Archive for the ‘Cloud News’ Category

Tackling the resource gap in the transition to hybrid IT

Is hybrid IT inevitable? That’s a question we ask customers a lot. From our discussions with CIOs and CEOs there is one overriding response and that is the need for changimagese. It is very clear that across all sectors, CEOs are challenging their IT departments to innovate – to come up with something different.

Established companies are seeing new threats coming into the market. These new players are lean, hungry and driving innovation through their use of IT solutions. Our view is that more than 70 percent of all CEOs are putting a much bigger ask on their IT departments than they did a few years ago.

There has never been so much focus on the CIO or IT departmental manager from a strategic standpoint. IT directors need to demonstrate how they can drive more uptime, improve the customer experience, or enhance the e-commerce proposition for instance, in a bid to win new business. For them, it is time to step up to the plate. But in reality there’s little or no increase in budget to accommodate these new demands.

We call the difference between what the IT department is being asked to do, and what it is able to do, the resources gap. Seemingly, with the rate of change in the IT landscape increasing, the demands on CIO’s by the business increasing and with little or no increase in IT budgets from one year to the next, that gap is only going to get wider.

But by changing their way of working, companies can free up additional resources to go and find their innovative zeal and get closer to meeting their business’ demands. Embracing Hybrid IT as their infrastructure strategy can extend the range of resources available to companies and their ability to meet business demands almost overnight.

Innovate your way to growth

A Hybrid IT environment provides a combination of its existing on-premise resources with public and private cloud offerings from a third party hosting company. Hybrid IT has the ability to provide the best of both worlds – sensitive data can still be retained in-house by the user company, whilst the cloud, either private or public, provides the resources and computing power that is needed to scale up (or down) when necessary.

Traditionally, 80 percent of an IT department’s budget is spent just ‘keeping the lights on’. That means using IT to keep servers working, powering desktop PCs, backing up work and general maintenance etc.

But with the CEO now raising the bar, more innovation in the cloud is required. Companies need to keep their operation running but reapportion the budget so they can become more agile, adaptable and versatile to keep up with today’s modern business needs.

This is where Hybrid IT comes in. Companies can mix and match their needs to any type of solution. That can be their existing in-house capability, or they can share the resources and expertise of a managed services provider. The cloud can be private – servers that are the exclusive preserve of one company – or public, sharing utilities with a number of other companies.

Costs are kept to a minimum because the company only pays for what they use. They can own the computing power, but not the hardware. Crucially, it can be switched on or off according to needs. So, if there is a peak in demand, a busy time of year, a last minute rush, they can turn on this resource to match the demand. And off again.

This is the journey to the Hybrid cloud and the birth of the agile, innovative market-focused company.

Meeting the market needs

Moving to hybrid IT is a journey.  Choosing the right partner to make that journey with is crucial to the success of the business. In the past, businesses could get away with a rigid customer / supplier relationship with their service provider. Now, there needs to be a much greater emphasis on creating a partnership so that the managed services provider can really get to understand the business. Only by truly getting under the skin of a business can the layers be peeled back to reveal a solution to the underlying problem.

The relationship between customer and managed service provider is now also much more strategic and contextual. The end users are looking for outcomes, not just equipment to plug a gap.

As an example, take an airline company operating in a highly competitive environment. They view themselves as being not in the people transportation sector, but as a retailer providing a full shopping service (with a trip across the Atlantic thrown in). They want to use cloud services to take their customer on a digital experience, so the minute a customer buys a ticket is when the journey starts.

When the passenger arrives at the airport, they need to check in, choose the seats they want, do the bag drop and clear security all using on-line booking systems. Once in the lounge, they’ll access the Wi-Fi system, check their Hotmail, browse Facebook, start sharing pictures etc. They may also choose last minute adjustments to their journey like changing their booking or choosing to sit in a different part of the aircraft.

Merely saying “we’re going to do this using the cloud” is likely to lead to the project misfiring. As a good partner the service provider should have the experience of building and running traditional infrastructure environments and new based on innovative cloud solutions so that they can bring ‘real world’ transformation experience to the partnership. Importantly they must also have the confidence to demonstrate digital leadership and understand of the business and its strategy to add real value to that customer as it undertakes the journey of digital transformation.

Costs can certainly be rationalised along the way. Ultimately with a hybrid system you only pay for what you use. At the end of the day, the peak periods will cost the same, or less, than the off-peak operating expenses. So, with added security, compute power, speed, cost efficiencies and ‘value-added’ services, hybrid IT can provide the agility businesses need.

With these solutions, companies have no need to ‘mind the gap’ between the resources they need and the budget they have. Hybrid IT has the ability to bridge that gap and ensure businesses operate with the agility and speed they need to meet the needs of the competitive modern world.

Written by Jonathan Barrett, Vice President of Sales, CenturyLink, EMEA

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Google signs five deals for green powering its cloud services

Google-officeCloud service giant Google has announced five new deals to buy 781MW of renewable energy from suppliers in the US, Sweden and Chile, according to a report on Bloomberg.

The deals add up to the biggest-ever purchase of renewable energy ever by a company that is not a utility, according to Michael Terrell, Google’s principal of energy and global infrastructure.

Google will buy 200 megawatts of power from Oklahoma-based Renewable Energy Systems Americas’s Bluestem wind project. From the same US state another 200 megawatts will be contributed by Great Western wind project run by Electricite de France. In addition, Google will also power its cloud services with 225 megawatts of wind power from independent power producer Invenergy.

Google’s data centres and cloud services in South America could become carbon free when the 80 megawatts of solar power that it has ordered from Acciona Energia’s El Romero farm in Chile comes online.

In Scandinavia the cloud service provider has agreed to buy 76 megawatts of wind power from Eolus Vind’s Jenasen wind project to be built in Vasternorrland County, Sweden.

In July, Google committed to tripling its purchases of renewable energy by 2025. At the time, it had contracts to buy 1.1 GW of sustainably sourced power.

Google’s first ever green power deal was in 2010 when it agreed to buy power from a wind farm in Iowa. Last week, it announced plans to purchase buy 61 megawatts from a solar farm in North Carolina.

Telstra wraps up Pacnet acquisition

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The Telstra/Pacnet acquisition story which broke towards the end of last year has now come to fruition, with the Australian telco today announcing the completed acquisition of the Cloud, managed services and data centre provider. As reported by Telecoms.com in December, the valuation of the deal came in at $697 million.

When initially announced, the deal came with the stipulation of agreement from regulatory bodies, as well as Pacnet financier approval. According to Telstra, all necessary approvals and agreements have now been confirmed, and the firm can now begin the full acquisition of Pacnet.

All that remains, it claims, is full regulatory approval in the United States, which it reckons is expected in due course and will not impact operations or the agreed purchase price.

Speaking of the acquisition, Telstra’s Global Enterprise and Services CEO, Brendon Riley, said the integration of Pacnet will see its brand gradually retired, but that the Chinese market remains a big focus for the joint-venture.

“The addition of Pacnet’s staff, intrastructure, technology and expertise will position Telstra as a leading provider of services to multinational and large companies in Asia,” he said. “The completed acquisition will double Telstra’s customers in Asia, and greatly increase our network reach and data centre capabilities across the region. This includes the addition of the largest privately owned intra-Asia cable network, 29 data centres and the ability to further grow our China operations through existing joint venture.”

Riley concluded with a nod towards the Pacnet Enabled Network (PEN), an elastic and on-demand network based on SDN architecture, pioneered by Pacnet. PEN was one of the first live SDN-based networks launched globally.

“The acquisition provides us greater specialisation and scale, including the delivery of enhanced services, such as software-defined networking and opens up significant incremental opportunities for our business,” he said.

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Don’t miss the chance to take advantage of all the knowledge and networking opportunities presented by EMEA’s only content-led Cloud exhibition.

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US Army deploys hybrid cloud for logistics data analysis

US-Army-300x200The US Army is partnering with IBM to deploy a hybrid cloud platform to support data warehousing and data analysis for its Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA) platform, the Army’s logistics support service.

LOGSA provides logistics information capabilities through analytics tools and BI solutions to acquire, manage, equip and sustain the materiel needs of the organisation, and is also the home of the Logistics Information Warehouse (LIW), the Army’s official data system for collecting, storing, organizing and delivering logistics data.

The Army said it is working with IBM to deploy LOGSA, which IBM said it is the US federal government’s largest logistics system, on an internal hybrid cloud platform in a bid to improve its ability to connect to other IT systems, broaden the organisation’s analytics capabilities, and save money (the Army reckons up to 50 per cent).

Anne Altman, General Manager for U.S. Federal at IBM said:

“The Army not only recognized a trend in IT that could transform how they deliver services to their logistics personnel around the world, they also implemented a cloud environment quickly and are already experiencing significant benefits. They’re taking advantage of the inherent benefits of hybrid cloud: security and the ability to connect it with an existing IT system. It also gives the Army the flexibility to incorporate new analytics services and mobile capabilities.”

The Cloud World Forum will be taking place on 24th – 25th June at Olympia Grand in London.

80% of banks to replace core systems “within five years” #CloudWF

Four out of five banks believe they will have to replace their core banking system in the next three to five years, with nearly 90% in favour of including SaaS or cloud based services as part of the infrastructure, according to a new survey of senior bank executives.

In the report, Invigorating Banking, sponsored by fintech firm Five Degrees and carried out by Finextra Research, the results revealed strong support for core system replacement and renovation. Some 83% of respondents believe their bank’s existing core technology can no longer support its needs. A further 89% believe that it is inevitable that banks rapidly modernise processes and IT to avoid losing market share.

“You cannot become a digital bank without core systems renewal; you cannot renew core systems without using cloud for data management; you need to consolidate data in the cloud to be able to perform effective data analytics; and when you’ve renewed core systems through the cloud to perform data analytics, then you can innovate,” said Chris Skinner, report contributor and independent financial consultant.

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Many banks planned to respond by working with new technology providers, even where these have fewer customer references, so that the bank can ensure that it implements standard service oriented architecture (66%). A slim majority of banks still believe that IT is a unique selling point and will continue to rely on their own in-house development teams for niche technology that fits the bank’s strategy (61%). However, banks were split down the middle on whether to stick with their current technology provider, following its migration and upgrade process even if it would not provide the benefits of newer SOA technology (50% versus 50%).

There were also geographical differences in how the banks planned to respond to these challenges. While support for new cloud based platforms was strong overall, it was lowest in western Europe, where only 51% were strongly in favour, versus Asia Pacific, where the equivalent figure was 76%. Yet , across all banks, 97% believe that the bank needs to be able to offer new financial products and services faster.

On others areas there was virtually unanimous agreement. Some 97% of respondents agreed that security must be improved for customers due to the increasing risks associated with multi-channel technology. Likewise, overwhelming majorities supported the need to equip bank staff and customers to a higher level of self-service (97%). Unsurprisingly, 82% agreed with the statement that customers prefer an excellent mobile channel over a branch nearby.

However, there is still a place for face to face dialogue. Responses were strongly divided over whether customers prefer an efficient virtual dialogue over a personal one to solve financial matters (52% in favour, 48% against) – suggesting that banks are far from confident that the branch can be done away with entirely.

A number of obstacles to modernisation were identified in the report. One of the biggest was the difficulty of getting a sponsor at boardroom level (71%). Another was regulation: 67% believe their bank is too busy with regulation and compliance to think about innovation and modernisation. Yet at the same time, regulation also appears to be prompting change, since 92% of respondents believe that modernising their systems and processes is necessary to comply with constant regulatory change.

The threat of new entrants and disruptive competitors rate highly in the responses. Some 77% of respondents recognise new market entrants such as Google and Apple as a real threat that could steal their customers. Most respondents (56%) also felt that the digital only banks like Moven, Simple and Frank are a serious threat. However, the presence of new challenges is not necessarily seen as entirely negative – fully 88% of banks believe that new market entrants have a positive effect on the traditional banking scene by keeping banks focused.

Source: Banking Tech

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The Cloud World Forum will take place at Olympia Grand in London on the 24th – 25th June 2015.

It will feature 300+ speakers, many of whom represent the financial sector, including Thomas Naylor, CIO, Salamanca Group; Oliver Bussman, Group CIO, UBSJohn Finch, CIO, Bank of England and many more.

Don’t miss the chance to take advantage of all the knowledge and networking opportunities presented by EMEA’s only content-led Cloud exhibition.

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Telstra to offer SoftLayer cloud access to Australian customers

Telstra and IBM have announced a partnership that will see the Australian telco offer access to SoftLayer cloud infrastructure to customers in Australia.

Telstra said that with the recent opening of IBM cloud datacentres in Melbourne and Sydney, the company will be able to expand its presence in the local cloud market by offering Australian businesses more choice in locally available cloud infrastructure services.

As part of the deal the telco’s customers will have access to the full-range of SoftLayer infrastructure services including bare metal servers, virtual servers, storage, security services and networking.

Erez Yarkoni, who serves as both chief information officer and executive director of cloud at Telstra said:

“Telstra customers will be able to access IBM’s hourly and monthly compute services on the SoftLayer platform, a network of virtual data centres and global points-of-presence (PoPs), all of which are increasingly important as enterprises look to run their applications on the cloud.”

“Telstra customers can connect to IBM’s services via the internet or with a simple extension of their private network. By adding the Telstra Cloud Direct Connect offering, they can also access IP VPN connectivity, giving them a smooth experience between our Next IP network and their choice of global cloud platforms,” Yarkoni said.

Mark Brewer, general manager, IBM Global Technology Services Australia and New Zealand said:

“Australian businesses have quickly realised the benefits of moving to a flexible cloud model to accommodate the rapidly changing needs of business today. IBM Cloud provides Telstra customers with unmatched choice and freedom of where to run their workloads, with proven levels security and high performance.”

Telstra already partners with Cisco on cloud infrastructure and is a flagship member of the networking giant’s Intercloud programme, but the company hailed its partnership with IBM as a key milestone in its cloud strategy, and may help bolster its appeal to business customers in the region.

Source: Business Cloud News

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The Cloud World Forum, will be taking place on 24th – 25th June at Olympia Grand in London.

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To Cloud, or not to Cloud? #CloudWF

Source: Business Cloud News

To cloud or not to cloud? With the right strategy, it need not be the question.

There are two sides to the cloud coin: one positive, the other negative, and too many people focus on one at the expense of the other for a variety of reasons ranging from ignorance to wilful misdirection. But ultimately, success resides in embracing both sides and pulling together the capabilities of both enterprises and their suppliers to make the most of the positive and limit the negative.

Cloud services can either alleviate or compound the business challenges identified by Ovum’s annual ICT Enterprise Insights program, based on interviews with 6,500 senior IT executives. On the positive side both public and private clouds, and everything in between, help:

  • Boost ROI at various levels: From squeezing more utilization from the underlying infrastructure to making it easier to launch new projects with the extra resources exposed asa result.
  • Deal with the trauma of major organisational/ structural changes as they can adapt to the ups and downs of requirements evolution.
  • Improve customer/citizen experience, and therefore satisfaction: This has been one of the top drivers for cloud adoption. Cloud computing is at its heart user experience-centric. Unfortunately many forget this, preferring instead to approach cloud computing from a technical perspective.
  • Deal with security, security compliance, and regulatory compliance: An increasing number of companies acknowledge that public cloud security and compliance credentials are at least as good if not better than their own, particularly in a world where security and compliance challenges are evolving so rapidly. Similarly, private clouds require security to shift from reactive and static to proactive and dynamic security, whereby workloads and data need to be secured as they move in and out of internal IT’s boundaries.

On the other hand, cloud services have the potential to compound business challenges. For instance, the rise of public cloud adoption contributes to challenges related to increasing levels of outsourcing. It is all about relationship management, and therefore relates to another business challenge: improving supplier relationships.

In addition to having to adapt to new public cloud offerings (rather than the other way round), once the right contract is signed (another challenging task), enterprises need to pro-actively manage not only their use of the service but also their relationships with the service provider, if only to be able to keep up with their fast-evolving offerings.

Similarly, cloud computing adds to the age-old challenge of aligning business and IT at two levels: cloud-enabling IT, and cloud-centric business transformation.

From a cloud-enabling IT perspective, the challenge is to understand, manage, and bridge a variety of internal divides and convergences, including consumer versus enterprise IT, developers versus IT operations, and virtualisation ops people versus network and storage ops. As the pace of software delivery accelerates, developers and administrators need to not only to learn from and collaborate with one another, but also deliver the right user experience – not just the right business outcomes. Virtualisation ops people tend to be much more in favour than network and storage ops people of software-defined datacentre, storage, and networking (SDDC, SDS, SDN) with a view to increasingly take control of datacentre and network resources. But the storage and network ops people, however, are not so keen on letting the virtualisation people in.

When it comes to cloud-centric business transformation, IT is increasingly defined in terms of business outcomes within the context of its evolution from application siloes to standardised, shared, and metered IT resources, from a push to a pull provisioning model, and more importantly, from a cost centre to an innovation engine.

The challenge, then, is to understand, manage, and bridge a variety of internal divides and convergences including:

  • Outside-in (public clouds for green-field application development) versus inside-out (private cloud for legacy applicationmodernization) perspectives. Supporters of the two approaches can be found on both the business and IT sides of the enterprise.
  • Line-of-business executives (CFO, CMO, CSO) versus CIOs regarding cloud-related roles, budgets, and strategies: The up-andcoming role of chief digital officer (CDO) exemplifies the convergence between technology and business C-level executives. All CxOs can potentially fulfil this role, with CDOs increasingly regarded as “CEOs in waiting”. In this context, there is a tendency to describe the role as the object of a war between CIOs and other CxOs. But what digital enterprises need is not CxOs battling each other, but coordinating their IT investments and strategies. Easier said than done since, beyond the usual political struggles, there is a disparity between all side in terms of knowledge, priorities, and concerns.
  • Top executives versus middle management: Top executives who are broadly in favour of cloud computing in all its guises, versus middle management who are much less eager to take it on board, but need to be won over since they are critical to cloud strategy execution.
  • Shadow IT versus Official IT: Where IT acknowledges the benefits of Shadow IT (it makes an organisation more responsive and capable of delivering products and services that IT cannot currently support) and its shortcomings (in terms of costs, security, and lack of coordination, for example). However, too much focus on control at the expense of user experience and empowerment perpetuates shadow IT.

Laurent Lachal

Only then will your organisation manage to balance both sides of the cloud coin.

Laurent Lachal is leading Ovum Software Group’s cloud computing research. Besides Ovum, where he has spent most of his 20 year career as an analyst, Laurent has also been European software market group manager at Gartner Ltd.

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Laurent Lachal will be speaking at the Cloud World Forum, taking place on 24th – 25th June at Olympia Grand in London at the Containers & Devops Theatre. He will also be one of four industry experts leading the roundtable discussions at the Executive Summit.

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