WHITE PAPER. A Practical Guide to Choosing the Right Clouds Option and Storage Service Levels.

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1 WHITE PAPER A Practical Guide to Choosing the Right Clouds Option and Storage Service Levels 1

2 Our job in IT is to provide technology frameworks and an operating model to facilitate but not throttle innovation. 1 Cynthia Stoddard, CIO for NetApp Executive Summary Moving to the Cloud offers many business advantages, and is a natural evolution for many businesses. Organizations are choosing Cloud services to focus their staff on business priorities, fuel top-line growth, increase agility, reduce capital expenses, and pay for only what they need on demand. And the timing couldn t be better as CIOs are becoming brokers of IT services in response to C-Level pressure to support business growth, reduce cost, and improve IT services and IT security. However, organizations can choose from multiple Cloud options, making it challenging and often overwhelming to determine the right option for their business. This paper explains the various Cloud options available both Public and Private and the pros and cons of each, providing a practical guide for organizations to make the best choice Introduction: Realize the Promise of Cloud Computing Today Business owners and IT managers are faced with the challenges of having enough budget and IT staff available to meet the business s demands for supporting and expanding IT systems and applications. Most businesses would like to reduce the complexity of their IT infrastructure, and scale their IT capabilities to accommodate changing business requirements. Specifically, they want to roll out new applications faster to support customers, employees, and partners. And that s challenging, especially in today s world characterized by an incredibly diverse and ever-expanding range of systems, devices and operating systems. Most organizations lack the highly skilled IT workforce to keep such an environment running smoothly without fail. Even if they do maintain such skilled IT personnel, it makes far more business sense to keep them focused on strategic revenue-generating initiatives than on routine system implementation and maintenance. 2

3 Many businesses are now developing or considering strategies to utilize the Cloud to help meet these objectives. After all, in the Cloud, organizations can often deploy new applications and services in hours or days. Plus, many Cloud providers maintain a catalog of selfservice applications that can be deployed almost instantly. In addition, organizations can access nearly limitless computing and storage resources in the Cloud to instantly satisfy strategic growth initiatives or seasonal demands, for example. Cloud services satisfy both business and IT priorities Business priorities: Minimize CAPEX Maximize employee productivity Grow the business Scale resources in real time to support changing demand Meet compliance requirements with the right levels of security Ensure business continuity IT priorities: Manage change Upgrade aging IT infrastructure Manage IT infrastructure and growth without adding staff Optimize utilization Ensure disaster recovery protection Focus staff on growth initiatives Essentially, Cloud hosting represents a very attractive solution for businesses of all sizes. Outsourcing the routine maintenance of IT infrastructure and platforms is an ideal way to refocus skilled IT resources and scarce IT budgets on more strategic business-building projects. Perhaps more than any other technology innovation of the past 15 years, Cloud services offer the most promise when it comes to aligning IT with business goals. So it should come as no surprise that Cloud will be a key component within the IT strategies of many businesses going forward. Cloud Transforms the Way Businesses Are Run But Cloud isn t just a future trend; it s a permanent shift. Organizations can benefit today from the Cloud in the following ways: Reduce complexity by moving infrastructure components and management processes from a multi-silo infrastructure to resource pools that can be managed as units instead of one machine at a time. Dramatically reduce costs, maximizing server utilization by pooling resources, automating operational processes, and using Public Cloud services where appropriate. Deliver and scale IT services regardless of where they are sourced or delivered by flexibly using policy-driven automation and self-service. The Cloud also helps organizations keep things simple, allowing them to move quickly without incurring unnecessary cost. With less IT infrastructure to maintain on-site, software licensing and fixed operational costs decline. In addition, the Cloud helps keep an organization s IT staff productive. With a Cloud infrastructure that s compatible with the organization s on-premise environment, IT teams can organize by services instead of technologies or geographies. As a result, organizations can tap into the full value of their IT employees skills and experience. Businesses also realize a compliance benefit with the Cloud, because consistent infrastructure means one set of policies, no matter where the computing capacity is located. That means lower compliance costs, and more consistent enforcement and reporting. Plus, the Cloud enables business agility keeping on-premise resources lean and efficient, but with plenty of spare capacity available in the Cloud when the business environment changes. Using virtualization to consolidate on-premise resources improves efficiency and cost effectiveness, maintaining quality of service and keeping IT focused 3

4 on value-add innovations. And when customer demand, competitor initiatives, or growth requires a change in capacity, Cloud infrastructure allows instant adaptation. And it works in both directions when the capacity is no longer required, scaling down doesn t require a lot of time and effort to decommission infrastructure, and there s no investment wasted on idle capacity. Most important, Cloud infrastructure allows businesses to innovate quickly, at much lower levels of risk. At the same time, businesses can start at their own pace, taking a phased approach with certain applications hosted in the Cloud. Then when they are more comfortable, they can add additional applications and services. It s no wonder Cloud adoption is on the rise. How to Make the Right Cloud Hosting Choice Though most IT leaders understand that Cloud hosting and services can satisfy both business and IT priorities, many still struggle to determine the optimal choice for their organizations. They wonder whether they should opt for a Public or Private Cloud, and if a Public Cloud, which version? Accelerate application rollouts and time to value with the Cloud Using Cloud infrastructure accelerates every process that stands between an urgent priority and a completed project, from purchasing, testing and provisioning to deployment, scaling and recovery. And they are right to carefully weigh their options. According to Gartner, The rush to cloud computing without a cohesive strategy is resulting in cloud silos that reduce efficiency and effectiveness. 2 Let s start by defining Private Cloud Hosting and Public Cloud Hosting. Simply put, Private Cloud utilizes dedicated resources in the Cloud to create a virtual IT environment, and can be integrated with an organization s onpremise virtual and physical servers. Gartner defines Private Cloud Hosting as one owned, operated and controlled by a single entity for exclusive use of its own user community. This approach makes it easier to address security, privacy, compliance and other risks. However, the organization must make a significant upfront and ongoing investment. And it is unable to leverage the expertise of the external cloud provider. Moreover, flexibility is limited to the capabilities of the installed infrastructure.3 Five Key Considerations for Cloud Models With an understanding of Public and Private Cloud, IT leaders next need to assess both IT and business priorities to determine whether a Private or Public Cloud offering makes the most sense. Some of the key factors to consider when evaluating Cloud models are performance SLAs, flexibility, management, complexity and cost. Selecting the right Cloud model for each application is a tradeoff between these factors (see Figure 1). 4

5 The Clouds Are Lifting Cloud adoption continued to rise in 2013, with 75% of those surveyed reporting the use of some sort of cloud platform up from 67% last year. That growth is consistent with forecasts from GigaOM Research, which expects the total worldwide addressable market for cloud computing to reach $158.8B by 2014, an increase of percent from North Bridge Venture Partners and GigaOM Research, 2013 Future of Cloud Computing Survey Examples of the Tradeoff Scenarios For certain mission-critical applications that are highly complex and require the highest performance SLAs, a traditional data center might be the best option. However, that option is the most expensive, and requires the most in-house management while offering the least amount of flexibility. Less complex applications that desire maximum flexibility, lowest cost, and a fully managed solution, the Public Cloud presents the best option Applications that require more privacy in a non-shared environment with better economics and more flexibility are best suited for a Private Cloud environment. A business may elect to employ all three models to support different types of applications with varying requirements. In other words, organizations may opt to maintain some applications in house while hosting others in the Cloud. 5

6 Application Needs Are the Determining Factor According to Gartner, The types of applications and workloads to be moved can indicate which stage of [cloud] adoption is most appropriate Those applications with the most strict control requirements will take a relatively long time to become commonplace in the public cloud Those applications with moderate control issues [such as those focused on corporate processes or work tracking systems, or help desk and approval tracking] can move in a more timely fashion but still may require some strong consideration as to whether or not the advantages of cloud computing are worth the risks of moving Finally, those applications that are more commoditized or less differentiated can move to the cloud immediately. These include productivity and collaborative applications as well as potentially selfcontained activities such as development and test. 5 What to Seek in a Public Cloud Offering Those organizations interested in the Public Cloud should seek a solution provider that can offer the basics of availability, security and flexibility as listed in Table 1, at a minimum. Availability Security Flexibility High-availability routing and switching SAN storage and storage service levels Table 1. What to seek in a Cloud offering Managed network and security services Data Center Firewalls and security staff Virtual servers Network connectivity options Organizations can then choose between traditional and consumption based hosting. Typically traditional hosting is best for organizations with a small number of Virtual Machines (VMs), while consumption-based is ideal for organizations with a larger number of VMs, allowing them to optimize resources for cost efficiencies across their IT environment. Ideally companies will work with a provider that helps them calculate their baseline computing capacity, and allow them burst capacity to accommodate demand. A consumption-based solution should include all of the above plus the ability to do the following at a minimum: Track and manage computing consumption across business units and scale up or down as needed Pool resources to reduce the cost of server sprawl Make it possible for different divisions to manage their applications through one portal Empower IT teams to maintain total control through an administrator portal Connect to the network via various options in addition to the public Internet. These options should include private MPLS and secure remote access VPN that allow for physical and logical separation or both public and private virtual environments and isolation of private workloads with customizable security settings. 6

7 Don t Overlook Storage Regardless of what kind of Cloud models a business chooses, storage services are a key consideration because data lives on storage. Capacity isn t the key issue; it s the right combination of price and performance for a given application workload. What to Seek in a Private Cloud Offering Many IT leaders want to take advantage of the incredible efficiencies inherent in Cloud virtualization, but still want to maintain visibility and control over their IT infrastructure. This includes the desire to or need for: Move on-premises hardware to the Cloud and manage themselves Move an on-premises virtualized environment to the Cloud and maintain control Extend their on-premises virtualized private environment to the Cloud, and manage entire virtualized environment through a single interface A larger number of Virtual Machines (VMs), especially when 10 or more VMs are needed A private environment with dedicated resources Organizations with these use cases should seek a Private Cloud provided via dedicated resources that enable a business to maintain security and privacy policies and complete control over their own Cloud environment. The ideal solution allows businesses to extend their on-premise virtualized private environment to the Cloud, and manage their entire environment through a single interface. It should also include software for centralized management and control across on-premises and Cloud. In addition, it should offer the same list of standard features as a Public Cloud listed in table 1, at a minimum. What to Seek in Storage Service Levels SERVICE LEVELS FOR SHARED VIRTUALIZED STORAGE, SAN/NAS Example Workloads Performance Backup Target Low File Shares, , Web Content Medium Databases, VDI High OLTP, Analytics Very High Underlying Technology Largest Inexpensive Disk Inexpensive Disks With Read Cache Fast Disks With Read Cache Fast Disks With Flash Read/ Overwrite $/Gb $ $$ $$$ $$$$ % Availability, Non-Disruptive Movement Between Service Levels Table 2. What to seek in storage service levels 7

8 Businesses that have incorporated the Cloud into their technology strategy are able to focus their IT resources on innovation rather than on merely keeping the lights on. This approach paves the way for many more revenue generating opportunities. The provider should not only offer choices of storage service levels, its storage services should include the following features: On-demand scalability to keep applications running Snapshots to provide crash-consistent local and/or offline backup Available off-site backup and/or Disaster Recovery replication Very high availability without disruption due to maintenance/ upgrades Conclusion: Don t Get Left Behind While it s no small undertaking to consider a move to the Cloud, the question isn t whether organizations should move to the Cloud it s when they should make the move. Ultimately the decision hinges on choosing the Cloud provider with the offerings that best serve the organization s IT and business requirements. Not all Clouds are created equal, nor can all providers offer the same variety of Cloud solutions. Choosing the right Cloud is dependent on each organization s unique situation and requirements. While the right choice can elevate the position of IT within the organization, the wrong choice can undermine the value of the IT team. That s why it s critical for organizations to work with a provider such as EarthLink that offers multiple types of Clouds and provides the consultation expertise to help customize a solution. EarthLink Offers the Following Cloud Solutions: Private Cloud Hosting Enables organizations to move or extend their on-premises hardware or virtualized environment to the Cloud, yet retain management via a single interface with the ability to control security and privacy policies. Private Cloud Hosting also supports scalability for larger numbers of Virtual Machines (VMs) and the need for a private environment, with EarthLink providing the dedicated computing resources. Cloud Hosting (traditional public Cloud) Allows organizations to take advantage of everything from a single virtual Cloud server to a complete private Cloud server farm running thousands of server partitions, in either an unmanaged or fully managed hosting environment. Organizations can easily migrate to the hosting service or extend their virtualized environment to EarthLink Public Cloud Hosting as part of their own domain. Cloud Disaster Recovery - Business continuity protection for an organizations data, applications and operating systems. A cloud based server that replicates an organization s primary server environment and can be quickly scaled to fully replace their primary servers to get their systems and applications back up and running 8

9 EarthLink also offers a full range of Professional Services to help organizations leverage the Cloud with migration services that ensure a smooth transition to the Cloud. All EarthLink Cloud Hosting offerings provide network connectivity options including Private MPLS with connectivity to EarthLink Data Center along with a range of security and compliance solutions to support evolving business objectives. Not Sure if Cloud Hosting is Right for Your Business? Let our IT solution consultants design a Cloud IT environment for you with a Professional Services Migration engagement. SOURCES: 1. Forbes, 3 Challenges In Moving To The Cloud (A CIO s Story), November 12, Gartner, How to Select the Right Cloud Management Platform, 23 July Gartner for IT Leaders Toolkit, How to Cut Through the Hype Surrounding Cloud Computing, Ibid 5. Gartner for IT Leaders Toolkit, How to Cut Through the Hype Surrounding Cloud Computing, IDC, IDC Storage Users Demand Study 2013 Spring Edition, IDC #244209, November IDC, IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Scale-Out File-Based Storage 2012 Vendor Analysis Contact us at EarthLink. Trademarks are property of their respective owners. All rights reserved

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