Thursday, April 8, 2010

Private cloud computing nudges enterprises closer to 'IT as a service', process orientation and converged infrastructure

S0-called "private cloud computing" actually consists of many maturing technologies, a variety of architectural approaches, and a slew of IT methodologies, many of which have been in development for 20 years or more.

In many ways, the current popularity of cloud computing models marks an intersection of different elements of IT development and a convergence of infrastructure categories. That makes cloud interesting, relevant, and potentially dramatic in its impact. It also makes cloud complex, in terms of attaining the intended positive results.

Yet private cloud adoption -- which I believe is just as important as "public" cloud sourcing options -- may be challenging to implement successfully at strategic or even multiple tactical level. Cloud concepts will most certainly enter into use in many different ways, and, perhaps, uniquely for each adopting organization. So the question is how private cloud adoption can be approached intelligently, flexibly, and with far higher chance of positive and demonstrable business benefit.

The ideas between private and public cloud are pretty similar. You want to be able to deliver and consume a service quickly over the Internet.

I recently has a chance to discuss the anticipated impact of private cloud models and how enterprises are likely to implement them with two HP executives, Rebecca Lawson, director of Worldwide Cloud Marketing at HP, and Bob Meyer, worldwide virtualization lead in HP's Technology Solutions Group. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

HP also recently delivered a virtual conference on cloud computing. Our discussion came in the lead-up to that conference.

Here are some excerpts:
Rebecca Lawson: Cloud is a word that's been overused and overhyped and we all know it. One of the reasons it's been so popular is because it has a connotation that any kind of cloud service is one that you can access easily over the Internet, by yourself, self-service, and pay for what you use. That's the standard definition of a cloud service.

The ideas between private and public cloud are pretty similar. You want to be able to deliver and consume a service quickly over the Internet. How they're implemented, of course, is quite different. A typical enterprise IT organization has to support different types of applications and workloads, and in the public cloud, most of the providers are pretty specialized in their requirements.

There are lots of different ways of creating, buying, or utilizing different kinds of technology-enabled services. They might be hosted. They might be cloud services. They might be mainframe-based services. They might be homegrown applications. Step one, when you think about private cloud, is to think about, "What services do I need to deliver, how should I deliver them, and how can I make sure that my consumers can have easy access to them when they need them?"

Bob Meyer: Traditionally, what IT has done is delivered built-to-order services. Somebody from a line of business comes to you and says that they need this specific application. Or, somebody in the test environment says that they need a test bed. As the IT supplier internal to the company, it's your job to get together the storage, the server, the network, the apps, and the data. You do all the plumbing yourself and provide that for that specific service.

In the private cloud or public cloud conversation, you will use an IT provider who will likely be providing a mix of services from this point out -- built-to-order, private cloud, public cloud managed services.

The job is to decide what's best for your organization from that mixed bag of services. Which services are right for which delivery model? Which ones make most sense for the business? So, the built-to-order will become less popular, as cloud becomes more prevalent, we believe, but they will certainly co-exist for quite a while.

Nobody can afford to rip and replace these days.

Lawson: Nobody can afford to rip and replace these days, and we don't think that's really necessary. What's necessary is a shift in how you think about things. Think about all the pools of equipment you have. You've got network stuff, server, storage, people, and processes. They tend to be fairly siloed and pretty complex, because you're supporting so many services and so many apps.

In this day and age, you have to get very direct with what technology-enabled services you provide and why, and what's the most efficient means of doing so. One of the great things about the cloud is that it has allowed the whole universe of service providers to expand and specialize.

Companies that are seizing this opportunity and saying, "We're going to take advantage of technology and use it in a proactive way to help build our organization," are doing so in a very aggressive way right now, because they have more choices and can afford to pick the right service to get a certain outcome out of it.

What you want to achieve

lot of it depends on what you want to achieve. If what you're going for is to create an environment where every service IT delivers can be easily consumed by people in the lines of business through a service catalog, there are two ways to approach it. One is from the bottom-up, from your infrastructure, your network, your compute, your storage. You need to set yourself up so your services can be sharable.

That means that instead of having dedicated infrastructure components for each application or service, you pool and converge those elements, so that anytime you want to instantiate a service, you can make it easily provisioned and you can make it sharable. That's the bottom-up approach, which is valid and required.

The top-down approach is to say, "How can we make our services consumable?" That means there's a consumer who's a business person, maybe a salesperson, people in accounting, or what have you. They're your consumers.

They want to be able to come into a menu or a portal and order something, just as they'd order something at Starbucks, where they say, "I want this. Show me what my service levels are. Show me what the options are and what the costs are" Press the button, and it automatically goes out, gets the approval, does the provisioning, and you're ready to go.

The catalog becomes that linchpin. It's almost a conversation device.

You want to be able to do that from the top-down. That's not just the automation of it, but also the cultural shift. IT and people in the lines of business have to come together, sit at a table, and say, "What will be rendered in our service catalog? What are the things that you need to accomplish? Based on that, we're going to offer these services in our catalog."

The catalog becomes that linchpin. It's almost a conversation device. It forces IT and the lines of business to align themselves around a series of services and that becomes it. That's how IT establishes itself as a service provider. What I call the litmus test is having a service catalog that defines what people can use and, by inference, what they can’t be using.

A lot of companies -- and our own company, HP, is an example -- have certain policies about what can and can't be used, based on security, corporate policies, or what have you. An implication of moving in this direction is having the right control and governance around the technology services that get used and by whom they get used. Security around certain data access, identity control, and things like that, all come into play with this.

Meyer: Building a private cloud becomes another way you look at providing the best quality services to the business at the lowest cost.

So, if you look at all the things that your mandated to provide the business, you now have another option that says, "Is this a better way for me to be providing these services to the business? Do I drive out risk? Do I drive out cost? Do I drive up agility?" The more choices you have on the back end, if you take that longer term approach and look at private cloud in that context, it really does help you make smarter decisions and set up a more agile business.

Lawson: The real key there is to think about not so much about whether it's going to cost us or save us money, but rather, wouldn't it be great if you knew that for every service you could say how much money that service helped you make, how much revenue came in the door, or how much money that service helped you save?

Unrealistic metric

In a perfect state, you would know that for every service. Of course, that's unrealistic, but for a vast majority of the services that one offers, there should be a very distinctive value metric set up against that. Usually, that value metric out in the commercial world is that you've paid money for it.

Will you save money by establishing a private cloud? Well, yeah, you should. That should be pretty obvious. There should be some savings, if you're doing it right. If you've gone through a pretty structured process of consolidating, virtualizing, standardizing, and automating, it certainly will.

But, an even the better bang for the buck is saying, "With my portfolio of services, that happen to execute in a shared infrastructure environment, not only it might be really efficient, but I know what the business result of it is."

Meyer: Imagine if all the physical components that the servers and network connections, the storage capacity, even the powering of data center were virtualized in a way that can be treated as a pool of resources that you could carve up on demand and assign to different applications. You could automate it in a way to connect all the moving pieces to make the best use of the capacity you have and do that in a standardized way on top of fewer standardized parts.

That's what we mean by convergence in terms of infrastructure. Going back to the point we talked about before, rather than creating dedicated built-to-order infrastructure for every technology-enabled service, infrastructure is made available from adaptive pools that can be shared by any application, optimized, and managed as a service.

It's a great period of opportunity for companies to really harness the various elements and the various possibilities around technology-enabled services and then put them to work.

To get to that point, we mentioned the virtualization part, not just server virtualization but virtualizing the connections between compute, storage, and network and making sure that they could be connected, reconnected, unconnected, on demand, as the services demand. They have to be resilient. You have to build in the resiliency into that converged infrastructure from disaster recovery to things like nonstop fault tolerance.

Lawson: It's a great period of opportunity for companies to really harness the various elements and the various possibilities around technology-enabled services and then put them to work. We help companies do this in any number of ways. From the process and organizational point of view, we've got a lot of ITIL expertise, COBIT, and all kinds of governance and service management expertise within HP.

We help train organizations and we, of course, have a very large services organization, where we outsource these capabilities to enterprises across the globe. We also have a real robust software portfolio that helps companies automate practically every element of the IT function and systems management, literally from the business value of a service all the way down to the bare-metal.

So, we're able to help companies instrument everything, starting with where the money is coming from, and make sure that everything down the line -- the servers, the storage, the networks, and the information -- are all part of the equation. Of course, we offer companies different ways of consuming all of this.

We have products and services that we sell to our customers. We have ways of helping them get these capabilities through our managed services, through the organization previously known as EDS, which is now called Enterprise Services and licensed products, software-as-a-service (SaaS) products, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), all kinds of stuff.

It really depends on each individual customer. We look at their situation and say, "Where are you today, where do you want to get to, and how can we optimize that experience and help you grow into a more efficient, responsive IT organization?"
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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Well-planned data center transformation effort delivers IT efficiency paybacks, green IT boost for Valero Energy

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

There's a huge drive now for improved enterprise data center performance. Nearly all enterprises are involved nowadays with some level of data-center transformation, either in the planning stages or in outright build-out.

We're seeing many instances where numerous data centers are being consolidated into a powerful core few, as well as completely new, so-called green-field, data centers with modern design and facilities coming online. The heightened activity runs the gamut from retrofitting and designing new data centers to the building and occupying of them.

The latest definition of data center is focused on being what's called fit-for-purpose, of using best practices and assessments of existing assets and correctly projecting future requirements to get that data center just right -- productive, flexible, efficient and well-understood and managed.

Yet these are, by no means, trivial projects. They often involve a tremendous amount of planning and affect IT, facilities, and energy planners. The payoffs are potentially huge, as we'll see, from doing data center design properly -- but the risks are also quite high, if things don't come out as planned.

This podcast examines the lifecycle of data-center design and fulfillment by exploring a successful project at Valero Energy Corp. We're here with two executives from HP and an IT leader at Valero Energy to look at proper planning, data center design and project management.

Please join me in welcoming Cliff Moore, America’s PMO Lead for Critical Facilities Consulting at HP; John Bennett, Worldwide Director of Data Center Transformation Solutions at HP, and John Vann, Vice President of Technical Infrastructure and Operations at Valero Energy Corp. The discussion is moderated by BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Bennett: If you had spoken four years ago and dared to suggest that energy, power, cooling, facilities, and buildings were going to be a dominant topic with CIOs, you would have been laughed at. Yet, that's definitely the case today, and it goes back to the point about IT being modern and efficient.

Data-center transformation, as we've spoken about before, really is about not only significantly reducing cost to an organization -- not only helping them shift their spending away from management and maintenance and into business projects and priorities -- but also helping them address the rising cost of energy, the rising consumption of energy and the mandate to be green or sustainable.

Data-center transformation tries to take a step back, assess the data center strategy and the infrastructure strategy that's appropriate for a business, and then figure how to get from here to there. How do you go from where you are today to where you need to be?

You have organizations that discover that the data centers they have aren't capable of meeting their future needs. ... All of a sudden, you discover that you're bursting at the themes. ... [You] have to support business growth by addressing both infrastructure strategies, but probably also by addressing facilities. That's where facilities really come into the equation and have become a top-of-mind issue for CIOs and IT executives around the world.

You'll need a strong business case, because you're going to have to justify it financially. You're going to have to justify it as an opportunity cost. You're going to have to justify in terms of the returns on investment (ROIs) expected in the business, if they make choices about how to manage and source funds as well.

Growth modeling

One of the things that's different today than even just 10 years ago is that the power and networking infrastructure available around the world is so phenomenal, there is no need to locate data centers close to corporate headquarters.

You may choose to do it, but you now have the option to locate data centers in places like Iceland, because you might be attracted to the natural heating of their environment. It's a good time [for data center transformation] from the viewpoint of land being cheap, but it might be a good time in terms of business capital.

Moore: The majority of the existing data centers out there today were built 10 to 15 years ago, when power requirements and densities were a lot lower.

People are simply running out of power in their data centers. The facilities today that were built 5, 10, or 15 years ago, just do not support the levels of density in power and cooling that clients are asking for going to the future, specifically for blades and higher levels of virtualization.

Some data centers we see out there use the equivalent of half of a nuclear power plant to run. It's very expensive.

It's also estimated that, at today's energy cost, the cost of running a server from an energy perspective is going to exceed the cost of actually buying the server. We're also finding that many customers have done no growth modeling whatsoever regarding their space, power, and cooling requirements for the next 5, 10, or 15 years -- and that's critical.

When a customer is looking to spend $20 million, $50 million, or sometimes well over a $100 million, on a new facility, you’ve got to make sure that it fits within the strategic plan for the business. That's exactly what boards of directors are looking for, before they will commit to spending that kind of money.

We’ve got to find out first off what they need -- what space, power, and cooling requirements. Then, based on the criticality of their systems and applications, we quickly determine what level of availability is required, as well.

This determines the Uptime Institute Tier Level for the facility. Then, we go about helping the client strategize on exactly what kinds of facilities will meet those needs, while also meeting the needs of the business that come down from the board. ... We help them collaboratively develop that strategy in the next 10 to 15 years for the data center future.

One of the things we do, as part of the strategic plan, is help the client determine the best locations for their data centers based on the efficiency in gathering free cooling, for instance, from the environment.

One of the things that the Valero is accomplishing is the lower energy costs, as a result of building their own data centers with a strategic view.

Vann: Valero is a Fortune 500 company in San Antonio, Texas and we're the largest independent refiner in the North America. We produce fuel and other products from 15 refineries and we have 10 ethanol plants.

We market products in 44 states with large distribution network. We're also into alternative fuel with renewables and one of the largest ethanol producers. We have a wind farm up in northern Texas, around Amarillo, that generates enough power to fuel our McKee refinery.

So what drove us to build? We started looking at building in 2005. Valero grew through acquisitions. Our data center, as Cliff and John have mentioned, was no different than others. We began to run into power,space, and cooling issues.

Even though we were doing a lot of virtualization, we still couldn't keep up with the growth. We looked at remodeling and also expanding, but the disruption and risk to the business was just too great. So, we decided it was best to begin to look for another location.

Our existing data center is on headquarters’ campus which is not the best place for the data center, because it's inside one of our office complexes. Therefore, we have water and other potentially disruptive issues close to the data center -- and it was just concerning considering where the data center is located.

[The existing facility] is about seven years old and had been remodeled once. You have to realize Valero was in a growth mode and acquiring refineries. We now have 15 refineries. We were consolidating quite a bit of equipment and applications back into San Antonio, and we just outgrew it.

We were having hard time keeping it redundant and keeping it cool. It was built with one foot of raised floor and, with all the mechanical inside the data center, we lost square footage.

We began to look for alternative places. We also were really fortunate in the timing of our data center review. HP was just beginning their build of the six big facilities that they ended up building or remodeling, and so we were able to get good HP internal expertise to help us as we were beginning our decision of design and building our data center.

The problem with collocation back in those days of 2006, 2007, and 2008, was that there was a premium for space.

So, we really were fortunate to have experts give us some advice and counsel. We did look at collocation. We also looked at other buildings, and we even looked at building another data center on our campus.

As we did our economics, it was just better for us to be able to build our own facility. We were able to find land northwest of San Antonio, where several data centers have been built. We began our own process of design and build for 20,000 square feet of raised floor and began our consolidation process.

Power and cooling are just becoming an enormous problem and most of this because virtualization blades and other technologies that you put in a data center just run a little hotter and they take up the extra power. It's pretty complex to be able to balance your data center with cooling and power, also UPS, generators, and things like that. It just becomes really complex. So, building a new data center really put us in the forefront.

We had a joint team of HP and the Valero Program Management Office. It went really well the way that was managed. We had design teams. We had people from networking architecture, networking strategy and server and storage, from both HP and Valero, and that went really well. Our construction went well. Fortunately, we didn’t have any bad weather or anything to slow us down; we were right on time and on budget.

Probably the most complex was the migration, and we had special migration plans. We got help from the migration team at HP. That was successful, but it took a lot of extra work.

Probably we'd put more project managers on managing the project, rather than using technical people to manage the project. Technical folks are really good at putting the technology in place, but they really struggle at putting good solid plans in place. But overall, I'd just say that migration is probably the most complex.

Bennett: Modernizing your infrastructure brings energy benefits in its own right, and it enhances the benefits of your virtualization and consolidation activities.

We certainly recommend that people take a look at doing these things. If you do some of these things, while you're doing the data center design and build, it can actually make your migration experience easier. You can host your new systems in the new data center and be moving software and processes, as opposed to having to stage and move servers and storage. It's a great opportunity.

It's a great chance to start off with a clean networking architecture, which also helps both with continuity and availability of services, as well as cost.

It can be a big step forward in terms of standardizing your IT environment, which is recommended by many industry analysts now in terms of preparing for automation or to reduce management and maintenance cost. You can go further and bring in application modernization and rationalization to take a hard look at your apps portfolio. So, you can really get these combined benefits and advantages that come from doing this.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

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Governance grows more integral to managing cloud computing security risks, says IT practitioner survey

Most enterprises lack three essential ingredients to ensure that sensitive information stored in via cloud computing hosts remains secure: procedures, policies and tools. So says a joint survey called “Information Governance in the Cloud: A Study of IT Practitioners” from Symantec Corp. and Ponemon Institute.

Cloud computing holds a great deal of promise as a tool for providing many essential business services, but our study reveals a disturbing lack of concern for the security of sensitive corporate and personal information as companies rush to join in on the trend,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.

Where is cloud security training?

Despite the ongoing clamor about cloud security and the anticipated growth of cloud computing, a meager 27 percent of those surveyed said their organizations have developed procedures for approving cloud applications that use sensitive or confidential information. Other surprising statistics from the study include:
  • Only 20% of information security teams are regularly involved in the decision-making process

  • Only 25% of information security teams aren’t involved at all

  • Only 30% evaluate cloud computing vendors before deploying their products

  • Only 23% require proof of security compliance

  • A full 75% believe cloud computing migration occurs in a less-than-ideal manner

  • Only 19% provide data security training that discusses cloud applications
Focusing on information governance

vendors and suppliers, including the survey sponsor, Symantec, are lining up to help fill the evident gaps in enterprise cloud security tools, standards, best practices and culture adaptation. Symantec is making several recommendations for beefing up cloud security, beginning with ensuring that policies and procedures clearly state the importance of protecting sensitive information stored in the cloud.

“There needs to be a healthy, open governance discussion around data and what should be placed into the cloud,” says Justin Somaini, Chief Information Security Officer at Symantec. “Data classification standards can help with a discussion that’s wrapped around compliance as well as security impacts. Beyond that, it’s how to facilitate business in the cloud securely. This cuts across all business units.”

Symantec also recommends organizations adopt an information governance approach that includes tools and procedures for classifying information and understanding risk so that policies can be put in place that specify which cloud-based services and applications are appropriate and which are not.

“There’s a lot of push for quick availability of services. You don’t want to go through legacy environments that could take nine months or a year to get an application up and running,” Somaini says. “You want to get it up an running in a month or two to meet the needs and demands of consumers. Working the cloud into IT is very important from a value-add perspective, but it’s also important to make sure we keep an eye on compliance and security issues as well.”

Evaluating and Training Issues

eyond governance, there are also cloud security issues around third-parties and employee training that Symantec recommends incorporating into the discussion. Specifically, Symantec promotes evaluating the security posture of third parties before sharing confidential or sensitive information.

Companies should formally train employees how to mitigate the security risks specific to the new technology to make sure sensitive and confidential information is protected prior to deploying cloud technology, said Symantec.

The big question is: Are we getting closer to being able to offer cloud solutions with which enterprises can feel comfortable? Somaini says we’re getting close.

“It's really 'buyer-beware' from a customer perspective. Not all cloud providers are the same. Some work from the beginning in a conscious and deliberate effort to make sure their services are secure. They can provide that confidence in the form of certifications,” Somaini says. “Cloud service providers are going to have to comply and drive security into their solutions and offer that evidence. We’re getting there but we've got some ways to go.”
BriefingsDirect contributor Jennifer LeClaire provided editorial assistance and research on this post. She can be reached at and
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Case study shows how HP Data Protector Notebook Extension provides constant backup for mobile workforces

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download the transcript. Sponsor: HP.

Gain more information on HP Data protection Notebook Extension. Follow on Twitter.
Access a Webcast with IDC's Laura DuBois on Avoiding Risk and Improving Productivity on PCs and Laptops.

Data protection has grown significantly more complex in recent years as workers have gravitated to notebook computers and the mobility they enable. The latest BriefingsDirect podcast discussion looks at protecting PC-based data in an increasingly mobile world.

We'll look at a use case -- at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY -- for HP Data Protector Notebook Extension (DPNE) software and examine how backup and recovery software has evolved to become more transparent, reliable, and fundamentally user-driven.

Using that continuous back-up principle, the latest notebook and PC backup software captures every saved version of a file, efficiently transfers it all in batches to a central storage location, and then makes it easily and safely accessible for recovery by user from anywhere. That's inside or outside of the corporate firewall.

We'll look at how DPNE slashes IT recovery chores, allows for managed policies and governance to reduce data risks systemically, while also downsizing backups, the use of bandwidth, and storage.

The economies are compelling. The cost of data lost can be more than $400,000 annually for an average-sized business with 5,000 users. Getting a handle on recovery cost, therefore, helps reduce the total cost of operating and supporting mobile PCs, both in terms of operations and in the cost of lost or poorly recovered assets.

To help us better understand the state of the art remote in mobile PC data protection, we're joined by an HP executive and a user of HP DPNE software, Shari Cravens, Product Marketing Manager for HP Data Protection, and a user of DPNE, John Ferguson, Network Systems Specialist at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Cravens: We started hearing from our customers a couple of years ago that PC backup was becoming increasingly important in their lives. Part of that's because the workforce is increasingly mobile and flexibility for the workforce is at an all-time high. In fact, we found that 25 percent of staff in some industries operates remotely and that number is growing pretty rapidly.

In fact, in 2008, shipments of laptops overtook desktops for the very first time. What that really means for the end user or for IT staff is that vast amounts of data now live outside the corporate network. We found that the average PC holds about 55,000 files. Of those 55,000, about 4,000 are unique to that user on that PC. And, those files are largely unprotected.

The economics of PC backup are really changing. We're finding that the average data loss incident costs about $2,900, and that's for both IT staff time and lost end user productivity. Take that $2,900 figure and extrapolate that for an average company of about 5,000 PCs. Then, look at hard drive failures alone. There will be about 150 incidents of hard drive failure for that company every year.

If you look at the cost to IT staff to recover that data and the loss in employee productivity, the annual cost to that organization will be over $440,000 a year.

If you look at the cost to IT staff to recover that data and the loss in employee productivity, the annual cost to that organization will be over $440,000 a year. If that data can't be recovered, then the user has to reconstruct it, and that means additional productivity loss for that employee. We also have legal compliance issues to consider now. So if that data is lost, that's an increased risk to the organization.

We all have very sensitive files on our laptops, whether it's competitive information or your personal annual review. One of the things that's been a suggestion in the past was, "Well, we'll just save it to the corporate network." The challenge with that is that people are really concerned about saving these very sensitive files to the corporate network.

What we really need is a solution that's going to encrypt those files, both in transit and at rest, so that people can feel secure that their data is protected.

Historical evolution

The concept behind HP Data Protector Notebook Extension is that we're trying to minimize the risk of that PC data loss, but we're also trying to minimize the burden to IT staff. The solution is to extend some of the robust backup policies from the enterprise to the client environment.

We’re protecting data no matter where the user is -- the home, the coffee shop, the airport.

DPNE does three things. One, it's always protecting data, and it's transparent to the user. It's happening continuously, not on a fixed schedule, so there is no backup window that's popping up.

We’re protecting data no matter where the user is -- the home, the coffee shop, the airport. Whether they are online or offline, their data is being protected, and it's happening immediately. The instant that files are created or changed, data is being protected.

Continuous file protection is number one. Backup policies are centralized and automated by the IT staff. That means that data is always protected, and the IT staff can configure those policies to support their organization's particular data protection goals.

Number two, no matter where they are, users can easily recover their own data. This is a really important point. Getting back to the concept of minimizing the burden to IT staff, DPNE has a simple, single-click menu. Users can recover multiple versions of a file without ever involving IT. They don't ever have to pick up the phone and call the Help Desk. That helps keep IT costs low.

Then, also by optimizing performance, we're eliminating that desire to opt out of your scheduled backup. The process is transparent to the user. It doesn’t impact their day, because DPNE saves and transmits only the changed data. So, the impact to performance is really minimized.

DPNE has a local repository on each client and we established that to store active files. Whether you're connected to the network or not, data is captured and backed up locally to this local repository. This is important for accidental deletions or changes or even managing multiple versions of a file. You're able to go to the menu, click, and restore a file from a previous version at any point in time, without ever having to call IT.

Each client is then assigned to a network repository or data vault inside the network. That holds the backup files that are transferred from the client, and that data vault uses essentially any Windows file share.

The third element is a policy server that allows IT staff to administer the overall system management from just a single web interface, and the centralized administration allows them to do file protection policies and set encryption policies, data vault policies, to their particular specifications.

Finding the cure

Ferguson: Roswell Park Cancer Institute is the oldest cancer research center in the United States. We're focused on understanding, preventing, and eventually finding the cure for cancer. We're located in downtown Buffalo, NY. We have research, scientific, and educational facilities, and we also have a 125-bed hospital here.

Our researchers and scientists are frequently published in major studies, reported globally, for various types of cancers, and with related research studies. A number of breakthroughs in cancer prevention and treatment have been developed here. For example, the PSA test, which is used for detecting prostate cancer, was invented here.

The real challenge is that data is moving around. When you are dealing with researchers and scientists, they work at different schedules than the rest of us. When they are working, they are focused and that might be here, off campus, at home, whatever.

They've got their notebook PCs, their data is with them and they're running around and doing their work and finding their answers. With that data moving around and not always being on the network, the potential for the data loss of something that could be the cure for cancer is something that we take very seriously and very important to deal with

One of the big things was transparency to the user and being simple to use if they do need to use it. We were already in the process of making a decision to replace our existing overall backup solution with HP's Data Protector. So, it was just a natural thing to look at DPNE and it really fits the need terrifically.

There's total transparency to the user. Users don't even have to do anything. They're just going along, doing their work, and everything is going on in the background. And, if they need to use it, it's very intuitive and simple to use.

When people are working on something, they don't think to “save it,” until they're actually done with it. And, DPNE provides us that versioning saving. You can get old versions of documents. You can keep track of them. That's the type of thing that's not really done, but it's really important, and they don't want to lose it.

In terms of the overall Data Protector implementation, we're probably about 40 percent complete. The DPNE implementation will immediately follow that.

A good test run

We anticipate initially just getting our IT staff using the application and giving it a good test run. Then we'll focus on key individuals throughout the organization, researchers, the scientists, the CEO, CIO, the people with all the nice initials after their name, and get them taken care of. We'll get a full roll-out after that.

When it comes to federal regulations, it always is a rising tide, but we've got a good solution that we are now implementing and I think it puts us ahead of the curve.

Cravens: Information is continuing to explode and that's not going to stop. In addition to that, the workforce is only going to get more mobile. This problem definitely isn’t going to go away, and we need solutions that can address the flexibility and mobility of the workforce and be able to manage, as John mentioned, the increase in regulations.

HP Data Protector is very simple to implement. It snaps into your existing infrastructure. You don’t need any specialized hardware. All you need is a Windows machine for the policy server and some disk space for the data vault. You can download a 60-day trial version from It's a full-featured version, and you can work with that.

If you have a highly complex multi-site organization, then you might want to employ the services of HP’s Backup and Recovery Fast Track Services for Data Protector. They can help get a more complex solution up and running quickly and reduce the impact on your IT staff just that much sooner.
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Access a Webcast with IDC's Laura DuBois on Avoiding Risk and Improving Productivity on PCs and Laptops.

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BriefingsDirect analysts pick winners and losers from cloud computing's economic disruption and impact

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Charter Sponsor: Active Endpoints.

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The latest BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition, Vol. 51, focuses on cloud computing and dollars and cents. Our panel dives into more than the technology, security, and viability issues that have dominated a lot of cloud discussions lately -- and move to the economics and the impact on buyers and sellers of cloud services.

When you ask any one person how cloud will affect their costs, you're bound to get a different answer each time. No one really knows, but the agreement comes when the questions move to, "Will cloud models impact how buyers and providers price their technology? And over the long-term what will buyers come to expect in terms of IT value?"

What comes when we move to a cloud based pay-per value pricing, buying, and budgeting for IT approach? How does the shift to high-volume, low-margin services and/or subscription models affect the IT vendor landscape? How does it affect the pure cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers, and perhaps most importantly, how do cloud models affect the buy side?

This periodic discussion and dissection of IT infrastructure related news and events, with a panel of industry analysts and guests, comes to you with the help of charter sponsor, Active Endpoints, maker of the ActiveVOS business process management system.

Join the panel of Dave Linthicum, CTO of Bick Group, a cloud computing and data-center consulting firm; Michael Krigsman, CEO of Asuret and a blogger on ZDNet on IT failures as well as writer of analyst reports for IDC, and Sandy Rogers, an independent industry analyst.

Here are some excerpts:
Linthicum: We've had a tendency to focus on reducing cost over the last few years, with the recession and all, and ultimately cloud computing and SOA are about bringing strategic value back into the business in the form of IT.

I was listening to your podcast with's Peter Coffee, talking about service oriented architecture (SOA) and cloud computing, and he said something that was very profound.

The fact of the matter is that, if you're looking for cheap IT, we can give you cheap IT. However, you're not going to be able to keep up with the competitive value that IT needs to bring to your enterprise. To get that competitive value, you're going to have to spend additional money.

The ability to align your IT resources to the needs of the business quickly, get into markets fast, delight customers, sell more, and create supply chain integration systems that provide with frictionless commerce is really where the value is in this.

The myth is that cloud computing is always going to be less expensive. I think cloud computing typically is going to be a better, more strategic, more agile architecture, but it's also typically going to be more expensive, at least on the outcome.

We're probably going to have to spend more money initially. That's really what the takeaway is from the initial cloud-computing projects that I am involved in. At the end of the day, it's about strategic use of technology. Ultimately, cost reduction should be part of the result, but in getting there, we're going to have to spend additional dollars.

Rogers: A lot of the enterprises are going to learn from those organizations that have to act at web scale and understand which are the right use-cases to put out there and how to leverage it. ... A lot of the innovation that we see happening on the cloud is really other providers that are starting to build their businesses on the cloud.

They're learning that there is a web-scale business to be obtained out there, and that's really where we are seeing the biggest innovation.

They're learning that there is a web-scale business to be obtained out there. What is also really interesting is that it's more than just technology. It's really transitioning to engage with services and services providers. Those who are attempting to move out there onto the cloud are learning that that is a big piece of the puzzle. Many technology providers have to grow into the role of a service provider.

Krigsman: I ask the question ... Is cheap IT really the goal [of cloud computing]? To me, the real question, the longer-term strategic question, is "How does this new IT infrastructure map onto our business processes and our business requirements looking long-term?" There are some mismatches and mismatched expectations.

When you have one group that is expecting certain types of outcomes and results and you have another group that is capable of delivering results that don’t match the first, namely between buyers and sellers [of cloud services], then the end result is predictable failure or disappointment somewhere down the line.

Linthicum: Cloud computing does require lots of changes. You're going to have to redo your infrastructure, as I write in my book, to leverage newer architectural patterns, such as SOA, and that's typically very expensive to get out and access the services that are available to you on demand, out of the cloud. So that's an expense onto itself.

You're going to have to retrain and re-skill your people within your data center, all the way up into your executive ranks, on what cloud is able to do and how to manage, govern, and secure cloud. You're going to have to pay for the cloud computing providers, which in many instances are going to be less expensive than on-premise systems, but in many other instances are going to be much more costly than on-premise systems.

Companies that think tactically, in quarter to quarter expenses, and consider IT kind of an expense that they rather not have to spend money on are going to fall by the wayside within cloud computing. They're just not going to get it.

It's very much like the Internet was in the mid-'90s. Suddenly, it's a big huge deal, and companies that got on board four or five years ago are leading the market, where companies that suddenly were trying to play catch-up football in 1999, 2000, found that the market left them behind. Many of those companies just went out of business, because they didn’t see the wave coming. Cloud computing is going to be very much like that.

Improvement model

I'm bullish on cloud computing being a catalyst for architectural change and typically for the better. So cloud is not great at security and governance as of yet, but in many instances it's much better than the current security and governance in lots of these existing enterprises, which is poorly defined or nonexistent.

Ultimately, as people revamp their architectures to leverage cloud, moving into SOA, looking at cloud as an architectural option for bit pieces of parts of their data and parts of their processes, they go through an improvement model.

They go through some architectural changes, create new governance models, and create new security models. They leverage identity management versus simple encryption. They learn to be more secure. If they didn't have a chief security officer, they may now have a one, if they are moving into cloud.

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The target systems that are using cloud computing, the target architectures that are leveraging cloud computing, are almost always more secure than the traditional systems from which they came. That doesn't mean they're completely secure and without issues, especially in the cloud computing side.

But people make logical choices about what pieces of information and what processes to run in the cloud and which ones to run on-premise based on security models, and typically, if they are revamping into a new architecture, they are always going to be more secure and better governed, if the architects know what they're doing.

The pay-as-you-go model of cloud computing, even though it can be more expensive in many instances, when you really kind of amortize the cost over many years, is something that's attractive to at least United States IT. It's not always to foreign corporations, but definitely in the United States.

We like the pay-as-you-go cable bill kind of thing that we get, and also the ability to turn the stuff off or move away from it, if we need to, without having a big footprint already in the data center and things we need to deinstall and millions of dollars of hardware that we have to sell on Craigslist if the thing doesn’t work out.

The selling point

That becomes a selling point and really is part and parcel of value of cloud computing. But, it also can be the Achilles' heel of cloud computing, because ultimately people are going to make decisions around financial metrics that may not be realistic. If you look at those financial metrics in light of the requirements of the business, in many instances people are buying cloud computing because of the cost model and not necessarily the strategic value it's going to have to the architecture and therefore have to the business.

Krigsman: Driving toward cloud changes the architecture and requires proper governance. The lack of governance that exists today across the industry is pretty startling. So as organizations move in this direction, there is simply no question that the cultural dimension of getting IT to work more effectively with the business side and so forth must drive with it.

If it doesn't, then, in the end, the solutions that are built with cloud will still have the same set of problems from a business standpoint that current IT solutions have today. This has nothing to do with technology. This is a matter of collaboration and communication across these various information silos.

Rogers: One thing that we're finding from those cloud service providers that had originally targeted the end business customer, is that they're working with the CIOs and the IT departments more. They're working through those issues of security and having backup contingency plans.

It's just a state of education that varying parties within the IT ecosystem have to come on board and understand how to leverage this.

One of the biggest points ... is it's still a mixture of different technologies that have to come together. That’s always been one of the biggest, complex roles that IT needs to serve.

Right now, there are a lot of dependencies on specific technologies internally. A lot of organizations do not want to make those same mistakes with external cloud providers. They're really looking to the IT group as an adviser to guide them and help them in the decisions moving forward.

Krigsman: This is a fundamental point -- the cloud computing winners are going to be those who combine architectural vision and discipline with superior governance and who are also capable of making the adaptive cultural and business transformation changes, such as you were just talking about, things like budgeting, for example. Success in the cloud will require a mixture of all of these things together.

Linthicum: If you are in the IT world today, you need to understand that if you are moving to a new architecture, you have to commit to a certain amount of value that comes back to the business. Typically, it's going to be a five-year horizon in the United States, perhaps a 10-year horizon in the Asia-Pacific. But, that value has to be shown and that has to be returned. If it's not returned, then ultimately it's going to be considered a failure.

Start now

You need to start committing to this stuff right now and putting some skin in the game, and I think a lot of people in these IT organizations are very politically savvy and want to protect their positions. There are a few of them who want to put that skin in the game right now.

I think we are going to see kind of an unfairness in business. People who are starting businesses these days and building it around cloud infrastructures are learning to accept the fact that a lot of their IT is going to reside out on the Internet and the cost effective nature of that. They're going to have a huge strategic advantage over legacy businesses, people who've been around for years and years and years.

There are going to be a lot of traditional companies out there that are going to be looking at these vendors and learning from them.

As they grow and they start to go public and they start to grow as a business, they get up to a half a billion mark, they are going to find that they are able to provide a much more higher cost and price advantage over their competitors and just eat their lunch ultimately.

We're going to see that, not necessarily now, because those guys are typically smaller and just up and coming, but in five years, as they start to grow up, their infrastructure is just going to be much more cost effective and they are just going to run circles around the competition.

... Ultimately, it would be about the ability to leverage technology that's pervasive around the world. What you're going to find is the biggest uptake of any kind of new technological shift is going to be in the United States or the North American marketplaces. We're seeing that in the U.S. right now.

We could find that the cloud computing advantage it has brought to the corporate U.S. infrastructure is going to be significant in the next four years, based on the European enterprises out there and some of the Asia-Pacific enterprises out there that will play catch-up toward the end.
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