Data Center POST September Newsletter
Greetings!
This edition of the Data Center Post newsletter contains 6 very useful contributions! We've got autonomics, archiving, cloud computing, your data center checklist, and more! Sit back and relax, we'll do the rest. Thanks for reading as we keep you up to date with what's happening in today's data center.
In This Issue: 
  • Why Autonomics are Cool for CIOs and Data Center Managers
  • Archiving Is a Great Complement to Primary Storage, But Fast Search Is Essential Why Autonomics are Cool for CIOs and Data Center Managers
  • Running out of space in your data center?
  • Turn Your Windows Server into a Self-Hosted Dropbox Alternative
  • Five Reasons Why Line-of-Business Managers Should Embrace Cloud Computing
  • Data Center Checklist
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Five Reasons Why Line-of-Business Managers Should Embrace Cloud Computing
Jeff Aden, EVP - Sales, Marketing & Business Development and Co-Founder of 2nd Watch
 
Speaking as a former P&L owner of a publically traded company, reporting directly to the CEO, there were two constant topics of discussion: growth and customer experience. As lines of business mature in their go-to-market strategies, supporting departments become entrenched in the rhythm of the business and change becomes very difficult to execute. With the increase in web and mobile experiences, the change in how we consume information, and the speed at which information is delivered, lines of business are required to change at a much more rapid pace. In most cases, this is faster than supporting groups or cost centers can keep up with.  However, by utilizing the public cloud, businesses can bridge the gap between IT and business bottom lines to produce an enhanced customer experience while driving growth.
 
This article will take a look at growth specifically.  If I committed to 30 percent year-over-year (YOY) growth, here is one example of how that could be achieved and how the public cloud makes it even more achievable.  For setting the bar at 30 percent growth, let's say 10 percent can come from bottom line efficiencies (cost savings) and 20 percent will come from top line growth.  With public cloud, the business now has an opportunity to have 20 percent bottom line efficiencies, and can reallocated the 10 percent difference to drive additional campaigns in order to meet or exceed the 20 percent top line growth. 
 
Going into a little more detail, let's look at five ways this could play out to benefit line-of-business managers.
 
1) Lines of business can test more often and much more quickly without the traditional red tape, even when a highly secure environment is required.
 
Say a company wanted to change the way they go to market and the cost of campaign was $95,000 for a two month campaign.  It may typically take up to three or four months to support the campaign with traditional technology.  If the business wants to make a fundamental change it could take up to year to change the traditional internal process, including gaining buy-in from internal groups, causing the opportunity to potentially be lost.
 
In contrast, a public cloud like Amazon Web services (AWS) allows lines of business to launch the same campaign in six weeks and at a cost of $40,000.  As $95,000 has been allocated to the campaign, this allows the business to spend more dollars on the creative aspects of the campaign or to allocate funds to a second campaign to gain further value and learning. With services like AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), this is even possible with highly secure data or highly compliant business units where sensitive customer data or payment information is required.
 
2) Profit centers can learn and react on those learnings at a much faster pace.
 
Now, taking our example from above, if it takes six weeks to get to market and the campaign fails, we now have the ability to test again for the same cost of the initial efforts.  Better yet, two weeks post launch, we could make modifications to the campaign or shut it down completely and only have a total investment in the campaign of $20,000.  If we had attempted to do this with traditional, legacy processes, the $95,000 was already spent when we said go.  Hardware would have been ordered or provisioned and we would have been locked in to that course throughout the life of the campaign.
 
3) Profit centers can allocate funds and measure results without costs being lost in allocated budgets.
 
When costs are allocated it typically works out like a socialistic economy. That is to say, there is an unfair distribution of resources.  The largest business units typically get allocated the majority of costs or disproportionate amount of allocation.  The smallest business units typically end up paying less for services and resources and share in the successes of the largest units. 
 
With public cloud, both scenarios are normalized so that both small and large business units pay for what they use.  Additionally, this allows for greater control and the ability to measure and analyze results without the grey area of allocations.
 
4) Lines of business aren't locked in to high costs of ownership that are determined by cost centers.
 
Business units typically get locked into central IT and have no ownership over how well or poorly they are managed.  This may cause a high cost of ownership in the form of allocation.  With the public cloud, you now have the ability to outsource or insource resources that can start and stop based on the business needs.
 
5) Business and IT can bridge a gap and focus on strategic efforts to grow a business.
 
The main issues that divide business and technology are cost and agility.  With the public cloud, both the line of business and IT can focus on strategic efforts rather than spending time managing servers. There is zero business value in managing servers and bandwidth providers. Public cloud allows companies to focus on driving top-line results versus getting bogged down in the server room.
 
If line-of-business managers want to make conversations with their CEO much easier, while improving growth and customer experience, they need look no farther than the cloud.



Why Autonomics are Cool for CIOs and Data Center Managers
Jonathan Crane, Chief Commercial Officer, IPsoft, says:
 
Not surprisingly, most data center and IT teams spend a significant amount of time on routine maintenance (read: mundane) tasks. Data center capabilities and functions are expanding rapidly with the introduction of big data, software-defined networking and cloud computing environments, among others, driving up the amount of resources that are required to support enterprises' IT departments.
 
As a result of this technology expansion, far too many companies today find that they need to devote at least 80 percent of their IT budgets to running and maintaining existing systems and services. These systems add little true business value over and above continuity of service, and leave less than 20 percent of IT budgets to fund change programs and innovation. If you really look at CIOs' priorities, topping the chart is their need to reverse this budgetary constraint.
 
There are many automation providers in the marketplace delivering improvements in system execution of tasks and activities to help in this endeavor. Autonomics, in particular, has proved to be quite relevant in this space, as this technology focuses not just on the automation of tasks, but on the automation of entire end-to-end processes in an adaptive, contextually aware, dynamic way.
 
The differentiation of autonomic processes is the ability to provide a consistent customer experience in the front end, while effectively managing fast and multiple back-end changes. In practice, this means that autonomic systems can execute entire processes without human intervention, including mitigating downtime and errors, executing new deployments and patches, and flagging complex issues to the appropriate IT or NOC engineers. To the customer, this means shorter resolution and execution times, improved consistency and better service availability. At the core, autonomics makes the task of IT management more manageable and less costly.
 
This simultaneous IT management approach means that CIOs and data center managers are able to spend less time and money on pure "keep the lights on" activities. Instead, they can devote adequate resources to new initiatives, effectively becoming the organization's Chief Innovation Officer - quite the promotion!
Archiving Is a Great Complement to Primary Storage, But Fast Search Is Essential
Chris Grossman, Senior VP of Enterprise Applications, Rand Worldwide, says:
As organizations generate greater volumes of intellectual property, IT teams face challenges related to storing that information in ways that will satisfy both user and performance requirements. IT analyst George Crump recently wrote about the role that archiving can play in addressing these issues. In Crump's opinion , archiving solutions are most effective when they play a role in primary storage. But, he also adds that the best archiving options enable users to find data quickly.
 
There are several reasons why index and search are critical components of a comprehensive archiving solution. A lot of archived data is emails, videos and blogs which are unstructured. Searching through unstructured data and extracting value from it is more challenging than other types of information. Another concern is that many archive tools only offer keyword search. This is effective when end users know exactly what they are looking for, but that isn't always the case.
 
To derive the greatest value from archiving, organizations should look for solutions that provide intelligent search capabilities, so searches are based on both a conceptual and contextual understanding of archived information. Other beneficial features include the ability to search for information in all the different file formats stored in the archive and multiple language support. 
 
Rand Secure Archive leverages Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) technology as the foundation of its index and search. These patent protected search algorithms optimize search speed and make it possible to use data archives as a viable complement to primary storage resources.
 
About the Author
As a Senior Vice President, Chris Grossman manages the Enterprise Applications division of Rand Worldwide, including the Rand Secure Archive division. Contact Chris at cgrossman@rand.com or visit www.randsa.com.
 
Running out of space in your data center? A well-designed structured cabling system can help
Josh Taylor, senior product manager at CABLExpress, says:
Data center design is so crucial because space is scarce. It's like the old investment saying: "Invest in land. They ain't making any more of it."
 
That may be a very simplified analogy, but it applies. Many people are presented the challenge of building a high-performance data center environment while having very limited space. This is becoming prevalent, especially as organizations are becoming more and more cost conscious.
 
With the flow of data rising exponentially, data center space and efficiency have become premium factors for businesses. Data center managers and IT professionals will be challenged with the task of finding effective ways to do more with less.
 
What happens when IT professionals are presented with a challenge like this? Innovative companies create solutions to these problems. They think out of the box. The solution to this dilemma lies in a well-designed structured cabling system.
 
Since saving space is critical in the data center, it is important to have an infrastructure design complete with solutions that work for specific needs. For example, the brand new CABLExpress┬« mini ladder rack enclosure, like its full-size predecessor, is specifically designed to mount directly to overhead conveyance - making use of "dead" overhead space and freeing up valuable rack space below.
 
The mini ladder rack enclosure accepts eight modules or feed-through adapter panels, and has multimedia capabilities for fiber (96 LC duplex ports) or copper (48 ports). While it is just one piece of the structured cabling puzzle, when used as part of the Skinny-Trunk Solution┬«, the mini ladder rack enclosure offers a convenient way to save space in the data center without sacrificing manageability or performance.
                                                                
Want to find out how a structured cabling system can increase your uptime, scalability and return on investment while decreasing your technology footprint and operating expenses? Download a free white paper titled Data Center Structured Cabling Guide at www.cablexpress.com/cable-blueprints/cablexpress-white-paper-data-center-structured-cabling-guide
Turn Your Windows Server into a Self-Hosted Dropbox Alternative
Jerry Huang, President of Gladinet, says:
You are very familiar with your Windows Server, whether it is sitting on-premise in your office, or sitting in a data center that you access over the VPN. The Windows Server is providing essential file sharing and collaboration functionalities to all your Windows client machines, such as Windows 7/8 desktop and laptops.
  
Windows Server in the Past
If it were in the 90s or back 10 years ago, it would have been sufficient because Windows machines dominate the business space. As long as you have Windows desktop and Windows Server, your file sharing requirement is considered done. Everyone can map a network drive to the Windows File Server and use the network share.
  
Mobile Devices and BYOD
Nowadays, Windows machines no longer dominate. There are many iPhone and Android mobile devices in the workspace. As Global mobile shipments increase, the PC shipments declined. You want to continue to do file sharing in the workspace, but the windows file server isn't supporting that for the non-Windows iOS and Android devices. It isn't doing that either for the web browser based file access method. You have seen how Dropbox works at home and you wish that you can turn your file server into a dropbox like solution, continue to providing file sharing solution to you, not just for the Windows client, but also for the iOS, Android and other mobile devices. As business encourages BYOD (bring your own device), having a dropbox-like functionality for your Windows Server is becoming more of a priority.
  
Windows Web Platform
Windows Server 2008 and Windows server 2012 are not only a file server platform, they are becoming more and more of a web platform with the IIS (Internet Information Server),ASP.NET, .NET framework components included in the Windows Server.  It has a platform ready to make a dropbox-like functionality.
  
Gladinet Cloud Enterprise
Gladinet Cloud Enterprise makes Windows Server into a self-hosted dropbox alternative solution, by leveraging the built-in Windows Web Platform. The IIS can be turned into a modern web based file manager and client access point. ASP.NET can provide the management portal component. A Gladinet Cloud Enterprise setup...On one hand, it is exposing to the end user devices over the HTTPS protocol. On the other hand, it is connecting to the Internal file server and active directory for storage access.
 
Summary
While Windows Server providing collaboration and file sharing functionalities for the local area network. The Gladinet Cloud Enterprise extends it to become a dropbox-like alternative solution that businesses can self-install and self-host on-premise with security and control in mind.
Data Center Checklist
Chris McLean, PE, Director of Design, Markley Group, says:
Colocation is a growing trend in data center management today - one that provides a way for companies to optimize their IT departments, getting the benefits of the latest equipment, security and always-on environment without having to run or staff their own data center. 
 
It is easy to see how this can save companies time and money (two of the most important things you can save in the business world), but making the decision to move operations to a colocation center is not one to take lightly.
 
With that in mind, please find below some typical data center questions managers have and why they're important - a checklist that you can use while making a decision:
 
  • Size and space: does the facility you're considering have both? Have you considered both the physical and virtual requirements for your business to be successful? 
  • Growth potential: if you're a company just starting out, you know you have it - but does the facility you're considering? Do they have the power capacity to support your future growth? It is important to make sure your partner can grow with you in both the physical and electronic sense.  No one wants to have to move data centers with every growth spurt or merger/acquisition. 
  • Security: just storing your data isn't enough - it needs to be protected too. This goes without saying, but you need to ask about the levels of physical and electronic security they have in place to make sure your data is safe and accessible only by approved employees. Motion-activated cameras, digital recording and biometric access controls are no longer future technologies but are standard in modern data centers. Accepting tradeoffs in other areas for lax security should not be acceptable to you. 
  • Redundancy: you're paying for always-on, so it is imperative you find out what that means to your potential partner. What was their most recent downtime or failure? Are they able to guarantee pretty close to 100% uptime? Interview existing and past customers - find out why they're staying, why they left and if they ever had any outages that affected business. 
  • Location: do you need to be located near your data center?  For some businesses this is important, as their IT executives want to see the equipment and make periodic visits. For others, not so much, as they're content and trusting of their partners' programs. But something to consider. 
  • Private space: some companies are looking for partners that allow them to buy wholesale data center space where dedicated power, cooling and security systems are allotted exclusively for your business - but the company retains control of everything else. Is this of interest to you now or in the future? If the answer is even a maybe, you need to make sure it's an option offered by your potential partner. 
  • Capacity planning: the main cost variable when it comes to colocation is the data sent between your server and the internet - and a bad estimation or a sudden increase in use can spike overage costs. You can't always predict what will happen, but if your facility will work with you on noticing trends and making adjustments (as a true partner would) - instead of just gobbling up the additional money you'll have to pay - then they are someone you can work with for a long-time. 
  • Network providers: is there a high concentration of on-network providers at or near your potential partner's facility? If providers are located at the facility or nearby, enterprise companies with high or unlimited bandwidth needs can lower costs based on proximity.  Connectivity, uptime, speed and reliability can also be improved in these situations because of the direct connection possibilities. 
  • Power/energy: what is the average wattage per square foot of your facility? This is an important question often missed by companies as they look at data centers/colocation partners. Today's servers are housing incredible amounts of data and are often running at near maximum capacity - and you need to make sure that your center can handle the power drain of higher processing speeds, elevated temperatures and increased cooling needs.  How your facility is affected by its physical location and things such as weather is an important follow up tied to this area. Do major storms knock it offline? Has heat or cold-related issues ever been a problem? 
  • Sustainability: how efficient is your potential data center partner? Have they taken steps to improve their energy expenditures?  Are they LEED certified?  This is more important to some companies than others, but you want your partner to be at least thinking along these lines, as it shows they're always working on/investing in creating a better way to do business - the sign of a strong, committed partner. 
  • Service-level-agreement: negotiate. Don't just accept an agreement if it's not a good fit for you. If there are variables important to your business - security, uptime, growth, etc. - make sure they're in writing and that your partner is as dedicated to providing these services as you are to getting them. 
  • Costs: has your potential partner's costs gone up every year?  Have you negotiated a set cost for a certain amount of time - or will they hold your data hostage and expect you to live with annual increases? 
  • Budget: is the cost right? Can you afford the services you want? Can you live without the ones you can't afford? As we all know, all too often cost is the deciding factor in business and IT decisions. But no list would be complete without mentioning it. 
About the Author
Mr. McLean, a registered Professional Engineer and LEED AP, with 10 years of electrical engineering and design experience, is responsible for the design, operation and master planning of Markley Group infrastructure. Prior to joining the Markley Group, Mr. McLean designed several hundred thousand square feet of data centers and critical facilities for three of the foremost engineering firms in the United States. His designs have been realized by Fortune 500 companies, leading financial institutions, major universities and the federal government. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and holds a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering Technology.
 
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