Cloud Primer

Cloud Primer

Infrastructure and staff are expensive so it’s no wonder small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s) are slow in adopting new services and often pay little or no attention to existing or long term needs and maintenance. After a few years systems are legacy but staff are too busy with day to day operations and in any-case managing infrastructure is not their main job anyway. On the other side of town large enterprises with impressive budgets, massive resources and large numbers of infrastructure specialists on hand also have difficulty meeting service requirements. It often seems the bigger the enterprise the longer it takes to provision resources with the endless layers of management and processes required.

Is there a better way? If you can get past the idea that all your IT infrastructure must be on site then virtualization infrastructure is not only cheap to set up but doesn’t require major specialized knowledge to get started (if you really believe all your infrastructure must be on site please contact Clarity and give us one hour of your time to convince you otherwise). You do however need to understand what you need to and can achieve and plan accordingly.

Even the smallest businesses (start-ups especially) using a couple of servers are generally only utilizing perhaps 10-20% of their potential capacity but are paying for all the same overheads as if they had a room full of servers operating at 100%. As a SMB if you took the opportunity to virtualize you could scale infrastructure with little capital expenditure and allow the business to grow seamlessly into new environments or capacity as required.

Not only does it reduce capital expenditure, it also reduces operating expenditure. Since staff no longer need to manage a piece of hardware for every server and are able to administer their entire environment from their desks, staff efficiency is significantly increased.

Some studies have found that efficiency of staff can be increased by an average of 10%, but this can fly right up to a 270% increase, allowing a single administrator to oversee and manage 1800 servers. It also allows for faster deployment of new environments and applications, since a new piece of hardware isn’t needed to be provisioned. It’s as simple as selecting options from a web based interface to your cloud service provider.

Additionally, these expenses are reduced further, since less floor space and power consumption is required for a cluster of virtual hosts over an entire data centre of servers dedicated to a single task. VMware says that 70% of organizations have seen a “real measurable cost saving” from switching to virtualization, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

Initially, virtualization may require a slightly different design methodology. You’ll need to evaluate service level agreements and to think about what services you wish to use and how they will be managed. Security and network connectivity must be carefully considered and configuring multiple hosts are recommended for failure resiliency and additional network equipment may be required to lessen the likeliness of a single point of failure, but the benefits pay off. This kind of work allows small businesses to boost their uptime as high as those that previously only a large provider could boast, such as 99.999%.

It truly levels the playing field, allowing start-ups and small/medium businesses alike to play on the same level as large providers that have significant money to invest in sprawling infrastructure. It opens up opportunities for start-ups who can’t afford to hire a team of engineers to operate their own infrastructure with 99% uptime.

Not only that, small businesses are the ones who experience the most explosive growth, and virtualization allows them to rapidly expand while keeping down both capital and operating expenditures for their projects. This is a generational opportunity for the right organisations.