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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.

Top 5 Benefits of Cloud Adoption

Over the past few years cloud computing services and delivery models are being embraced by organizations globally for their numerous benefits. The data aggregated from cloud adoption trends show that companies are willing to use cloud services due to their business and IT benefits and to avoid costs in maintaining and upgrading their in-house infrastructure. The various cloud service models available from cloud service providers in combination offer an added advantage for companies planning to adopt a model that is most appropriate for their operations.

Cloud computing services provide the opportunity for companies to adopt the best suited service delivery models in combination to address business needs with efficiency and speed. The benefits offered by the cloud in general are: collaboration, data availability, flexibility, greater business agility and cost savings. Cloud computing services are providing the headlights on how companies can invest and use technology. This is further highlighted by the report titled “Cloud adoption Practices & Priorities Survey Report” published by Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) in January 2015. Their survey shows an interesting 86% of IT companies have adopted some kind of cloud service within their organization.

Benefits of Cloud AdoptionThe focus of this article is to understand some of the top benefits that can be derived from cloud from the perspective of organizations’ as a whole. The main advantage of cloud adoption is that it offers scalable enterprise IT with speed. Speed can be understood as efficiency and is a pre-requisite for gaining competitive advantage. The cloud offers the required speed for a company to launch new products quickly and gain competitiveness in markets easily. Cloud models create what is known as ‘shadow IT’, where the need for IT personnel is reduced and employees are able to use enterprise applications efficiently. This can be another advantage. Hence, companies in almost all sectors irrespective of their size, scale and strategic goals can reap benefits from the cloud.

The top 5 benefits of cloud computing are:

1. Reduced Capital Expenditure: Capital expenditure refers to money incurred on purchasing new hardware and in building and managing an in-house IT infrastructure. In the case of cloud, there is no need for any in-house infrastructure equipment as the entire network and storage infrastructure can be made available from a data center. Likewise the company need not spend money in upgrading hardware and buying software licenses with limited time span because the cloud service provider will take the responsibility for providing infrastructure and provisioning resources (both hardware and software) for the company to suit business needs. In the cloud, resources are made available on-demand and redundant resources can be returned back, thus saving cost. Similarly the company may not spend money on hiring IT personnel to look after the infrastructure. Also, the cloud provides the ability to expand easily in future without additional expense in purchasing in-house equipment.

2. Scalability, Flexibility and mobility: Cloud allows users the ability to scale or de-scale infrastructure on demand with ease, resulting in optimal utilization of resources. This apart, cloud services allow users to access resources from remote locations using any type of device (Tablets, Laptops, Smartphones, etc.). Data, files and documents can be accessed around the clock and it is also possible to work online replicating an office environment. Hence, flexibility and mobility are inherent benefits which make employees to be productive. Cloud models provide everything that allows people to stay connected while being mobile.

3. Easy to maintain and upgrade: The management of infrastructure (servers, storage, software, network, bandwidth, etc.) is the responsibility of the cloud service provider. With this benefit the in-house IT personnel can be allocated with other work and may not engage themselves full time to monitor the IT department. Cloud service providers hire teams of experts who are responsible to ensure continuity of service. In addition to this, upgrades are done by the service provider and may not be done in-house which saves time and money for users. This implies that whenever a new solution or a patch is implemented in the cloud, it becomes available to all the users immediately at no extra cost.

4. Enhanced IT security: The area of IT security is highly critical for organizations. Many companies have compromised their data and information due to security breaches or attacks. Cloud computing actually makes servers and storage more secure by defining different levels of security by implementing robust intrusion detection and prevention systems, firewalls and performing security audits regularly in their data centers to protect data. As cloud computing models are maturing fast the aspect of security and fear of data loss or theft is relieved for the user.

5. Ensures Business Continuity: This benefit refers to providing continuous IT services to ensure continued business operations during events such as technology outage, hardware failure or even unexpected disasters such as fire or flood. Business operations can be seriously affected and disrupted for many days during such events particularly in case of in-house IT systems. The remote working capabilities offered by cloud models ensures user data and services are available during unforeseen events. With cloud services, employees can simply login normally from their laptops and perform work as usual. In addition to the above benefits, there are many more advantages of cloud computing services. Clouds ensure smooth integration of data during mergers and acquisitions, launch new business products or services without spending money on supporting systems and leveraging latest technology and tools to foster a tech-savvy enterprise, and so on, to mention a few more advantages.

Content Delivery Network and its Business Benefits

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) accounts for large share of delivering content across websites users and networks across the globe. The content found in the websites of today contain a variety of formats such as text, scripts, documents, images, software, media files, live streaming media and on-demand streaming media and so on. In order to deliver such diverse content to users across the globe efficiently, CDNs are deployed in datacenters. CDNs accelerate website performance and provide a numerous benefits for users and also for the network infrastructure.

The internet is a collection of numerous networks or datacenters. The growth of the world-wide-web and related technologies along with proliferation of wireless technologies, cloud computing, etc. is leveraging users to access the internet with multiple devices in addition to computers. Web servers deployed in networks on the internet cater to most of the user requests on the internet. But, when web servers are located in one single location it becomes increasingly difficult to handle multiple workloads. This has an effect on website performance and efficiency is reduced significantly. Further, users access a variety of applications such as interactive multimedia apps, streaming audio and video along with static and dynamic web pages across millions of websites which require efficient and robust network infrastructures and systems. In order to balance the load on infrastructures and to provide content quickly to end users CDNs are deployed in data centers.

Content Delivery Networks (CDN) is a system of servers deployed in different geographical locations to handle increased traffic loads and reduce the time of content delivery for the user from servers. The main objective of CDN is to deliver content at top speed to users in different geographic locations and this is done by a process of replication. CDNs provide web content services by duplicating content from other servers and directing it to users from the nearest data center. The shortest possible route between a user and the web server is determined by the CDN based on factors such as speed, latency, proximity, availability and so on. CDNs are deployed in data centers to handle challenges with user requests and content routing.

CDNs are used extensively by social networks, media and entertainment websites, e-commerce websites, educational institutions, etc. to serve content quickly to users in different locations. Organizations by implementing CDN solutions stand to gain in many ways that include,

  • Faster content load / response time in delivering content to end users.
  • Availability and scalability, because CDNs can be integrated with cloud models
  • Redundancy in content, thus minimizing errors and there is no need for additional expensive hardware
  • Enhanced user experience with CDNs as they can handle peak time loads
  • Data integrity and privacy concerns are addressed

The benefits of CDNs are more emphasized by examining its usage in a few real time application areas. Some common application areas include,

  • E-Commerce: E-commerce companies make use of CDNs to improve their site performance and making their products available online. According to Computer World, CDN provides 100% uptime of e-commerce sites and this leads to improved global website performance. With continuous uptime companies are able to retain existing customers, leverage new customers with their products and explore new markets, to maximize their business outcomes.
  • Media and Advertising: In media, CDNs enhance the performance of streaming content to a large degree by delivering latest content to end users quickly. We can easily see today, there is a growing demand for online video, and real time audio/video and other media streaming applications. This demand is leveraged by media, advertising and digital content service providers by delivering high quality content efficiently for users. CDNs accelerate streaming media content such as breaking news, movies, music, online games and multimedia games in different formats. The content is made available from the datacenter which is nearest to users’ location.
  • Business Websites: CDNs accelerate the interaction between users and websites, this acceleration is highly essential for corporate businesses. In websites speed is one important metric and a ranking factor. If a user is far away from a website the web pages will load slowly. Content delivery networks overcome this problem by sending requested content to the user from the nearest server in CDN to give the best possible load times, thus speeding the delivery process.
  • Education: In the area of online education CDNs offer many advantages. Many educational institutes offer online courses that require streaming video/audio lectures, presentations, images and distribution systems. In online courses students from around the world can participate in the same course. CDN ensures that when a student logs into a course, the content is served from the nearest datacenter to the student’s location. CDNs support educational institutes by steering content to regions where most of the students reside.

In the internet, closer is always better to overcome problems in latency and performance, CDNs are seen as an ideal solution in such situations. Since CDNs share digital assets between nodes and servers in different geographical locations, this significantly improves client response times for content delivery. CDN nodes or servers deployed at multiple locations in data centers also take care of optimizing the delivery process with users. However, the CDN services and the cost are worked out in SLAs with the data center service provider.

How cloud computing can foster business agility?

In the current competitive market scenario, business agility is one key enabler for businesses to sustain their operations and achieve competitive gains. Business agility is all about adapting quickly to rapid market conditions and not getting lost in the competition. Conventional IT infrastructures have issues in quickly provisioning resources to support new business initiatives. Cloud computing models are an ideal IT service solution to overcome issues in IT resources and simultaneously promote business agility to achieve competitiveness.

Cloud service providers claim that adopting a cloud for business will lead to competitiveness and optimize business outcomes by improving agility. These claims is inspiring but let us first understand agility from the perspective of both, business and IT and examine how cloud models can support business agility. Firstly, the definition of business agility states that it is a term or a concept where organizations approach their markets and operational changes as a matter of routine. Business agility is a quality in which organizations adjust immediately to changing market conditions, take advantage of potential opportunities quickly, rapidly deploy new distribution channels at reduced costs and maximize their profits in the process.

CIOs experts claim that among the number of new technologies available, cloud computing models are ideal to realize business agility within an organization. This is because cloud models permit scalability (up and down), adjustable per user costs, pay for each resource and so on. Cloud computing can embrace an agile organization by supporting mobility, encouraging internal communication through collaboration software and permit interactions with customers in real time in order to create a constant feedback loop to drive business agility efforts.

The concept of agility is similar to the methods of agile project management where project teams analyze their priorities and project tasks are continuously evaluated throughout the entire project life cycle, rather than evaluating outcomes and performance at the end of the project. Basically, business agility is a systematic approach in change management which provides a framework for the organization on how to respond to change without neglecting the needs of the entire organization. An agile enterprise is understood as immune to change, and proficient in adopting itself to any change (internal or external) in a sustainable manner.

Agility is achieved in cloud computing because of its elasticity and flexibility. IT resources can be deployed much quickly and can be increased or decreased to meet market demand. Due to this flexibility enterprises can introduce new products or services, and adapt to changing circumstances. This flexibility and elasticity is applicable to all cloud deployment models. In addition to this since, the infrastructure is managed by an external cloud services organization there is no need to train IT staff within the company. Cloud models support agility in certain key areas for business enterprises, they are:

  • Quickly adapt to changing business processes: In agility existing business processes are changed or new processes are introduced. This change in processes would require IT resources to be replaced or new resources to be added. Cloud computing easily handles these changes by allowing companies to quickly add or change IT resources easily to support their changed processes.
  • Enables on-demand resources for development and testing: Resources are needed to support business processes and to test and develop new software. Procuring new resources and implementing them within the existing infrastructure can be time consuming and can introduce significant delays in capitalizing business opportunities. This can also be a business risk since money is spent on new expensive resources and must not become counterproductive. Adopting a cloud model will eliminate these risks as resources are available on-demand which saves time. Further, the usage based payment offered by cloud models replaces the initial up-front cost spent on new resources within the company.
  • Optimizes IT budgets: The usage model of pay per resource supports business companies to implement and test projects faster, saving money from new resources to be procured and made available. This eliminates budget allocation for IT capital expenditure, and supports finance to easily allocate fixed costs incurred on monthly basis. Cloud models makes it possible to have good control on unexpected IT spending with very little effort.
  • Focus more on IT strategies: Clouds are flexible and can scale quickly to provide speed and efficiency for business processes and transactions. Cloud applications can be accessed via the internet which supports businesses to access their elements and have more productive interactions with customers. IT teams have less burden of maintaining an infrastructure and the focus can be more on implementing new applications that are productive and will drive business results.

In June 2014, HBR Analytic Services conducted a survey titled “Business Agility in the Cloud” to show the link between the cloud, business agility and increased competitive advantage. The survey sponsored by Verizon included 527 participants from large and medium business enterprises. The results indicate that 71% of the responses have implemented cloud computing to reduce complexities in business processes and IT management. Within the cloud adopters, 74% mention that their business is able to achieve competitive advantage by moving their business processes to the cloud.

The Verizon report also explains that 32% of the companies having adopted the cloud are able to achieve business agility in rapidly changing and competitive markets. These 32% respondents further emphasize that with cloud adoption their enterprises are able to see benefits around speed, simplification and are able to connect with people and data which are all enablers of business agility. Looking into the above benefits and advantages and data, cloud computing models are becoming mainstream IT delivery models for enterprises.

CIO’s Priorities in the Digital Enterprise

The role of CIO in organization is very critical because CIOs play a major role of transforming business to result in enhanced value by the use of technology. CIOs plan technology implementations to drive new business initiatives and generate new revenue streams for maximizing business value. CIOs make use of new technology trends to enhance business and also transform challenges into opportunities. The CIO predictions for 2015 and beyond are provided.

In the current scenario, technology has enabled business companies to become highly distributed. Organizations face a new set of challenges in the current context of globalization and in free markets. The challenges are mostly related to the ability of organizations to capitalize on potential business opportunities, people and resources in distant markets. New sets of challenges arise when operating business in distant markets and they provide a dilemma to both CEO and the CIO. While planning IT systems for business processes, CIOs often face the problem of delivering acceptable IT services using existing resources. CIOs also face challenges in using IT to generate business value. They often come across fundamental questions like, investing more money on infrastructure, using IT to drive new business initiatives and/or consolidate at the expense of user experience and save cost.

In such scenarios, it becomes important to understand the expectations of IT in business. Business expects IT to fulfil certain fundamental requirements such as,

  • Flexibility: Businesses look at IT to support business to respond effectively to opportunities and challenges presented by the market. It must also provide models for business to develop strategies for making use of new opportunities. Many global enterprises make use of IT to achieve value quickly.
  • Simplicity: The increases in technology implementation must not led to more complexity, in fact just adding more storage or bandwidth may not always provide as an acceptable approach for business to compete. To ensure simplicity, CIOs may consider investing in technologies like data protection, virtualization and wireless connectivity, and so on to compete effectively in competitive markets. Simplicity refers to making an assessment on where to cut costs and take business forward.
  • Security: Security refers to the protection of systems and information from threats (viruses, worms, etc), disasters (natural or manmade) and from hackers with malicious intent. IT must ensure that business is able to prevent and recover as quickly as possible from threats.
  • Business continuity: Business expansion across geographical boundaries has increased the need for anywhere, anytime access to IT. Applications must be available at all times (24×7) and therefore, delays or loss of data for any reason can lead to adverse consequences for businesses. IT needs to ensure business continuity by ensuring IT service availability and reliability.

The above are some of the business imperatives for IT. Gartner Research and IDC technology trends suggests that in order to meet business demands through IT, CIOs can leverage on new technology trends that include,

  • Hybrid clouds and cloud architectures
  • Smart machines
  • Web Scale IT
  • 3D Printing
  • The Internet of things (IoT)
  • Mobile applications, mobile diversity and management
  • Big Data analytics

The business imperatives for IT and trends in new technology take us to having a closer look at CIO predictions for 2015 and beyond. IDC in October 2014 hosted a web conference named IDC Futruescape: Worldwide CIO Agenda 2015 Predictions to highlight the predictions for 2015 and beyond. Based on this conference and IDC FutureScape report CIOs and company leaders can capitalize on emerging business opportunities and plan for future growth.

The predictions for CIOs in 2015 as given by IDC include,

  • CIOs will spend maximum time in analytics, cyber security, and creating new streams of revenue through the use of digital services. By 2017, CIOs will be spending 80% of their time in these areas.
  • IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) will be required by organizations to achieve global competitive strategies. IDC predictions indicate 65% third-party ITaaS adoption by enterprise organizations.
  • The top business priority for CEOs of global enterprises is security.
  • CIOs will use DevOps as their primary tool to effectively engage the speed and sprawl of mobile, cloud and open source applications.
  • IDC suggests that by 2016, CIOs will be able to deliver new frameworks that enable innovation and improved decision making in business.
  • Global organizations by 2020 may move the position of CIO to be named as Chief Digital Officer (CDO) for the delivery of IT enabled products and digital services.
  • CIOs in order to counter premature expiry of IT assets may accelerate the existing infrastructure to third party platforms. By 2016, 80% of CIOs are likely to make this step.
  • CIOs in global organizations are in the process of developing a pan-enterprise data and analytics strategy.
  • Third party platform technologies used for vendor relationships are quite likely to fail. This failure will result in CIOs rolling out new sourcing processes.
  • CIOs favour open standards and frameworks instead of traditional mode of technology control.

The IDC study provides top decision imperatives for CIOs in 2015 and beyond. These predictions are based on strategic contexts on how CIOs apply technology to business challenges and transform challenges into opportunities in the enterprise.

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.