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Cloud Computing migration, adoption and usage

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James Sankar, AARNet’s Director, Enterprise Services reports:

Several presenters at CEBIT2013 provided useful information, ideas and insight from their varied experiences with cloud computing migration, adoption and usage.

Here are my highlights:

Harper Reed, CTO, Obama for America 2012 Campaign delivered the International Keynote: Leveraging Cloud Services for Barack Obama’s Re-election

For this campaign he was the lead engineer to 40 IT engineers and 120 support staff (a tenfold increase from the 2008 election effort) with the target of reaching out online to raise $1bn dollars in 18 months.  An application was created to engage with voters to encourage responses like click to donate, help locally via influencers and personal network and conversation micro listening to push the conversation closer to the customer.  The infrastructure required was 1000 Amazon Web Servers with Openstack, designed based on an expectation of failure overcome by constant user experience and testing, server fail tests and mock election days.

Lessons learned:

  • Build a great team, don’t be afraid to fire – everyone has a time and a place
  • Talk consistently of why hire, hire people smarter than you are, encourage diversity by hiring people who look at the world differently
  • What is compelling, always be closing,
  • Be creative on big problems
  • Trust people – community is the number #1 asset.
  • Measure everything to determine success and credit achievement regularly
  • Shipping is KEY, get it out to the customer
  • Failure enables you to understand successProducts are functional but need to be usable, user testing understands where you went wrong, users should never see a 404 code error dead end,
  • Game day allowed for a failsafe from the rule book

Dr Steve Hodgkinson, Research Director IT APAC, Ovum spoke on The Organisational Impact of Cloud Services Adoption

He pointed out that business sees IT as slow, complex, process oriented, risky and cumbersome.  63 of Australian CIOs surveyed plan to outsource to a shared cloud model within the next 1-2 years.  IT is expected to refocus effort to more directly modernize core business with solutions for a mobile workforce, for creating an environment that can attract talent, for driving efficiencies “more from less”, from enabling closer IT/Business alignment and helping improve business decision making via analytics driven metrics.  IT has to manage a proliferation of devices; solutions and data, there are huge challenges to do so by traditional means.  Moving to a hosted public/private cloud of shared commodity services with support for Service Oriented Architecture and APIs offers attractive pathways to move ahead.  Examples in Higher Education include Hosted services via Amcom, Microsoft CRM and Office365.

The sweet spot today is to link support for functionality to business outcomes as a broker who can shop, buy, evolve, configure and share private, hybrid and public cloud services.  OVUM has a cloud services catalyst framework, and a more in-depth insight into cloud and the framework can be found here as a downloaded 101 slide PDF from a Government conference in NZ in mid June 2013: http://www.govis.org.nz/Portals/0/Dr%20Steve%20Hodgkinson.pdf

Damian Cronan, CTO, Mi9 / ninemsn spoke about Migrating the Organisation to the Cloud

The Mi9/ninemsn business demanded faster timeframes for hosting infrastructure and the use of subcontractors.  A lead team of two full-time equivalent staff were able to establish a public cloud within 8 hours that was stabilized as production ready within 4 months.

Lessons learned:

  • Trading risk – Contracts were kept simple, corporate risk was transferred to the cloud services provider
  • Automatic DR coverage – the cloud could restore a complete services stack within 1 hour
  • Continuously deploy – reduce the pain by batching large scale change and automate complexity to smaller simpler regular processes for greater value, agility and responsiveness back to the business.
  • Treat information as the code – utilize APIs and services to take the operational (integration) effort away
  • Develop in Production – Adopt a DevOps mindset, startup infrastructure from a service request to managing product lines to address accountability around the product by aligning care for the same things
  • Expect disruption within your operations team – functions become smaller as learning of software disciplines is needed to augment operational principles
  • Define quality explicitly; this can take time, having a social contract between the team on service function and scope for commitment to acceptable standards to migrate to the cloud
  • Lean Principles – stay focused – being able to Toyota like “red button stop the line” is important for recourse, checks and balances, minimize waste through the working system, act, try, prioritise concerns, test, fix, work down your to-do list, adapt and innovate

Nick Pachos, Head of Product and Carrier Management, AAPT Limited delivered the Diamond Sponsor Presentation: The role of Carriers in Cloud Computing

He said AAPT predict global IP traffic to grow significantly with connected devices to be three times the global population by 2016, and low cost outsource service providers are likely to be cannibalised by cloud service providers by 2015 with 50% of enterprise email primarily on mobile devices by 2015.

Australian trends:

  • The new Amazon Web Services node in Sydney is the fastest growing worldwide
  • Direct connect options to that node (and others) offers customers reduced network costs, increased Gbit/ bandwidth throughput rates, and private (secure) connectivity

Drivers to adopt the cloud include:

  • The ability to process data via offsite compute and storage across big pipes only when you need to (pay-as-you-use)
  • To negate the high costs of upgrading legacy infrastructure
  • To mass architect the enterprise for voice and data where the LAN is the bottleneck
  • To meet exponential use and growth of Internet services through national interconnections for a truly virtual data centre service at an affordable price point

Panel Discussion: Data Sovereignty and Security in the Cloud – Problem or Perception?

Key takeaways:

  • Local cloud providers have emerged but tend not to be used for personal, critical or sensitive data
  • Access to data without judicial authority may be possible in non US locations like Australia
  • RDSI is building an onshore 8 node storage service for research data with links to offshore cloud providers where the physical access to data is better than storing on campus
  • Government can drive down the cost by influencing locations, CSIRO are exploring geothermal energy supplies that cloud and data centre providers could tap into
  • Mandatory breach notification legislation is due early next year (2014) in Australia, it is under review within Parliament, for more see here http://www.afr.com/p/technology/failure_hook_data_breach_notification_5llWbmkowKmTtjcQZBvU9L
  • You need to design for failure for the application or service because the cloud is everywhere and not in your perimeter, make sure your cloud provider conducts regular audits (penetration testing, resilience testing, application response time to customer requests, cloud provider response to infrastructure need)

Simon Beckett, IT Operations Manager, RedBalloon  spoke about being a Big Business Player on a Small Business Budget

He said RedBalloon experienced traffic peaks and outages at holiday times for transactions and call centre communications.  They moved to Amazon Web Services with the warm standby of servers in multiple global regions and Office365 for office work with DR provisioning in place.  Customer loyalty was measured using NetPromo scores http://www.netpromoter.com/why-net-promoter/know/  and customer centre experience improved through context delivered information sourced from disparate data sources.

Simon believes you need to love your sysadmins to make the most of cloud computing:

  • You need their help to do your research on functions, security and with failure expected and built into the design
  • All designs must be built around your business
  • Learn by doing in-house first

Chris Gilmore, Chief Information Officer, Information Management and Technology, Department of Business and Innovation (VIC) spoke about The Department of Business and Innovation’s adoption of a Public Cloud

Chris explained how the department embraced salesforce.com to be more effective in core customer interactions.  Legacy databases were decommissioned and salesforce was rolled out with email integration and grant management functions (workflow customisations) added with related financial data pushed and pulled from GEMS (Global Engagement Mgt Modelling) and Oracle Financials.  Data was hosted in Japan and backed up in San Francisco under a multi-year SAAS contract.  With over 1000 specific issue resolutions to handle across 12,000 businesses the GEMS system created a rich business intelligence dataset that was updated through Salesforce Chatter and IPADs for real time input of engagements.

The benefits:

  • Streamlining common work functions
  • Stopping multiple visits due to miscommunications (evidence based not anecdotal anymore)
  • More timely business intelligence in response to the minister’s requests
  • Access to new inputted information via BYOD anyplace, anytime
  • Dynamic, real time access to information and reports

There are risks to manage:

  • The loss of IT control for the host and delivery of internet, storage, transmission and privacy controls,
  • Knowing and managing the sensitivity of your business data (privacy impact assessment, data sensitivity classification, revisiting plans before putting new data into the cloud each time, independent risk assessment, inviting audit and compliance bodies at the outset).

In terms of contracts, things to think about:

  • Where is data hosted
  • What are the privacy laws and jurisdictions and can data be placed in new jurisdictions without approval?
  • Do you have any audit entitlements?
  • Can you perform ethical vulnerability testing of the service?
  • What commitments to your privacy las and principles is the service provider to make?
  • What notification is required in the event of a breach?
  • What data security controls does the service provider offer, where is the evidence and how often is this reviewed?
  • What SLAs are on offer?
  • What reporting can be provided?
  • How is the data hosted, is it multi-tenant, can others see it?
  • Can data be migrated, if so how, what notice is required to allow you the flexibility to move to a new platform, what will it cost?
  • What are the periodic arrangements for backup and storage of the data?
  • What security encryption controls surrounding access to data is supported?

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