Cloud Computing Service Delivery Essentials

An increasing number of enterprises are moving to the cloud. Cloud computing delivers business solutions at a fraction of the time and the cost compared to traditional/ on premise IT solutions.

Cloud hosting services are now being created for every kind of business requirement- the flexibility of the cloud allows it to be integrated with most business applications and even legacy systems.

With growth in demand for cloud solutions, the onus is on the cloud hosting providers to provide true to value cloud computing platforms that deliver the best service delivery to consumers.

When CIOs of large enterprises move their mission critical data and applications to the cloud, they require the highest standard of services. A true to value cloud computing service should adhere to the following principles:

The Best Security:

Advances in technology also advanced level of threats and attacks. The best security services should exceed beyond just user privileges and secure password policies. When dealing with critical customer data, the cloud computing platform must have detailed, robust data protection and security policies:

* Physical security of the data center housing the cloud servers

* Network, application and internal systems security

* Secure data backup

* Secure internal policies

*Secure certified third party applications

Build Trust:

Trust building requires transparency. The service provider has to maintain and provide real time, accurate performance reports to the customer. To gain customer trust and confidence, it is highly important to provide detailed service delivery, availability and performance reports. The cloud provider also has to communicate proactively with the customers in case of any maintenance activities being performed on the cloud computing platform.

Multienancy:

For cloud service delivery to deliver the best performance, the cloud computing platform should have a true multitenant architecture and deliver maximum scalability. Today’s leading web applications created using a single code base and infrastructure but shared by multiple users. Multitenancy enables innovative solutions in low costs. Service delivery is faster, more efficient and low maintenance. Performance is highly consistent and reliable due to the large scale architecture.

Truly Scalable

Without proven scalability, a cloud platform can never deliver on its promise of being an innovative solution. The cloud has to support increasing number of users at a time with a robust architecture and plentiful resources to guarantee the best service standards, best performance and security levels.

At the same time, the cloud should be able to integrate systems and infrastructure in accordance with the changing demands. Technical support should be accurate and prompt in order to respond to customer requirements in order to grow the number of customers.

Best Performance

High speed and consistent performance are the standard and the cloud provider should maintain detailed performance records to support their performance claim. Average page response times and average number of transactions per day are key statistics to show the performance of the cloud platform.

Disaster Recovery

An enterprise IT solution cannot be complete without Disaster Recovery Services. Cloud disaster recovery services should be created using multiple and geographically separated data centers with backup, archiving and failover capacities. Multiple backup copies should be created in real time at the disk level. Backup copies should be created on multiple disks to ensure the best recovery speed and minimum risk of data loss in the even of a disaster.

High Availability (HA)

High availability is another cornerstone of a true cloud computing platform. For exceptional cloud service delivery, the cloud platform should be backed by redundant power, cooling and network infrastructure. Server infrastructure and software redundancy, N+1 redundancy and availability data records for the entire cloud deployment are crucial to ensure highly available cloud services to enterprises.

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Essentials of an Enterprise Storage Solution

Cloud enterprise storage

The term ‘enterprise storage’ has a different application than consumer storage. The size of the storage operations and the storage technology being used differentiate an enterprise storage solution. Enterprise storage can be defined as a “centralized storage system that businesses use for managing and protecting data. It also enables data sharing through connectivity to various computers in a network environment that includes UNIX, Windows and mainframe platforms.”

If an enterprise is looking to implement a storage solution, there are 4 basic parameters that should be assessed storage, backup, archiving and DR (disaster recovery services)

Enterprise storage solutions:

Explosive data growth is the biggest challenge for enterprise storage caused by concurrent requirement for historical, integrated, and granular data.  The increased number of users – including data miners, explorers, departmental users, multidimensional users, power users, and executive users needs to be taken into account by enterprises when designing a storage solution.

Storage System Types:
Storage can be classified into three basic systems:  direct attached storage (DAS), storage area network (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS).

DAS is the foundation on which SAN and NAS can be further deployed.  Thus, it is DAS that defines how SAN and NAS perform. Ultimately, the performance of the entire enterprise storage environment depends on DAS.  The storage interface of the host computer is connected to DAS, and a data network enables other computers to access DAS. Other devices used by a DAS deployment are: SCSI, PATA, SATA, SAS, FC, Flash, and RAM.

When it comes to functionality, SANs are a step ahead than DAS. They allow multiple clients to connect to a single storage device at the block level. However, multiple clients cannot share a single volume. SAN offers a host of compatibility advantages with respect to applications. SAN technologies include iSCSI, FC, and AoE.

NAS basically comprises a file server that resides on top of SAN or DAS. NAS ensures Microsoft compatibility by using server message block (SMB) and network file system (NFS) for UNIX compatibility. With NAS, multiple clients can share a single storage volume as most applications run with a block-level storage device.  But application compatibility is a problem with NAS.

The ideal enterprise storage:

Besides data storage, enterprise data storage needs to cater to protection against network security threats, backup plans, disaster recovery setup, and also compliance with legislations on the process of storing, managing, and archiving data.

Your organizations long term business goals and specific requirements will determine the choice of a data storage solution:

– The amount and type of data Performance as measured by I/O and throughput requirements
– Availability of reliable data for mission-critical applications
– Scalability
– Budget
– Backup & Recovery

Enterprise storage comprises a combination of storage systems like DAS, NAS, and SAN. For a few servers, DAS can be used for local file sharing and storage. Management becomes easier as DAS can be managed through the network OS of the host server. You can start small with less investment and add to the capacity when required. It also interoperates with a NAS system should you wish to migrate at a later date. You can still use legacy DAS for non critical data.

A NAS includes both hard disks and management software. It can be deployed when your storage requirement exceed server-based infrastructure.  NAS is used only for file-sharing; this means that the server can be used for application sharing. This division enables faster data access for multiple clients on the network. You can combine DAS and NAS for improved performance. In a NAS/SAN convergence, NAS offers reliability with RAID and data replication and data mirroring.

SANs are best for your mission-critical applications with dedicated and high performance network for data transfer between servers and storage devices. SANs are independent of LAN and the data is sent through a fiber channel which is capable of high volume data transfer. Instant communication between workstations and mainframes is possible especially for database, image and transaction processing. Dynamic load balancing enables fast data transfer, and reduced latency. SANs ensure 24×7 data availability.

The enterprise cloud storage:

The emergence cloud computing has made available a high performance storage solution that combines scalability, security, cost effectiveness and peak performance with ease of use.  Enterprises can deploy a private cloud service with the data residing on a high configuration SAN server and accessible through virtual machines connected to each other for 100% availability.

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The Power of Cloud Computing for Banks

Cloud Hosting for Core Banking, Cloud For Banking Solutions

The banking sector in India is rapidly changing mainly due to regulatory pressures, decreasing margins and fierce global competition. To survive the wave of changes, banks have to adapt and respond with the evolving market, at the same time they have to concentrate on getting the regular business done while keeping costs low. Having tried other methods to align businesses to the shift in consumer behavior and requirements, the banks now realize they need better tools to handle the daunting demands.

Agility, efficiency, and operational transparency are the need of the hour. Delivery of solutions and services has to be done at a very rapid pace to gain genuine customer satisfaction. A new, customer centric business model – both cost effective and with shorter cycles of time to market for products and services is required. A perfect case for cloud computing.

The cloud enables banks and financial institutions to buy computing capacity, storage and network bandwidth on demand without the need to invest in hardware or software, doing away with the need for upfront CAPEX. With its shared service delivery, excellent agility, and pay per use features, an increasing number of banks are testing and adapting the technology.

The Banking Cloud:

The most significant regulatory development that pushed banks towards large scale IT investments was the RBI’s directive for all banks to implement a core banking solution (CBS). This brought in the need to build an IT infrastructure aligned to the banks expansion plans and has provisions for disaster recovery (DR) for all that sensitive data. Cloud computing allows them a very scalable, robust and highly available infrastructure without them having to make heavy capital investment.

Many cloud providers are offering a fully automated cloud model inclusive monitoring and management services so organizations do not have to invest separately in those. Services are shared across trusted domains ensuring security for the data storage, transactions and operations- even with service partners.

Cloud computing will be of great help to small and co-operative banks too. Previously, the costs of investing in an IT infrastructure deployment were prohibitive. Now, they can serve their customers better and in a more secure way while sharing resources like hardware, software and banking softwares- all of which service providers are offering in their portfolio. Lower TCO for the banks will translate into cost effective and more services to a greater number of customers in a country like India where sections of populations still remain under-banked.

The SaaS on cloud model enables anytime, anywhere availability to the bank employees so they can respond faster to the customers’ needs- especially so sales force who can access data from anywhere.  A ‘core banking on cloud’ service would make perfect sense as the data would remain centralized and people can access it from outside. Cloud computing delivers productivity at a lower cost than traditional methods, all without compromising on security or manageability. Trend will shift towards the adaption of private cloud and enterprise cloud to accommodate the banking requirements with greater customization, security and access to unlimited computing power.

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