Ageing technology could put the UK government’s digital strategy at risk
By Guest Contributor Published: 19:20, 12 March, 2017 Updated: 19:22, 12 March, 2017
by Darren Watkins, MD of VIRTUS Data Centres
With the release of the government’s delayed digital strategy and its pledge to make the UK the “best place to start and grow a digital business” helping businesses to go digital, digital transformation remains a key priority despite it seeming like an overused term.
The challenge of digital is that it is not a finite state and cannot ever be ticked off as being complete. It is the ever-evolving transformation of business activities, processes, competencies and models. Today, the influence of cloud, mobile, analytics and social media are having the most impact, but will almost definitely be superseded by new technologies on the horizon.
Research conducted by Fujitsu found that ageing technology is the major barrier to digital transformation, and 57 per cent of the businesses surveyed admitted that technology is struggling to keep up with the demands of digitisation.
So how on earth are organisations expected to keep pace, let alone stay ahead of the technology needed to cope with constant change and the ever-increasing speed of doing business?
The conundrum brings about the classic build vs. buy question that raises its head whenever it’s time to provision for additional capacity, IT infrastructure and operations. Does it make more sense to build a (new) data centre, or buy (lease, or outsource IT needs to a colocation provider)?
The most sensible and cost effective solution is to outsource what you can. Coming back to cloud, mobile, analytics and social media, as companies grow and scale, it’s a forgone conclusion that they will need more infrastructure capacity.
Businesses going through digital transformation across a variety of industries—from healthcare, to financial services, to retail, and everything in between—are all amassing large quantities of data and evolving capabilities that need rich computing power, robust infrastructure and resilient connectivity.
As the IT industry is one of the most rapidly evolving sectors in the world, the data centre colocation market needs to emulate this, as it provides the foundation to all things digital. Data centre providers commit huge resources to R&D to ensure they their facilities are built to the highest level of efficiency.
This is an advantage to organisations that buy outsourced colocation space, where they can be assured that not only is the space and power they are purchasing today is future proofed technology and efficiency for several years into the future, but also that their interests are being looked after by experienced, certified professionals. This alleviates the headache and expense of the necessary regular infrastructure upgrades.
Press ‘Next Page’ to explore the pros and cons of build vs buy.
The cloud of unknowing. Brexit and online businesses
By Guest Contributor Published: 19:08, 21 April, 2017 Updated: 19:08, 21 April, 2017
by Susan Bowen, VP & GM, EMEA, Cogeco Peer 1
Susan Bowen, VP & GM, EMEA, Cogeco Peer 1 believes that despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, online businesses could benefit if they understand that it also provides an opportunity to reset their market positioning.
Brexit has created a cloud of uncertainty over the UK and the burning question for online businesses is what difference will it make? Despite the confusion and concerns, there is a singular, inescapable fact: the European Union is the UK’s largest trading partner.
According to the community of online multichannel sellers, Volo, more than 50% of the UK export market for online businesses is destined for Western Europe. The EU is a huge market on the UK’s doorstep, and although the trading opportunities are appreciated, the size of the market hasn’t been fully recognised until now.
Therefore, as the UK embarks on negotiations around Brexit, inevitably there will be changes in rules and regulations and businesses will need to be agile to stay ahead. Goods may attract local VAT and import duties depending on how any trade agreements are set up.
At the moment, British firms do not pay import duties on goods exported to Europe but this could be set to change. Online businesses could also be faced with additional administration costs as well as customs clearance charges, which could have an impact on orders.
For the data economy, this is a particularly complex time. Much has been made of the fact that the EU has a multitude of regulations that governs the way countries trade with one another.
Weights and measures, the shape of bananas, environmental impact and supply chain management have all been cited as being areas where the EU has imposed a strigent set of rules. As we move on to form new relationships with each of the 27 members of the EU, data infratstucture is likely to be an area for legislative concern.
Security, data storage and format will all need to be considered. Everything from maps, weather reports, and financial transactions, to personal records will need to be considered as part of the negotiations.
Uncertain supply and demand
In short, it’s going to be difficult to predict supply and demand and even more so with the current currency fluctuations. For instance, companies that source goods from Western Europe are going to pay a higher price. The flip side is that the weakening of the pound will make some expensive and sought-after products more attractive to international buyers.
Online businesses could also see a boost in sales overseas as a result of the weaker pound, which can help cope with additional costs.
Powering this economic activity is a data infrastructure, itself underpinned by technology and services including colocation, network connectivity, hosting, and cloud, which provide the foundations for the digital economy and online businesses.
As such, it is incumbent on companies that provide these services, such as ourselves, to recognise the current state of uncertainty for online businesses and provide the choice, flexibility and expertise to enable digital businesses to navigate these changes.
Flexible contracts can make a big difference to how an online business can operate. Good service level agreements (SLAs) provide the freedom to scale at will and make the most of business opportunities as they arise.
The impact of Brexit will lead to different opportunities to sell into Europe following currency devaluations. At the same time, it could mean scaling down operations as part of a belt tightening operation with the ability to scale back up when required.
Cloud, network connectivity and managed service providers who can distribute data across various geographical locations are also going to become more popular; especially as Brexit is going to have implications for new compliance requirements, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May 2018.
Providers that are able to offer choice and flexibility combined with technical expertise will be key to helping digital businesses adapt and adopt new technologies, such as software defined WAN (SDWan), a key enabler for nimble data infrastructure, improved security and more efficient network provisioning.
If the UK does not reform its law by the time it leaves the EU and retains the Data Protection Act 1998, it will likely be deemed by the EU as a destination providing inadequate protection for personal data. This means that the UK would not be able to receive or import any personal data from the EU.
Clearly this has ruinous implications for UK online businesses that trade with Europe. However, by hosting data in Europe, or elsewhere outside of the UK, these businesses will be able to address this without being caught up in the legislator’s crossfire.
Ideally, a cloud, network connectivity or managed service provider will have a high-performance network with locations and points of presence across Europe. This ensures that UK businesses can have top network performance levels irrespective of where their data sits.
Disruption and opportunity
Industry analysts unsurprisingly see Brexit as a major disruptive trend but, that said, it can also be a catalyst and an opportunity for UK businesses to reset their global competitive positions, and to rethink priorities and partnerships.
Brexit also offers the potential for some degree of freedom from existing regulatory or pricing constraints, and this can be viewed as an opportunity too.
We already have a borderless society in the world of the Internet. Technologies such as virtualisation mean that data stored within the EU is often backed up across multiple geographies via SD-Wan technologies. In addition to offering protection against malware, SD-Wan makes transporting data much more efficient and effective.
The fact that these technologies are already in place, with a proven track record, will offer some reassurance to business that the impact of Brexit will be minimised.
Cloud and network service providers can play an important role if they understand how different country regulations affect business and, following Brexit, how prices and sales for UK online businesses will likely be impacted.
Online and digital businesses have an opportunity to review and streamline their operations and should seek technology partners able to help them construct a flexible data infrastructure to help them meet the changes they will face and take advantage of the opportunities they open up.
The EMEA ‘50’: Data Economy EMEA Influencers 2017
By DE Newsroom Published: 15:26, 20 April, 2017 Updated: 15:26, 20 April, 2017
Do you know a Data Economy Influencer?
We want to define the 50 people who are leading data centre and cloud in a new innovative direction. Be it through technological breakthroughs, business acumen, political guidance or exceptional marketing.
– Do you know a person who has shown outstanding leadership in cloud or data centre space?
– Have they individually impacted the direction of our sector?
– Have they facilitated innovation in the EMEA region?
If so you may know a Data Economy Influencer!
As part of the launch of our first ever print edition, Data Economy is seeking to identify the 50 people in EMEA changing the data centre and cloud stakes.
The EMEA ‘50’ is now open for nominations. If you think you know someone who deserves recognition for their game-changing impact, then nominate them here.
The EMEA ‘50’ will be profiled in our Data Economy Magazine which will be launched at the Datacloud Europe 2017 congress in Monaco and the person ranked number 1 will received a special award for their achievements at the 10th Annual Datacloud Awards on the 6th of June 2017.
CIOs and DevOps Leaders Must Consider Model Driven Operations to Remain Competitive
By Guest Contributor Published: Updated: 12:03, 20 April, 2017
by Stefan Johansson, Global Software Alliances Director, Canonical
The emergence of “big software” – a complex assembly of many software components sourced from different vendors, running on multiple distributed machines, providing to its user the impression of a single system – has raised the importance of operations in a software, and in particular, a hybrid cloud world.
Integration and operations now consume a significant share of technology budgets, and for IT organizations and there is no sign of slowing down.
To help alleviate the burden of integrating software components many IT organizations are adopting open source software and model driven operations to reduce complexity and integration costs while improving time to market.
The cloud and microservices (independent services that interact with a network) are making software implementation more challenging and distributed.
The costs and intricacies of Big Software are keeping many CIOs and DevOps leaders awake at night. Where do these technology leaders turn for answers? In-house solutions are expensive to deploy and integrate, probably not.
Costly systems integrators that only focus on solving one technology challenge and have a long learning curve, not optimal. Or organizations can continue to invest in siloed solutions only to achieve incremental gains, too expensive and time consuming.
Forward-thinking IT & DevOps executives are adopting:
“Buy what you can, build what you have to, and integrate for competitive advantage.”
These hurdles are why model driven operations are changing how software is deployed and operated today.
For CIOs and DevOps, model driven operations improves how software is not just deployed, but scaled across the enterprise or among various cloud services, providers, or bare-metal servers.
One of the main values for model driven operations is the ability to share and reuse open source code that has common components and functionality so development organizations can spend their time and resources deploying solutions unique to their business.
This allows internal teams and systems integrators to leverage model driven operations to focus on what they do best while delivering business value, improve lead time and be more efficient.
For example, when a new server needs to be deployed, modelling can automate most, if not all, of the provisioning process. Automation makes deploying solutions much quicker and more efficient because it allows tedious tasks to be performed faster and more accurately without human intervention.
Even with proper and thorough documentation, manually deploying a web server or Hadoop deployment, for example, could take hours compared to a few minutes with service modelling. This is why CIOs and DevOps chiefs are adopting service modelling as a way to make the most effective use of their team’s precious resources and time.
Further, model-driven operations gives development organizations more choice in how services are consumed (public, private, or hybrid cloud) and options that make it easier to replicate environments with the same software and configurations.
As these systems evolve, organizations can deploy pre-configured services, private infrastructure solutions including OpenStack, and even the organization’s own code to any public or private cloud. This allows enterprises to deploy solutions that are consistent, integrated, and relevant to their business needs.
Companies like Google, Amazon, AT&T, and many others have all moved to model-driven operations to provision and deploy software and cloud services across multiple domains and environments faster and more efficiently.
Canonical’s approach to service modelling
Companies are integrating the tools and technologies that will help drive business outcomes faster, more reliably, and efficiently. Software modelling solutions like Canonical’s Juju helps customers to build and deploy proofs of concepts faster, integrate solutions more seamlessly while expanding their organization’s capabilities more broadly.
Juju is a universal modelling solution that speaks to executives, developers, and operations. Imagine using a solution that enables the deployment of revenue-generating cloud services with only dragging and dropping a few commands.
Juju Charms, which are sets of scripts for deploying and managing services within Juju, allow organizations to connect, integrate, and deploy new services automatically without the need for consultants, integrators, or additional costs or resources. Companies can choose from hundreds of microservices that enable everything from cloud communications via WebRTC, IoT enablement, big data, web services, mobile applications, security, and data management tools.
Further, with the rise of open source, enterprises, and programmers can leverage the power of a vast library and a community of developers to design, develop, and deploy their solutions much faster.
Additionally, network administrators and developers can free up their time to focus on bringing to market revenue-generating solutions and services, rather than architecting complicated network stacks and deploying additional resources.
What matters to the developer is what services are involved, not the details of how many machines they need, which cloud they are on, whether they are big machines or small machines, or whether all the services installed are on the same machine.
There has been a shift from software and infrastructure orchestration to model driven operations that makes the task of deploying distributed systems – or Big Software – more efficient and faster. It’s about choice and options.
It’s time to let software do the work
The world of software deployment is becoming more and more complex. Software deployments were once simple and spread across a few machines, now they have evolved to become distributed across many machines, operating systems, regions, and environments.
This shift has created both a competitive threat and simultaneously, a massive opportunity. Many CIOs and DevOps executives are exploiting these opportunities, while others risk being relegated to the dustbin of oblivion.
Model driven operations helps organizations to reduce complexity, improve efficiency, and deploy revenue-generating services and solutions faster.
Power outages: protecting against disaster before it strikes
By Guest Contributor Published: 01:54, 10 April, 2017 Updated: 00:20, 10 April, 2017
by Peter Godden, VP, EMEA at Zerto
Most data centre service interruptions are caused by hardware failures, software upgrades, cyber attacks and human error.
Power failures, a familiar story in this era of more severe and unusual weather events, fit into this category too, with many high-profile businesses suffering from a calamitous “act of God”. Take Vodafone’s data centre outage during the severe flooding crisis in early 2016, for example.
By now, most companies are well-informed of the need for disaster recovery, but what if there was a way to guarantee acceptable service levels before a crisis hits?
IT resiliency – the ability to maintain availability of applications and data – is gaining more traction as a vital way in which organisations can be prepared for disastrous disruptions to critical IT.
Power outages in particular can span anything from minutes to weeks, shutting down an entire IT infrastructure in the process and costing organisations time, money and brand reputation.
It is a sad reality,that disaster recovery is becoming part of many companies’ everyday operation: Gartner has reported that 72 per cent of organisations have used their DR plan, and last year estimated that the DRaaS market will reach a revenue point of $3.4 billion by 2019.But what if IT resiliency could unshackle businesses and break the cycle?
The concept is achieved when a company is capable of responding to a disruption so quickly that end-users and customers are not aware a disruption occurred.
Organisations that embrace the notion of IT resiliency, which is essentially a more proactive approach to BC/DR, focus on continuous availability rather than recovery after the fact.
Automation and simplification of replication and recovery are part of resilience, and ensure that companies can test the availability of their applications and data at any time.
By simplifying your architecture, you reduce the moving parts and points of failure. Looking at solutions that can cover all data and applications critical to your company removes organizational and technological risk.
By protecting data through hypervisor-based replication, you can streamline the business continuity process while reducing storage cost and increasing peace of mind.
A clearly documented failover process is a must for disaster recovery to be successful, but an automated one is ideal for IT resilience. Manual failover processes have many steps and each manual step is an opportunity for a mistake to be made.
If you are executing a production failover, you are in crisis and that can cause people to panic, elevating the probability of human error. An automated failover ensures consistency and repeatability. Automation eliminates the risk of mistakes while ensuring fast, seamless and predictable recovery.
The shift to IT resiliency means that your data is mobile and flexible, and nothing offers these advantages more than cloud. As hybrid cloud becomes more popular – enabling you to move, translate, and migrate virtual workloads with ease – a solution for continuous availability becomes ever more important.
This proactive approach to recovery empowers companies with confidence in their ability to withstand any disruption while evolving IT budgets and business priorities.
A power outage, caused by natural disaster or any other means, can leave many businesses thunderstruck. By confidently embracing change and focusing on IT resilience rather than disaster recovery, you can rest assured your business is “ready for anything” and protected against totally preventable digital downtime.