Category Archives: Managed Services

Best Practices in Managed Services

Managed services profession refers to the management of IT assets by a third party on behalf of a customer. Managed services are quite complex and diverse as technologies evolve and business needs change rapidly. To overcome the complexities in providing managed services in IT, a set of best practices have been developed and are followed globally. The best practices can be employed to all types of organizations irrespective of their nature of operations and size. In fact they also allow MSPs to become more efficient, scalable and profitable.

According to MSP Alliance – an International Association of Cloud and Managed Service Providers, the term managed service is defined as: “A Managed service is the proactive management of IT assets or objects by a third party known as MSP on behalf of a customer. The operative distinction that sets apart a MDP is the proactive delivery of their service, as compared to reactive services, which have been around for decades”. Applying this definition in the context of IT, a managed service provider (MSP) is a company that provides IT services that include web hosting, network operations center (NOC) based IT services, applications and equipment to organizations and customers.

In IT services industry, data center companies offer managed services and solutions to a variety of clients in different verticals. MSPs are becoming more generic with functions such as help-desk, cloud services and outsourcing which are quite common nowadays. MSP functions are specific to each type of industry. The most common types of IT solutions under managed services offered by data centers include storage, desktop, hosting applications, servers and security, including mobile device management. At the same time, it is important to note that not all managed service providers are technology based. MSPs can also include areas such as marketing or transportation among many others.

In this post, we explore some of the best practices followed in managed services under IT. MSP is a specialized company which offers IT services to its clients. MSPs provide support to clients in supporting them to choosing the services needed for their operations and then manage them. MSP keeps track of all programs that run in the background of a client company, monitor them and also provide upgrading wherever necessary. In fact managed services follow globally recognized standards of best practices followed in the IT industry. The best practices briefly summarized below can be applied to all types of organizations and are considered as fundamental to running a successful business. The best practices under managed services are:

  • Ethics: MSPs have access to client’s sensitive information, corporate data, knowledge and assets. Therefore the level of trust must not be taken for granted and MSPs have the obligation to protect client information and behave in an ethical manner. MSPs adhering to a strong ethical foundation can easily find their business sustained in the long run.
  • Impartiality: Impartiality is one characteristic that sets the MSP as unique from other IT service providers. The approach by MSPs here is to elevate the client’s interest above the business or commercial interests. This is done by evaluating the situation for client and suggesting a course of action that is in the best interests for client’s growth. Further since MSPs have multiple clients and hence conflict of interest must be avoided at all costs.
  • Statutory regulations and laws: MSPs must be aware of the legal aspects and must be able to advice their clients on protecting their networks, data and information assets from loss. For example, today there are many laws that deal with data breaches for instance laws explain what a company can do during data breach. Good MSPs guide their clients effectively on appropriate legal recourse and support to assess the impact of their clients.
  • Confidentiality and Security: MSPs have access to highly sensitive information provided by clients. Therefore MSPs have to maintain confidentiality and should not divulge information to others. At the same time clients must also develop trust with MSPs and divulge certain important information which will help the MSP to do their job more effectively for the client. MSPs ensure certain precautions to ensure client’s data is secure and security measures are in place.
  • Processes and Tools: Some of the standard IT service delivery processes include ISO, Six Sigma, ITIL, CoBIT, etc. Some MSPs using their knowledge and experience also create their own processes and tools to demonstrate their uniqueness. MSPs by utilizing different tools deliver services to the client. Some common examples of tools include technology monitoring, financial, marketing/sales and so on. Managed service delivery process is one critical tool and a good practice used by all successful MSPs.
  • Disclosure: Disclosure is one best practice or professional obligation by MSPs to their clients. Sometimes disclosure might explain that the MSP is unable to represent a client due to their commitment with another existing client. It is best to interview the nature of the organization prior to agreeing on services.
  • Expertise: Clients approach MSPs with the assumption that they have good levels of IT and business knowledge. In some situations the MSP may not be able to perform a task due to various reasons. MSPs should adhere to maintaining standards and demonstrate proficiency required in a managed services professional.
  • Protection: MSPs naturally tend to protect themselves because IT is a highly coveted area. MSPs tend to regulate their area of expertise and services. This is evidently IT industry is self-regulated by itself for several decades instead of being regulated by some governmental agency. MSPs should also proactively protect themselves by following the best practices from being concluded as harming the welfare of general public.

The above best practices while being followed will certainly result in managed services profession growing in the next several years. Managed services growth is also fueled by increased complexities in IT management and compliance. Businesses need MSPs and this need is largely fulfilled by professional MSPs with their constantly evolving best practices.

CtrlS:Providing Continuity, Customization, Compliance and Control in the Cloud

Post launch of our Cloud Product – Ctrl4C, CIO review magazine has covered it as “Product of the Month” in their May issue. It also features CtrlS in “20 Most promising Cloud Computing Product companies in India” listing positioned at number 2.

Sridhar

With the advent of cloud computing many enterprises today are able to meet their hardware and software requirements with IT infrastructures hosted in huge data centers. Data centers have become an absolute necessity helping enterprises to not only reduce the hardware and software costs but also curtail the ever increasing operational costs. Hence there is no doubt in saying that the future of storage and processing lies in cloud computing and virtualization provided by these data centers. Aiding enterprises, carriers and hosting providers with power, flexibility and economics of cloud computing infrastructure is CtrlS Datacenters headquartered in Hyderabad.

Founded by CEO Sridhar Pinnapureddy, in the year 2008, the IT infrastructure and managed hosting provider delivers infrastructure-on-demand services with automatic scaling of applications, thus exploiting the key benefits of cloud computing. Additionally, with a combination of highest uptime SLAs, low latency networks, 20 percent savings in energy consumption, CTRLS provides benefits to clients with improved business performance, cost effectiveness, and elimination of capital costs required for IT operations. This flexibility also includes security, cost stability, and enterprise-grade performance of a dedicated private datacenter. Based on these factors, the company offers its niche cloud products-CTRL4C and MyCloud.

A four Copy Cloud: CTRL4C

CtrlS, catering to the needs of businesses which wholly revolve around continuity, compliance, customization and control, build a cloud suite that has been built to combat the 4 ‘C’ factors that are key to effective business management. The Four Copy Cloud, CTRL4C is built on the practices mandated by NYSE and RBI for 100 percent data availability and accessibility by provisioning 2N+N network, making it disaster proof. Governed with unique features such as complete compliance and customization, the product offers complete control over IT operations. Thus, with Tier 4 DC offering 99.995 percent infrastructure uptime, it provides the very foundation of the 4C cloud.

MyCloud

Moving on, the company aids enterprises who are on the lookout to harness the power of the RISC, by providing scalability and flexibility of a cloud infrastructure, through MyCloud. With MyCloud, companies get instant deployment of infrastructure for critical business applications or automation projects with ensured cost savings as MyCloud slash Cap-ex to zero. MyCloud also offers capacity on demand with any component mix, be it backup and storage or application and server hardware.

In addition to Ctrl4C and MyCloud, the company further provides certain cloud services for each specific cloud domain, specifically, private cloud, real cloud and the enterprise cloud. In the Private cloud through its range of hypervisor platform, aids companies in meeting the hardware requirements which have been coupled with security and stability. While most customers fall behind in finances while adopting the private cloud, CtrlS, with its cost effective structure provides an advantage. The company further provides a multi-layered management model with its Real cloud, offering a choice in OS images, together with unmatched connectivity and near instant scalability. Companies hence put up and manage applications with ease. Finally, with Enterprise cloud a complete authority is provided to oversee collective resources with use on-demand. Thus, individual elements like memory and disk space are easily scaled and commissioned, making operations live on-demand.

Array of Security Measures

Even though customers benefit from the cloud, security issues are always at the back of their minds. CtrlS averts the concern with its 4C architecture by integrating a list of modules for compliance with an array of security measures. Offering security on a packaged basis (Silver, Gold, Platinum), the company’s security measures range from SSL Encryption, DDoS protection, Web Application Firewall to Host Based Intrusion Detection Systems. Additionally, the Gold and Platinum customers benefit from managed services aligned with the security operations center for proactive monitoring.

Expertise in DRM as an Emerging Differentiator

Moving ahead, the company also boasts of expertise in DRM, through its Disaster Recovery on Demand and Zero Data Loss solutions. CtrlS aids enterprises to bounce back from a disaster, ensuring speedy recovery through its DR on Demand product. With individual IT disaster recovery plans coupled with pay-per-use solutions and negligible cap-ex on disaster facilities, CtrlS makes recovery simple and economical. Taking DR on Demand forward is Zero Data Loss, enabling safeguarding of data by surpassing the Security protocols setup by the Exchange Board of India (SEBI) recovery point for exchanges and depositories.“With CtrlS’s cost effective Zero Data Loss, you can have all the advantages of building your own infrastructure at the fraction of the cost and in almost no time,” says Pinnapureddy.

CtrlS with its secure and fully redundant networks, offering 99.995 percent uptime with zero data loss proves to make a distinction from other competitors in its space. Certified as the Tier 4 datacenter and leveraging over with its 5 ‘9’s capable cloud, CtrlS further plans on building its 4C platform with added ‘control’ capabilities making it user friendly. By providing a rich API aligned with an external SLA management, user experience and provisioning systems, the company continues to offer security, cost stability and enterprise-grade performance creating a robust cloud infrastructure that guarantees success for the enterprise.

Courtesy: http://www.cioreview.in/magazine/CtrlSProviding-Continuity-Customization-Compliance-and-Control-in-the-Cloud-IZNY355416412.html

Data Center Infrastructure is the key to Cloud Service Availability

Cloud computing services are basically provisioned in data centers. Organisations while planning to adopt cloud computing systems must ensure to evaluate the data center which provides the underling foundation and infrastructures for a cloud service model. Tier 4 standard data centers are ideal for clouds because they provide adequate redundancy and fault tolerance to ensure service uptime and zero data loss which is important for cloud service availability.

Widespread interest in cloud computing systems among IT circles is fostering the evolution of different infrastructure models, service levels, and application platforms. Basically cloud computing is a model or infrastructure that provisions resources dynamically and makes them available as services over the internet. Cloud models and services can be accessed by organisations by availing resources as appropriate to satisfy their IT needs. Cloud service levels include Infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS) and Software as a service (SaaS). Cloud computing models are classified as three major types’ namely private clouds, public clouds and hybrid clouds.

Cloud service infrastructures have the ability to scale up or down in terms of storage, compute, and network depending on usage. Organisations view the cloud as a viable alternative to outsource their entire IT infrastructure primarily due to cost savings in terms of capital and operational expenditure. Many organisations have adopted CtrlS cloud model(s) in their business operations and are able to realize business advantage. Cloud computing services are available with Data Centers (DC) in different variants to fulfill organizational business needs. An organisation planning for adopting cloud computing model for their IT operations must ensure to critically understand the architecture of DC from where cloud model is availed.

The key criteria for evaluation include:

  • The underlying infrastructure
  • Redundancies
  • Connectivity
  • Uptime
  • SLAs
  • Services
  • These six areas must be considered by organisations from the perspective of cloud capabilities for continuous service availability and reliability. The above criteria are explained in a bit more detail to provide further understanding on existing cloud capabilities available with CtrlS Data Centers.

    The underlying infrastructure of DC plays an important role in cloud computing because when business grows the infrastructure has to accommodate increasing volumes of data and network traffic. The increasing surge in online transactions both by users and businesses require a cloud infrastructure to handle high volume data growth in terms of storage, network and processing. Most organisations have stringent policies on data privacy. CtrlS Data Centers offers private cloud models for businesses and organisations. Private cloud models offer fully secured data network with robust security features to protect information from falling into wrong hands. The cloud infrastructure is fully flexible, it allows users (organisations) to provision and monitor their resources themselves with automated metering service. CtrlS DC infrastructure is fully equipped to handle high volumes of data and perform complex processing on them without affecting efficiency and performance for users.

    Redundancy in DC is a measure of fault tolerance and also classifies the data center standard. DC standards are basically classified between Tier 1 to Tier 4 standards depending on their power capacities and their ability to quickly restore operations in the event of outage or in the event of component failure. CtrlS data center operations handle lot of mission critical data used by enterprise organizations. Hence the infrastructure cannot afford to experience any type of systems failure. CtrlS DC is built to fulfill Tier 4 standard where each component in the data center is provided with adequate backup components thus ensuring zero outage. Tier 4 data centers have the ability to respond automatically to any kind of failure or hardware malfunction. Hence failure on any one component does not affect other components in the infrastructure thus ensuring zero data loss and zero downtime. Organisations desiring to adopt cloud computing must check for redundancy in DC which has an effect on cloud service availability. Availability is a critical business need.

    Connectivity refers to the network connections on how the components are connected with each other to send and receive data in the DC. DCs are driven by consolidation, virtualization and adaptive architectures that enable flexible visions such as IT as a service, cloud computing and autonomic computing. I/O is a key differentiator because connectivity encompasses many components such as switches, routers, gateways and backbone networks and is measured in terms of throughput and bandwidth. CtrlS cloud models are virtualized to support Ethernet and Fiber channels while each virtual machine (VM) is viewed independently for its configuration. VMs are stored in centralized storage which separates the VM from a single physical server. In order to support multiple VMs in the data center the network infrastructure must provide reliable, flexible and secure data transport. CtrlS data centers are equipped with switching architectures to deliver low latency, throughput and high speed inter connects to support cloud models for efficient transport between servers, storage and end users.

    CtrlS DC is built on Tier 4 standards to ensure fault tolerance and provide guaranteed 99.99% data center uptime. This is an important Service Level Agreement (SLA) metric in terms of service availability and quality of service guarantee. SLAs are defined for the services available in cloud computing models. The user (organisation) may choose the right amount of resources in the cloud and adhere to the corresponding SLAs that define with each resource. For example, SLAs are defined specifically for resources such as storage space, backup, network bandwidth, number of VMs used, etc. SLAs that define security, data privacy, firewalls, uptime, etc are common to all users. The organisation must ensure to define SLAs to be specific, measurable, achievable and timely and most importantly there must be no room for any ambiguity for both cloud service provider and users. CtrlS SLAs are defined to revolve around performance metrics that meet business needs for users availing cloud services.

    CtrlS DC provide additional services and features that include different levels of security, firewalls and intrusion detection systems to mitigate any types of attacks and intrusions. This ensures the entire cloud model fully secure. Further users availing cloud models from CtrlS benefit from a wide range of services such as automated monitoring, UI for resource provisioning, zero downtime, zero CapEx (capital expenditure), etc. Tier 4 standards provide the much needed fault tolerance to ensure high availability at all times.

    Data centers are the foundation for clouds. They provide the underlying infrastructure for clouds to run. Data centers are built with thousands of servers, storage disks, switches, routers and other components to provide security, virtualization and application resilience. In a cloud models users normally look for scalability, reliability and service availability at all times. CtrlS cloud is available for enterprises either big or small. Organisations availing the cloud can benefit immensely in terms of speed and efficiency to generate business value.

Brief on CtrlS by Gartner in MQ for Cloud Enabled Managed Hosting

CtrlS Datacenters Ltd.

CtrlS Datacenters is a managed hosting provider in India, as well as an early public cloud provider in India. It targets enterprises and the banking and financial services sector. It offers cloud-enabled hosting, with multitenant, single-tenant and customer premises options, as well as related managed services. It also provides colocation services. Its cloud data centers are located in Hyderabad and Mumbai.

Strengths
■ CtrlS has good data center infrastructure. It invests in high-grade data centers, an important requirement in India due to the country’s generally poor infrastructure. It is also expanding its data center coverage outside India to support foreign and local MNCs with inbound and outbound hosting requirements. It has data centers in the U.S. and United Arab Emirates, and it plans to extend its coverage to Singapore and Australia.
■ CtrlS provides high-availability services through its high-grade data centers, multi-availability zones and three-way disaster recovery architecture, with a zero-data-loss guarantee. It also has strong security implementations, with good certifications. It is strong in the banking and financial services sector.
■ CtrlS has strong IT services skills, with experience of supporting secure payments and financial transactions for banking and financial services organizations. It tends to take a solution-led approach, which differentiates it from infrastructure-based players.
■ CtrlS is a good choice for Web business hosting in India, as its cloud platform is built for a public cloud service. It has implemented an automated system for monitoring Internet performance in real time that can automatically divert Web traffic to alternative Internet links in cases of degradation.
■ CtrlS is price-competitive, with a choice of hourly and monthly plans. Pricing is also transparent, as in a typical public cloud service. CtrlS also provides volume discounts for enterprise deals.
■ CtrlS has a well-designed cloud management portal, which is easy to use and offers a good choice of features. Customers also say that CtrlS provides good service quality and is very responsive to their requirements.

Cautions
■ CtrlS is still largely a player in India. It is beginning to expand its presence outside its home country, but most of its staff and skills are still concentrated there.
■ CtrlS is relatively young compared with the large and established players in the Asia/Pacific market. The company is funded by private investors and has been investing heavily to support its growth strategy. It has completed its investments in data centers. Over the next three years, it plans to continue to invest aggressively in IT infrastructure, product development and managed services capabilities. It has secured funding for this investment, supported by its strong revenue growth in the past few years. The outlook for CtrlS is positive, although it needs to mature further to compete in a market dominated by large players.