Nurturing the Marriage of Cloud Computing and SOAs

In 2009 we began consulting jobs with governments in developing countries with the primary objective to consolidate data centers across government ministries and agencies into centralized, high capacity and quality data centers. At the time, nearly all individual ministry or agency data infrastructure was built into either small computers rooms or server closets with some added “brute force” air conditioning, no backup generators, no data back up, superficial security, and lots of other ailments.

The vision and strategy was that if we consolidated inefficient, end of life, and high risk IT infrastructure into a standardized and professionally managed facility, national information infrastructure would not only be more secure, but through standardization, volume purchasing agreements, some server virtualization, and development of broadband infrastructure most of the IT needs of government would be easily fulfilled.

Then of course cloud computing began to mature, and the underlying technologies of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) became feasible. Now, not only were the governments able to decommission inefficient and high-risk IS environments, they would also be able to build virtual data centers with levels of on-demand compute, storage, and network resources. Basic data center replacement.

Even those remaining committed “server hugger” IT managers and fiercely independent governmental organizations cloud hardly argue the benefits of having access to disaster recovery storage capacity though the centralized data center.

As the years passed, and we entered 2014, not only did cloud computing mature as a business model, but senior management began to increase their awareness of various aspects of cloud computing, including the financial benefits, standardization of IT resources, the characteristics of cloud computing, and potential for Platform and Software as a Service (PaaS/SaaS) to improve both business agility and internal decision support systems.

At the same time, information and organizational architecture, governance, and service delivery frameworks such as TOGAF, COBIT, ITIL, and Risk Analysis training reinforced the value of both data and information within an organization, and the need for IT systems to support higher level architectures supporting decision support systems and market interactions (including Government to Government, Business, and Citizens for the public sector).

2015 will bring cloud computing and architecture together at levels just becoming comprehensible to much of the business and IT world. The open Group has a good first stab at building a standard for this marriage with their Service-Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure (SOCCI). According to the SOCCI standard,

“Infrastructure is a foundational element for enterprise architecture. Infrastructure has been traditionally provisioned in a physical manner. With the evolution of virtualization technologies and application of service-orientation to infrastructure, it can now be offered as a service.

Service-orientation principles originated in the business and application architecture arena. After repeated, successful application of these principles to application architecture, IT has evolved to extending these principles to the infrastructure.”

At first glance the SOCII standard appears to be a document which creates a mapping between enterprise architecture (TOGAF) and cloud computing. At second glance the SOCCI standard really steps towards tightening the loose coupling of standard service-oriented architectures through use of cloud computing tools included with all service models (IaaS/PaaS/SaaS).

The result is an architectural vision which is easily capable of absorbing existing IT requirements, as well as incorporating emerging big data analytics models, interoperability, and enterprise architecture.

Since the early days of 2009 discussion topics with government and enterprise customers have shown a marked transition from simply justifying decommissioning of high risk data centers to how to manage data sharing, interoperability, or the potential for over standardization and other service delivery barriers which might inhibit innovation – or ability of business units to quickly respond to rapidly changing market opportunities.

2015 will be an exciting year for information and communications technologies. For those of us in the consulting and training business, the new year is already shaping up to be the busiest we have seen.

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Nurturing the Marriage of Cloud Computing and SOAs

In 2009 we began consulting jobs with governments in developing countries with the primary objective to consolidate data centers across government ministries and agencies into centralized, high capacity and quality data centers. At the time, nearly all individual ministry or agency data infrastructure was built into either small computers rooms or server closets with some added “brute force” air conditioning, no backup generators, no data back up, superficial security, and lots of other ailments.

The vision and strategy was that if we consolidated inefficient, end of life, and high risk IT infrastructure into a standardized and professionally managed facility, national information infrastructure would not only be more secure, but through standardization, volume purchasing agreements, some server virtualization, and development of broadband infrastructure most of the IT needs of government would be easily fulfilled.

Then of course cloud computing began to mature, and the underlying technologies of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) became feasible. Now, not only were the governments able to decommission inefficient and high-risk IS environments, they would also be able to build virtual data centers with levels of on-demand compute, storage, and network resources. Basic data center replacement.

Even those remaining committed “server hugger” IT managers and fiercely independent governmental organizations cloud hardly argue the benefits of having access to disaster recovery storage capacity though the centralized data center.

As the years passed, and we entered 2014, not only did cloud computing mature as a business model, but senior management began to increase their awareness of various aspects of cloud computing, including the financial benefits, standardization of IT resources, the characteristics of cloud computing, and potential for Platform and Software as a Service (PaaS/SaaS) to improve both business agility and internal decision support systems.

At the same time, information and organizational architecture, governance, and service delivery frameworks such as TOGAF, COBIT, ITIL, and Risk Analysis training reinforced the value of both data and information within an organization, and the need for IT systems to support higher level architectures supporting decision support systems and market interactions (including Government to Government, Business, and Citizens for the public sector).

2015 will bring cloud computing and architecture together at levels just becoming comprehensible to much of the business and IT world. The open Group has a good first stab at building a standard for this marriage with their Service-Oriented Cloud Computing Infrastructure (SOCCI). According to the SOCCI standard,

“Infrastructure is a foundational element for enterprise architecture. Infrastructure has been traditionally provisioned in a physical manner. With the evolution of virtualization technologies and application of service-orientation to infrastructure, it can now be offered as a service.

Service-orientation principles originated in the business and application architecture arena. After repeated, successful application of these principles to application architecture, IT has evolved to extending these principles to the infrastructure.”

At first glance the SOCII standard appears to be a document which creates a mapping between enterprise architecture (TOGAF) and cloud computing. At second glance the SOCCI standard really steps towards tightening the loose coupling of standard service-oriented architectures through use of cloud computing tools included with all service models (IaaS/PaaS/SaaS).

The result is an architectural vision which is easily capable of absorbing existing IT requirements, as well as incorporating emerging big data analytics models, interoperability, and enterprise architecture.

Since the early days of 2009 discussion topics with government and enterprise customers have shown a marked transition from simply justifying decommissioning of high risk data centers to how to manage data sharing, interoperability, or the potential for over standardization and other service delivery barriers which might inhibit innovation – or ability of business units to quickly respond to rapidly changing market opportunities.

2015 will be an exciting year for information and communications technologies. For those of us in the consulting and training business, the new year is already shaping up to be the busiest we have seen.

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How Cloud Computing Can Cut Data Center Costs

Cloud computing is the use of computer resources over the Internet, utilizing a remote, dynamic, and scalable computing system. Computer servers provide managed IT services to users remotely, offering a technology infrastructure without requiring an investment in physical computing resources. Essentially, computing systems are available through Internet access rather than expensive in-house systems.

Data center services — from data storage to data protection and disaster recovery — are available without a costly, dedicated IT department. Instead of having a server room and a complex assortment of computing devices to run business systems, all IT services are available remotely. This paradigm is a massive cost saver because it eliminates the large up-front capital expense of an in-house data center as well as the ongoing operational expense of computer and software maintenance and upgrades, and the IT staff to manage them. Companies that take advantage of cloud computing leverage efficiencies to reduce their operating costs and pass those savings onto their clients.

Eliminating Capital Expenditures

The use of cloud computing eliminates the need for capital expenses involved in information technology. Through cloud computing, IT infrastructure including hardware, software, and services are offered on a utility or subscription plan. This enables any company to have world-class IT infrastructure without having to set up a single piece of hardware or install any software. These benefits nearly totally eliminate barriers to end-user access to necessary services. With managed IT services delivered through the Cloud, costs are tied to use, not physical assets; there is not an up-front set-up or operational cost that would be commensurate with actual use.

With remote access to managed IT services through cloud computing, the burden of infrastructure and management are removed from the end user company. World-class design, implementation, and management are handled by the IT service provider as are hardware, software, and firmware. The cloud computing option can more easily adapt to technology innovation and eradicates downtime by employing virtualized resources and redundant systems. Cloud computing offers leading edge capabilities, allowing users to take advantage of technology innovation without the risk inherit in an in-house roll-out. Generally, the cloud computing IT service provider features an expert IT support and service department available 24x7x365 to monitor, report, and correct any issues. This eliminates the risk that the end user organization will be crippled by a problem which their potentially smaller IT department could not immediately resolve.

Managing Operating Expenses

In many rental or leasing programs, the operating costs for the equipment is roughly identical if the equipment was instead bought out-right; the fundamental savings are on the capital expense side. However, with cloud computing, operating expenses can actually be lower than a similar system installed in-house.

For example, the average business runs its data center 10 hours a day. During off-hours, the system is typically idle. With cloud computing, IT infrastructure and managed IT services can be utilized around the clock. Computing power is constantly available, maximizing efficiency. This cost savings is passed on to the cloud computing customer. This setup is similar to having a traditional IT department leasing their services during off-hours, reducing costs for everyone involved.

Personnel costs are streamlined in the same manner. Most IT implementations do not require a full IT department for routine support, but do need more manpower during outages, upgrades and turnarounds, peak usage loads, or when problems arise. With cloud computing, the IT service provider offers a dedicated. 24x7x365 workforce for data center and managed IT services fields a constant volume of work, offering further reductions to operating costs in relation to in-house technology systems.

Security

Data security has rapidly moved into the forefront of most people’s minds. From identity theft to corporate espionage and the vandalism of government websites, the safeguards on computer systems have become as important as the lock on the front door.

A data center or colocation facility is well-suited to handling the latest security threats and viruses. They are inherently more responsive and flexible because it is their core business. In addition to managing against malignant attacks and natural disasters, data protection, backup, and disaster recovery are vital to any business and its critical customer and operational data. . After just one incident where months or years worth of information is lost, any manager readily appreciates the need for meticulous backups and redundancy.

Ultimately, cloud computing leverages technological efficiencies to offer remote services with lower operating costs while eliminating an end user’s capital investments. The managed IT services provided are of top quality and are readily accessible through always-on Internet portals. Dedicated staff, hardware, and software solutions are utilized in an on-demand configuration for safe, secure, and effective data storage and management.

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What Are the Differences Between Cloud Computing and Virtualization?

Virtualization is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as an operating system, a server, a storage device or network resources. Virtualization is a computing technology that enables a single user to access multiple physical devices. This paradigm manifests itself as a single computer controlling multiple machines, or one operating system utilizing multiple computers to analyze a database. Virtualization is about creating an information technology infrastructure that leverages networking and shared physical IT assets to reduce or eliminate the need for physical computing devices dedicated to specialized tasks or systems.

Cloud computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Through cloud computing, a world-class data center service and colocation provider such as Consonus offers managed IT services through a hosted or “Software as a Service” model. A server or database can be physically located in a highly-secure, remote location while the data is accessed from a client’s computer, using the database’s server to retrieve, sort, and analyze the data. This arrangement eliminates the need for a costly in-house IT department and hardware and the associated capital expense. Instead, a cloud computing provider owns the hardware while providing hosted, managed services to its clients on a usage basis. Cloud computing generally utilizes virtualized IT resources such as networks, servers, and computing devices.

Virtualization Paradigm

Virtualization comes in many types, all focusing on control and usage schemes that emphasize efficiency. This efficiency is seen as a single terminal being able to run multiple machines, or a single task running over multiple computers via idle computing power. Virtualization is also seen in a central computer hosting an application to multiple users, preventing the need for that software to be repeatedly installed on each terminal. Data from different hard drives, USB drives, and databases can be coalesced into a central location, both increasing accessibility and security through replication. Physical computer networks can be split into multiple virtual networks, allowing a company’s central IT resources to service every department with individual local area networks.

A computing device dedicated to individual members of staff or allocated to one specialized software application is highly inefficient, not to mention expensive. . Just as the industrial revolution blossomed when people realized one water wheel could run multiple textile looms, so can today’s high-powered computers run multiple processes. Virtualization is an approach to consolidating technology resources for improved efficiency and the elimination of redundancy by leveraging every opportunity to utilize idle resources and find places where multiple processes can be run at one time.

Cloud Computing

The widespread availability of cheap computing power in business and in homes has created the next advance in information technology. With all of the spare computing devices available, the time has come where the need for a business to own their own central server and database can be considered an obsolete notion.

By not locating a server or database in-house, data center services can be obtain from an IT server provider that has invested in developing world-class IT infrastructures that are secure, resilient, and robust. The entire capital expenditure of a state-of-the-art server room can be avoided while obtaining those services on a usage basis. Managed IT Service fees are similar to or less than the operating costs of an in-house data center solution. With the potential to completely avoid capital costs and eliminate any increases in operating costs, cloud computing is an extremely attractive option.

This cost savings is possible thanks to the leverage of efficiencies. A typical IT department is created to service the peak usage needs of a company. However, the vast majority of the time, that potential sits idle. Most servers are not operational outside of business hours and when they are in use, they rarely operate at 100% of their capabilities. Data center services provided by a third party are in dynamic use. Powerful computing resources and robust hosted, managed services become available 24x7x365. This fluid scaling of computing resources allows each client to utilize those resources at a competitive price.

A key advantage of Virtualization and Cloud Computing is a significant improvement in security, availability, and data protection. A decentralized IT infrastructure managed by an IT service provider that is wholly dedicated to its resilience and availability is immune to physical or data disasters. Replication over multiple systems ensures data backups. A dedicated data center service provider is better able to keep up with the latest security methods and technology upgrades. Through the provision of managed IT services, all of these benefits are embedded in the cloud computing model.

Ultimately cloud computing is about leveraging computing resources to their fullest potential. For the majority of companies outside of the technology industry, this means utilizing hosted, managed services rather than trying to maintain an in-house system that would ultimately prove wasteful. This fits into the virtualization paradigm whereby the efficient utilization of an IT service provider renders unnecessary an in-house IT solution. Together, they represent the next step in IT infrastructure: reducing costs while increasing efficiency.

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