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    SAS IT Newsletter June 17

    by Ian Hight

    Welcome to the SASIT June newsletter

    In this issue

    AWS summit - a full house
    Cloud wars
    Demand still strong for NZ data centre space
    NetApp introduces Hyper-converged
    SASIT customer satisfaction survey 2017 - findings
    Wow ... Just back up the bus
    Rubrik extends cloud data management capabilities 
    Insights from Microsoft’s Digital Transformation research – Asia Pacific 

    AWS summit - a full house 

    By Ian Hight

    On 31 May Shed 10 and The Cloud on Auckland’s Queens Wharf was overtaken by a massive crowd including a number of SASIT staff.

    On arrival, you could have been forgiven for thinking that you had turned up to a rock concert, but of course the 3,000 or so people were there to find out about what was new with AWS.

    As has become the pattern, the Summit was a flurry of technical sessions, product and services updates with a good helping of customer and vendor stories.  Unsurprisingly this year basic cloud services such as provisioning compute, storage and DR no longer generated much interest with a majority of attending organisations having done this some years prior.

    One of the highlights was the keynote presented by Glenn Gore, Chief Solutions Architect. Glenn covered a lot of topics and managed to weave into his 

    presentation several demonstrations of AWS’s Artificial Intelligence offerings 

    including showcasing Amazon Lex, a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text; Amazon Polly a service that turns text into speech and Amazon Recognition, a service that enables you to add image analysis to applications.

    Attending the sessions reinforced the importance of our decision to invest in the development of services that compliment AWS offerings.

    Cloud wars

    Cloud warsAWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, and Oracle cloud have an increasingly strong influence on New Zealand business. However, New Zealand  is a very small part of the battle of the cloud Titans playing out on the international stage over which we have little involvement or influence. This article looks at how the fight is playing out and then suggests where this war may be going and more to the point how this battle could affect businesses of tomorrow. Cloud computing is a phenomenon that just keeps on gaining momentum and is unlikely to slow down anytime soon. Many of us have been following the huge growth numbers as the Titans of the International Public cloud market battle it out. AWS got started in 2006 and now dominates the global market. AWS has only been in New Zealand for five years, however, it now seems that every man and his dog is an AWS expert. Then we have seen Microsoft hitting back, and now starting to gain market ground on AWS who’s market growthat this point seem to be slowing slightly. In the other corner, we have the dark horse of the cloud market Google, who have been quietly building out their platform and market potential. and are now starting to go harder. And recently we have Oracle throwing down the gauntlet and challenging everyone else to a fight. Plus lots of other players with single digit market shares going after their part of the cloud  territory.

     But what is it they are fighting over? Well, it's us - you and me. Did we volunteer for this? Well kind of, we like the benefits these guys can deliver to us. However, if you take a step back from the battle, is it a bright future we are headed to or tech globalization beyond our control? And there lays the challenge for us all. The basic assumption of Cloud is we give responsibility to another party to operate our business systems, IT infrastructure or both. In this new digital world that's a lot of responsibility and market power in the hands of the Titans.

     Currently, the market is very skewed to AWS which looks set to continue, but in this tech battle, anything is possible. AWS built its business over the last 10 years with a loyal base of developers at small companies who flocked to its services with credit cards circumventing IT management control. Their current rate of market growth slow up  appears to have a lot to do with the need to attract more of the slower moving bigger companies who have a traditionally heavy investment in the likes of Oracle IBM and Microsoft. Who are all in the market and getting it together, right now particularly Microsoft, who the last 6 months has made significant gains. Oracle has weighed in with a strong offering targeted at larger business, so the fight goes on with some cannibalism. Then we have Google that got most of its revenue from online advertising which is starting to be seriously impacted by ad blocker use, so they are moving their income source to public cloud services, they too want a slice of the enterprise market.

     The question is, how does the competition  catch up with Amazon? And can it? Well, the leg up that Microsoft and Oracle have in the enterprise market will certainly help. Moving from on premise to the cloud with familiar tools is a lot less daunting than moving everything to AWS. AWS is running behind in some areas of the business systems market, the most obvious area is Artificial Intelligence. AWS entered this market last year, which is set to be part of what the pundits are calling business 2.0 going forward. AWS are out to close this gap and going at it aggressively. Obviously like in any battle, for every strike there is a counter strike and countermeasures. But with a market potential of $300 billion (and still growing) no one is giving up soon. As we learned a long time ago, nothing stays the same in the tech market and the AWS advantage may not hold longer term.

    So for the business of tomorrow, we have to concede that the battle of the cloud Titans is not going to stop anytime soon. Business here in New Zealand is going to greatly benefit from the fight as it provides us access to systems with levels of investment our economy alone could not support.  Access to global investment in public cloud is the big key outcome for New Zealand business, we are going to be able to take this massive investment in tech, access it, and use it. We are going to be able to achieve things that ten years ago would not have been possible for business in a country of our size. The battle of the Cloud Titans is global so the playing field for business is fairly even, giving us the ability to punch above our weight on a Global scale, where previously we could only dream of playing, as we cash in on the spoils of the Cloud war.

    Demand still strong for NZ data centre space

    Story 3 june 600x300.jpg

    Whilst public cloud services are driving a move from on-premise equipment to offshore data centres; onshore data centres across New Zealand also appear to be experiencing strong demand.

    SASIT is seeing increased market concern over the potential for external events to impact business operations, which is driving demand for disaster recovery and business continuity services.

    Whilst the benefits of cloud are typically well understood, practically it’s just not feasible for many organisations to move all of their workloads to a public cloud.   For some, the lag brought about by trans-Tasman communications is a show stopper, for others it’s commercial considerations, and yet others just have a preference to remain in New Zealand.

    SASIT has for several years offered hosting services from our own datacentre in Auckland as well as affiliate centres in locations across New Zealand and Australia. Our expansion into public cloud services enables us to offer the best of both worlds providing flexibility and choice.

    To learn more about our Hosting services, visit our site SASIT hosting services

    NetApp introduces Hyper-converged

    NetApp Hyper-converged

    NetApp has recently announced its long-promised hyper-converged appliance. Named: NetApp HCI, the product combines SolidFire flash storage, NetApp software and third-party servers in one chassis. It comes with a cloud-style pay-as-you-go pricing plan and a vCenter plugin.

    The company's core software and SolidFire are at the heart of NetApp HCI. The package includes a new cut of ONTAP Select that is better at managing storage in remote offices and combining data stored in disparate places such as VSANs, physical arrays, IBM Bluemix, commodity servers and NetApp HCI. There's also a new version of OnCommand Insight that can optimise storage, forecast demand and advise on costs across multiple platforms.

    Whilst NetApp might be late to the hyper-converged party it looks like it arrived with something to shout about, particularly the cross-platform data management capabilities and the ability to scale compute and storage independently. NetApp HCI also has a strong quality-of-service play that allows resources to be allocated to applications as needed without creating noisy neighbour problems.

    At the same time as the HCI notification, NetApp announced upgraded ONTAP software for its traditional FAS arrays and instituted a consumption pricing model.

    Time will tell how successful the product will be in the busy hyper-converged market, however, NetApp is feeling in a confident mood; the company has literally described its HCI announcement and associated software updates “the most far-reaching innovation announcement in its 25-year history”.

    The announcement of NetApp HCI is likely to prove pivotal in changing the perception of the company from being a traditional storage company to a cloud, SaaS (software-as-a-service) software company.   

    SASIT customer satisfaction survey 2017 - findings

    Chris Woodhead, customer survey winner, EquifaxChris Woodhead from Equifax (shown below) was the lucky winner of the survey respondent’s prize draw.  Enjoy the action cam Chris! 

    The key findings from this year’s survey were:

    SASIT’s performance

    • An overwhelming majority of our customers stated that SASIT has a very good understanding of the operational needs of their business
    • When asked about their experience of SASIT operational services, all respondents indicated they would recommend SASIT
    • The majority of customers stated that SASIT is proactive and regularly provides new insights
    • Almost 90 % of respondents agree or strongly agree that SASIT is easy to do business with

    Overall the results we similar to the previous year

    Areas of interest

    • Compared with the previous year, customers highlighted their interest in a much broader range of topics and services, including managed cloud, BI and IOT
    • The number of customers indicating that they have already or intend to move workloads into one or more of the public clouds showed a significant rise when compared with the previous year
    • A large percentage of customers indicated that they would like SASIT to provide a customer portal, and whilst this service was already scheduled, it has now been escalated and become a priority project.

    We are very grateful to those of you who took the time to complete our online survey.  We acknowledge the fact that online survey requests are regular and usually unwanted arrivals in our email, so the fact that many of you opted to help us refine our service offerings by providing feedback is appreciated. 

    Wow ... Just back up the bus

    By Tony Wilson

    Wow ... Just back up the busBy 2018, more than 60% of enterprises will have at least half of their infrastructure on cloud-based platforms. At Gartner’s 2016 Data Centre and Infrastructure Operations Management Conference, 13% of those polled indicated they had already deployed cloud backup for some of their data, and 42% indicated that they plan to investigate or deploy cloud backup for at least some of their data in 2017.

    But the traditional ‘One size fits all’ backup policies often consume significant resources. It’s very easy to end up storing vast amounts of data that you did not intend to protect in the first place. For example, backing up a user’s entire drive or all of a file servers’ folders and directories. Internal IT teams are rapidly also becoming the managers of multisource services from the cloud. This explosion of cloud infrastructure causes another vast area in which there is significant scope to backup unnecessary information.

    It is recommended that IT management perform a reclassification of the data being protected, rather than lower QoS or reducing return to service SLA’s. This approach will help meet tactical budget challenges and realize cost savings. Do not, of course, alter backup policies and procedures in a way that would conflict with external regulations or internal corporate mandates, and as always, consider an archiving solution for regulatory compliance where possible. With the increasing threats from ransom ware and malware backup as a remediation should also be taken in to account.

    Many organisations are striving to find ways to better protect data, which often includes capturing a copy of the data more frequently (as in more than once a day, perhaps hourly to every few hours). However, some data may not warrant the current backup policy, much less an improved recovery point objective (RPO). In these cases, due either to the low business-criticality of the data or the very low change rates of the data, we recommend less-frequent backup. Most backups are used for short-term operational recovery. Many recoveries are used to satisfy restore requests for data that was created recently or just deleted, or corrupted from a virus. In each of these cases, the latest data is being recovered, making longer retention of earlier backups unnecessary.

    IT management are, more recently, finding that backup delivered as a service is very attractive, certainly for a portion of their data. Bandwidth limitations can, if not managed, limit the usefulness but data reduction and network optimisation techniques can change this outcome significantly. A very good example of a system that provides this deliverable/outcome is Rubrik (isn’t Rubrik the company name? Surely it’s the Rubrik appliance – or some such thing), mentioned in the next article below. Good use cases being put in practice today are around cloud backup to protect data in Remote Office/Branch Office environments, as well as test and development data end point protection. Rubrik has a very good server end point solution that covers this requirement well.

    Cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is becoming a lot more prevalent. However, IT managers should ensure that overall costs are not compromised by egress (restore) charges and Return to Service times, which is where our earlier points around being selective comes in again.

    Rubrik extends cloud data management capabilities

    Rubrik recently extended its capabilities as a Cloud Data Management platform announcing new services for cloud-native applications running on AWS and Azure.  This announcement means customers can now backup, recover, and manage data across on-premise, private, and public cloud environments. Rubrik Cloud Data Management is deployed on-premise through plug-and-play appliances.

    According to IDC, more than 80% of IT organisations will be committed to hybrid cloud architectures by the end of 2017 - so the announcement looks well timed.  Rubrik sales are strong with the company on track to become the fastest growing enterprise infrastructure company ever: In just six quarters of sales, the company has achieved a record run-rate approaching US $100M including a number of Fortune 500 customers as well as customers across all vertical industry segments.

    For cloud-native applications, Rubrik orchestrates a range of data management functions—including backup and recovery, replication and disaster recovery, archival, copy data management, search, and analytics.

    By deploying Rubrik as a software instance on AWS and Azure customers are able to achieve inter- and intra-cloud replication (Azure to AWS, across AWS regions, across Azure regions), bi-directional replication between cloud and on-premise, and cloud data archival.

    One of the most appealing features of the Rubrik offering is its simplicity including using an HTML5 interface to manage applications on-premises, and in the cloud.  The search function is also impressive with the ability to almost instantly locate data including files, folders, filesets, VM, and database instances (Windows, Linux, SQL databases). 

    We believe that there is a growing need for simple backup and recovery solutions that provide data services across clouds not only for data protection, but for new purposes like test/dev, analytics, reporting, etc.  Rubrik’s new cloud native support is a great example of a product for modern times.

    If Rubrik is new to you, here is a 78 second overview: Rubrik cloud data management.

    Insights from Microsoft’s Digital Transformation research – Asia Pacific

    APAC insightsMicrosoft, and many others, the 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us – whether we like it or not. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum, described the 4th Industrial Revolution as one that is characterized by a fusion of the physical, digital and biological worlds; one that is already dramatically disrupting traditional industries, business models, systems and governance. He said that while the first three revolutions changed how we consumed, travelled, manufactured and communicate, the 4th Industrial Revolution “will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.”

    This enlightening whitepaper brings together the survey responses of around 1,500 business leaders in the Asia Pacific region. One concerning finding was that whilst 80% believe they need to digitally transform, 22% of them have built little or no strategy to do so. 

    The study also identified the top five emerging technologies of interest to the respondents:

    1. Artificial intelligence
    2. Internet of Things
    3. Wearable technologies
    4. Quantum computing (big data)
    5. Virtual reality

    The report provides commentary on the New Zealand findings (100 respondents)  only 36% of New Zealand businesses have futureproofed their organisations with a full digital transformation strategy in place. 47% are in the midst of integrating digital into their organisations and around 17% have made limited to no progress at all.

    If you would like to read the full report you can download it here The status of digital transformation in the Asia Pacific region

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