring cloud applications to regions and industries that are not currently making the most of them and is just the latest in a sequence of collaborations by both Box and IBM.

ApprendaCloud Launches as a Free PaaS for .NET Developers

Image representing Apprenda as depicted in Cru...

Apprenda today launched a free, cloud version of its private Platform as a Service (PaaS) for .NET enterprise applications. With ApprendaCloud, .NET developers always have access to a free environment for individual projects or to experiment with the Apprenda platform without requiring a download and install of its private PaaS.

“On ApprendaCloud, developers always have a PaaS solution to build next-generation applications or cloud optimize existing enterprise applications,” said Sinclair Schuller, CEO of Apprenda. “At ApprendaCloud’s core is an easy way to educate the developer community on building cloud architected applications.”

Apprenda has made it dead simple for developers to familiarize themselves with a private PaaS solution, trusted by enterprises like Honeywell, AmerisourceBergen and Quest Software. ApprendaCloud includes easy, interactive tutorials that guide developers through building world-class enterprise applications as well as the most common PaaS scenarios – deploying an application, scaling application components, and more.

When applications on ApprendaCloud are market ready, users can download an on-premises install of Apprenda’s private PaaS. The Apprenda platform can be consumed as a downloadable installer, virtual machine images, licensed product or PaaS service.


The Operational Consistency Proxy

#devops #management #webperf Cloud makes more urgent the need to consistently manage infrastructure and its policies regardless of where that infrastructure might reside

f5friday

While the potential for operational policy (performance, security, reliability, access, etc..) diaspora is often mentioned in conjunction with cloud, it remains a very real issue within the traditional data center as well. Introducing cloud-deployed resources and applications only serves to exacerbate the problem.

F5 has long offered a single-pane of glass management solution for F5 systems with Enterprise Manager (EM) and recently introduced significant updates that increase its scope into the cloud and broaden its capabilities to simplify the increasingly complex operational tasks associated with managing security, performance, and reliability in a virtual world.

f5em2.0AUTOMATE COMMON TASKS

The latest release of F5 EM includes enhancements to its ability to automate common tasks such as configuring and managing SSL certificates, managing policies, and enabling/disabling resources which assists in automating provisioning and de-provisioning processes as well as automating what many might consider mundane – and yet critical – maintenance window operations.

Updating policies, too, assists in maintaining operational consistency across all F5 solutions – whether in the data center or in the cloud. This is particularly important in the realm of security, where control over access to applications is often far less under the control of IT than even the business would like. Combining F5’s cloud-enabled solutions such as F5 Application Security Manager (ASM) and Access Policy Manager (APM) with the ability for F5 EM to manage such distributed instances in conjunction with data center deployed instances provides for consistent enforcement of security and access policies for applications regardless of their deployment location. For F5 ASM specifically, this extends to Live Signature updates, which can be downloaded by F5 EM and distributed to managed instances of F5 ASM to ensure the most up-to-date security across enterprise concerns.

The combination of centralized management with automation also ensures rapid response to activities such as the publication of CERT advisories. Operators can quickly determine from the centralized inventory the impact of such a vulnerability and take action to redress the situation.

INTEGRATED PERFORMANCE METRICS real-time-app-perf-monitoring-cloud-dc

F5 EM also includes an option to provision a Centralized Analytics Module. This module builds on F5’s visibility into application performance based on its strategic location in the architecture – residing in front of the applications for which performance is a concern. Individual instances of F5 solutions can be directed to gather a plethora of application performance related statistics, which is then aggregated and reported on by application in EM’s Centralized Analytics Module.

These metrics enable capacity planning, troubleshooting and can be used in conjunction with broader business intelligence efforts to understand the performance of applications and its related impact whether those applications are in the cloud or in the data center. This global monitoring extends to F5 device health and performance, to ensure infrastructure services scale along with demand. 

Monitoring includes:

  • Device Level Visibility & Monitoring
  • Capacity Planning
  • Virtual Level & Pool Member Statistics
  • Object Level Visibility
  • Near Real-Time Graphics
  • Reporting

In addition to monitoring, F5 EM can collect actionable data upon which thresholds can be determined and alerts can be configured.

Alerts include:

  • Device status change
  • SSL certificate expiration
  • Software install complete
  • Software copy failure
  • Statistics data threshold
  • Configuration synchronization
  • Attack signature update
  • Clock skew

When thresholds are reached, triggers send an alert via email, SNMP trap or syslog event. More sophisticated alerting and inclusion in broader automated, operational systems can be achieved by taking advantage of F5’s control-plane API, iControl. F5 EM is further able to proxy iControl-based applications, eliminating the need to communicate directly with each BIG-IP deployed.

OPERATIONAL CONSISTENCY PROXY

By acting as a centralized management and operational console for BIG-IP devices, F5 EM effectively proxies operational consistency across the data center and into the cloud. Its ability to collect and aggregate metrics provides a comprehensive view of application and infrastructure performance across the breadth and depth of the application delivery chain, enabling more rapid response to incidents whether performance or security related.

F5 EM ensures consistency in both infrastructure configuration and operational policies, and actively participates in automation and orchestration efforts that can significantly decrease the pressure on operations when managing the critical application delivery network component of a highly distributed, cross-environment architecture.

Additional Resources:

Happy Managing!


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