New nScaled white paper: enterprise cloud adoption and migration

We’ve just released a new white paper, Low Risk Adoption of Cloud Infrastructure for Enterprises. You can download it here.

I’ll discuss this topic in a serious of posts, but I’ll lay out the basic argument here.

At nScaled, we think the scales have tipped towards cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) enough that most businesses don’t need to be convinced of the benefits of moving some or all of their data center infrastructure to a cloud provider. Likewise, we think most CIOs aren’t trying to explain to the CEO and CFO what cloud is, or why they should evaluate cloud, but rather CIOs are explaining HOW their company should adopt cloud infrastructure: what servers and workloads should move to the cloud, and when. And how they’ll migrate to the cloud while minimizing risk to the organization (technology risk, business risk, financial risk).

Everyday Disasters

This post was written by Mike Hamilton, nScaled Solution Architect…

When hearing the words “Disaster Recovery” it is really easy to conjure images in our minds of utter catastrophes. Natural disasters come to mind – tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods. When it comes to protecting data and maintaining operations, it is easy to see how things like natural disasters could impact a company’s ability to protect data and maintain operations.

As human beings we face the risk of things like natural disasters and how they would impact our lives, and yet overall the frequency and likelihood of such disasters is fairly low. Even when disasters like this happen, the overall impact can vary widely.

Backup strategies are a component of a larger disaster recovery strategy

This post was written by Mike Hamilton, nScaled Solution Architect…

It used to be the case that disaster recovery was an implied part of the backup process. I say it was implied because the devil really is in the details. Most people would say they had a plan and could recover from an outage but few ever actually tested for the sake of proving the model. The presumption back in the early days was that you could always recover from tape and that if your data was backed up then the ability to recover from a disaster was implied. Given the technologies at the time along with slow WAN connections it was always understood that the concept of disaster recovery using tape was at best going to be a “best effort” kind of recovery.

Can Hardware and OpEx Work Together?

As you know, one of the things that nScaled does a bit differently from other cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers is we implement a Hybrid architecture, with an nScaled Local Cloud Appliance installed on the customer’s LAN providing business continuity and local backup, plus the nScaled Remote Cloud Data Centers providing the scale-up / scale-out elastic capacity for backup, failover and test/dev.

We think it’s the right architecture for corporate IT shops that want safe, secure and flexible cloud infrastructure. But it brought up a challenge in our pricing. See, customers have come to assume (rightly) that cloud services are billed monthly and move off their capex budget and onto their opex. Sweet. But everyone assumes that appliances are paid for with capex. We sure did.

“Infrastructure does not differentiate us in any way”

You’d think a cloud IaaS provider like nScaled would hate to see a sentiment like, “Infrastructure does not differentiate us in any way,” coming from the lips of a CIO. But quite the opposite – it’s why we’re here. When a business is ready to admit this to itself, they’re ready for our services.

I’m quoting from a great piece over at NetworkWorld, profiling Jim Honerkamp, CIO at Steel Technologies, and their recent move to the cloud. I’ve never met Jim, but I have to tell you – this guys gets it! He goes on to explain:

“Infrastructure does not differentiate us in any way, shape or form in the marketplace. To be a strategic IT organization, you have to be delivering value in technology tools, either to strengthen customer relationships or to be used as weapons against the competition.”

Enterprises Need Clouds, Not Droplets

I just read an interesting story about the Apache LibCloud project. It’s an interesting development in cloud computing for certain groups. But I don’t think mainstream enterprises aren’t one of those groups. Here’s why.

LibCloud, and a lot of other cloud technology providers, are all about providing a la carte menus of commodity-priced, on-demand computing and storage that the customer can assemble into the solution they want.

In other words, these providers aren’t actually supplying clouds. They’re supplying droplets of water vapor, requiring the customer to assemble them and turn them into clouds.

How To Not Lose Your Data

Once again I’ll start by citing a very nice story that came out today. This time, it’s David Gewirtz at ZDNet writing about the data that was lost in the Amazon outage last week.

Gewirtz lays out some excellent advice for his readers, including something that I would like to expand upon. He suggests, “If all your data’s in the cloud, back up to a local environment.” This is a great idea, but not totally obvious to many businesses thinking about shifting their IT data centers to the cloud. Having backups, and backups of backups, is vital, and many companies will never feel safer than when they have one of those copies on their premises.

Why the Amazon Outage is Not the End of the Cloud

Businesses are rightly concerned about what Amazon’s outage last week means to them, in terms of their plans to move some or all of their IT operations to cloud data centers. We hope that they keep cool heads and not panic. Too many of the stories being written about Amazon imply that all cloud data centers are alike, and thus prone to the same problems. Of course this is not true.

In a thorough story, Patrick Thibodeau at Computerworld observes, “…supporters are going to have a tough time arguing that the uptime delivered by cloud services is superior to anything corporate IT can deliver.”

On the back of our success in the US market, nScaled formally launched its European operations earlier this year.

Like any new entrant to a market, spending time speaking to leading figures in the industry and gaining valuable feedback, is a critical part of the strategy. What has quickly become evident through these conversations is that thinking has moved on and organisations are realising that the benefits from owning and managing their own datacentres is diminishing.

A few years ago, the phrase, “we want to be out of the data centre management business” is not one which would have readily been associated with law firm IT directors. Now it is. These are not quick decisions, but commercially law firms are realising that there are significant benefits from adopting a shared approach to infrastructure and that security within these environments is now at a level which often exceeds what they are able to provide themselves.

Preventing Disasters

I talk with a lot of CIO’s and IT Directors around the US about how they go about protecting their firms from the risks of downtime . We usually cover topics such as:

  • RTO and RPO,
  • SLAs,
  • Clouds,
  • Budgets,
  • Data,
  • Storage, etc.

Recently, the topic has turned more from a bits and bytes discussion into one focused on the reality of keeping their users working and “preventing disasters.”

I realize that “preventing disasters” may seem like an impossibility, and from the traditional view of a disaster (earthquake, tornado, water leak, etc), you would be right. But what if you think in terms of keeping your users working with their content (documents, emails, appointments) so that your customers continue to come to you for their needs? When you are successful, you avoid the bigger more personal disaster: being forced out of business by loss of the business.