Where Infrastructure-as-a-Service is Going — and Why It’s in High Demand

According to the September 2012 “Australian Infrastructure as a Service Market” report from Frost & Sullivan, the compound annual growth rate for the IaaS market Down Under is expected to grow almost 50 per cent by 2018. The report notes that small, medium and large organisations are choosing this cloud services model for reasons beyond cost savings, including to address the following issues:

  • Production workloads: Of IaaS users polled in a survey by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), more than 80 per cent are running production workloads on IaaS, with 67 per cent running mission-critical workloads. Previously, organisations stuck to using cloud services to run development and testing. The migration of production workloads to cloud services demonstrates a greater trust in the IaaS model amongst enterprise organisations.
  • Cloud services for storage: Seventy per cent of cloud customers are using IaaS cloud services for infrastructure storage. The appeal of IaaS here is that it moves critical infrastructure offsite, which cuts business risk for organisations that might be in natural disaster-prone areas.

Where IaaS Makes the Greatest Impact

IaaS cloud services provide a number of attractive benefits that help organisations save on capital expenditure, leverage scale and free up their internal IT staff for more strategic projects. The below features are the main reasons enterprise-level organisations are starting to use IaaS cloud services more:

  • The ability to reallocate department resources.  Like any outsourced service, electing to have a third party manage infrastructure frees IT employees to focus on projects and strategies that provide more value to the department and organisation. The need for ongoing infrastructure education and ensuring proper staffing levels is eliminated. Certain IT employees can also serve as liaisons to the IaaS cloud services provider for day-to-day concerns as well as for taking advantage of this strategic partnership.
  • Flexible billing. Beyond the immediate cost savings of no longer having to pay upfront for infrastructure costs, IaaS cloud services permanently move capital expenditure to a more flexible operational realm. IaaS is available on a pay-per-use or pay-as-you-go model, billed as continual operational expense, a key advantage over large on-premises infrastructure investments.
  • A scalable model. As application usage escalates or declines, so can the IaaS supporting the software. There’s no delay in selecting and installing hardware. IaaS can adjust with a call to your cloud services provider without having to buy or waste more infrastructure.

What are your plans for leveraging IaaS in your organisation?

Security in the Cloud Part I: Creating a Business Process Policy

Even though private Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud takes hardware management off an organisation’s plate, it doesn’t shirk their responsibility for security. In fact, the IaaS model tends to bring more security responsibilities to the organisation than other cloud models because the provider is only responsible for the infrastructure, according to the Cloud Security Alliance.

The good news is organisations can do their part to ensure the cloud remains secure by using a business process approach. By looking at what data employees have access to in the regular IT environment, organisations can begin to formulate a security policy in line with business operations. Here are security questions organisations should ask themselves when moving to private IaaS cloud.

What are your security and privacy requirements? What are the industry or government regulations to which your organisation must adhere?

How will you classify data and who owns it? This task might be given to a designated person in each department, who then can also give other individuals access to the data as they see fit.

Who has access to what? This includes managing authorisations, including employees who may need to gain access to additional privileges.

How will you add or remove users? This is essential for when new hires come on board or employees leave. Also keep in mind how quickly you want to be able to remove a user.

What web sites can be accessed? And how can users access blocked web sites they might need?

What data do you want to protect from other internal users? For instance, pay information is usually walled off from all other departments and users.

How will you monitor data and activity? This is crucial to watch for changes made to data, compliance with SLAs and for when it comes time to do data audits.

A good cloud services provider will guide you through your security process policy so that it matches up with your technical security requirements. Stay tuned for Part II where we delve into the technical security piece of your cloud.

Respecting Privacy: Keeping Data Confidential in the Cloud

By Lauren Fritsky

Data privacy has officially overtaken security as the No. 1 cloud computing concern among Australian enterprises, according to research by Forrester Consulting. While it’s smart to be aware of privacy issues related to data that might be stored in the cloud, enterprises can alleviate some of these worries by choosing a local cloud services provider.

Australia takes privacy seriously

One of the reasons Australia was ranked No.2 in cloud readiness out of 24 countries on the BSA Cloud Computing Scorecard is because of its rigorous Privacy Act. These laws tightly govern how customer data and corporate records are stored, managed and accessed and require enterprises to ensure ongoing protection of customer information transferred into the cloud, regardless of where the cloud services provider is located. This means if information stored overseas encounters a privacy breach, there may be little recourse the enterprise has against the provider; the Australian enterprise also remains liable for the breach.

By storing highly-sensitive data for both the government and the enterprise in onshore data centres, Datacom warrants adherence to these strict local privacy standards and helps organisations fulfil their requirement to keep customer data private – key reasons why we were selected as the No. 1 Local Provider for IaaS by Longhaus.

Enterprises know where their data is

Many enterprises view data residency as very closely related to data privacy; the physical location of the data also determines which privacy regulations bind it. If a business puts Australian data in a cloud located in the United States, it has two countries’ regulations to adhere to. Some cloud service providers may also spread data between servers in several different countries in an effort to increase redundancy.  A local provider enables enterprises to access, analyse, remove or add data immediately if they wish.

It’s not a cost issue

Earlier this month, Acting Victorian Privacy Commissioner Anthony Bendall advised against government agencies and enterprises becoming blinded by low-cost cloud computing services at the expense of weak data privacy and security standards. Datacom does not have this rush-to-market mindset with its cloud services. We have spent years honing them in both Australia and New Zealand to ensure they are robust, secure and adhere to their Service Level Agreements. We also provide managed services such as infrastructure support to increase the overall value of our cloud services.

Q&A: Outsourcing to IaaS vs. Keeping Infrastructure In-house

By Lauren Fritsky

 

Australia’s a great place for widespread cloud adoption – but many enterprises don‘t care.

Despite being ranked No. 2 in the world for cloud readiness by the BSA Global Cloud Computing Score Card, adoption of private cloud in the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivery model has slowed, according to Longhaus research. Part of the issue could be related to enterprises wanting to retain control over their virtualised infrastructure by keeping it in-house. But beyond control, is there ever a reason to maintain these resources – and associated costs – onsite instead of outsourcing to a cloud services provider? Peter Bainbridge, Business Manager of the Solutions Group for Datacom, weighs in.

First of all, why do you think businesses are shying away from private IaaS?

“It’s fear – fear of the provider messing up, downtime and the provider not taking as much care of the infrastructure as if it were its own. Data sovereignty is an issue too – I wouldn’t trust someone with my entire business’s data if they were just a faceless entity on the internet.”

Are those fears founded?

“Not from our experience. We make guarantees around everything a customer is concerned about, and they are financially-backed in the form of service credits. Customers know where their data is stored and managed, and they participate in a partnership with us, which means they can come and visit us whenever they like.”

In terms of IT skills, what is required when hosting infrastructure in-house vs. when IT outsourcing?

“In a complex in-house infrastructure, you need a Jack of all trades. Or you’re going to need lots of specialists who are expensive and they may not be used to their full capacity. And then what happens when they want to take leave, or they’re sick? I’ve also seen examples where people work just that little bit slower, or keep an environment back a little, to ensure long-term employment and a sense of comfort.

Outsourced IaaS provides a pool of resources where you get the specialists you need to support your system, but you only pay for what you actually need. Using a pool of resources means customers don’t have to worry about sick leave or resource management or skills maintenance and training; and it comes with a huge benefit you don’t get when in-sourcing. For example, at Datacom, our team is constantly exposed to a wide range of environments and technology choices and are encouraged and rewarded for bringing relevant efficiencies and transformative ideas to our customers.”

What are the pros of keeping infrastructure in-house?

“There aren’t many actual benefits. Some IT managers may think it’s best to keep infrastructure in-house if you have static requirements, meaning workloads that won’t fluctuate. But most enterprises today are managing dynamic workloads. Some IT managers may also keep everything in-house to maintain their autonomy. When you introduce IT outsourcing to the picture, it takes away much of the control from the IT manager, and he may see that as a threat to his job. But what IT managers don’t realise is that by outsourcing infrastructure, they can become more strategic in-house. They can become an IT enabler that drives business value from IT, directly contributing to the company’s success with a long-term, sustainable view on IT services.”

Some enterprises believe you have less responsibility when you move to IaaS. What’s the truth?

“You can’t outsource risk. If your IT outsourcer fails you, you’re responsible. You still keep the burden of risk – you have to manage your vendor so your business outcomes are always front of mind, always the focus and drive everything you and the vendor do.”

How do you best do that?

“By actively participating in SLA reviews, keeping communication channels open, engaging in strategic IT planning, getting involved early, keeping an open mind for the outsourcer to come to you – they can bring innovation to things you didn’t know you needed or services or requirements you might need down the line.

At Datacom, we make managed services easier by proactively engaging at all levels of the partnership. We have a service delivery manager monitoring the client’s day-to-day performance to set objectives, an account manager to oversee the strategic overall relationship and an executive sponsor within Datacom advocating that client’s needs. We meet monthly to discuss SLA performance, regularly talk about operational issues and have quarterly discussions around innovations and IT strategy alignment.”

When is a good time for a business to really look at making the transition to IaaS?

“It’s when you’re undertaking a transformative process. Outsource your existing infrastructure in the lead-up to cloud, because then your outsourced vendor intimately understands your environment before transforming it, reducing risk, downtime and cost when you make the leap into cloud.”

Trends in Cloud Services and the Need for a Local Approach

By Tracy Toth

Enterprise businesses are interested in the cloud, but are hedging their bets when it comes to actually adopting it.

This was one of the key takeaways from an event announcing the Cloud Pulse® report issued by research firm Longhaus in Sydney March 1.

“Enterprise adoption of cloud is slowing,” said Longhaus research director Scott Stewart. “CIOs don’t want to hear anymore, ‘When are you going to move your data to the cloud?'”

There are a few reasons CIOs are starting to ignore the pressure to adopt the cloud: security; accessibility to and removability of their data; and pricing models. CIOs ideally want a model based on performance, with low risk and flexible business models.

In addition to revealing the top trends and concerns in cloud, Cloud Pulse® ranked Australian cloud service providers. Datacom was awarded the best local provider of cloud services and came in third overall for most trusted Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) Cloud Provider, up from No. 23 last year.

The result was based on its value-added proposition, operation of local data centres in four key areas of Australia, ability to give enterprise-level businesses accessibility to their data at all times and its robust in-house security team.

The Longhaus data showed enterprise cloud penetration has soared by 60 percent since 2011, though the gap between CIOs saying they plan to move to cloud and those actually doing it has widened. Longhaus’ Demand Index listed cloud service providers’ adherence to industry standards, compliance to the Australian Privacy Act and security as chief concerns of CIOs. The Cloud Pulse® research also indicated performance, technical features and pricing model as high-ranking issues, with IT leaders expressing a desire to measure results of the cloud. A perceived immaturity in the cloud services market was also highlighted.

For businesses uncertain about the cloud, Datacom consultants can discuss the options that best suits your needs. We have proven experience transitioning enterprises’ infrastructure and applications securely to our local cloud, which ensures our cloud’s robustness, and adhere to NIST-level standards for cloud.