Tag Archives: Vcloud

Migrating to the Cloud – Challenges and Considerations

As organizations continue to experience vibrant growth and rapid entry into new markets, the need to architect new data environments which perform flawlessly, deliver cutting edge technology solutions, and conserve resources has become paramount. It is often assumed that a transition from a private in-house data center to a cloud-based infrastructure is the direction in which most organizations should embark. However, there are multiple challenges and considerations that should be addressed before you take the plunge. Cloud Hosting

Preparing for Migration across the Enterprise

The decision to transition to the cloud is by no means a purely technical one. It involves important issues such as vendor selection, strategies to handle possible service disruption during the transition, and cost considerations only to name a few. Let us examine them briefly:

Vendor Selection

With new Cloud hosting companies appearing on the horizon regularly and promoting themselves rigorously, choices may be difficult to make. Make sure you are looking at more than just the cost or the cheapest deal. Examine issues such as industry reputation, awards, and accreditations, read case studies and ask to speak to a current customer. Find out if telephone support is provided 24X7? Do members of your senior technical team have instant direct access to their counterparts at the cloud hosting provider or do they have to go through several hoops to reach them? These often overlooked factors can end up costing more money in the long run and what appears to be a cheaper provider could end up being much more expensive.

 Service Disruption

Advance planning is the key to disruption management when connecting with the cloud. If your decision to consider the cloud involves only internal corporate data, a replication model may be the right answer. In this model, your data center and your Cloud operation function simultaneously until such a time that the transition is complete. However, if you have a large number of tier 1 customers who rely on you for service as is the case with live chat / videoconferencing / SaaS providers for instance, service disruption will have to be planned for well in advance and your service provider should offer you a migration plan and assistance.

 Resource Optimization and Costing

Cost savings are frequently mentioned as one of the main reasons why enterprises should vote for the Cloud.  Having a hardware free environment can certainly save a huge amount of money and resource. Outsourcing to a cloud hosting provider also gives you the option to re-deploy your technical workforce giving them the ability to concentrate on your core IT. Resource optimization & re-deployment options will vary depending on whether you choose the public, private or the hybrid Cloud model.

 Are you ready to migrate to the Cloud?

You are ready…..

When there are frequent spikes in service usage and on demand resources become an attractive proposition.
When your applications are known to perform better in the cloud (via previous testing).
When data privacy and regulatory compliance become top priorities because of new clients you have recently acquired.
When control cost is important and a pay-as-you-go model becomes viable.
If you are in need of a hardware refresh and want to lower your cost and optimize performance.
If you are moving to a new premise and no longer have in-house space.
If you want to re-deploy technical resource and concentrate on your core IT.

Migration to the cloud, especially by the technically savvy, startups and SaaS has experienced a dramatic rise in the past few years and for good reasons. Enterprise cloud computing investment is expected to grow from $76.9B in 2010 to $210B in 2016, according to a Gartner study.

Has your organization stepped into the cloud yet? Have you finally found your silver lining? What are some of the constraints you have experienced in your decision-making process? We would love to hear from you through your comments.

For more information read the AIP Case Study.

 

 

Science Logic Application Monitoring

StratoGen uses Science Logic Application Monitoring (SLAM) for its customers.  Customers have full access to this market-leading tool, plus StratoGen uses SLAM to help customers work through performance issues.

Extendibility

SLAM, like other monitor products, displays application metrics on dashboards.  But what makes this product different is the large collection of custom dashboards, called PowerApps, that the vendors of different applications and devices have written for Science Logic’s customers.  Plus the customer can program their own dashboards.

The customer can define custom dashboards by using the regular SNMP information output by many devices.  The customer can also program application calls using SQL, to query the database, or web services SOAP/XML, to either check the application for performance or execute actual transactions, to make sure the application is working correctly.

Features

The best way to illustrate this product is to show you some dashboards and list some of the available metric by product (e.g. Apache or EMC) and to list some of the available PowerPacks.

First we group application monitoring by type of software or hardware monitored:

Networking

Network monitoring relies mainly upon the SNMP reporting abilities of network devices and PowerPacks written by the vendor.  They show network performance and bottlenecks plus generate alerts whenever someone makes a configuration change.  Plus it can draw the topology on the dashboard.

Science Logic 1

 Here are just a couple of available metrics:

  • Cisco CM no bandwidth avail
  • Packets dropped

Server Health

Monitoring the servers is fairly standard stuff.  Service Logic also has a server monitoring product EM7 that we wrote about here http://www.stratogen.net/blog/science-logic-em7-server-monitoring-by-walker-rowe-guest-blogger-computer-technology-writer/

Science Logic 2

  • Busiest servers
  • CPU load

Custom App

You can monitor custom apps, meaning anything you have written yourself and deployed to an application servers or even purchased software, at the operating system level, the application server level, or by executing specific SQL queries, Hadoop MapReduce jobs, or calling the application using web services.

  • Processes running or not (meaning they are down)
  • App server performance
  • LDAP and Active Directory load balancing and performance
  • Database performance

Apache and IIS

Web server metrics include those listed below and the others you would normally see in an Apache, Nginx, or IIS server.

  • CPU load
  • Requests per second
  • HTTP connections

Microsoft Exchange and Outlook Web Access

For your own organization there is the need to make sure that Exchange is performing correctly and know how many messages outbound are being blocked by spam filters.  That would show the need to contact SpaumHaus.org or any of the other organizations that maintain domain blacklists. Plus a surge in outbound viruses would indicate an infection in your systems that might not have been flagged by your security monitoring.

  • Speed of delivery and connection failure
  • Messages rejected due to viruses and blacklists
  • Inbound spam surge in volume

Messaging

Messaging is the transport layer by which data objects are sent to the application that requested them.  This is used instead of direct JNDI lookups, RCP, COBRA, and DCOM.  If a queue builds up in the queue, then applications will be stuck waiting for data.

  • Number of messages in queue
  • Queue stopped
  • Change in configuration

DNS

DNS lookup time affects app performance. With Science Logic Application monitoring you can check latency for the DNS servers that you host or the DNS servers hosted by your ISP.  This could point to the need to perhaps switch to using a public DNS server like Google (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4) if you find any latency issues.  It could also point out the need for your customers to do that as well or contact their ISP for performance issues.

  • Lookup time for A (address), MX(mail), and NS (name server records)

Storage

With Service Logic you can monitor cloud or local storage.  This lets you verify that your storage is operating at the speed in which you need it.  Monitoring points to failed disks, which must be replaced, poorly distributed replication strategies, disk under or overutilization, and controller health.  If works for solid state storage as well as HDD.

  • pool usage
  • disk controller performance
  • IOPs
  • Reads and writes
  • Write and read errors

PowerApps

A collection of PowerApps is a PowerPack. These re grouped by type of monitoring and the vendor or customer who wrote them.  A PowerApp includes alarms, dynamic dashboards, and metrics.  Customers can build their own PowerAPps to monitor their custom applications plus they can download those written by third-parties and software and hardware vendors from the ScienceLogic portal.  Most of these are written by software and hardware vendors tailored to their specific systems. We show a sample of what is available below.

First in this download screen on the portal you can see how PowerApps are grouped:

Science Logic 3

Here are some samples by vendor and by type of PowerPack

EMC

  • LUN performance
  • Storage processor performance
  • Raid group performance

F5 BIG-IP

  • Temperature
  • LTM service discovery
  • DCM caching

Security (All vendors):

  • Tipping Point
  • NetScreen (policy, session graph, VPN tunnel
  • Fortinet (disk usage, config, memory)

Science Logic 4

As you can see Science Logic Application Monitoring is a flexible product that works with lots of products out-of-the-box plus it can be extended by the customer and has been extended by vendors who have written PowerApps.

StratoGen makes extensive use of this product in their cloud services.

http://www.stratogen.net/products/vmware-hosting.html

Choosing an Enterprise Cloud Hosting Provider? 10 Things to Consider First

Choosing an Enterprise Cloud Hosting Provider? 10 Things to Consider First

Cloud reliance is growing each year, with 60% of organizations now using cloud technology to perform IT-related tasks. Businesses are increasingly realizing the cost savings that can be achieved, in particular by turning hardware and software duties over to professional cloud-based hosting services. Businesses have the peace of mind of knowing their data and apps are secure and backed up, while also ensuring accessibility from a variety of devices.

Finding the right cloud hosting provider can be tricky, especially if your business has only used a traditional in-house datacentre to date. Before beginning the process of contacting cloud hosting vendors, here are ten things a business should consider.

server

Hardware Environment

Upon contacting a hosting services provider, you’ll likely be tasked with ensuring the hosting provider will offer your company the best hardware on the market today. It goes without saying but make sure you ask what servers they use and if they are new out-of the-box. You should work with the hosting provider to create a detailed project plan and this should give you all the technical specs for the hardware used in your new environment.  

Scalability

A business website will naturally have spikes in traffic from time to time. Your company should feel comfortable launching a major initiative or welcoming high traffic levels during certain peak times in the year. For this reason, businesses often consider a pay-as-you-grow model that will provide more bandwidth during those peak periods, then scale back down as normal traffic flow resumes. An in-house datacentre lacks this functionality, requiring businesses to buy the hardware they need up front, only to find that hardware isn’t sufficient when they need it most.

Security and Compliance

Regardless of the location of a business’s data, security and compliance are all are top priorities. Many businesses are audited on a regular basis and issues can result in fines. In the event of a data breach, a business could be impacted on a much greater level, not only incurring criminal prosecutions but also potentially losing valuable customers. A business should thoroughly investigate the security and compliance offerings of any cloud services provider, paying particular attention to regulations that impact their industry. Look for providers that comply to Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA or ISO in the UK. 

Technical Support

Not all cloud hosting providers are identical. As a business searches for a cloud hosting provider, one major factor is technical staffing. Your IT staff should be able to have regular conversations with the cloud provider’s IT staff as often as is needed. If you’ll require live, 24/7 support, be sure to stipulate that during your search.

Control Panel

Even when files and applications are hosted off site, the business still retains a responsibility to its customers and employees. It’s important that your IT department will have the ability to log in and monitor activities, as well as administer certain business-side actions, like adding new users and blocking applications. The cloud hosting company should provide an easy-to-use control panel that gives IT administrators the necessary access.

Reputation

Referrals are a great way to find a cloud hosting provider, but if you can’t get personal recommendations, online research is a great way to pinpoint a great service. Cloud services have matured to the point where plenty of businesses have shared their experiences with others. Carefully check a provider’s reputation, including reading any case studies that have been posted on their site.

Contracts and Guarantees

To earn your business, hosting providers will often be willing to sugar-coat their services. For that reason, it’s important to get everything in writing before agreeing. Your service agreement should include specific language that addresses downtime and data integrity. If your server does experience downtime, the agreement should state the length of time that it can remain down, as well as how quickly data will be restored from backup if for some reason a server’s hard drive should fail. A cloud provider with a 100 % uptime guarantee is ideal.

Disaster Planning

Tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods have the potential to affect businesses around the globe. Cloud hosting datacentres are no exception. It’s important to determine the actions that will be taken in the event either your locations or the datacentre are impacted by a disaster. Will data backups be sent offsite and, if so, how often and where will they be taken? Will your data be accessible even if your company is forced to shut its doors for weeks or months?

Transition Handling

The move from an on-site solution to a hosted solution can be disruptive if not handled properly. The cloud hosting provider should be willing to conduct extensive testing in advance of moving data to ensure all of your applications and files will be accessible after the move. Data migration should be conducted gracefully, with minimal disruption to daily operations. Ideally, the move should be planned for a weekend or holiday in order to minimize impact on business processes. When choosing a provider, make sure support will be available to make this move on a schedule that’s convenient for your end users.

Cost

While cost shouldn’t be the sole determining factor, every business has a budget to maintain. As you compare hosting services, consider the services being offered for each price. Chances are, you won’t be comparing apples with apples, since no two services are exactly alike. A more expensive provider might have state-of-the-art security or a water-tight datacentre. Additionally, a move to the cloud should offer a savings, especially on an annual basis. If you have an in-house datacentre, you would have to buy all the hardware up front, which is why cloud computing has a cost advantage over traditional network storage. An additional cost savings comes in the fact that IT staff no longer has to dedicate themselves to maintaining day-to-day operations. This allows them to focus on core tasks and improvements, helping your business move forward.

 Conclusion

Cloud hosting is more important than ever in business. By moving to the cloud, your business can save money and enjoy the latest technology in your IT operations. Through careful planning, your IT department can enter the process of finding a service provider fully armed with the knowledge you need to make the right recommendations to upper management.