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The Cloud - and other disruptive Information Technology

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Douglas, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. imatlas

    imatlas Well-Known Member

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    Cloud is certainly not for every organization but I am actually evaluating cloud solutions for a client that has an absolutely clueless IT department.

    In that scenario, it would make perfect sense.


    Does anyone here have experience in implementing cloud solutions? Or have any recommendations on who offers reliable implementation and hosting services?

    Btw, the Sharepoint GIT discussionis great. Keep it going.


    What do you mean by "implementing cloud solutions"? Setting up a SaaS application? A virtual private cloud? Consuming Infrastructure as a Service to run their apps?

    I've worked in the SaaS market for more than 5 years, initially at a hosting provider specializing in managed services for SaaS applications (so I've talked to or supported dozens of providers), and for the last year at a SaaS software company.

    My predictions: within the decade "on premises" will be all but gone. By 2015 SaaS subscriptions will be larger in total dollars than perpetual licenses.

    I think that OpSource (my former employer) has a great DIY cloud infrastructure. They also offer higher level application support than most other cloud providers or MSPs. http://www.opsource.net/Solutions/Cloud-Computing
     
  2. Fraiche

    Fraiche Well-Known Member

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    ^Company size or budget? You want a Cadillac or a Ford?

    Small growing to midsize national retail company.

    What do you mean by "implementing cloud solutions"? Setting up a SaaS application? A virtual private cloud? Consuming Infrastructure as a Service to run their apps?

    I've worked in the SaaS market for more than 5 years, initially at a hosting provider specializing in managed services for SaaS applications (so I've talked to or supported dozens of providers), and for the last year at a SaaS software company.

    My predictions: within the decade "on premises" will be all but gone. By 2015 SaaS subscriptions will be larger in total dollars than perpetual licenses.

    I think that OpSource (my former employer) has a great DIY cloud infrastructure. They also offer higher level application support than most other cloud providers or MSPs. http://www.opsource.net/Solutions/Cloud-Computing


    Would you happen to have any whitepaper literature from OpSource similar to what Amazon AWS has in pdf?

    What you're talking about seems to be very close to what we're looking for.
     
  3. imatlas

    imatlas Well-Known Member

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    Small growing to midsize national retail company.



    Would you happen to have any whitepaper literature from OpSource similar to what Amazon AWS has in pdf?

    What you're talking about seems to be very close to what we're looking for.


    I don't work there anymore, but I'm sure they've got whitepapers and other collateral that will give you the info you're looking for. Give them a call.
     
  4. Jr Mouse

    Jr Mouse Well-Known Member

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    One area that I see possibly having the biggest impact on our lives and work flow is if we ever get the true continuous client. Joshua Topolsky had a great write up on this on Engadget a little while back. While his editorial is consumer focused, you can easily see how this could aid business.

    http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/26/a...inuous-client/
     
  5. Fraiche

    Fraiche Well-Known Member

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    I don't work there anymore, but I'm sure they've got whitepapers and other collateral that will give you the info you're looking for. Give them a call.

    Will do. Thanks for the tip.

    Btw, what does DIY stand for?
     
  6. imatlas

    imatlas Well-Known Member

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    Will do. Thanks for the tip.

    Btw, what does DIY stand for?


    Do it yourself - aka self-managed infrastructure.
     
  7. Davidko19

    Davidko19 Well-Known Member

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    I am managing the movement of 20 of our external sales people onto ........ for storage and collaboration. We currently use a shared drive and its such a pain. We currently have no full time IT person, so this should be a lot easier.
     
  8. cross22

    cross22 Well-Known Member

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    Small growing to midsize national retail company.

    Opsource is considered a niche player given their roots (SaaS) which means they will be good if you fit their niche but not so great if you don't (imatlas feel free to chime in). Given the few bits of information that you provided I recommend you look at Rackspace to begin with and go from there.
     
  9. Fraiche

    Fraiche Well-Known Member

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    Opsource is considered a niche player given their roots (SaaS) which means they will be good if you fit their niche but not so great if you don't (imatlas feel free to chime in). Given the few bits of information that you provided I recommend you look at Rackspace to begin with and go from there.

    We're actually looking into Rackspace currently. Any experience with them?

    Also, what niche is Opsource targeting?

    Thanks again for the insight.
     
  10. imatlas

    imatlas Well-Known Member

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    Opsource is considered a niche player given their roots (SaaS) which means they will be good if you fit their niche but not so great if you don't (imatlas feel free to chime in). Given the few bits of information that you provided I recommend you look at Rackspace to begin with and go from there.

    I'm a little stale on my competitive intel, but I don't think that RAX ha a public cloud solution along the lines of an Amazon EC2 or OpSource Cloud Infrastructure. Both of these are for general IT outsourcing as much as for SaaS ISV's.

    On the other hand, from a Colo or managed services perspective you're dead on.
     
  11. cross22

    cross22 Well-Known Member

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    We're actually looking into Rackspace currently. Any experience with them? Also, what niche is Opsource targeting? Thanks again for the insight.
    I had a few clients move over to rackspace because of the support services, which is very good for companies that have fairly standard software and not much in-house expertise. They were mostly happy with the service. This is now a few years old but they offer the same level of support to their cloud customers which is why I thought they may be good for your client. opsource was one of the first companies to get into Saas, focused on providing a platform to software companies so they could offer their software as a service.
     
  12. cross22

    cross22 Well-Known Member

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    I'm a little stale on my competitive intel, but I don't think that RAX ha a public cloud solution along the lines of an Amazon EC2 or OpSource Cloud Infrastructure. Both of these are for general IT outsourcing as much as for SaaS ISV's. On the other hand, from a Colo or managed services perspective you're dead on.
    I think you are right that they all have general offering (rackspace has added a public cloud), but their strength is usually defined by their roots. The OP would be miserable in amazon given the lack of support services despite AWS being one of the strongest cloud offering technically. Similarly no one can provide the level of service to ISVs that opsource can, given where they come from.
     
  13. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    Some thoughts/experience...

    The cloud is like any new product, in a way. It's being marketed like crazy right now. Datacenters are pushing it hard. Really though, you have to look at it on an individual basis. It will never be a solution for everybody. I think it's best as a solution for particular applications, not an entire infrastructure.

    When I was doing upgrades/redesign for a company recently, I had to talk to a datacenter that they were using as a colocation facility and they were like OMG you have to move to the cloud (and pushing hard)!! Telus was saying the same thing, when they only thing I was asking them for were quotes on fiber-based MPLS and internet. It pissed me off, actually because they weren't listening to what i needed, they were just trying to sell me shit i didn't want.

    In this case, moving the entire company's infrastructure, which was what they suggested, would not only have been stupidly expensive, but completely idiotic, because if you really want to do cloud for everything, you need 2 bulletbroof internet connections imo, and in this case, there was one fiber provider, and to get another would have incurred hundreds of K in build costs. Copper wouldn't have been reliable enough or fast enough, or for a copper service that was fast enough, it was too expensive. Even that aside, sticking dozens of servers into a cloud environment isn't cheap. We replaced all the servers and storage and it cost 8x the monthly recurring a cloud would have been, so within less than a year, the cloud would have been costing us more, not accounting for staffing costs (which wouldn't have changed).

    For a medium to large company, it's probably not any cheaper in most cases, and it can also be more expensive. What it does is shift expenses from CapEx to OpEx, which some people like for various reasons, but if you've got a medium to large environment, i don't see how it can save you much money, but it really depends.

    Some apps lend themselves very well to a cloud environment. Any app where most of your users are external are best there imo, especially if you don't have multiple sites interconnected via mpls or some other private network tech, and with bgp running on your internet routers. Websites/ecommerce are the obvious ones. Salesforce is a great example. Payroll works well in the cloud since a medium-sized company might have one or two payroll guys so if they lose internet for a hour or two it's not the end of the world. Losing an ERP system because of downed internet would be a huge disaster though. And speaking of ERP, many are heavily customized, so even if you were sticking it in a cloud, you'd still need staff to support it. Salesforce is basically the same for everyone that uses it, so it's easy for them to provide the support as well. Many apps/services that businesses use are not like that though, so it's harder to realize economies of scale.

    Many companies have stringent security requirements that can't be met in the cloud. huntsman touched on compliance issues that are very real. What happens if you lose your internet? Do hundreds of people lose their ability to do work? Onsite inspections are often impossible, so you could never achieve Level 1 PCI compliance if you were in the cloud, from my understanding.

    The way I'm looking at the costs is that no matter whether you store data in house or in a cloud somewhere, you need to purchase storage and processing and you need the same amount of processing/storage whether you're in the cloud or not. A datacenter will get things for cheaper on a per ghz/gb basis because they are buying so much of it, but not that much cheaper. When you stack up cloud-based costs vs. the old model of physical servers with a mix of san or local storage, the cloud looks really good. When you stack it up against a fully virtualized solution, which get MUCH better resource utilization, is a lot easier to maintain, makes high-availability easy, makes replication between sites easy, and makes failover between sites easy, the cloud doesn't look nearly as attractive, and advanced SAN/virtualization technology has come down a LOT in price recently.

    In the cases I've looked at, cloud has been more expensive, actually. And why wouldn't it be? Cloud providers do need to make their margins every month, after all. I also don't think that the OpEx savings on IT staff ever materialize to the degree cloud vendors claim they will, for a variety of reasons.

    Also, what are support costs going to be? How quick will you get support? If you have dedicated IT staff, you can say "hey this is broken, fix it NOW," and someone will be on it. It doesn't work like that if you're calling into support for some huge vendor. I know. I've done it. Now, there are always different tiers of support, but the best support is always pretty expensive.

    For a lot of smaller companies that don't have dedicated IT staff, putting as much on there as possible makes a lot of sense. Email would definitely make sense to host there if your users weren't heavy outlook users. Hosting your be/ecommerce there is almost a no-brainer. Bulk storage is cheap on amazon, etc.

    Btw Douglas, there's also something called MS Small business server, which could make sense for a small operation. It's a domain controller and exchange in one, which keeps costs down. You really have to decide whether you need the features and feel of outlook+exchange. I know that my users wouldn't be happy with gmail as their only client.
     
  14. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    Small growing to midsize national retail company. Would you happen to have any whitepaper literature from OpSource similar to what Amazon AWS has in pdf? What you're talking about seems to be very close to what we're looking for.
    Make sure you look into any PCI compliance issues. If you're a mid-size you're probably ok, but level 1 compliance (over a million transactions/mo or /yr... can't remember) requires on-site visits, which most cloud providers can't accommodate, and i'm not sure if there are other issues. I'll be getting my hands dirty with Amazon's full suite of offerings soon. Looking at moving a fairly high-volume/high ticket retail website on to it...
     
  15. Fraiche

    Fraiche Well-Known Member

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    Make sure you look into any PCI compliance issues. If you're a mid-size you're probably ok, but level 1 compliance (over a million transactions/mo or /yr... can't remember) requires on-site visits, which most cloud providers can't accommodate, and i'm not sure if there are other issues.

    I'll be getting my hands dirty with Amazon's full suite of offerings soon. Looking at moving a fairly high-volume/high ticket retail website on to it...


    Thanks a bunch for the info, GQ.

    PCI compliance for virtualization definitely won't work so it'll end up being a dedicated solution. I see the true cost savings is really on the staffing side, not equipment.


    Btw, how is OpSource different from RackSpace/AWS?
     
  16. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a bunch for the info, GQ. PCI compliance for virtualization definitely won't work so it'll end up being a dedicated solution. I see the true cost savings is really on the staffing side, not equipment. Btw, how is OpSource different from RackSpace/AWS?
    You CAN make the pci compliance work with virtualization, you just have to design properly, put proper access control, change management, logging, etc in place. PCI is really all about scoping your project and limiting compliance to what HAS to be in scope, and it becomes more manageable and affordable. btw: http://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/what...-1-compliance/
     
  17. Fraiche

    Fraiche Well-Known Member

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    You CAN make the pci compliance work with virtualization, you just have to design properly, put proper access control, change management, logging, etc in place.

    PCI is really all about scoping your project and limiting compliance to what HAS to be in scope, and it becomes more manageable and affordable.

    btw:

    http://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/what...-1-compliance/


    For the environment I am evaluating, it would require re-engineering the application and database architecture to separate the data and then also build an encrypted interface for it to communicate/reconcile.

    That itself is another project so that wouldn't be feasible. Dedicated solution is probably the best bet.
     
  18. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    K. was just tossing it out there.
     
  19. Fraiche

    Fraiche Well-Known Member

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    K. was just tossing it out there.

    No problem. Thanks for the thought.

    I am not to familiar with SalesForce.

    I had thought they do SaaS type for CRM/ERP but it seems like they also offer cloud as well? Is that accurate or am I totally off?
     
  20. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    No problem. Thanks for the thought.

    I am not to familiar with SalesForce.

    I had thought they do SaaS type for CRM/ERP but it seems like they also offer cloud as well? Is that accurate or am I totally off?


    have no idea... I was under same impression that they were mainly CRM SaaS.
     

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