Monthly Archives: March 2015

The State of Cloud Adoption in India

Cloud computing offers immense potential and benefits for all types of organizations. In India, the adoption of cloud computing is gaining momentum and growing exponentially. This is because of the government’s support in embracing emerging latest technologies and best practices derived from different cloud deployment scenarios and application areas. Research studies indicate that CIOs in India are planning to move their business operations to the cloud and this remains their top priority.

Most of us are aware cloud computing has changed the way IT services are provisioned and used. Cloud’s potential of scalability and pay-as-you-go pricing models is the primary benefit extended by cloud services to organizations in order to achieve effectiveness through technology. In case of SMBs, cloud services minimize barriers to their growth by reducing infrastructure costs and upfront investments. During the last few years, IT professionals in many different organizations in India have witnessed and accustomed themselves to cloud adoption. Cloud computing usage is gaining momentum in India mainly because of government support, vendor offerings, and proven best practices, which have resulted in many organizations in India planning to move to the cloud on priority.

Research studies done during the last 5 years indicate that Indian businesses are willing to spend over 36% of their IT costs on public cloud services due to its business flexibility and low costs. The study made by Gartner explains that public cloud service sales are worth 24.54 billion INR in 2013, which is a 36% increase compared to 2010 figures. Gartner predicts that growth is constant at compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33.2%. Smaller companies are more willing and quick to adopt public clouds because it reduces their upfront costs associated with new hardware, software implementations and maintenance costs. The Gartner study also predicts that the business potential of cloud computing in India will touch 89 billion INR by 2017. This statistical data is quite likely to change soon, but first let us have a look into cloud adoption across a few sectors.

Cloud Services in government: The Government of India is embracing cloud computing technology for expanding its e-governance initiatives throughout the country. In India, the focus of e-governance is to reduce corruption and ensure the government schemes are reaching people living in rural areas of the country. Further, e-governance services ensure quicker service delivery and eliminate the involvement of middlemen who tend to capitalize on loopholes for quick money by means of exploiting people. To mention one initiative, the Department of Electronics and Information Technology under the Ministry of Communications and IT is highly optimistic of adopting cloud computing in governance and has made plans for the creation of IT enabled services, applications and policies towards achieving full benefits in different government initiatives. The department plans to offer solutions by electronic means, promote R & D initiatives, solutions for cyber-security and National Information Infrastructure, develop IT policies and so on, where cloud computing will be used extensively.

Cloud adoption in manufacturing: Indian manufacturing sector has come a long way and the use of IT in manufacturing can be found since last over 2 decades. Since 2010, CIOs in Indian manufacturing have started adopting cloud models and this is highlighted in many research studies and industry circles. Some of the most notable application areas in manufacturing suited for cloud are CRM and supply chain applications which provide better connectivity to external stakeholders and customers. The area of business intelligence (BI) and business analytics (BA) is highly important for manufacturing sector because of large amounts of data generated in manufacturing which is a challenge for CIOs. For instance analytics will help the organization to better forecast products range and provide analysis for future investments in different business areas. BI helps to understand customer demands and provide inputs for demand shaping. Human machine interface (HMI) is another area where companies such as Jindal Steel have adopted cloud model for their HMI applications to quickly recover their ROI. HMI refers to interfacing IT systems like ERP with manufacturing executing systems (MES) and plant automation. In addition to the above applications, the other areas where cloud enhances manufacturing effectiveness are in data warehousing, information security, green IT, and many others.

Cloud adoption in Indian IT industry: The research by IDC titled “Indian Cloud Market Overview 2011-2016” provides estimates that Indian cloud market will grow over 70% from 2014. The cloud is transforming Indian IT industry and some of the highlights include,

  • With increased number of IT companies and ISPs in India, cloud IaaS model is helping SMEs to have access to latest infrastructure thus reducing their in-house infrastructure costs.
  • PaaS model provides immense advantages for software companies. PaaS supports developers with different development platforms and in turn providing savings to the company from heavy capital expenditure.
  • Organizations big and small are having advantages by adopting SaaS model. For example, Indian companies by implementing applications such as SAP Business, Office 365, etc. tend to benefit greatly from the hassles of maintaining IT applications to result in cost savings.

In addition to the above highlighted sectors, cloud service models are used in other industry domains such as finance and banking, advertising, health care, etc., slowly but steadily. The slow pace can be attributed to certain barriers such as inadequate knowledge of cloud technologies, connectivity issues and customer awareness in terms of ROI in cloud adoption.

The key drivers for IT growth in India is highlighted by the growing acceptance of cloud based solutions, embracing merging technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, mobile technologies (3G, 4G) and fuelled by Indian government’s initiatives for a digital India. In a recent research done by Zinnov Management Consulting titled “India’s Domestic IT Market Landscape 2015”, the estimated Indian IT market is at $36 billion in 2015 with 14% growth to reach $65 billion in 2020. The report explains that,

  • The Indian government’s Digital India project provides potential opportunities for cloud adoption at a cost of $19 billion between 2014-2018
  • The estimated growth of public cloud market is pegged at $7.4-7.6 billion and private cloud at the rate of $7 billion by 2020

The above studies and data indicate that cloud adoption is fast catching up in India and transforming IT services to provide a new direction. In addition to this, new mobile technologies like SMAC (Social Mobile Analytics Cloud) are used by business organizations to gain competitive advantage and growth. NASSCOM’s “Perspective 2020” report is highly optimistic about India’s progress in mobility, broadband and internet connectivity over the next 2 years and beyond. From the above, it is more apparent that, cloud offers the most ideal infrastructure for operating a variety of IT applications across all types of organizations in India.

The benefits of virtualization in DataCenters

Virtualization is a process or technology that helps to consolidate IT resources and use them to cater to different business needs. Virtualization also centralizes data and application assets in order to secure crucial information in organizations. It helps to reduce IT management costs in a number of ways and also offers many technical benefits. Many business organizations opt for virtualization to automate most of their business processes to realize significant cost savings in IT management.

The concept of virtualization has been around in datacenters for over a decade. Basically, virtualization is an approach to provision and share resources in datacenters and simplifies management. Virtualization is implemented because it enables judicious use of assets. As resources are consolidated they help to readily meet business demands. Virtualization allows IT organizations to better respond to business needs. For instance, in the case of servers or networks, virtualization uses one single asset to make it operate as if it were multiple assets. For example, let us assume there is a need for ten servers, virtualization can reduce the number of servers to two which is a benefit of resource optimization and cost saving.

Virtualization enhances the utilization and efficiency of assets thus reducing the number of physical assets. It is not a product, but a process used in IT organizations for managing servers, storage and networks. In the case of storage or networks virtualization is an abstracted view of underlying physical devices. In storage, multiple physical disks are combined and presented to servers and applications to show as one single large asset. This significantly simplifies the server and application architecture. In the case of desktops, virtualization is used for centralized management of data and applications and reduces cost of technical personnel. Further centralization of data and resources avoids data risk.

From the technical view point, virtualization combines software and hardware engineered to create Virtual Machines (VM). VM is an abstraction of computer hardware that allows single machine to act as multiple machines. VM is required because a single OS can own all hardware resources. Contrary to this, VMs will enable multiple OS, each running on its own VM. Hence, the hardware resource is shared between many VMs each running its own OS. Virtualization offers cost savings for organizations that look for innovative methods to cut costs in IT without affecting business outcomes. From the technical perspective virtualization offers benefits in areas of consolidating server, storage and networks in the form of enhanced server efficiencies, improved disaster recovery efforts, increased business continuity and so on.

Virtualization is a hot trend in datacenters due to its ability to consolidate resources and mange disparate applications and systems (OS, databases, and storage). Maximum benefits of virtualization can be derived by enterprise applications such as ERP, CRM and sales force automation (SFA) and so on. Datacenters are built to accelerate service delivery, enhance profits and reduce risk for new business developments. From a functional view point, separating data and workloads from the physical infrastructure is done in order to derive efficiency in many angles. This separation will derive efficiencies in application and infrastructure modernization, datacenter design, platform updates, new and existing delivery models, cloud computing and so on. In fact, all these benefits are obtained from virtualization of servers, desktops and by virtualized appliances or VMs. Let us have a look into some business benefits and opportunities.

Companies look towards achieving business goals for long term in reduced cost and without compromising on business output. Virtualization provides the opportunity to save substantially by achieving more with computing resources already available. Given below are some areas where virtualization technology offers benefits for both large and small enterprises.

  • Server consolidation and application availability: Server consolidation offers cost savings in terms of reduced number of server hardware and infrastructure resources. Further separating OS and applications from server will protect each VM from viruses and threats. A virus attack in one VM will not affect other VMs. Consolidating servers will help Administrators to build replication sites for back up and to have a disaster recovery plan without incurring costs. Increased application availability will ensure business continuity for organizations because any planned downtime or outages will not severely affect their VM, therefore service disruptions are avoided.
  • Repurpose old or redundant hardware: Cost savings result in the form of retiring servers. From server consolidation, the excess hardware that are underutilized can be reallocated for use in other application areas that did not materialize earlier due to budget limitations. Redundant hardware can also be used to enhance existing capacity for hosting data intensive applications.
  • Audit software licenses: IT departments keep current inventory of all software assets. Audits help to identify software that is no longer used. Companies may be paying licensing fees for applications they no longer need. Eliminating redundancy within software can help the company to consolidate software applications and reduce cost in support and maintenance.
  • Automating labour intensive processes: The objective of IT is to automate processes whenever and wherever possible. For example, automating customer service solutions can substantially reduce help desk calls. Many mundane tasks like periodic product sales reports, inventory reports, payroll processing, etc can be automated to reduce human error. In this way companies can also reduce their IT personnel which is another cost saving opportunity.
  • Outsourcing: Outsourcing is another cost savings option for many companies. IT solution providers can design, develop, implement and maintain technology solutions for companies at a less price than to develop and manage the application in house. Through virtualization IT solution providers host the application on their premises or support and maintain solutions at the company’s location. The company can save considerable cost in hardware and maintenance.
  • Align IT with Business Processes: When the IT department have better understanding of business goals, they can plan the amount of resources required in advance to coincide with organizational goals. In this way IT is in a better position to predict future demands on IT resources. IT department can plan for number of VMs required to run business processes and opt for a cloud model to grow with business.
  • Centralized IT Management: Virtualization centralizes everything, from OS to data to applications and storage. Centralized IT management offers substantial cost savings by simplifying and automating labour and resource intensive IT operations across disparate hardware. Centralization also helps to secure data and applications, easily apply patches and updates thus reducing human error.

There are more benefits in addition to the above. Virtualization helps companies to achieve operational efficiency at low cost as compared to maintaining an on premise infrastructure. It helps companies to optimize their IT resources both from the technical and operational perceptive without incurring more hardware cost. Virtualization offerings and options are available from many vendors and datacenter service providers to suit business operational needs. IT Managers must consider all technology options and streamline IT processes by thoroughly evaluating cost cutting possibilities without compromising on business growth and future potential.

Tier 4 Data Centers are Designed for Continuous Availability and Reliability

In data centers tier classifications are established based on site topology which drives performance of the actual site. Tier classification is based on the combination of design topology and site location. Tiered data centers have their own characteristics and advantages. However, in addition to the advantages with each tier class, operational sustainability of the data center is critical to ensure availability and reliability.

In simple terms a data center implies a central repository for servers, storage, management and dissemination of information. Data center is an infrastructure facility to provide computing capabilities, storage and networking. The services offered by data centers are data storage, redundant data communications, and other security devices. Data centers offers the physical or virtual infrastructure services for companies to house computers, servers and networking systems and components for the company’s IT requirements.

The original idea of data center began as a private server room in a company connecting user computers to the server and running applications on the server for access by users. In earlier days the organization was responsible for maintenance of servers, storage, and networking components and this required many IT personnel to manage the facility. Even today large organizations maintain their in-house or internal data centers and are able to maintain service levels at a high cost.

As business and data grows constantly, in house data centers face the challenge of constant hardware and infrastructure upgrades. To overcome this challenge third party data center service providers offer IT resources for clients (companies and organizations) for use in their business operations. Many business enterprise organizations are hiring services from third party data centers, such as cloud computing. Hence, we can understand that a data center requires huge server farms, storage arrays and networks and redundant telecommunications network and components to cater to the various needs of different types of organizations. Data centers to ensure reliability in services without any disruptions from the perspective of the user.

Data center performance and benchmark standards were developed by Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) in 2005. This is known as TIA-942 was first such standard to address data center infrastructure, particularly in the design and development process. TIA is accredited with ANSI and has over 600 members globally. TIA provides necessary enhancements for organizations involved in telecommunications, broadband, cellular and wireless services, IT, networks, satellite communications, unified communications and environment friendly technology. TIA-942 standards for data center performance and reliability is based on evaluations on general redundancy and availability of data center in its topology. The design aspects include site space and cabling infrastructure for tiered reliability along with environmental considerations.

In order to maximize efficiency and uptime in data centers, Uptime Institute Inc., a consortium of companies provided a tiered classification system for data centers. Uptime’s tiered classification is an industry standard for site infrastructure design and uptime of data center. There are four tiers (Tier 1 to Tier 4) explained by Uptime Institute related to the performance of the data center, investment and Return On Investment (ROI). Tier classifications are derived based on performance of actual site availability and by combining design topology and site location. The data center tiers and their characteristics are mentioned below to show the service availability for each tier.

S.No Tier Requirement Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3 Tier 4
1 Basic Redundancy N N+1 N+1 N+N
2 Active Paths One One One Dual
3 Fault Tolerant No No No Yes
4 Staffing None 1 Shift 1 +Shifts 24XForever
5 Single Point of Failure Many Many Many None
7 Representative failure 6 Failure in 5 years 1 Failure every year 1 Failure
every 2.5 years
1 Failure in 5 years

Tier 1: Basic site infrastructure (N). Availability: 99.671%

  • Vulnerable to disruptions from planned and unplanned activity
  • Single path for power and cooling
  • Data center is shut down completely for performing preventive maintenance
  • Annual downtime of 28.8 hours

Tier 2: Redundant Capacity Components Site Infrastructure (limited N+1). Availability: 99.741%

  • Less vulnerable to disruptions from planned and unplanned activity
  • Single path for power and cooling includes redundant components (N+1)
  • Includes raised floor, UPS and generator
  • Annual downtime of 22.0 hours

Tier 3: Concurrently Maintainable Site Infrastructure (N+1). Availability: 99.982%

  • Enables planned activity (such as scheduled preventative maintenance) without disrupting computer hardware operation. Unplanned activities can still cause disruption.
  • Multiple power and cooling paths (one active path), redundant components (N+1)
  • Annual downtime of 1.6 hours

Tier 4: Fault Tolerant Site Infrastructure (2N+1): 99.995% availability

  • Planned activity will not disrupt critical operations and can sustain at least one worst-case unplanned event with no critical load impact
  • Multiple active power and cooling paths
  • Annual downtime of 0.4 hours

Despite the advantages offered by each tier classification, operational sustainability plays a significant role in site availability which is ensured in tier 4 data centers. Tier 4 data centers are designed to provide continuous availability of services with reliability.

Many Models One Cloud: Overcoming the Jigsaw Puzzle in Cloud Selection

As cloud computing is gaining adoption by organizations due to its immense benefits, not all cloud models will work for every type of business. There are subtle and major differences with each model and the working of each model is unique. Each cloud model has its own advantages and shortcomings. Organizations planning to implement cloud services in their operations must carefully examine the pros and cons of each model and decide the most appropriate model to suit their business and generate value in the long run.

Cloud computing is emerging as a potential driver for business innovation and growth. Cloud computing promises new business models, planning for business strategies to obtain competitive advantage in markets and offers global business potential. All of us understand, cloud is a service model that offers IT resources and services for any type of business and ensures flexibility in terms of volume and scale. Users can access cloud services and applications, using any web browser on a desktop, laptop or on a mobile device connected to the internet. Some of the key enablers offered by cloud in terms of business benefits include,

  • Flexibility in terms of cost: The costing in cloud models is a variable. Cloud implementations allow business companies to ‘pay for the resource as and when needed.’ This offers the benefit of reduced capital expenditure in upgrading and running an in-house IT infrastructure.
  • Business scalability: Cloud provides flexibility. Resources in the cloud can scale up or down to support business growth and in times when business is lean. This is another benefit.
  • Adaptability in the market: All cloud models enable faster time to market, and provides scope for business innovations and explore new opportunities.
  • Context-driven variability:Increases the relevance of products and services and enables user defined experiences.
  • Connectivity with the existing ecosystem: Cloud models offer capabilities to fully integrate into existing infrastructure.

In cloud models, business firms have the opportunity to leverage cloud business enablers for achieving competitiveness in markets through innovation across customer value propositions and in the industry value chain. Cloud services are available in three major service models namely, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). Cloud computing models are available in three deployment types namely, Private Cloud, Public Clouds and Hybrid Clouds to suit the requirements in different types of operations.

Making the right choice – Selecting the most appropriate model

It is highly important to have a closer look into the service offerings while choosing the right infrastructure model.

  • PaaS: This service allows applications and programming models to be deployed easily. Specialized services such as authentication, payment gateways, data access, etc. are implemented in PaaS. It offers the benefit of creating web applications and eliminates the need to buy hardware and software that is required in software application development scenarios. System developers need not worry on how processing is done, how much memory and storage is to be used, etc. these are taken care by the cloud infrastructure. PaaS offers all the services required to fulfill the processes (end-to-end lifecycle of development, testing, deployment and hosting complex web based applications) of application development in order to deliver it as a service. Creating and maintaining an infrastructure for efficiency and scalability is time consuming and costs lot of money. PaaS model help businesses to get rid of this major problem. PaaS is gaining popularity and adoption by IT solutions companies, engineering enterprises, etc.
  • SaaS: This service offers the benefit of deploying applications online thereby attracting consumers (users). In SaaS, applications and software can be used by a web browser over the internet and the software is managed centrally. Since applications are centralized, software upgrades, patches, security, etc. are handled by the service provider or client. API integration is possible between different software components. SaaS is very popular because it provides various benefits for business companies. SaaS offers the maximum benefits in scenarios such as, email applications and business productivity tools, e-commerce portals, helpdesk/support services, data processing capabilities over the web (payroll processing, billing, etc); collaboration software, etc. Applications are available for multiple clients using a variety of devices. SaaS model is widely used by businesses for the purposes of e-mail, helpdesk/support services, logistics tracking, monitoring progress in sales and marketing domains, financial management, customer relationship management, etc. SaaS can be a viable option for SMEs looking to maximize business value with minimal IT budgets.
  • IaaS: Infrastructure as a service enables on-demand provisioning of servers running several choices of operating systems and customized software. IaaS delivers the infrastructure (servers, storage, network and OS). This is a fully outsourced service available for on-demand access and offers to deliver resources, provides dynamic scaling, pricing model based on utility usage, support for multiple users and so on. IaaS is suited for organizations without capital to invest in hardware and most suited for organizations where growth is rapid and there are problems in scaling up. IaaS eliminates the need of maintaining expensive server hardware and network components within the firm which is saves hardware costs. In fact, IaaS is a facility given to businesses that allow users to leverage on compute, network and storage space in servers and data centers.

Companies looking for the right cloud service must choose from PaaS, SaaS or IaaS service models depending on their need and the chosen service model must fulfill their business objectives. It is important to ensue the chosen service model must blend seamlessly into their existing business operations. In addition to choosing the service model, there are some factors to consider by business in choosing their deployment model.

Factors to consider in Implementing Cloud Computing Services in Business

Deployment models available in cloud are private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds. Firstly, companies must develop a blueprint which is developed by exploring answers for the following questions,

  • What is the current state of business and how well it operates today?
  • Where are the efficiencies, gaps, risks, and opportunities for change?
  • What is the plan to manage change and achieve the intended ROI?

When a company is considering a cloud for improving business outcomes it should consider how the cloud can fit into its business strategy and associated functions. Cloud implementations are not limited to one type of deployment. There is a wide spectrum of choices available for a company to choose from. Here are some more criteria to consider for selecting a cloud deployment model.

  • Criteria for Public Clouds: The public cloud provides a cost-effective service to business services. Public service model helps businesses to understand the missing components in existing IT portfolio such as outdated applications, issues in extra processing, storage and capacity when needed. The major reasons for adopting a public cloud model for business are cost, speed and specialization. The public cloud offers pay-as-you-go pricing model which gives substantial savings compared to capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx).
  • Criteria for Private Clouds: A private cloud is deployed mostly by very large enterprises and works on the notion of self-service on premise infrastructure managed and maintained by in-house IT. The private cloud can fulfill both the perspectives of business goals and the expanding IT workloads due to increased business activity. A private cloud is designed to deliver better service results, improve agility and efficiency and improve collaboration between the various departments within the organization. A private cloud is designed to solve many of the IT and management problems and offers service availability and centralization of data and applications.
  • Criteria for Hybrid Clouds: Hybrid clouds are a mix of private and public clouds. Hybrid clouds are often viewed by enterprises as an ideal solution to fulfill compliance, avoid vendor lock-ins and to overcome data security and privacy issues. Hybrid clouds are also seen as a strategic option when the private cloud environment cannot always provide the resources required by an application with unpredictable growth patterns. As the application grows the available resources in a private cloud may not be able to support the growing user base. In such cases a hybrid cloud is considered by the organization to own some portion of the infrastructure and the public cloud is used for the remaining resources. In order for a hybrid cloud to be effective, the company must define policies for security loopholes.

A few architectural principles to consider when implementing cloud for the business will include aspects such as

  • Service Orientation
  • Service Foundations for workload profitability between private and public models
  • Service Standards are maintained to ensure business operations without disruptions
  • Ensure Ecosystem alignment to mitigate issues in service or resource availability

Despite the advantages and benefits offered by the cloud models one should make a decision on the right model after carefully weighing the pros and cons and examine service level agreements (SLA) carefully before adoption.