• December 15, 2021
  • Catagory multi-cloud

Pick the right public cloud for the right job

By : Justin Folkerts

There are more choices then ever when it come to picking the right public cloud platform for the right workload.

Even though all the major public cloud providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud, all have similar offerings for common workloads, their available services are increasingly diverse. Choosing the right one can be tough choice for just a single application migration, let alone deciding what should be in your multi-cloud environment.

Find a balance

Selecting a single cloud platform that will meet all your needs has its appeal, but a multi-cloud environment offers redundancy and keeps you from being locked into a single vendor. But although there’s value in a best-of-breed approach to meet specific business application needs, you also want to avoid cloud sprawl. While you should choose your public cloud platform based on which one can best meet requirements, some compromises might be sensible if it means keeping your public cloud provider portfolio manageable.

SMBs will get the biggest bang for their buck to by making sure your public cloud adoption improves productivity without making your IT team work harder or requiring a great deal of user support. Collaboration applications should be easy for remote workers to use anywhere, regardless of device, such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs. For business users who have specific needs, such as sales and marketing, you may need a public cloud instance for a CRM tool. Your selection criteria should consider available integrations across different public cloud platforms—many vendors do play nice with each other and work well in tandem.

Standardizing on a small number of public cloud platforms will provide productivity gains while lowering your total cost of ownership and keeping IT staff free to work on other more strategic projects such as digital transformation efforts.

Prioritize security

Bolstering security, especially at a time when many employees are working remotely, should be just as important as meeting your business requirements. Public cloud platforms can bring a lot to the table because they can apply the same capabilities to your mission-critical data as they do to their own infrastructure. However, when you adopt a multi-cloud strategy, it’s important to remember that security is a shared responsibility—be sure to know what your role is and what the cloud provider is responsible for.

A multi-cloud strategy enables organizations to leverage the ideal platform for the right business need but building your own multi-cloud environment can seem overwhelming. An experienced managed IT services provider can help you get the most from your public cloud deployments so you can successfully select the right public cloud platform for each workload.

  • June 30, 2021
  • Catagory cloud computing

Moving to a hybrid cloud requires a roadmap

By : Sanjeev Spolia

If you’re struggling to make the business case for moving to the cloud, consider this: moving to a hybrid cloud allows you to scale up computing, networking and storage capabilities without a significant upfront investment.

Moving to a hybrid cloud also enables you to you to keep some applications and data on-premise if you feel they’re too sensitive for public platforms or if you think your on-premise infrastructure is a more efficient, reliable and secure environment. You can have the best of both worlds by running a private cloud in tandem.

Ultimately, moving to a hybrid cloud lets you choose the best option for each workload so you can move data back and forth as your business requires.

Hybrid cloud is a balancing act

The advantage of public cloud platforms is that it can help you computing resources at the pace of business.

Moving to a hybrid cloud lets you spin up new resources quickly without spending a great deal of cash all at once because the public cloud provider has taken care of investing in the hardware and the staff necessary to manage it. This is especially beneficial for businesses with many locations that must all access the same data and applications, such as remote work endpoints.

Hybrid cloud also enables you to run legacy systems in parallel with “cloud first” IT initiatives and map out over the longer term how you might migrate older systems to the cloud. This allows you to be thoughtful about all the operational considerations that come with moving applications and data to the cloud, such as optimization, ongoing management, and security.

Moving to a hybrid cloud model reduces the amount of on-premise IT you must manage and maintain, but you still need people who understand the public cloud platforms you’ve chosen. Not all platforms are the same, even if the workload is the same. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure may differ in how they handle something as simple as a data backup function. It’s important that you have in-house cloud skills while also consider partnering with a cloud services provider.

This is especially important when it comes to security because your IT team is still responsible for some elements of it, and it varies depending on the public cloud provider. Regardless of the platform, cloud security is a shared responsibility. You need to understand what aspects of security you’re responsible for configuring and what the public cloud provider is taking care of. Otherwise, you increase the potential for security incidents that result in data breaches, compliance failures, lost customers and lost revenue.

Improve how you do things

Moving to a hybrid cloud is also an opportunity to improve your business processes and how you do things day to day.

You won’t get the benefits of cloud applications, either in the public cloud or your own private cloud, if your migration plan doesn’t reflect your strategic business goals. When you move data and applications off legacy IT, you need to look at how you’re going optimize your business functions; otherwise, you’re just replicating existing inefficiencies over to new technologies.

You only gain the efficiencies and cost effectiveness of the hybrid cloud if you spend smarter. It’s not just about moving to the cloud, it’s about moving the right applications and data to the appropriate cloud. Your primary driver for moving to a hybrid cloud should be optimizing your business, and you still need to make a business case for it because it does require financial investment.

Even if you’re only now just looking at how to leverage the cloud for your business, an incremental approach in partnership with a cloud services provider can help you find the right mix public and private cloud and on-premises systems so you can get the benefits that come with moving to a hybrid cloud.

  • February 13, 2020
  • Catagory Multi-Cloud

Public cloud platform choice should be guided by business needs

By : Justin Folkerts

There’s a lot to be said for having a single public cloud platform for all mission critical workloads, especially if it’s through managed service provider because you know who to hold accountable if something goes wrong.

Different public cloud platforms have their unique strengths and should be chosen based common business and user requirements, as well as niche workloads

But the rise of multi-cloud reflects that different public cloud platforms have their unique strengths and are better at some things than others. Some are geared for high a volume of transactions with reliability for busy periods, while others are better for low priority workloads, such as backups. Some public cloud platforms require a great deal of technical know how from the customer, while others have easy to use drag and drop interfaces.

You might use one platform for business users to support collaboration, while another is more appealing to technical staff and developers working on custom applications that aren’t yet in production. Your industry and the nature of your business, as well as how your people are organized, also influence what public cloud platform make the most sense for you.

Balance standardization with niche needs

If you’re an SMB, then you’re probably looking for the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to public cloud platforms. Even if you have the budget for multiple instances, you want to make sure they’ll improve productivity without making your IT team work harder or require a great deal of user support.

For general collaboration, you’re going to want something that’s easy to onboard users regardless of location and has a straightforward pricing model. This is especially true for organizations with multiple locations spread across a city, province or even across the country. Real estate, for example, includes brokers, agents and property managers geographically dispersed and handling a wide array of tasks and client information, and they will need to be productive on the go. Charities and other not-for-profit organizations, meanwhile, are particularly resource-constrained, so they want something that requires little technical management.

Either Microsoft Office 365 or Google Docs are likely to tick all the boxes for most general collaboration and productivity needs, including email integration to keep people in touch. However, there may be some business users who have specific needs, such as sales and marketing, so you’re possibly looking at another public cloud instance for a CRM tool. The good news is that many public cloud platforms from different vendors do play nice and offer integrations, so they will work well in tandem.

If you can standardize on a select number of public cloud platforms for business users, you’ll make productivity gains while lowering your total cost of ownership and keep IT staff freed to work on other projects. However, certain user groups within the organization may have specific, niche requirements.

Pick the right public cloud platform for the right workload

Cloud-based collaboration and communications are table stakes for most organization, but certain industries turn to public cloud platforms for workloads that are unique and often seasonal.

Despite being resource constrained, charities and other not-for-profit organizations may have busy seasons for donations that require a robust technology infrastructure to support online donations. Similarly, the education sector has busy periods where prospective students are bombarding them with applications. Municipal governments also have their busy seasons, such as registration for seasonal community programs, while retail must be sure their e-commerce and point of sale systems are ready for the spike in shopping from Black Friday to Boxing Day Week.

These workloads tend to be a little more unique. Unlike collaboration tools where features and ease of use and management are deciding factors, other compute and storage needs of SMBs are all different and heavily influenced by the nature of their respective industry and regulatory environment. Reliability and redundancy are especially critical, and given that these workloads are most customized, require technical expertise to deploy them on the most appropriate public cloud platform.

A multi-cloud strategy enables organizations to leverage the ideal public cloud platform for the right business need. Although some can be set up easily with and run with little IT support, others might benefit from the expertise of a managed service provider who can help you get the most from your public cloud deployments.

  • January 27, 2020
  • Catagory Multi-Cloud

Multi-cloud security includes securing public cloud instances

By : Justin Folkerts

Effective, robust multi-cloud security can’t be an afterthought. Securing public cloud instances is one of many significant operational considerations when embracing a multi-cloud strategy.

By making multi-cloud security an upfront priority, you prevent a lot of headaches that would inevitably pop up down the road, including interoperability issues. It also gives you a template for best practices and policy when securing public cloud instances in the future.

Draw a map of your multi-cloud security

Effectively securing public cloud instances should be guided not only by today’s needs from the platform but also how it might meet future business requirements as part of a broader multi-cloud environment. You need to align your business drivers for running multiple clouds with a security strategy so you can reduce—if not eliminate—weak links that can lead to data breaches and non-compliance with regulatory requirements and privacy legislation.

Define cloud workload security requirements

Multi-cloud’s reason for being reflects the trend toward lines of business and different areas of IT wanting to use the best cloud for the workload based on feature and performance needs. But multi-cloud security is no different than hybrid cloud environments in that you must keep in mind data confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Evaluate built-in cloud security features

Each public cloud platform comes with its own built-in security controls but securing public cloud instances will vary from provider to provider, even if the service is the same. How Amazon Web Services (AWS) secures a backup service offering will differ from that of Microsoft Azure, for example, so make you must understand the embedded security controls and tools for each cloud platform, and which ones are switch on by default, such as data encryption. Once you’ve established foundational multi-cloud security, you can augment appropriately on a per-platform basis.

Layer on additional security as needed

Multi-cloud security requires consistency. Once you understand what’s already built into the various cloud platforms you’ve spun up for each workload, you can add more layers, including third party tools, so you’re always applying global security policy automatically no matter how your multi-cloud environment grows or changes. Automation is critical to effectively securing public cloud instances in a scalable manner that keeps your overall environment manageable.

Multi-cloud security means 24/7 monitoring

Securing public cloud instances in a hybrid model usually means relying on security tools from a specific provider or one you’ve selected for monitoring your on-premises environment. Multi-cloud security means you must maximize visibility across your entire portfolio of cloud deployments and any other systems with which they may interact.

Multi-cloud security requires significant forethought if you’re achieve and maintain the necessary visibility to mitigate risk and meet today’s ongoing compliance and regulatory pressures. Securing public cloud instances in a multi-cloud environment also means knowing for certain who’s responsibility for what and establishing practices so you can scale and automate security with the pace of business and a cloud-first strategy.

Choosing the right public cloud is tough enough even when you’re only looking to migrate a single application. Figuring out the right mix for a multi-cloud environment brings with it a much more complex set of considerations.

When building your multi-cloud environment, choosing the right public cloud should be guided by business requirements and a managed IT services provider

It doesn’t help matters that there’s a lot more choices. The major providers, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle Cloud, are all offering an increasingly diverse set of services. And as the transition to on-demand IT in a multi-cloud environment accelerates, choosing the right public cloud, or multiple ones, can be overwhelming for an IT decision maker.

Find balance in multi-cloud

There’s an appealing simplicity about selecting a single cloud platform that will meet all your needs, but a multi-cloud environment means you’re not fully dependent on a single vendor. In the same way there’s value in having a best-of-breed approach to applications to meet specific business needs, so too is there in taking a best-in-class approach to multi-cloud providers.

Choosing the right public cloud should be guided by business requirements and lead to best provider for the task at hand. Some applications and data sets may require especially high transfer speeds, while others prioritize maximize uptime in a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Your multi-cloud environment should ultimately reflect how you need to do business, rather than changing your processes to match how the cloud provider operates.

Improve security and resilience to mitigate risk

Choosing the right public cloud can help you bolster security and your organization’s overall resilience if you can effectively match your requirements as you build out your multi-cloud environment.

When it comes to security, cloud providers can potentially bring a lot to the table. In addition to securing their own infrastructure, they can apply the same capabilities to your mission-critical data. However, a multi-cloud environment still means there’s a shared responsibility for security, so make sure who’s responsible for what.

In addition to shoring up your security, a multi-cloud environment can add resilience through redundant backup and recovery to ensure business continuity when disaster strikes, whether it’s something small and simple such as hardware failure or large-scale natural disaster. By choosing a cloud platform that improves both your security and resilience, you can better manage risk, and a multi-cloud environment means that if one provider runs into problems, you can turn to another to quickly take over.

Choosing the right public cloud adds agility

The ability for one provider to take over from another supports another key benefit of a multi-cloud environment—agility. The whole point of multi-cloud environments is you can mix and match, and any providers you ultimate select should work together seamlessly so you can flexibly invest in each platform based on application and data needs driven by business growth.

Building your own multi-cloud environment can seem overwhelming, but an experienced managed IT services provider can help with choosing the right public cloud for each workload and help you weave different ones together to achieve flexibility and scalability.

  • January 25, 2018
  • Catagory Hybrid Cloud

Ready to take the fast lane to the public cloud?

Risk, security and speed are the three elements we find small- and mid-sized enterprises are most concerned about as they ponder moving data or applications to the public cloud.

That’s why Supra ITS recently made the investment to let customers connect directly to Amazon Web Services (AWS) using AWS Direct Connect and to Microsoft Azure using ExpressRoute. These “fast lanes” to two major public cloud platforms are being offered at no extra cost for our customers as part of their managed hybrid cloud that’s already managed by us.

Selection and Security

As major cloud vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle and Google expand their footprint on Canadian soil, we’re seeing that interested customers want flexibility – they’re not picking only one vendor. Rather, they’re using multiple cloud platforms depending on the data or the workload. For example, AWS is popular for elastic storage, while Microsoft Azure’s appeal is the ability to run AWS workloads. At the same time, customers are continuing to maintain their own private clouds, either on-premise or managed by someone else. Most likely, they are combining all three in a hybrid model.

The fact that the major public cloud players are opening Canadian facilities means they’re addressing the data sovereignty issue that keeps many organizations from embracing public cloud. Now they can be assured their data stays in Canada, whether it’s on the move or being stored. Our part of the equation is that we have Tier 3 data centres in Canada that connect to these cloud platforms. We’ll soon make available similar direct connections to Oracle and Google public cloud infrastructure.

The Last Piece of the Public Cloud Puzzle

Offering direct connections to Amazon using AWS Direct Connect and to Microsoft Azure using ExpressRoute is the last piece of the puzzle that address the risk, security and speed. These direct, secure connections to major public cloud platforms are part of Supra ITS’ overall commitment to helping customers be “public cloud neutral.” It enables our customers to embrace a true hybrid cloud model that is fast and secure because data is not being transferred over the public internet.

Reduced latency and improved performance, of course, are the obvious benefits of a direct connection to the public cloud. But in this era of frequent data breaches and increased privacy regulation, security can be a deal breaker when companies consider moving to AWS or Azure. By putting in place these fast lanes to the public cloud, combined with our existing end-to-end security that spans our customers’ on-premise IT infrastructure, the public cloud services and our own data centres, we’re able to mitigate the risk of public cloud adoption.

Set-up costs for the connections are normally included as part of transition services for Supra ITS’ managed IT customers, and the ongoing costs are included for those customers where we manage their private and public cloud. Other AWS and Azure costs are extra and depend upon the usage.

A Partner for Public Cloud Success

Cloud computing is no longer the future, it’s reality. As noted by research firm InfoTech, there’s been lots of hype about cloud, but the adoption trends are real, and Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are leading the charge. At the same time, private clouds – both — on-premises and in hosted services – continue to grow. This presents an opportunity to transform IT to be an effective broker of services from the hybrid cloud.

At Supra ITS, we see our role as being a guide and resource for small- and mid-sized enterprises that are looking at how best to incorporate public cloud into their overall cloud strategy, whether it’s Amazon, Microsoft, Google or Oracle. Our neutrality enables customers to combine their on-premise, private cloud and public cloud deployments to fully take advantage of the full benefits of a managed hybrid cloud model.