Is Cloud Computing Going To Take Over The World

 If you believe the hype, IT departments are about to become redundant and all that shiny hardware and flashing lights in the server room are about to become a thing of the past. We can look forward to the history and archaeologymuseums setting up displays of the IT Director’s office next door to the caveman exhibit!

Well, sorry to burst the cloud computing marketing bubble, but this is just not so. Cloud computing is full of issues as the technology develops, and as with any relatively new and innovative service or product, the application to the real world is uncovering new issues just as much as discovering new ways in which old issues, such as privacy have to be handled. Cloud computing offers some extremely excellent benefits but, developers and users must exercise a degree of circumspection and engage in regular reality checks!

To give you some perspective, look at the fat-client 1990’s with many claiming that the days of the mainframe were over. Thin-client installations grew extremely rapidly wit the likes of Citrix and ASP’s (Application Service Providers) making use more stable technology and faster web links to deliver IT services. Has the mainframe disappeared? Absolutely not! There are still applications for the mainframe, and this IT historical review simply demonstrates that one-size will never fit all in a business context. So it is for cloud computing.

Cloud computing does offer exceptional benefits in terms of staff productivity and cost savings, but businesses ought to consider cloud computing as a complementary service to in-house hardware systems. Issues such as disaster recovery and data protection do not go away simply because you establish a virtual data center – if your service provider suffers a failure event which loses your data, you’re still on the line for recovering that information and protecting it, so issues such as redundancy still apply in exactly the same way as with your hard systems.

Cloud computing services are rapidly expanding, but the marketing hyperbole is still ignoring the underlying business need and demands from users. Far from seeing the demise of IT departments, they will simply be realigned to assessing which services offer competitive and business benefits for their companies and how the mix of cloud and non-cloud services will be delivered. On the one hand, cloud computing offers a lot of positives, but don’t let the marketing gimmickry and trend setting hyperbole mislead you into thinking it is a universal panacea.

As with any other IT solution, you must assess what is being offered based upon the business need, the business risk and associated costs. Selecting a solution provider who understands the commercial impact and issues is important, but you are also looking for a trusted partner who will spell out the short-comings in any proposed solution, including cloud computing.

While it is easy enough to get carried away with the fashion, we can expect plenty of companies to go down the road of implementing cloud projects until the fashion bubble bursts and reality sets in; once that happens, IT managers who exercised proper business discretion and good judgment will be the ones who are expanding their departments and not looking for a new job. Just as any other challenge facing businesses today, cloud computing presents a whole new raft of opportunities and pitfalls to trap the unwary or reckless.

Total Cost of Ownership For Cloud Computing

Sometimes it seems like small and medium businesses (SMBs) and mid-market enterprises can’t catch a break. Even before the recession struck, many were struggling to compete in increasingly competitive and demanding business environments. Keeping up with these demands and trends- from fast-evolving technologies to changing customer expectations to new, sometimes global, competition-made life increasingly challenging for SMBs. Then the recent global recession hit hard, and in many cases, limited resources and reserves made it tough for SMBs to bounce back.

Even as we emerge from the recession, these ongoing pressures and fiscal uncertainties continue to weigh on SMBs. Consequently, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is a top consideration when evaluating potential business applicationoptions.

The good news is that cloud computing has come of age, and is providing SMBs with access to computing resources and capabilities that were once out of reach. More businesses are determining that cloud-based services, especially software as a service application offerings, can provide SMBs with more powerful and capable solutions while decreasing capital outlays and operational costs.

Cloud computing eliminates the need for individual companies to buy, deploy and maintain IT infrastructure orapplication software. In the cloud computing model (also known as software-as-a service,or SaaS), the vendor takes responsibility for deploying and managing the infrastructure servers, operating system software, databases, data center space, network access, power and cooling, etc.) and processes (infrastructure patches/upgrades, applicationpatches/upgrades, backups, etc.) required to run and manage the full solution. Because cloud vendors manage all of their customers on a single instance of the software, they can amortize infrastructure-related costs over thousands of customers. This results in substantial economies of scale and skill, reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) for customers who deploy business management solutions.

Factors to Consider

Cloud solution cost advantages are significant across all deployment sizes, but taper somewhat as the number of users increases

Application software costs (subscription and support fees) account for roughly 85% of the total solution cost in the cloud model. In the on-premises model, application software costs (including the upfront license fees and annual maintenance fees) constitute just 23% of the total
solution cost.

Customers do not incur any direct IT infrastructure and related management costs with the cloud model because subscription fees encompass these costs. In the on-premise deployments, IT infrastructure (hardware, software, maintenance and ongoing management of the infrastructure) costs range from 51% (in a 50-user scenario) to 45% (in a 200-user scenario) of the total solution cost over four years. This category accounts for the biggest difference between the TCOs of the two models.

Because of these factors, it is important to do a complete total cost of ownership analysis before making a decision on whether or not to maintain applications on premise or migrate them to the cloud. Please keep in mind that certain line of business applications or customized applications may not migrate well. A competent cloud advisor can assist you in evaluating the total cost of ownership among a variety of cloud providers and assist you in evaluating whichapplications should migrate or be virtualized in the cloud.

Desktop Computers Are Easily Fixed And Easily Upgradable

Repairing computers isn’t too much of a big deal, if you know someone who knows a bit about computers then your problem can be resolved almost immediately. What you need to know is that if your problem is software, fixing your computer will be a breeze with a reformat. Means that your files will all be deleted and replaced with a fresh new operating system, blank and without any viruses and malicious malware but also void of any past files you have had, important files or not so important files will be lost. The good news is you will have a PC again, very fast because of its newer operating system but the bad news is that you can never retrieved those files you had before. So before you decide to reformat, be sure you dint have important files on your hard disk first.

Now how about if your problem is hardware? If you have a broken motherboard, then you must replace it. But you can keep your other cards and add it up on your newmotherboard. Your processor won’t need to be changed too; the good thing about a PC is that if you break one part, you only have to change that part. If you break your video card, you buy a new video card, you’re other cards stays and you get to use them till they break down as well. Work wise, it better if you own a PC instead of a laptop. Sure you can change your laptop parts but it won’t be as convenient as when you change PC parts.

Those are the two things that when broken on a computer can be fixed by almost any IT worker. Even an IT student can do that job and without any hassle whatsoever. It’s quite easy really, fixing computers, the hard part is assembling it from scratch. Most computers today are built in to one huge monitor with the other PC components inside of them. But their hard to fix when they break, sure they are durable and will last a long time but when the time comes when they break apart you will need to send them to expert service technicians which will charge you a lot for a service that not so many people could fix. That is why a PC is the better choice for people who know its importance.

Data Center Relocation And Moving Its Associated Hardware

Data Center Relocation & Moving its Associated Hardware often leads a client to a specialty data center and server moving firm, for assistance managing and executing their relocation project.

“We are looking for data center movers and/or computer equipment movers”. Seems easy enough, just need to move some servers from A to B. Moving a data center seems like it’s just a matter of picking things up and putting them down. This isn’t the case at all and there are many considerations often left out of the thought process leading up to physical move.

The hope is that this short guide version will help to create a required level of awareness when you are physically moving your data center.

Not every company has the resources required to relocate a data center, or to physically move servers from place to place. The resources that are in place are often times working on the software, storage, DR, migration planning, checking over planning, and trying to work out the fail over bugs.

Often times the IT side of the house is presented with the task of moving the company’s data center, along with keeping the current IT infrastructure in place, all while they are running day to day operations. Typically we see a couple difference scenarios when hearing from a client. Once is that the planning and testing has been happening for a period of time and they now need to figure out how to physically relocate the data center and server equipment out of the current production environment. The other times we hear from our clients are when it’s dropped on their desk and the move has to be executed with no time to spare (or yesterday).

We do notice that the physical portion of relocating a data center often does get looked over, or there is a lack of focus on this area. Oversight is understandable because the focus of resources is often times on other areas planning to get all of the computer equipment moved. When it comes time to physically move network, servers, SANS, racks and such, the IT department often stops in their tracks and pauses for a moment (just staring at the equipment).

There are several logistical items to plan into your data center relocation. When you move servers don’t forget the physical logistics! It isn’t often that the average IT personal relocates or moves a data center.

Here is a common list of questions we think about when we are reviewing and planning for a data center move. These questions are for the physical move of the data center.

Cable management and server equipment labeling, along with hardware labeling.

  1. Are all of the network, power, fiber cables pre-labeled accurately?
  2. Are the servers, network, SANS, and computer equipment labeled?
  3. Are the destination rack elevations prepared and ready to execute?
  4. Is there a plan to label rail sets?

Labeling is one of the most important measures to keep time loss at a minimum. Label everything, and when labeling, be sure that the label is in a secure area that is easily identified when moving (and so it doesn’t fall off when being packaged). Often times with rails for example, the client will opt to not have us handle this aspect. We show up and there are 150 different rail sets or various makes and models thrown into a box. This will add considerable time and frustration to your staff at the destination.

Cage screws & nuts are also another item to consider. Sometimes the staff that originally racked the server equipment may have over tightened or stripped the hardware used to secured rails, network items, and shelves. This is often an unfortunate oversight, and can quickly lead to frustration. Plan on having the appropriate tools to swiftly remove stripped or over tightened cage screws. It would also serve as a benefit to have extra cage screws and nuts handy. Do remember server cage nuts, screws, and securing hardware come in various sizes.

The quantity of server equipment being moved can determine the best course of execution when un-mounting. With a couple of racks of server equipment you may worry less about the order in which the equipment is un-mounted. If you have a multiple of data center racks and equipment, you may want to consider removing everything in an organized manner making it easier to re-mount at the destination. Tip: Always check the warranty requirements prior to removing any warrantied equipment from server racks. It may be a requirement that the equipment under warranty be removed by the warranty holder (you do NOT want to void the warranty).

Think WET NEWSPAPER! Depending on your data center or server rooms status, some of the equipment may have been spinning for quite some time, and may never have been spun down. The goal is to have a current DR plan verified and in place. When packaging data center equipment, the way in which you package and materials used to package should protect your equipment against static, shock and humidity. Effectively preserving the data center environment while transporting your data center.

Who will have the liability for moving the servers and computer equipment (the considerations)

  • This includes the physical handling of equipment
  • Transportation liability (think about if the staff were to use their own vehicle or rent a truck, if an accident was involved where injuries were reported while possessing company property and on company business)
  • Do you have multiple insurances that will cover the data center relocation from all liabilities? These insurances include but are not limited to workers comp., general liability, transportation, and cargo.

The Physical Handling

You need think about injury from the physical and lifting, and damage to equipment or data from dropping or accidents. If the company staff member is going to use their own car, a company vehicle or rent a truck, the thought process needs to consider if there were an accident. We would never want this to happen but if the staff member was transporting company property, and an accident occurred (depending on how severe), where would the liability fall? TIP: Be mindful that most buildings in which are involved in your data center relocation require a certificate of insurance showing the current insurance policy coverages.

Origin and destination building travel routes, and physical logistics also need to be looked at. Some considerations:

  1. Are there any stairs or steps involved in any of the travel routes
  2. Are there any stairs or steps involved in any of the travel routes?
  3. Are there any ramps involved in any of the travel routes?
  4. Are there any doors or thresholds that will impede travel?
  5. Are the any signs, door hardware, door handles that will impede travel
  6. Are there any height impediments that would cause you not to be able to “fit” equipment through a certain area height wise?
  7. Is there a staging area to park the transportation vehicle (off road parking or on road)
  8. Does the origin and destination have truck height loading docks?
  9. Are there truck height restrictions at the origin or destination?
  10. Are there certain delivery times required in order to deliver in the equipment?

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket! Consider your total inventory and split your load if you can. Our belief is that if you have a 53′ trailer of packaged equipment, the load should be split into to 26′ trucks. If there were to be a catastrophic event, this would help to minimize loss. Also depending on logistics, often time’s 26′ trucks are a bit easier to navigate in tight quarters and lift gates help as well.

Travel distance, time of year, traffic, road construction, and weather should also be considered when transporting/relocating a data center.

Security is a very important consideration when moving your data center (if not the MOST important). You must maintain a controlled chain of custody, and security protocol. The equipment is going to be leaving a secured environment, so the considerations on safe the keeping of data, assets, your company, its stock holders, and yourself need to be factored into the overall scheme of things. We factor in security from pre-planning, to the moment we step foot at the origin, and our safety protocols secure your assets and data all the way to completion of the relocation. TIP: If you subcontract out the transportation to a vendor, it is very likely that your equipment will be offloaded and on loaded from truck to truck (driver to driver). The personnel transferring your equipment will not have an understanding of what they are moving. The focus is typically to get it off and onto other trucks as soon as possible, and there is little to no chain of custody or care in process.