SAS IT Newsletter November 16

Posted by Ian Hight on Nov 14, 2016 9:35:48 AM

Topics: Cloud services, Development integration & analytics, Hardware & software, Business drivers, Newsletter

Welcome to the SASIT newsletter 

In this issue

So what exactly is keeping CIOs awake at night?
Which cloud service provider should I choose?
VMware and AWS – a complimentary fit?
Case Study : Automated data sharing between different databases in real-time
Are you risking software licence non-compliance?
SASIT – company growth
New faces at SASIT

So what exactly is keeping CIOs awake at night?

SASIT spoke with leading industry commentator, pundit and computing expert Owen McCall to talk about exactly that, what are the six things that are keeping CIOs awake at night? 

In this thought provoking, and engaging video discussing the sesimic shifts occuring in the industry, Owen gives us his predictions and views on bimodal computing, the upcoming cloud revolution and crucially, what he sees as the two biggest mistakes that CIOs make.

Which cloud service provider should I choose?

cloud decisions.pngCloud, just like an on premise computing platform, has to be managed. Once you’ve decided to move to a cloud, the next most important decision is to choose the right cloud computing service provider.

Businesses are increasingly moving applications to the cloud; the primary business drivers being:

  • A need for greater fault tolerance – lower the risk of downtime through the provision of fault tolerant power and telecommunications services.
  • Increasing need for 24 x 7 operations including 24x7 support services given an expanding global presence (operating in multiple time zones)

Selecting the right cloud service provider to trust with your infrastructure, critical application(s) and sensitive data can be difficult given the variety of options along with the range of factors that need to be considered. The points below endeavour to provide a simple yet practical framework with which to make a decision.

Overall criteria

Trust. Given the importance of the service and therefore of the relationship, trust is paramount.  Trust typically emerges from knowledge and experience of the people on whom you will rely.  Technical expertise and understanding is vitally important. (the cloud service provider has to be proficient with the technology) as is service quality (the cloud service provider needs to provide great service which might necessitate having a good understanding of your business).

Value/pricing. Clearly the cloud service provider needs to provide value for money. Whilst provision of the infrastructure is the central component it is highly probably that related services will also be required so Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) over a multi-year period should be considered.

Track record Validating the claims of potential providers through reference checks and testimonials of services related to your specific needs is an important consideration in getting the right decision.

Specific criteria

  1. Data centre locations and facilities Data centres are essentially just facility used to house computer systems and associated components that generally include redundant power supplies, redundant data communications connections, and environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression). There is a globally recognised rating system: tiers 1-4, with Tier 1 data centres rated to provide 99.67% infrastructure availability, ranging to Tier 4: 99.995 % availability.  Location may or may not be a factor based on your requirement to visit the facilities.
  2. Knowledge / Experience of your specific infrastructure components. Not every cloud service provider has or has expertise with the particular platforms/infrastructure components that you may require.
  3. Setup: Migration and implementation. Cloud is simply computing resource that exists somewhere else. Unless you are moving to SaaS there is still the requirement for migration and implementation services. Having a relationship with and/or ready access to people who know your environment and can set it up correctly will typically be an advantage. If Disaster Recovery (DR) or High Availability (HA) are part of the solution it is likely that more than one location will be involved.  The services of multiple data centres will need to be considered along with Wide Area Networking (WAN)
  4. Capacity and flexibility. No business is static, as your business grows, so will your cloud needs. How easy will it be to expand your compute requirements?  Also consider what resources/expertise will be available to you to assist with any related activity.
  5. Managed Services As with on premise environments there is still the requirement to manage the operational aspects of the platforms; functions such as monitoring, backing up, applying updates, etc. You may want your staff to do some of this work or alternatively you can include it in scope for the cloud service provider.
  6. Security As with on premise environments there is still the requirement to set up and manage security in the cloud environment including identity management, access control and authentication. 
  7. Client reporting including billing.  Maintaining clear visibility of what is being provided technically and commercially is vitally important. A self-service portal may be advantageous.
  8. Support Services. Support problems don’t necessarily disappear when applications and infrastructures move to the cloud. You need to determine how your company support staff align/interface with the cloud service provider and having trusted relationships in this area will be beneficial.  The quality of the help desk and ticketing platform integrated with monitoring systems as well as 24 x 7 operations will all be important.
  9. The Service Level Agreement. The SLA should be clear and comprehensive specifying scope, roles and responsibilities and providing KPI’s and mechanisms to track and control services provided.

VMware and AWS – a complimentary fit?

VMware AWS jigsaw.pngLongtime rivals VMware and AWS recently announced a partnership to make it easier for customers to run applications in a hybrid environment (cloud and on premise).   So will this partnership work and will it deliver benefits for customers?  Possibly it will:

The partnership aims to provide a seamlessly integrated offering that will give customers a software-defined data centre experience.

VMware Cloud on AWS will enable customers to run applications across VMware vSphere-based private, public, and hybrid cloud environments.

This deal was facilitated back in July 2016, when VMware purchased DynamicOps, a company that enables users to easily manage workloads across multiple hypervisors and cloud platforms. VMware said at the time it is committed to enabling its users to access multiple services from different vendors. It appears now that it has things in place to make good on its commitment.

VMware cloud on AWS is expected to be available in mid-2017, it will be delivered, and supported by VMware as an on-demand, elastically scalable service. No pricing has yet been released.

SASIT is a VMware Enterprise Partner and we would welcome the opportunity to assist you if you are considering how you might capitalise on this announcement.  


MTF Logo White Background.jpgCase Study : Automated data sharing between different databases in real-time

Vehicle finance company MTF is replicating data in real-time across different databases and operating systems in order to deliver better customer experience.

About the company

MTF was formed in 1970 to enable a group of motor vehicle dealers to offer car loans to their customers. Since that time the company has expanded throughout the country including establishing 40 franchise operators. Annually the company writes around $400 million of new loans.

Loan finance markets are increasingly competitive and MTF differentiates through a combination of price and service quality enabled by technology. A good service example being; same day loan pay-out enabled through streamlined processing.

Challenges

MTF image.pngMTF’s core applications run on an IBM i DB2 database. The need for 24/7 web sites created a requirement for real-time data sharing to a MS SQL database.  This was achieved using Double-Take Share software from Vision Solutions.  

“Before Double Take if a loan application was created in our system it didn’t appear in the data warehouse or any of the websites until the following day” Now we achieve that in real time”

The solution

Double-Take® Share™ makes it easy to capture, transform, enhance, and replicate data across multiple databases, operating systems and physical, virtual or cloud platforms.

While the data is being replicated, it is being transformed and mapped based on rules that MTF have defined and stored in a replication model.  As only the data changes are replicated, bandwidth requirements are low.            

“Basically it’s just a live replication of all our data from within our core finance application that we can then point other applications to, such as our websites.” 

“Because this data sits outside of our core system in a kind of cache even if our core system goes offline all of our other applications keep working because all of the data we’re accessing is stored in the Double Take Share’s table.

 “We recently implemented a new website where customers can log in and view their customer account details.  This relies on the replicated data and is being hit continuously however it performs really well”

“It’s sophisticated software so the four day training session was well worthwhile.  I’d say it took us a month or two to get things running just the way we wanted. Now it just sits there and works however I also say that there is a lot more that we could do with it”

The results

  • Web sites and the data warehouse sharing production system data in real-time
  • 24x7 web site availability for MTF customers
  • Reduced processing load on the IBM i system
  • Simplified and faster development – now using a SQL DB rather than DB2

Software non compliance.jpg

Are you risking software licence non-compliance?

With the growing complexity and diversity of software solutions its becoming increasingly difficult to ensure that all of your software is license compliant.

The BSA Global Software Survey 2016 found that 39% of software installed on computers around the world in 2015 is not properly licensed.  It also found that many CIO’s simply don’t know how much software employees are installing on company networks.  CIO’s estimated that 15 % of employees loaded software with the company’s knowledge however almost 30 % of employees said that they had loaded software that their employer didn’t know about.

The financial impact of not managing compliance well can be significant.  If you are not careful it is very easy to get into a state of non-compliance; not just through poor policy adherence but also accidentally because of changing environments; and if this happens and you are audited, it could be very costly as many organisations can attest.

Equally you don’t want to spend money needlessly by paying for more licenses than are being used; managing the situation can be quite difficult because of the changing environment: software usage changes with changing user requirements and software licensing must be managed continuously to stay in alignment.

The challenge is to find the perfect line between paying too much, because the software isn’t being used fully; and under paying which creates the risk of non-compliance.

There is a new market emerging from this circumstance: Software Asset Management (SAM) This involves managing the purchase, deployment, maintenance, utilisation, and removal of software applications.

The objectives of SAM are to manage costs and limit risk related to the ownership and use of software, while maximising the value delivered to users.  Accomplishing this typically requires a combination of IT processes, purchasing policies and further software tools.

Whilst SAM might sound easy it can be very complicated because of the variety of ways that software companies license their products, including by enterprise, by site, by named users, by concurrent users, by processors or cores, by machine type, by module or bundle, or by environment type for example Microsoft has Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) as distinct from end user agreements.  Then factor in upgrades and patch versioning.

Virtualisation can also be quite challenging; in many cases licensing, will be more complex than licensing on physical boxes. 

If you are not clear and confident about your current level of software license compliance it might be time to undertake a review.  SASIT can assist with this by analysing license usage compared to contractual agreements and making recommendations to help you achieve compliance without paying any more than you need to. 


SASIT – company growth

company growth.pngThe past four months have been a busy time with the recruitment of eight new staff covering a range of disciplines. Growth in overall staff numbers has also triggered some changes to the organisation structure including the creation of three new positions:

  1. Head of Managed Service
  2. Head of Operational Services and Change Management
  3. Head of Professional Services

The reasons for the structure change were:

  • To improve service quality including improved agility
  • To create better alignment with our capabilities and our customers’ needs
  • To bring greater focus to Professional Services
  • To create a more logical grouping of Consultancy, Design, Architecture, Project management and Pre-Sales – all now within Professional Services
  • To create a more logical grouping of Service Delivery and Service Support (Tier 2 and End User) – All now within Managed Services,

New faces - both MBAs from Henley Management College

Appointment of Jason Hitchcock – Head of Managed Services

jason hitchcock.pngJason is responsible for the leadership and direction of Managed Services Team to deliver exceptional technical services using enterprise technologies.  His focus is on customers and outcomes with success coming from effective delivery.

For over two decades Jason has built an extensive career in ICT, in different industries in multiple countries across Europe, Australia and NZ.  He has spent most of his career operating in high availability environments and in a customer facing capacity.

Based on a solid understanding of operations processes and systems and how they benefit the business, Jason has success in building and transforming operations capabilities to achieve great customer, team and business outcomes.

Additionally, he has experience in ICT strategy development, managed services, operations management, service delivery, project management, operational readiness, IT risk & assurance, and contract management. 

Appointment of Tony Wilson – Consultant

tony wilson.jpgTony has a passion for building and extending business value enabled by Information Technology. He started in this industry back in the late 1980s designing and supporting high security systems for City of London Blue Chip Organisations, Government and Law enforcement (The Original ‘Q’). Then moved on in to financial trading systems in the early 90s working in London and the US. In 97 he migrated with his wife to New Zealand and has for the past 19 years been designing and implementing enterprise software systems for many of New Zealand’s major brands.

During this time, he has worked in many industry sectors. Covering Telecommunications, Insurance, Banking, Pharmaceuticals, Airlines, Security Systems, Electronics Manufacturing, Military, Police, Finance and Call Centres.

Tony has held senior technology management roles in the US, UK and New Zealand. Tony has both microprocessor systems engineering qualifications and later completed an MBA through the Henley Management College. 

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