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Hybrid Cloud

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DCI Explores ISG's Virtualization and Cloud Services

Industry: Financial

DCI provides full-service bank technology and processing solutions to the financial industry. Headquartered in Hutchinson, Kansas, DCI’s advanced banking solutions include the iCore® bank processing and management system, imaging, Internet banking, networking, teller automation, ATM/card services network, and backroom services. In 2008, iCore won the BankNews Innovative Solutions award for the Best Management Software Solution.

Challenge

Hundreds of community bank clients count on DCI for core information processing services. With virtually all of their financial transactions reliant on the DCI system, bank clients require around-the-clock application services in conjunction with comprehensive information protection. Bankers also look to DCI for innovation and continued cost efficiencies to help maintain competitiveness in cautious financial markets. But managing critical systems for a demanding and growing client based posed mounting challenges, according to Robert Ross, VP of Network & Technical Services at DCI. “It became increasingly time consuming and labor intensive to protect rapidly expanding volumes of mission-critical financial data and continue to satisfy the time and efficiency needs of modern banks.”

A growing client base, increasing systems complexity, and demands for higher levels of Business Continuity and DR caused DCI to re-evaluate its approach to providing services to its clients.

Solution

Virtualize servers on VMware®, deploy multiple NetApp® storage arrays, and automate Disaster Recovery.

Results

John Jones, CEO of DCI, had high praise for the ISG solution. “Moving to the VMware on NetApp environment allows us to deliver near real-time business resumption service to our clients. Whether it’s empowering remote employees with virtual desktops, delivering the processing services clients need to support mobile banking, or providing complete IT services via a private cloud, we have the technology in place to be agile, innovative, and competitive.”
Robert Ross summarized, “By providing full IT services to de novo banks, for example, we can nearly eliminate their initial IT capital investments and staffing requirements. We also help reduce risk. In an age of increasing regulation, offloading compliance and other processing and data management complexities can be a huge advantage for client banks. We now see tremendous opportunity to expand our value to a broad spectrum of bank clients.”

Hosted Voice Enables Mobility For Legasus Group, LC

Industry: Business Management

Legasus Group, LC is an advisory firm that works with families in business to perpetuate and sustain family enterprises. Smoothing transitions from generation to generation, Legasus Group advisors integrate relational and managerial sciences within a living systems model to better utilize the potential and talents of all stakeholders.

Click to read the case study

Challenge

Since Legasus Group teams frequently travel to their client sites, they require a mobility solution that helps them access their records and files on the road. Previously they had used a local IT service provider and another provider for internet and voice, creating difficulties with maintaining a high level of quality of service.
“There was a lot of finger pointing,” said Matt Kuzma, Chief Operating Officer at Legasus Group. “We had a hard time resolving issues through to completion, because no one was taking responsibility.”

Solution

Legasus Group became familiar with ISG Technology after attending an overview of ISG Hosted Voice and bandwidth offerings, which they felt was a good fit with their strategic goals. They put out a bid for distributed access, so that their team could work remotely with the same experience as if they were in the office. Legasus Group detailed required business outcomes, and asked bidders to submit their best recommendation.
“We decided to pursue the relationship with ISG. It was very intriguing to have a single service provider that could address all our service needs,” said Kuzma. “Their Hosted Voice solution gave us powerful features that help our team accomplish their work and remain in touch while traveling.”
ISG delivered bandwidth connectivity, a new server, and rolled out their business class Hosted Voice solution. This was accomplished in a one-month transition timeframe.

Results

Kuzma set an aggressive cutover goal at first, and worked with ISG to put the planning in place. The team worked back and forth to give enough time to get the server up and rolling and all relevant permissions migrated to the cloud. “I wasn’t expecting a magic wand. The ISG team worked to find resolution for a few issues that cropped up. They diagnosed the root problem to find a quick resolution,” said Kuzma.

Getting Hosted Voice implemented went smoothly, and all the phones were swapped out at once.

“When we have technical problems, we call or email the issue to their Support Center and ISG will diagnose to fix the issue. They send a complete ticket with all the details documented, and the techs are knowledgeable and courteous,” said Kuzma.

“We have a hybrid model accounting software that is server based, and our response times have increased since the move. Best of all, ISG has lifted the burden of managing the server off of our plate.”

The Client’s View

“ISG listened closely up front to understand our needs, and then delivered a partnership solution that makes the most sense for Legasus Group. With continued support from ISG Hosted Voice, our team can get their jobs done while they are on the road.”

Matt Kuzma
Chief Operating Officer
Legasus Group

What do you need to do to move to the cloud?

Technological development often moves so fast that companies have trouble keeping up. The cloud is one of these advancements, where it feels like just yesterday the service was new and untested. But the cloud has been around for a while now, and its worth has been proven time and again. In fact, the cloud is so useful that a Spiceworks survey found that 93 percent of respondents were using it for at least one function.

That said, there are still a lot of organizations that haven’t included a cloud solution in their IT strategy. Many of these businesses want to make the move, but they aren’t sure where to start. To that effect, let’s discuss what you need to do before you can make a move to the cloud:

Know your workload

As with any other change in IT protocol, the first step here is to ensure that you know as much as you can about your current workload. For a movement to the cloud, this means figuring out just how many of your operations have been virtualized so far. Transitioning these kinds of tasks to a cloud environment is much easier than doing so for a non-virtualized workload, so you should also be looking to see if you can virtualize more than you already do.

The hard part of this step is that no one can tell you what your workload looks like. Each company is different, and you’ll need to investigate and speak with your internal IT team in order to get all the details you need. This might end up taking up the most time out of these steps, but it’s more than worth it.

“Should you choose public or private?”

Learn about the different kinds of cloud

Now that you have a deep understanding of the data and workloads you want to transition, it’s time to start thinking about the type of cloud you want to be working with. Basically, this is going to boil down to two distinct options: a public or a private cloud. A lot of people like to include colocation into this discussion, and while this service is certainly beneficial for many clients, it technically isn’t part of the cloud.

That aside, should you choose public or private? Well, the answer to this isn’t that simple as they both have advantages and disadvantages. The public cloud is incredibly popular across multiple industries for the lower cost that comes from sharing resources between separate organizations. In fact, Gartner predicted the public cloud services market to hit $204 billion sometime this year. That said, because these computing resources are shared, many in the industry have noted that public cloud options have certain security issues. This isn’t to say that the public cloud is unsafe. Rather, it’s less secure than the private cloud, which is this service’s main advantage

Because private clouds are – by nature – built with a specific client in mind, they are often viewed as the most secure cloud option. Having your own private cloud also has some benefits in terms of control over the server, which is something a lot of organizations want. On the other hand, all of these benefits come at a high initial cost.

Do you really need private cloud services?Which is best for your company?

Understand your security posture and need for control

There’s no perfect cloud solution that fits all industries and business models, and as such you’ll need to figure out what your company can afford and whether or not you really need the control of your own private cloud. Some administrators who need to be heavily involved in their cloud infrastructure often opt for a private cloud. If you don’t need to be this hands-on and aren’t looking to spend a lot of money up front, the public cloud is probably for you.

In a similar vein, it can be hard for administrators to realize the reality of their security situation. These officials sometimes jump to the conclusion that less security means no security, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The public cloud is a perfectly viable option for keeping your data safe, and it shouldn’t be viewed as a dangerous option just because the private cloud is more secure.

Migration is work

Regardless of which cloud you end up choosing, or even if you go with a combination of the two for a hybrid cloud environment, it’s important to remember that this transition is going to take a lot of time and effort. That’s not to say this process isn’t absolutely worth it, but administrators need to know that moving to the cloud requires a lot of skill and expertise.

This is why company leaders should look to partner with a knowledgeable cloud provider such as ISG Technology. Our cloud experts have years of experience in the field, and can help smooth the transition for your company and its IT workloads.

The Boardroom vs. IT: Who drives change?

When it comes to ensuring business continuity and keeping all parts working properly, it’s crucial for communications between departments to be easy and effective. You especially want interaction between executives and IT administrators to be productive. In those conversations, if there is any kind of disconnect with either party, bottom lines could suffer.

How does the proper implementation of IT impact corporate objectives? Having the right technology solution in place can make a difference in the long run across the board, but decision-makers sometimes don’t consult their IT departments before investing in something new. According to InformationWeek contributor Andrew Froehlich, this may be due in part to the fact that new technologies are constantly coming out, sometimes so quickly that tech staff can’t keep up.

Shadow IT is creating cybersecurity vulnerabilities for enterprises.

Shadow IT is compounding this issue even further. With the continued implementation of bring-your-own-device policies, extraneous technologies make their way into companies’ networks. Employees are carrying their smartphones and tablets into the workplace and downloading different – and perhaps unapproved – applications to use in their jobs. This creates cybersecurity and compliance issues due to the entrance of unknown actors on the network.

For instance, one study from 2014 on the information systems of health care organizations found that the average provider has 928 cloud services running on its systems – only 10 percent of which are known to their IT departments. In addition, only 7 percent of the total systems on the cloud comply with industry-specific standards. These kinds of statistics illustrate why it’s crucial for the IT department to be involved in the decision-making process of any company. To ensure compliance and maintain security, technology teams and executives need to be on the same page.

Different departments need to work together to elicit the best outcome for a business – meaning that to achieve the best bottom line, communication between IT staff and the executive board needs to be efficient. Computer Weekly contributor Marc Cercere noted that the agendas of both the business technology and IT departments are equally as important to focus on and improve.

For instance, due to the increase in shadow IT and the continuing focus on cybersecurity across every industry, the IT department should be consulted about any change to technology strategy. Instead of implementing tech “solutions” that may or may not solve a company’s problems, getting the go-ahead from the IT department allows every portion of the company to work in unison toward the same goal.

In today’s business climate, technology should align with corporate objectives. You want IT to work in your favor. If relationships within your business between executives and the IT department aren’t up to par, costly disconnect can occur, and business processes can be hampered.

Staying Relevant Requires Flexible IT

In the new Idea Economy, the ability to turn an idea into a new product or business has never been easier or more accessible. Competitors are everywhere, creating disruptive waves of new demands and opportunities.

Today, an entrepreneur with a good idea has access to all of the infrastructure and resources that a traditional Fortune 1000 company would have, and they can pay for it all with a credit card. They can rent compute on demand, get a SAAS ERP system, use PayPal or Square for transactions, they can market using Facebook or Google, and have FedEx run their supply chain.

The days of needing millions of dollars to launch a new company or bring a new idea to market are fading fast. You don’t have to look any further than more recent companies such as Vimeo, One Kings Lane or Dock to Dish–or with more common names like Salesforce, Airbnb, Netflix and Pandora to see how the Idea Economy is exploding.

And how about Uber? Uber’s impact has been dramatic since it launched its application to connect riders and drivers in 2009.  Without owning a single car, it now serves more than 250 cities in 55 countries and has completely disrupted the taxi industry. San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency says that cab use has dropped 65 percent in San Francisco in two years.

This presents an opportunity and a challenge for most enterprises. Cloud, mobile, big data and analytics give you the tools to accelerate speed and time to value. Technology helps you combine applications and data to create dramatically new experiences and new markets.

Creating and delivering new business models, solutions and experiences requires harnessing new types of apps, data and risk as well as implementing new ways to build, operate and consume. Technology no longer simply supports the business, it IS the business.

But most organizations have been built with rigid, inflexible IT infrastructures that are costly to maintain and that make it difficult, if not impossible, to implement new ideas quickly. To succeed in today’s Idea Economy, you need an IT infrastructure that lets you pivot when the inevitable disruption arrives.

Colocation: Having your cake and eating it, too (Part 2 of 2)

In our previous article in this series, we discussed the many benefits of colocation. While there are obviously many advantages to this service, some businesses are better suited for a colocation package than others. There are a lot of factors to consider before implementing such a plan. Chief among them is to fully understand what your company is and what it will be. How much storage space do you currently require? Do you see massive growth in your organization’s future? What are your capital expenditure and operational expenditure requirements for data storage?

These aren’t easy questions to answer, but they are absolutely vital in understanding whether or not colocation is right for your business. So, with that in mind, which companies should be looking into colocation?

Colocation has benefits across multiple organizations. Many different kinds of businesses can benefit from off-premises data storage.

Who benefits the most?

While we’ve already discussed the cost advantages of colocation, reduced capital expenditures are something just about any company could benefit from. Colocation has advantages for businesses of all sizes, but it truly excels for smaller companies or organizations that are predicting a lot of growth in their business. This is because colocation works wonders when it comes to scalability.

When your business grows, your data needs grow with it. While you obviously want your operation to continue to develop and mature, handling these increased data storage requirements can be incredibly hard to handle. In past years, scaling up generally meant having to requisition more and more space for your servers. If your business was still in its infancy or your facility just didn’t have a lot of space, this was a lot easier said than done.

With a colocation package from a managed service provider, the sky’s the limit in terms of your data needs. Scaling up simply requires the purchase of new hardware as well as a renegotiation of your terms. Never again will you have to worry about where you’ll put yet another server.

What should you be looking for in a colocation partner?

You’ve taken a hard look at the data and scalability requirements of your facility and have decided that colocation is right for you. Now it’s time to search for a provider that can give your company what it needs. When it comes to selecting a partner, there are a few requirements every business owner should be aware of.

First and foremost, you should do research into what kind of surveillance you can expect from this provider. Will your data systems be monitored at all times by a fully-functioning staff? If so, how knowledgeable are these employees, and will they be easily reached in the event of a late-night IT issue? On top of that, you need to know if the facility has backup generators in the event of a power failure.

“40 percent of small businesses close permanently after a natural disaster.”

Aside from these concerns, another area you should focus on is the MSP’s involvement in disaster recovery. Harvey Betan, a business continuity consultant, stated in a TechTarget article that colocation facilities work well as a backup disaster recovery location, as they are generally meant to be far away from your building. Considering the Red Cross has reported that nearly 40 percent of small businesses close permanently after a natural disaster, having your data in a separate location could prove incredibly useful.

Thankfully, ISG Technology has the ability to facilitate all of these needs and more. After years of experience in the disaster recovery business, ISG Technology can help ensure the safety of your data. What’s more, we guarantee 24/7/365 monitoring of the data systems within our facility, and our backup generators help to ensure you can access your data when you need it most.

What are the risks of hybrid cloud?

Hybrid IT infrastructure is quickly becoming one of the biggest trends of the current decade, and this strategy can sometimes include hybrid cloud deployments. According to the RightScale 2015 State of the Cloud Report, 82 percent of surveyed enterprises were running a hybrid cloud strategy, and Data Center Knowledge stated in mid 2015 that adoption of these technologies was expected to triple by 2018. The benefits of embracing hybrid cloud are clear: Companies are able to improve IT flexibility and choose solutions that fit their specific needs, all while maximizing cost efficiency and asset utilization, according to FierceCIO contributor David Weldon.

As adoption goes up and more companies look into deploying hybrid strategies within their IT departments, so too do the number of issues that arise in dealing with the new technologies that hybrid cloud brings to the table. Let’s take a look at the biggest risks when it comes to cloud and hybrid IT, then discuss strategies for dealing with these issues:

“Software and application changes occur on the provider’s side.

1. Loss of control

The CIO’s job is to manage risk within his or her company, and as such may view that total control over every part of the technology strategy of the organization is necessary. However, when cloud-based tools are utilized, software and application changes occur on the provider’s side, meaning IT executives may not have a say. Therefore, according to CIO contributor Shoeb Javed, one of the most important risks of hybrid cloud computing is the perceived loss of control on the part of the CIO and other members of the executive board.

“Applications change all the time, and when those applications are outside the company’s control, they could be caught unprepared when a sudden software update occurs,” Tripwire contributor Rick Delgado stated. “A single application change can create integration problems with other programs, leading to major disruptions among the most critical business applications.”

2. Cloud security

A lot has been said lately about the cloud and its apparent inherent risks as far as security is concerned. The market for cloud security tools keeps going up by the day, and it’s expected to reach a total value of $8.71 billion by 2019, according to a 2014 report published by MarketsandMarkets. This is a clear indication that security is on the minds of industry CIOs.

There are a few main security challenges for organizations that deploy hybrid cloud strategies, according to TechTarget. These include risk management, security management and poorly constructed service-level agreements. Most of these problems stem from the complications that can arise when private and public cloud are both used in conjunction with one another – managing two kinds of deployments can be a complex task for IT teams.

3. Compliance

This is an issue that goes along with the aforementioned security challenge. Businesses have to ensure that all parts of their cloud strategy are compliant with any industry regulations. It’s crucial to ensure the data traveling between private and public cloud environments is secure, as well.

For instance, organizations within the healthcare sector have to prove that their systems are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which designates strict security standards for protected health information. If a business works with payment card data, it is subject to the rules set forth by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. All of these regulations need to be managed properly, and in certain circumstances, hybrid IT could complicate effective management strategies.

Companies that work with payment card data need to make sure their hybrid cloud deployments are secure and compliant.Companies that work with payment card data need to make sure their hybrid cloud deployments are secure and compliant.

Worth the challenge

Considering the risks of hybrid IT is one of the most important responsibilities of the technology department of any organization. However, the many benefits of investing in hybrid infrastructure outweigh these risks when they’re managed effectively. That’s why having a managed services partner around to help your organization deal with these hybrid cloud risks is not only a great idea – it’s essential to a successful hybrid IT strategy.

When you partner with a company like ISG Technology, you can rest assured that the risks of migrating data to and from virtual environments will be orchestrated by cloud experts. Get in touch today to find out more about how our hybrid cloud solutions fit your business needs.

Hybrid cloud forecast: Industry report

The cloud is generating a lot of hubbub in tech circles lately. Verizon’s latest State of the Market report found that 87 percent of enterprises are using virtual environments for mission-critical workloads, and that number increases daily. A recent report published by Synergy Research Group found that the cloud services market – which includes six major verticals – grew by an annual rate of 28 percent. Operators and vendors in this market earned a total of $110 billion in the four quarters leading up to September 2015. In addition, the private and hybrid cloud services markets grew by 45 percent.

“The private and hybrid cloud services markets grew by 45 percent in 2015.”

The importance of hybrid cloud

While IT infrastructure spending still tops money spent on the cloud, the latter is inching upward. The hybrid cloud, especially, is becoming more important in the overall tech strategies of businesses at every level, including small firms and large enterprises. An important benefit of investing in cloud storage services that utilize these hybrid environments is in security.

One of the main draws to the cloud is its inherent flexibility. With hybrid strategies, however, this concept is taken a step further, as businesses can choose what they want and don’t want running in their cloud infrastructure. Hybrid clouds, according to CloudTweaks contributor Daniel Price, allow companies to take advantage of the vast scalable resources of public cloud environments. This can positively impact security in the long run.

Security is an important benefit to consider when investing in hybrid cloud environments.Security is an important benefit to consider when investing in hybrid cloud environments.

Demand for hybrid cloud expertise

The popularity of the hybrid cloud has skyrocketed in the last few years. It’s becoming such an important part of nearly every industry’s tech strategy that the specific skill set that comes with the hybrid cloud territory is now coveted by companies across the board. According to WindowsITPro contributor Cheryl J. Ajluni, there is a high demand for workers with these types of skills.

“As new cloud technologies emerge, enterprises are struggling to find employees who can keep up with the changes and deliver the skills they need,” Ajluni wrote. “Some of the new skill sets those employees will need training in include open source knowledge, particularly around OpenStack, and container expertise. They’ll also need vendor-specific skills tailored around the cloud solutions those vendors offer.”

By partnering with ISG Technology, companies can rest easy knowing their hybrid cloud strategy is in the right hands. The stress of having to find new employees to effectively manage the hybrid cloud can be alleviated when you consult our cloud and managed services experts. Contact ISG Technology today for more information!