The evaluations are complete and the decision has been made, a move to the cloud is in the best interest of your organization. Transferring workloads to the cloud in order to free up or discard costly on-premise resources for the fast deployment and flexibility of an elastic environment has overwhelming appeal, but now what? Despite the many advantages of a cloud environment there are still pitfalls that need to be navigated in order to ensure a positive engagement and user experience. To that end, I would offer two pieces of advice to colleagues looking to transform their organization from a strictly on-premise environment to a cloud user.  dddd

First, pick the right provider. While this may seem like an obvious and simplistic statement, I can’t begin to stress how important this is and caution how many cloud transfers have met their untimely demise due to a less than adequate partner. When evaluating service providers there are certain non-negotiable items you must account for. Chief among them are security, reliability and responsiveness. Like it or not, there is an element of control you are ceding in this relationship and top-notch support and trust are paramount. You want a secure, integrated, centrally managed and easy-to-use environment with service level agreements (SLAs) that commit to minimum standards of availability and performance, especially at peak demand. Timely responses to change requests, backup needs and security patches are also key considerations.

Second, choose the right workloads. The cloud can be a powerful and efficient tool for your business, but it does not mean that every application is best suited to reside in a cloud environment. When developing your integration strategy keep in mind that low to medium security workloads, those without stringent latency requirements, and where the workload is elastic with variable traffic will work well.  Some workloads need data to be frequently pulled in-house for use by other systems and are perhaps best left in-house.  High-security and compliance monitoring needs are also more suited for on-premise use.  Keep integration requirements in mind as some workloads that are tied to proprietary hardware are also not good candidates for public clouds but may be fine for a private or hybrid environment.

The cloud can transform your organization if you manage it correctly, but it takes due diligence on your part to ensure that the move goes as planned. By doing your research ahead of time and developing a list of key considerations for your business, you can ensure that the process will be both smooth and successful.

 

 

As a product manager of an integrated solution suite, it’s interesting to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between traditional systems management (OS deployment, inventory, software delivery, patching, monitoring) and its major trends (security, virtualization, cloud, efficient data centers) with network management (deployment and configuration, backup/restore, monitoring, traffic analysis, Quality of Service) and networking trends (mobile devices, cloud, virtualization, larger networking demands). There are many similarities between these two IT focus areas and I will “blog” about several aspects as I tie-in and compare systems management with network management over the next year. One similarity that is particularly easy to spot and “leaps off the page” for me relates to discovery. In fact, it ALL starts with discovery.

By obtaining a complete and accurate discovery of your networking “stuff,” you will gain immediate benefits. The first premise here is that, until you know what you have (i.e. your stuff), where it is, and how it is connected, you cannot determine the best course of action to improve services, plan for new capacity, uptime, planned outages, or anything for that matter. Performing a regularly scheduled discovery of your devices will provide benefits that trickle into every other aspect of network management, and IT services in general.

The second premise is that the discovery process should be automated. Let’s face it, we live in a day and age where automation can and should be your best friend. Automation allows an IT administrator to remove the mundane and really boring daily tasks from his/her “to-do” list and to focus on things that add value. Back in the late 90’s, while working in IT at a local private liberal arts college, we performed what I call a “clipboard” inventory 2 times a year. The fact was that our manual inventory was inaccurate the moment we left the professor’s office. Add to that the notion that we could only gather some of the most basic inventory details: CPU, RAM, Network card, Add/Remove Programs. The level of detail that can be obtained today in an automated fashion is very complete and can be adapted to gather almost any piece of electronically stored information on a device. Don’t waste any more time doing manual discovery/inventories!

The third premise is that you need a management system that provides “out-of-the-box” reporting and mapping capabilities that easily and intuitively show discovered devices, their attributes, and their connectivity.  The system should allow the flexibility to generate your own custom reports as needed. As a really cool bonus feature, the reports and maps should also dynamically update as new discoveries are performed so that you not only know how your network looks like right now but also easily visualize to how it is performing.

Imagine going from a world of clipboard inventory, 2 times a year, to a fully automated discovery complete with a dynamically updated map of your network. Does it get any better than that? Possibly not, but then again the only constant with technology is change.

As we begin our discussion on how to provide great IT services, I hope you will start to think about, and hopefully act upon, the premise that “it ALL starts with discovery”.

P.S. As a public service announcement, I am providing you with a product link that can dramatically assist with the process of discovery/mapping and meets every requirement I describe above.  Visit WhatsUpGold Network Discovery for more details.

As companies continue to include the cloud in their overall IT initiatives – taking advantage of elasticity, scalability, interoperability and mobility – concerns around management, governance and control of data are preventing some organizations from fully embracing cloud services.

In fact, according to the recent Ponemon cloud survey, over 30% of IT and compliance respondents claim that concerns about data security have kept their organization from adopting cloud services…. And approximately half place a high priority on security when evaluating cloud providers.

For many, the benefits and the desire to migrate to the cloud in organizations seem to outweigh the security concerns.

That being said, every company’s risk tolerance is different.  Some of the variables in play that impact risk tolerance certainly include the type of information being moved and stored in the cloud, the industry (and associated compliance requirements) and of not only the company but also its business partners, as well as the specific security measures provided (or not provided) by cloud providers they are considering.

Not all cloud services are created equal.  There are absolutely great differences in the measures different providers have taken to protect information they process and store in the cloud.  A few security considerations include authentication and authorization as well as protecting data not only while it’s in transit to the cloud, but also while it remains there.

It’s no secret that more and more companies are turning to the cloud to benefit from all that it has to offer.  Subscribing to a cloud service can offer conveniences over deploying software on-premises, including faster deployment, budgeting flexibility, built-in elasticity, near-perfect uptime and it can be significantly less taxing on IT resources.

Managed File Transfer (MFT) is certainly not being left behind in this cloud revolution.  According to Gartner, adoption of MFT Cloud Services is growing rapidly and now accounts for approximately 10% of the overall MFT market.  While both on-premises and cloud markets will continue to grow about 20% annually, cloud services will become a bigger piece of the MFT pie.

Here’s a nifty graph from the Ponemon Institute’s recently published “The Security of Cloud Infrastructure” report summarizing key cloud drivers from the perspective of both IT/Security and Compliance respondents. Interesting to see that many people believe that cloud services will provide improved security and compliance efforts over doing it themselves on-premises with their resource.

So, how do you feel about cloud security?  Are you comfortable with your organization’s data being moved  into the cloud??  What cloud security measures would make you feel better???

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been putting the final touches on our next generation of services that will be delivered via the cloud. As with any product or service release, there comes a fair amount of planning including ensuring that one has the best site into competitors, forecast and of course customers. We’ve worked closely with industry analysts, our end-users and prospects and our own internal resources to best understand how and where we should position our cloud services. In presentation after presentation and in conversation after conversation, we were presented market slides showing the enormous growth and opportunity within the overall software as a service (SaaS) markets. The natural reaction is to get excited about all the money we can make in this space; before we did, I issued a strong warning to our team:

“In very much the same way that software is analogous to infrastructure, software as a service is not analogous to infrastructure as a service. That includes integration as a service. The profile of the consumer of SaaS will more than likely expect that things like integration, interoperability, transformation and governance will be part of the service subscription.”

In a nutshell what I was saying was… do not look at forecasts for SaaS and assume that the opportunities for IaaS follow the same trends. If users create content by using services that are delivered via the cloud, they have a reasonable expectation that this content can be shared with other services delivered via the cloud (not necessarily by the same vendor). For example, creating content via salesforce.com and sharing that content with gooddata.com should be as simple as granting the necessary permissions. After all, my Facebook, Twitter and Google+ information is shared by clicking a few buttons. Make no mistake, integration and interoperability are nontrivial, but part of the expectation of using cloud services is that the consumer is shielded from these complexities. As more and more cloud service platforms and providers build in integration and governance technologies the need for a separate IaaS provider will likely diminish.

Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that there is a place for technologies such as managed file transfer and business-to-business integration and collaboration; I definitely believe that Ipswitch will play a significant role in the evolution of those markets. Expect the role of Ipswitch to be evolve as well; not only will we provide the best mechanisms for moving content of any size but we will also govern (or let you govern) that movement and the entire experience around it. This is the centerpiece of Ipswitch’s Cloud strategy.

A recent study commissioned by IBM revealed that midsize companies have shifted from focusing on cost control and efficiencies to concentrating on growth initiatives as predictive technologies become more affordable and widely available.  The study also found that 2/3 of midsized companies have plans to adopt Cloud technologies, similar to an earlier poll of Ipswitch customers.

Other findings from this study indicated that IT budgets will increase over the next 12 to 18 months, with investments in wide range of priorities including analytics, cloud computing, collaboration, mobility, and customer relationship solutions.

What do think of this study – How does it compare to your 2011 plans?

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Is the Private Cloud Right for You?

You may have noticed our recent poll on cloud use in 2011, which found that almost 2/3 of all organizations are planning some kind of cloud investment this year. Nearly 30% said they would be investing in the private cloud specifically. If you happen to fall in with this percentage, then you’re in luck. The Ipswitch Network Management Division has been hard at work, documenting the steps and best practices for implementing and managing a private cloud. But sometimes the decision to move to the cloud isn’t easy.

Before committing to an investment such as this, it is important to know what makes it advantageous. A private cloud offers:

  • Improved hardware optimization
  • Reduced support costs with self-service management
  • Reduced capital expenditures
  • Reduced time to deploy applications and services

You may also want to consider potential drawbacks and what might not make a private cloud the right option for you. It is usually an efficient and cost-effective way of utilizing IT resources when the following conditions are met:

  • The cloud provider has standardized hardware
  • The cloud provider has standardized OS and application stacks
  • Sufficient networking infrastructure is in place to support cloud computing
  • Management tools, such as server and network monitoring, are in place
  • The distribution of jobs lends themselves to distributed computing platforms

If you do decide the private cloud is a good fit for your network, there are still more steps that need to be taken before implementations. To determine your current state of readiness for the cloud you must first assess your existing infrastructure, resource utilization levels, policies and procedures governing IT operations, and reporting and cost allocation procedures.

Ready to begin the migration to a private cloud? Read our white paper on deploying and managing private cloud.

Also, check out this article in the Enterprise Networking Planet on some tips on deploying your private cloud.

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I think it’s a pipe dream that small companies are going to really adopt cloud computing. The primary reason is that these companies are typically extremely short-handed in terms of technical talent. They’ve usually got a few overworked super sys admins fighting each day’s fires with absolutely no time to invest in learning new skills.
Bernard Golden of CIO.com

In an article titled “Cloud Computing: A Perfect Fit for Midsized Companies“, Bernard Golden, contributor to CIO.com and CEO of the consulting firm HyperStratus, makes the case for why midsized businesses may be “a cloud sweet spot.”

Golden thinks it’s a pipe dream that small companies will embrace and go in for cloud computing. Obviously he feels that midsized companies are a perfect fit, but what about large companies? What’s holding them back from the cloud?

What holds back large companies is, in a sense, their success with the previous generation of computing. Because they could invest in the old model, they’ve now got an installed base of hardware and a large, top-notch technical staff on hand.”

Golden points out 5 characteristics that midsized companies share that makes them the perfect fit for cloud computing.

Did you kill the web?

Let’s check your alibi. Think of how you spent your morning. Normally, I’d share my morning with you here, what websites I’ve visited and what apps I’ve used, but my boss reads my blog posts, and if she knew how much time I spent on … well, let’s let Chris Anderson illustrate the point I’m trying to make:

You wake up and check your email on your bedside iPad — that’s one app. During breakfast you browse Facebook, Twitter, and The New York Times  — three more apps. On the way to the office, you listen to a podcast on your smartphone. Another app. At work, you scroll through RSS feeds in a reader and have Skype and IM conversations. More apps. At the end of the day, you come home, make dinner while listening to Pandora, play some games on Xbox Live, and watch a movie on Netflix’s streaming service. You’ve spent the day on the Internet — but not on the Web. And you are not alone.”

Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, in an article on Wired.com titled “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet“, present a compelling argument for the demise of the World Wide Web and how “simpler, sleeker services“, like apps, “are less about the searching and more about the getting.”

Peer to peer file transfers are among the suspects at the crime scene:

The applications that account for more of the Internet’s traffic include peer-to-peer file transfers, email, company VPNs, the machine-to-machine communications of APIs, Skype calls, World of Warcraft and other online games, Xbox Live, iTunes, voice-over-IP phones, iChat, and Netflix movie streaming. Many of the newer Net applications are closed, often proprietary, networks.”

This is one of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a while, give it a read and feel free to share your thoughts and whether or not you’re placing any yellow crime scene tape over your PC.

Estimate how many pieces of sensitive files and data your company has … Now multiply that by $204. I’m sure you’ll agree that the ROI on the time and resources spent to protect company data are well worth the investment.
Hugh Garber – in a July 28th, 2010 blog

Hugh and the rest of the world have been talking about the 2010 Data Breach Report from Verizon Business that was released last week.

One of the many frightening figures given was that “96% of breaches were avoidable through simple or intermediate controls.”

Here’s a bit of a catch 22 though, in a recent article by Stuart Sumner of Computing, he says that “while technological advances can provide more capable security, they can also often provide opportunities to cyber criminals.”

What can we do?

Here’s where things get … interesting, and leaves me thinking that perhaps Cyberdyne Systems isn’t such a fictional company after all (yes, that’s a “Terminator” reference – c’mon “cyborg” is in the title of this post)

Sumner suggests that CIO’s can fight back against these data breaches with enforced encryption, reporting and biometric technology, and that “selecting the correct blend of tools to protect the business is key for CIOs today, and encryption and end point security can help.”

The concept and practice of biometric technology is not new to us, and it seems that the case can be made that biometric technology is truly becoming a necessary solution for all businesses.

The article is a quick read on what CIO’s can do to help fight data breaches and it makes a motivating case for biometric technology.

In writing this blog post I find myself interested in your thoughts on that, is biometric technology something that your company would benefit from?

That’s right. Get ready to say goodbye to cloud computing.

Not the hosting and using of services over the Internet, oh no. I’m talking about the term “Cloud Computing.”

Well, that’s just one of John Soat’s “Five Predictions Concerning Cloud Computing

What are the five predictions?

  • All applications will move into the cloud.
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) will supplant software-as-a-service (SaaS) as the most important form of cloud computing for small and, especially, mid-size businesses.
  • Private clouds will be the dominant form of cloud computing in large enterprises
  • Hybrid clouds eventually will dominate enterprise IT architectures
  • The term “cloud computing” will drop off the corporate lexicon.

This is a fun and engaging read, and the comments afterward are equally as interesting. Worth checking out.

We’ve all been to the company meeting where tons of sports metaphors have been thrown about. From the in-depth analysis of how the company is just like the Patriots, with the CEO being Tom Brady, all the way to the simple comparison of your department being just like the Celtics starting five.

Rajon Rondo, Doc Rivers - Boston Celtics

I always wondered if Doc Rivers, during a time out, explained a play and used the analogy of Kevin Garnett as the VP of Marketing, or even better something like this:

Rajon, you need to protect the ball when passing, don’t throw it into traffic. Think like Ipswitch’s safe and secure file transfer. You know, using 256-bit AES encryption …”

You get the idea.

So, what happens when sports and a common business issue like data security have a nice pick and roll and drive to the hoop for two?

Bill Brenner (Senior Editor at CSOonline/Magazine/IDG Enterprise) has an interesting Q&A with The Boston Celtics VP of Technology, Jay Wessel. Some noteworthy stuff regarding security, Apple’s MacBook Pro, Exchange-supported iPhones, and some cloud-based services.