Cloud solutions for the enterprise

Cloud computing is the next step in the always advancing IT technology but as always the challenges organizations face with new technologies have to be addressed properly. The conservative approach to adoption in large organizations may be sometimes viewed as unnecessary but in the end it generally proves to be the best way. We at BitSwarm have already helped introduce, test and migrate to the cloud a lot of organizations. Here we present a use case for an organization (we will call it “the organization”) that partially migrated to the cloud.

Initial situation

The organization had all of its servers on-premises. With a low standard server room, a low bandwidth internet connection, poor security and little to no redundancy the operating costs were high and the service level unsatisfactory. The problems the organization faced were:

  • Frequent outages occurred due to the server room having no diesel generators but only a UPS which only enabled the servers to gracefully shutdown.
  • Network bandwidth was sometimes saturated, especially when the organization published a new product on the market and the web site load spiked.
  • Occasional IT staff shortage due to holidays, illness or inadequateness of skill of those available.
  • A high cost of running the IT - as the global economic crisis arose the budgets tightened and a cheaper solution with a more predictable cost and less heavy investment was necessary.
  • Legacy technologies were present in the organization. It was desirable to adopt new technologies if costs and risk would not be to high.

Cloud solution

After carefully revising the existing infrastructure a feasibility study was written which indicated that the migration to the cloud would bring:

  • A lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • A distinctively higher service level.
  • A lower cost of future growth.


Lower total cost of ownership

Computer hardware:

  • The organization's current server and network hardware was quite old so in the near future some replacements and consequently capital investment would be necessary. With the migration to the cloud such need would not arise.
  • The cost of installation and maintenance of existing and new hardware would disappear.

Computer software:

  • The current setup was covered with all the licenses needed and after research we were able to separate the licenses in to two categories:
    • Licenses which can be retained and migrated to the cloud – all the application licenses were such.
    • Licenses which would have to be upgraded – we have identified some software (namely MS Windows servers, MS SQL servers and Active directory services) that were considered legacy technology and in compliance with the organization's guidelines would need to be upgraded. As the BitSwarm cloud also offers full license rental of all the Microsoft prodicts, investment into licenses for new technologies would not be necessary.
    • Licenses which could not be moved – This would mean operating system OEM licenses but there were none due to all the OEM licenses being legacy software.
  • All new software purchased could either be rented in the BitSwarm cloud (Microsoft software), which would lower cost due to non existence of initial investment, or bought as was the current practice.
  • The compliance with the organization's security policy would be obtained the same way as it was until now as the BitSwarm cloud offers and guarantees for:
    • a superior physical security policy
    • a separation of networks in the cloud by VLANs – for higher security traffic could be encrypted
    • a separation of virtual servers in the cloud by means of full or paravirtualization

Operational expenses:

  • The hosting facility of the cloud is included in the price thus reducing the cost of the server room to zero.
  • Electricity expenses is also included in the cloud's cost so it would also become zero in the existing environment.
  • The guarantee of a 100% uptime of the BitSwarm cloud minimizes the costs of downtime, outage and failure expenses
  • The backup of data could be easily organized in the cloud as it already provides such services.
  • The cost of training the staff to work with the cloud would be minimal.

Long term expenses

  • The replacement of hardware would not be in the domain of the organization anymore so no costs would incur
  • Upgrades would be done in the cloud with no investment but just the operational expenses increasing


Higher service level

  • The SLA (service level agreement) of 100% uptime offered by BitSwarm would provide a much higher server and network uptime.
  • The IT staff that could be hired from BitSwarm would compensate for lack of skill and occasional absences of the organization's IT staff.
  • Monitoring of resource availability and usage would be easier with the cloud's built-in capability of monitoring and alerting.


Lower cost of future growth

The capital investment would be unnecessary in the future due to resource rental in the cloud. The only cost to increase in case of future growth would be the operational cost – the monthly fee. The predictability of such fee is trivial as the prices are already known in advance and the BitSwarm cloud guarantees that eventual price increases would be predicted by 6 months in advance.

Project plan and execution

The plan was divided in to three phases

  1. Infrastructure setup
  2. Testing environment setup on the infrastructure
  3. New environment testing
  4. New infrastructure setup or testing infrastructure cloning
  5. Step by step migration with iterative testing
  6. Testing of the new system
  7. Decommissioning of the old system

The project was executed as prescribed by the plan in a period of two months. Every step was carefully tested and documented. The BitSwarm's and the organization's IT staff closely cooperated to meet the deliverables – the migration of the majority of organization's infrastructure to the cloud was seamless. The result was a mixed (majority of resources were in the cloud, a small minority remained at the organization's premises due to non-technological reasons), hybrid (different security zones were set up) solution that matched the organization's needs perfectly.

Conclusion

In the months to come the problems that the organization was facing before the migration totally disappeared. The cost was under control and it perfectly fit the organization's tightened budget for the IT. The client was satisfied with the BitSwarm cloud in all aspects.


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