IT Managers Share Their Cloud Experiences

The common best-practices associated with managed cloud service utilization are hard to find, since the early-adopters rarely share their insights. Of course, for all the other people that are still assessing the potential benefits, that guidance is truly invaluable.

Therefore, it's very helpful that Forrester Research was able to interview more than 60 organizations that are currently leveraging Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud-based solutions within their business environment.

Forrester defines public IaaS cloud computing as the delivery of compute (virtualized servers, storage, and networking) on-demand as a shared service. Based on their findings, they say that the evolving usage characteristics fall primarily into three emerging practices.

Test and Development in the Cloud
The most common practice they found among enterprise users of IaaS cloud platforms was to build and validate new apps. Cloud platforms provide relief for in-house test and development teams who face resource constraints. Moving these actions to the cloud relieves a significant IT burden, but only for apps that are suited to the cloud -- those that can fit within the confines of a virtual server.

Deploying Web Applications
The majority of applications deployed on public cloud infrastructures are Web-based apps. Early users of IaaS clouds have found the greatest benefits with Web apps that are short-term oriented and/or unpredictable or volatile traffic patterns. These types of apps can best take advantage of the pay-per-use element of cloud infrastructures to right-size the cost of deployment to the behaviors of the apps.

High-Performance Computing
Another good fit with IaaS cloud platforms is high-performance computing. These often massively parallel programs can be scaled-out to effectively tackle very large problems, and the constraints of HPC are usually the size of compute grid that can be deployed. Enterprises are constantly having to trade off grid size and cost against speed of getting the result. Apparently, IaaS clouds provide relief to this tension.

Next Wave of Manage Cloud Service Apps
According to Forrester, given the above mentioned IaaS best practices, the next wave of cloud services best practices that infrastructure and operations professionals should focus on are as follows:
  • Leveraging cloud management applications and services.
  • Cloud bursting -- to maximize scaling within the cloud.
  • Integrating cloud services with data center services.
  • Leveraging cloud-scale services.
The Beginner's Guide to Cloud Adoption
So, where should you start? Forrester suggests, make sure you have supportive executives who will view your use of cloud computing as empowering for the business -- not as a threat to infrastructure and operations. Then, start experimenting with the common applications listed.

Clearly, IT and network out-tasking has a place in most organizations. Forrester says that their key findings show that cloud, while truly compelling, shouldn't be viewed as a replacement for the data center. It is, however, a viable alternative approach to consider.

Culture is Key to Advanced Collaboration

Organizations that deploy the most advanced Internet protocol-based collaboration technologies achieve more than twice the return on their collaboration investment and perform better than their less collaborative peers, according to a thought-provoking Frost & Sullivan market study.

"Meetings Around the World II: Charting the Course of Advanced Collaboration," sponsored by Verizon and Cisco, examines how busy professionals in businesses and government agencies use advanced collaboration tools such as voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), instant messaging or meeting via high definition video or Cisco TelePresence to get their work done.

The study is the first to develop a model for measuring a return on collaboration investment, the Return on Collaboration (ROC) Index. It establishes a progressive impact of deploying advanced Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C) technologies on business performance and measures improvements in areas such as research and development, human resources, sales, marketing, investor relations and public relations.

Advanced Collaborators Harness Competitive Advantage
The study also identified emerging business technology adoption trends and attitudes across the globe. Key findings from the study include:
  • Businesses and government agencies deploying increasingly more sophisticated collaboration tools -- such as VoIP soft phones, immersive video and fixed mobile convergence -- saw a corresponding improvement in business results relative to the amount invested.
  • The overall average ROC score was 4.2 -- meaning organizations received an average return of four times their investment in deploying collaboration technologies.
  • The majority of organizations deploying UC&C report they are more successful than their peers compared to those not deploying UC&C (70 percent versus 47 percent).
  • Of organizations deploying UC&C, 40 percent plan to increase spending.
  • VoIP is leading the way for delivery of advanced communications and collaboration applications.
Why Corporate Culture is a Defining Factor
If you're thinking that simply deploying online collaboration tools will deliver results similar to the leaders -- then think again. Your work environment is truly instrumental to success.

How do the Advanced Collaborators attain an ROC score of 6.1? These organizations tend to have "open" entrepreneurial corporate cultures where individuals are accessible, and there's regular cooperation between business units.

"Meetings Around the World II confirms and extends the key findings of the original study and builds on those conclusions. This latest research shows adopting progressively more advanced unified communications and collaboration tools can help organizations achieve a corresponding return on collaboration and improvement across all business functions. This return was most dramatic in the areas of sales, marketing and research and development" says Brian Cotton, vice president for Information and Communications Technologies for Frost & Sullivan.

In-the-Cloud Approach to Cyber Security

Security breaches or other unexpected interruptions can happen anytime to anyone -- whether you are a large enterprise or a small business. Fully maintaining communication network security is a demanding responsibility -- and typically not the best use of your limited IT resources, that would be better applied to delivering incremental new business technology benefits to your organization.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to a do-it-yourself comprehensive security solution. Skilled managed service providers continue to enhance their network security offerings.

AT&T announced the availability of Security Event and Threat Analysis and Security Device Management, two new managed security services available for businesses of all sizes.

Customized to Your Unique Business Needs

The services enable you to engage AT&T security professionals selectively and simply to provide customized security support. Services range from security event analysis and threat management analysis to targeted security device management including firewalls, intrusion detection sensors and VPN servers.

These new services use AT&T’s expertise in security analysis to evaluate, correlate, and report on information from multiple devices and device types, both on your premises and embedded in the AT&T network.

AT&T Managed Service Benefits Include:
  • Prioritizing security events based on threat and risk management methodologies using AT&T and customer-defined standards.
  • Rapid notification when security events are detected and identified as critical by the AT&T Security Network Operations Center.
  • Event mitigation and security analyst counseling during critical security incidents.
  • Global Security Operation Centers and 24X7 T1-T4 Analyst Coverage with portal access through AT&T’s BusinessDirect Portal.
With Security Device Management, AT&T provides complete, customizable monitoring and management of your security hardware and software, with a range of services including managing your organization’s current security capabilities up to assessing, designing and implementing a custom security infrastructure.

Full Suite of Professional Services
These new services are a natural complement to AT&T’s existing Security Consulting services, which include independent assessments of vulnerabilities inherent in customers’ networks, as well as the policy and procedures surrounding them. Security Consulting services include Log Management, Security Policy Management, Vulnerability Analysis, Application Security, Trusted Advisor services and Payment Card Industry Solutions.

AT&T delivers a suite of security and business continuity services to help assess vulnerabilities, protect infrastructure, detect attacks, and respond to suspicious activities and events. The upcoming AT&T Cyber Security Conference is an annual day-long conference offered by the AT&T Chief Security Office.

Managed IT Enhances JetBlue Business Model

New York-based JetBlue Airways created an airline focused on value, service and style. They've proven to be a trailblazer in the U.S. airline industry. They're also a communication technology early-adopter. JetBlue introduced complimentary in-flight e-mail and instant messaging services on their aircraft -- a first among U.S. domestic airlines.

However, their core competency is centered upon air travel. They out-task the rest to service providers, wherever possible.

JetBlue signed a new, six-year strategic agreement with Verizon Business to manage the airline's information technology ( IT) data center and communications network needs, as well as provide security and IT consulting services.

Built on an IP Network Foundation
Verizon Business will design and manage the transition of JetBlue's existing systems to a new global IT network infrastructure. The newly built Internet-protocol-based (IP) voice and data network will support state-of-the-art airport kiosks, wireless Internet access and an advanced reservation system.

"JetBlue has built a reputation of consistently providing excellent customer service," said JetBlue CIO Joe Eng. "The agreement with Verizon Business to strengthen our IT capabilities is further proof that we are taking the steps necessary to evolve our business to meet our customers' changing needs. With this enhanced IT infrastructure, JetBlue will be even better positioned for the future."

The new converged voice and data network will help support JetBlue's vision to deliver enhanced customer service and better collaborative tools for its employee crewmembers.

Verizon Business will connect JetBlue crewmembers, customers and partners to each other and the Internet. The infrastructure will serve as the foundation to deliver new customer and collaboration services -- including audio, net and video conferencing and enhanced contact center applications that will enable JetBlue's reservations agents to better serve customers.

Securing and Protecting Critical Data
Verizon Business will also manage the transition of JetBlue's data centers to Verizon's redundant managed service centers. In addition, they will manage the critical infrastructure components of JetBlue's internal systems including its data centers, voice and data networks and internal service desk -- ensuring continuous availability and improved resiliency and reliability.

Through its managed security practice, Verizon Business will help safeguard critical company data as well as ensure JetBlue meets strict industry requirements for secure credit card transactions online, over the phone and at the airport.

JetBlue currently serves 58 cities with 650 daily flights. In 2009, the carrier ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Low-Cost Carriers in North America" by J.D. Power and Associates.