Monthly Archives: October 2015

Private Cloud vs Public Cloud

The debate on which cloud model is right for business often arises when an organization plans to migrate to the cloud. Both, the private and public cloud models have their own set of pros and cons. Any organization migrating to the cloud must first carefully understand public and private clouds for their benefits and disadvantages and finally decide their journey into the cloud.

The advent of cloud computing models is providing new directions for organizations in terms of scope and value. Organizations that are fully dependent on IT to meet business goals have understood the value of cloud computing for its availability, scalability, instant provisioning, virtualized resources and storage. Both private and public cloud models are available from cloud service providers but, first an organization thinking to deploy a cloud service must carefully examine the advantages and disadvantages of both private and public clouds.

Public clouds are hosted services available by cloud service providers on the internet. Organizations that use web servers or application systems where security and compliance requirements are not very rigid normally prefer to use public clouds. For example, public cloud services are available in the form of web based email, data storage or file transfers over the internet, online office applications, web hosting and so on. Public clouds are most suited for start-ups and small businesses because of minimal set up costs. The resources (servers, storage, etc.) are shared between multiple users publicly and the infrastructure, services and usage policies are managed by the service provider.

Contrary to the above, private clouds or enterprise clouds are used by organizations that have security, compliance and data privacy as their top priority. Private clouds are deployed inside firewalls and offer robust IT security for the organization. If a data center infrastructure is already available with the organization the private cloud can be implemented in-house. However, for having in-house private clouds the organization needs to invest heavily in running and maintaining the infrastructure which can result in significant capital expenditure. This can be a major setback for organizations thinking to reduce IT budgets. Private cloud services are also made available by cloud service providers or data centers. Examples of private cloud implementations can be easily found in areas such as banking and financial institutions, large enterprise organizations, government organizations, etc. where only authorized users are able to access the system.

It is essential to understand the intricacies of both these models before deciding to choose the appropriate model for the organization. The table below summarizes the main factors which can be used to determine between private and public clouds.

Private Clouds Public Clouds

Private cloud infrastructure is a dedicated infrastructure provided to one single organization or client.

  • Controls: Better controls for data, users and information assets.
  • Cost: Initial investment for hardware is very high in case of an on-premise infrastructure.
  • Security: The cloud belongs to a single client. Hence, the infrastructure and systems can be configured to provide high levels of security.
  • Superior Performance: Normally private clouds are deployed inside the firewall of the organization’s intranet which ensures efficiency and good network performance.
  • Easy Customization: The hardware and other resources can be customized easily by the company.
  • Compliance: Compliance is achieved easily in private clouds.

In public clouds the resources are shared between multiple clients and all the services are controlled by services provider.

  • Simple and easy: Public clouds are available as a service in the internet, they are easy to deploy.
  • Cost: Initial investment is very low or nil.
  • Less time: The IT resources and services are available immediately saving time for the company.
  • No maintenance: The hardware and networks are maintained by the cloud services provider. Internal IT staffs have no responsibility in maintaining the infrastructure.
  • No contracts: No long term commitment with service provider because public clouds are usually pay-as-you-go models.
  • Cost: Costs are substantial in the case of building an on-premise private cloud. The running cost would include personnel cost and periodic hardware upgrade costs. In the case of outsourced private cloud, operating cost will include per resource usage and subject to change at the discretion of the service provider.
  • Lacks proper controls: The client has no control of data or infrastructure. There are issues of data privacy and integrity. The service level policies and compliances are completely enforced by the service provider.
  • Under-utilization: In some instances the resources subscribed can be under-utilized. Hence, optimizing the utilization of all resources is a challenge.
  • Performance: The performance of the network depends on the speed of the internet connectivity.
  • Capacity ceiling: Due to physical hardware limitations with the service provider, there could be a capacity ceiling to handle only certain amount of servers or storage.
  • Weak on Security: Since the hardware resource is shared between multiple users, IT security issues are more profound and data is vulnerable to thefts.
  • Vendor lock-in: This can be a major impediment in private cloud adoption especially when the hardware and infrastructure is outsourced. This is a service delivery technique where the client company is forced to continue with the same service provider, thus preventing the client to migrate to another vendor.
  • Customization: Customization of resources or services is not possible.

Depending on the organization’s computing environment based on the above factors along with the levels of security and scalability needed, the organization can decide between deploying a private or public cloud.

Top 5 benefits of Desktop as a Service (DaaS) Adoption

Organizations constantly face the need to upgrade or replace many of their client systems due to changes in technology and to use new applications. These physical systems are replaced by virtual machines by deploying desktop as a service (DaaS) solutions which offers many new exciting end-user computing solutions for organizations. DaaS offers the potential for organizations to accomplish multiple objectives: minimize costs, simplify IT management, improve security and employee productivity and make the organization more competitive and many more.

The advances of technology such as cloud computing and virtualization is enabling organizations to capture value. In the current competitive environment IT faces many challenges that include reduced budgets, increased security, availability of data and applications on multiple operating platforms, mobility for employees and remote access computing. To reduce expenses on end-user computing infrastructure, many organizations considered the solution of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to enhance desktop management. However implementing VDI in-house required high upfront costs and people with specialized skills which were difficult. To overcome some of these issues, desktop virtualization provides the potential solution.

Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) is a computing approach under desktop virtualization which enables the movement for organizations from physical to virtual desktops where the applications and infrastructure is managed from the cloud. The significance of DaaS was highlighted by industry experts, such as the report, ‘The Year of DaaS’ in 2014 by VMware and Citrix. In simple terms, DaaS can be understood as a service where users are able to gain access on anything using any device running any operating system from anywhere.

Compared to client-server computing, DaaS can significantly reduce costs and enhances productivity because employees are able to work from anywhere and anytime. This in turn helps organizations to provide an employee friendly workplace by supporting BYOD. DaaS is made available from the cloud infrastructure and hence it is easily scalable and elastic – maximum performance for any number of devices. Gartner indicated that with the advent of DaaS, PC shipments have reduced significantly worldwide to almost 7% in 2014.

In addition to these advantages, DaaS offers some top benefits for organizations that include,

  • Financial benefit: Organizations migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8 would need to upgrade their client hardware. Using DaaS clients can access data using any device running any OS. This eliminates the need for upgrades, thus resulting in substantial savings from capital expenditure spent on client hardware. In addition to reduced capital costs, savings in operating cost is possible because data, applications, storage and maintenance are done from a centralized location. This eliminates the running cost in maintaining client systems.
  • Efficient Management of IT: Organizations need not have to wait for weeks or months to upgrade and configure client desktops. Instead, IT resources and appropriate desktop rights are made available for the entire organization within few hours. In DaaS, work-related systems and applications are centralized thus allowing IT assets to be managed efficiently. DaaS is considered an ideal solution for organizations that have recently undergone a merger or acquisition, because the service helps in overcoming the biggest challenge of managing disparate infrastructure. With DaaS new employees can be integrated quickly without any major overhaul of IT infrastructure.
  • Mobility and Employee Productivity: The recent trends of mobility such as bring your own device (BYOD) is supported by DaaS. More and more users are clamoring for mobile access to applications, data and services. DaaS offers to provide consistent performance no matter the type of device format or brand. Employees using their own devices can login to their company systems and immediately access information from applications such as ERP, CRM, etc. This benefit is found highly useful in global industries such as financial services, travel and retail to mention a few.
  • Increased Security: DaaS helps companies overcome many risks by maintaining all sensitive data and applications in a central location. Data and applications when stored in client systems are easy targets for hacking attacks, loss, theft and corruption. Since DaaS maintains data in the cloud, helps IT to overcome the nightmare of security gaps. For instance the security challenge of BYOD can be mitigated by implementing consistent set of security protocols across user devices irrespective of any hardware or OS.
  • Support for new business capabilities: Organizations seek to acquire best talent from around the world. The recent trends in workforce demand environments such as flexible work timings, ability to mix personal lives, collaborate with partners and social business initiatives are easily enabled by desktop virtualization. DaaS enables mobility where employees are able to address customer needs immediately, collaborate with others while gaining access to company data. This in turn provides new strategic directions for improving value for the organization without any additional cost.

The move by organizations from physical PCs and laptops to DaaS is mainly influenced by the benefits mentioned above. DaaS significantly lowers upfront costs and support expenses which are high in the case of traditional client-server computing. Most of the security concerns faced by IT are easily alleviated. Companies looking to reduce costs and flexibility should consider using DaaS in today’s fast moving business scenarios.

Top 5 Benefits of CDN Adoption

When a website is slow to respond, users are mostly likely to lose interest and may not visit that site again. Content delivery networks offers to solve the problem of poor response and low performance of websites, even though the performance of websites depends on many factors such as internet connectivity at user end or network congestion and so on. Adopting CDN services will certainly help enterprises and online businesses to efficiently deliver content for users anywhere on the world-wide-web.

According to Internet World Stats, the growing number of internet users across the globe is estimated to exceed over 3 billion in 2015 and poised to increase constantly. Business enterprises view this as a potential opportunity to reach millions of users across continents and beyond their geographical boundaries. The challenge here is to find ways to deliver content and information to all these users efficiently and quickly. However, while delivering content over vast distances there are many bottlenecks which can affect the performance of web sites. The challenge of providing efficient content can be understood as a three step process:

  • A user makes a request. The request will travel to an origin server and the response has to travel back to user, maybe over long distance. This takes time for the user to receive a quick response.
  • The slow response times of web content in the internet may be due to network congestion or due to heavy load on the web server. User-perceives the website performance as slow due to the time taken to complete the cycle.
  • The connectivity between the user and the internet may be inefficient and this may also cause delays.

Content delivery network (CDN) services provide an ideal solution to improve speedy delivery of content to users for ensuring efficient web performance. CDNs basically replicate content from an origin server to cache servers scattered across different geographic locations throughout the internet. The purpose of caching across different servers is to serve content directly to the user thus significantly reducing page-load time. For example, delays in web page response are not acceptable for e-commerce websites in particular.

Aberdeen Group research report titled “Performance of Web Applications: Customers are gained or lost in one second”, explains that 1 second page delay can result in 16% decrease in customer satisfaction. Further, 1 second delay can impact overall corporate revenue by up to 9%. These figures obtained from their survey show that application performance problems can impact heavily and highlight the need to optimize web applications performance for a pleasant user experience.

CDN is highly essential for organizations interested in global internet connectivity to communicate with consumers. This service is available from data centers or can be implemented in the enterprise network. CDN architecture will ensure that bottleneck issues related to web site performance are overcome by caching and replicating content across multiple servers to serve consumers in their respective geographical locations. Given below are top 5 benefits for companies adopting CDN services in their existing web based applications and infrastructure.
1. Opportunities for global reach: An e-commerce web site catering to customers online with products and services will be able to interact online with customers efficiently thus generating business value. Further CDN services offers content efficiently to any user in any location. This eliminates delays and interruptions in long distance online transactions which impacts business bottom-lines.
2. Better response with reliability: A business enterprise involved in online sales would require speed in order to attract new customers. If pages are slow in loading it can really damage sales and result in poor customer satisfaction. CDNs ensure efficient business operations online to result in better customer satisfaction.
3. Capacity and availability with minimal packet loss: CDNs distribute and replicate content across participating servers dynamically with automatic and instantaneous user re-direction. CDN servers are strategically placed to maximize network capacity and to handle concurrent users efficiently. This ability offers 100% availability of information assets even during network or hardware outages at any one location. From the perspective of the user, web content is available seamlessly without disruptions with high quality of service.
4. Better Analytics and Serviceability: CDNs provide more control of content delivery and network load. It offers valuable analytical information to understand web site usage trends. Analytics will include number of page views, which information are viewed more and show active usage regions to discover the viewing pattern of customers. This can help advertising and marketing analysts to target customers based on their online behaviour. Advertisers use this information to provide better services for online visitors.
5. Cost benefit: The investments made in infrastructure and hosting a web site at multiple locations is eliminated by CDN service. Companies desiring to reach customers beyond their geographical borders benefit greatly because availing CDN service offers a single platform for global reach at less cost.

CDNs accelerate web content across the globe to offer an efficient single-platform for content delivery for enterprises. It simplifies global reach for web sites through high performance delivery of content and assets which leads to user satisfaction and ultimately business value.

Cloud Enables Business Agility, Scalability and Cost Optimization

In highly volatile markets, business organizations follow strategies to explore new opportunities. These strategies will be based on agility, flexibility and developing capacities to scale up or down to stay ahead of competitors. Cloud computing service models promote business growth because they promote business agility due to advantages such as scalability and cost savings.

Cloud computing in any of its forms viz, IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS enables organizations to minimize their complexities in running their own infrastructure. According to Gartner, IT service industry is constantly facing challenges from two opposing areas – Business and IT. On the one hand, business organizations demand new and innovative systems to engage customers, gain new markets and promote efficient partner interactions. On the other, there is a constant demand for reliable and efficient IT services to handle business demands efficiently. Cloud based services due to their scalable nature can be considered an ideal solution to tackle both these challenges.

To understand how cloud can enable business agility, we consider one business example. Suppose the sales and marketing team identifies one new opportunity to be capitalized quickly, there is an immediate need for new systems and applications which normally takes over 3 or 4 weeks to setup, by which time the opportunity could be lost. Cloud models provide on-demand IT resources rapidly to make available the network infrastructure along with applications which can be used by the organization immediately to gain value. When this opportunity ceases the resources can be de-scaled, thus saving cost in investing and maintaining new hardware.

Organizations desiring to be agile tend to be more elastic in their approach in responding to changing market needs quickly and cloud models due to their elasticity allows organizations to innovate and experiment with minimum financial impact. Hence, business agility is the ability to capitalize on new potential opportunities much more quickly than competitors. According to one study done by HBR analytic services in 2014, companies are adopting cloud computing to increase business agility and gain competitiveness.

Cloud computing due to its ability to scale plays a key role fostering business agility. Scalability refers to functioning efficiently in changed business contexts. For example, consider an e-commerce portal selling gift items and life style products that performs around 2000 transactions per week on the average. The same portal can experience a rapid surge in the number of hits going up to 2 million transactions during festive season. In order to handle such sudden rise in volume, the servers, storage and network needs to scale upwards automatically to handle transactions easily. Cloud models provide automatic scaling or de-scaling of servers, storage and network bandwidth to handle large volumes efficiently. Likewise, again when the demand is low, the cloud bandwidth will adjust itself to the volume of data. Therefore, clouds helps to converge different business processes through rapid provisioning of resources (storage, compute, network, etc.) to handle changes in size or volume of data to fulfill changing business needs driven by external environments.

Cost optimization in cloud is another area for discussion within business circles. Cloud computing models do not require spending money on purchase of new hardware or there is no capital expenditure involved instead, the money spent in using a cloud service model is known as operating expenditure. There are two payment models offered by cloud service providers. One is known as pay-per-use model where the consumer is charged for utilizing a resource for a specified duration. Pay-per-use can be any type of resource such as hardware, software, or application (for example, storage in GB, CPU, network bandwidth, etc.). In this model the consumer pays for each resource utilized. The advantage here is that when the resource is not utilized or needs to scale down it can be returned back to the data center and no charges are billed to the consumer.

The other model is fixed price model where the consumer pays a fixed amount for certain amount of unit resources for a time period (normally in months or a year). Fixed price model is also known as subscription model. In the subscription model the consumer also pays for resources that are not actually used or consumed. This is seen as wastage of resource and cost. The company depending on its business need can choose the most appropriate pricing model in order to benefit from operating costs. It may also be noted that pay-per-use model is dynamic where the prices are changed according to resource purchased.

In addition to pricing, cloud computing optimizes cost to a large extent because the benefits of agility are more profound and substantial in the long run than mere cost savings. The scalable nature of cloud computing in its service delivery model along with the integration of external information sources caters to business growth efficiently. Cloud computing technologies with their service models is a true enabler for organizations to achieve business agility, scalability and cost optimization.