IBM Connections

Are you and your team always on the same page when it comes to projects and what must be done? Do you ever hit roadblocks because you are using multiple tools and applications to send/receive, collaborate and store important information? In today’s work environment, teams are dispersed all over the state, country or world. Its difficult, sometimes near impossible to get everyone into a physical meeting to discuss projects, updates, goals, and next steps. What if you and your team were able to work within a single platform that would allow you to communicate, collaborate and access essential information quicker and more efficiently than ever before? That would be pretty amazing wouldn’t it? That’s where IBM Connections comes in.

With IBM Connections you can:

  • Form communities: ever need an answer to something but don’t know who to ask? With communities you, your team, even your enterprise will be able to organize and share insights, gain access to experts in each specific area, search blogs, wikis, and forums to accurately find relevant information specific to you and your assignments.
  • Store Content: Tired of sending a million attachments back and forth with the latest updated files? Or using a bunch of different unsecure applications to edit files with your team? With Connections you will be able to store, efficiently access, organize, protect and share files all within its platform. All files will automatically synchronize between computers and all devices, all with real time editing. You’ll be able to share folders, upload content with version control, share files with a single link, and edit documents with up to 20 team members simultaneously.
  • Chat: Ever just need a quick, but urgent response from one of your teammates? Connections chat allows you to securely instant message one another, create a group chat, start an audio-visual call, or even send over file transfer instantly. You can even create groups so you don’t have to worry adding everyone individually into your message. Simply select the group and send away!
  • Meetings: Want to create the same feel as a physical meeting brings? Connections Meetings allows you to collaborate with your team by enabling you to host an audio/video meeting with up to 200 participants. Multiple participants are displayed and streamed so there there’s plenty of interaction with one another.
  • Email: Ever have to search through your endless list of contacts to figure out who specializes in exactly what you’re looking for? VERSE (connections email) allows you to integrated cognitive analytics capabilities along with its innovative social features streamlines these searches and connects you with the appropriate contact without having to dig through countless contact listings.

IBM Connections can increase your team’s productivity and collaboration without question, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s some more in-depth information along with a free trial! Stop spending hours worrying if your team is on the same page and start completing tasks and moving forward again!

Watson’s Results in Healthcare

I’ve discussed Watson before, and how intuitive and game changing this technology is, but have I mentioned how life saving it can be? Watson in Pharma and life sciences is finally here, and the results are nothing short of astonishing. When using Watson in a Healthcare setting, a Physician is given choices and can confidently create the best course of treatment specific to each patient. “ Watson acts almost like a colleague who is able to gather information, prioritize it, be current in all the Medical literature and present it in a way that it is useful when meeting with a patient”  says Dr. Mark Kris of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.


Memorial Sloan Kettering has trained Watson to synthesize vast amounts of data, such as physicians’ notes and reports, lab results and clinical research, to help community physicians identify treatment options for cancer patients. This training has given the physicians at MSKCC the ability to deliver evidence based medicine through analytical approaches creating more of an understanding on how to fight Cancer as a disease.

Watson is able to analyze huge amounts of data and reduce it down to critical decision points, which then helps to form the best treatment plan choices for each individual case. This helps eliminate over testing on patients and accelerate their treatment time frame as well as personalize their overall plan.

IBM Watson has also been implemented at WellPoint where its helped UM nurses make faster decisions on treatment requests. The Utilization Management (UM) process, which governs the preapproval of healthcare insurance coverage for many medical procedures, can be extremely time consuming. Requests can take on average, 72 hours for urgent preauthorizations and 3-5 days for elective procedures. With Watson in place, responses can be received in seconds, with greater accuracy and better consistency. Wellpoint’s goals were to accelerate processing of physicians’ treatment requests, save members’ time and improve efficiencies in the approval process, while continuing to base Utilization Management decisions on medical evidence and clinical practice guidelines. With Watson’s help, they have achieved just that.


How will Watson improve your Healthcare facility? Contact us today:

IBM Bluemix

Have you ever heard of cloud? I sure hope you have by now! Well, IBM recently launched IBM Bluemix with Open Cloud Architecture. Now what is Open Cloud Architecture you ask? It’s the freedom for you to use open architecture such as Cloud Foundry, Open Stack, or Docker etc. Why would you want to use these? Well, if you are looking for a system that would significantly reduce the time needed to create the application, to provision it, allow for flexible capacity in terms of storage, but also bandwidth and processing power, and also handle back-end infrastructure needs without requiring the developer to do so, so they can spent their time actually DEVELOPING applications, then IBM Bluemix is for you!

So let’s break it down simply with a quick demo:

Some Benefits for your Developers:

  • They can use the framework of choice and programming language of choice.
  • They can also create their own domain name quickly and easily.
  • They DO NOT have to create a virtual machine, configure memory, infrastructure software or deal with routers.
  • And there are Tons of services to choice from, IBM and third party.

What will it do for cloud applications built on Bluemix?:

  1. Reduce time for application/infrastructure provisioning
  2. Allow for flexible capacity
  3. Help to address any lack of internal tech resources
  4. Reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
  5. Accelerate exploration of new workloads – social, mobile, big data

IBM Bluemix was created to allow developers to focus on developing, rather than all the steps they have to take to prepare for that point. Bluemix will allow your developers to work more efficiently and to concentrate on doing what they do best –Creating quality applications.

Download your 30 day free trial here 

And of course if you have any questions or comments please contact us

What can IBM Watson do for you?

Everyone has seen or heard about IBM Watson on Jeopardy and how it is able to process information more like a human rather than a computer. IBM Watson has the amazing ability to understand natural language, generate hypotheses based on this evidence and actually LEARN as it goes. Watson is able to “learn” by being taught by its users, learning from prior interactions and by being presented with new information.  How incredible is that??

So how can Watson be applied to the real world? How can it help your company? How can it NOT is the real question! There are so many ways that Watson can help your organization more fully understand and utilize the data that you currently have to allow you to make better business decisions to accelerate your company’s success.

Just check this out –  The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs just enlisted Watson to help diagnose and  treat Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is an illness that affects more than 8.3 million veterans in the U.S and many of them go without diagnosis or proper care because of how difficult it is to detect and design a treatment plan since each patient’s causes, symptoms and results are vary.

So how is Watson going to help? Like many of Watson’s other projects, it will allow clinicians to ask natural-language questions. Watson will then be able to answer based on massive amounts of data collected and housed in its data center. For example, a doctor will ask it what has worked for other patients with similar histories, traumas and symptoms and Watson will come back with proven treatment plan suggestions.

“The kind of data that Watson will be ingesting will be hundreds of thousands of documents from VHA including medical records, research docs and medical literature that will help them assess the proper patient care,” Ann Altman, IBM General Manager for U.S. Federal and Government Agencies told Mashable.

As a cognitive system, Watson will not only use the reams of data to help provide diagnosis and treatment ideas for PTSD, it will learn and improve. “Watson will develop a corpus of knowledge specific to PTSD,” said Altman, “it will collect data [and] through that Watson will learn and grown more confident.

PTSD has been defeating our doctors and Veterans for years and now with Watson, the VA will have a chance to accelerate decision-making for primary care physicians to help diagnose and create treatment plans specific to each patient’s needs, more efficiently and faster than ever before.

This is a HUGE step for the Healthcare community, but Watson is not limited to only one industry. Check out how Watson can be used in your industry for your business needs – Here


And as always if you have any questions at all, please email us at

IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions

When IBM and Apple announced their partnership back in July, I was extremely excited. FINALLY 2 tech giants see that they could create better and more efficient business applications, if they worked together! Who knew?!?! Apple is obviously bringing their user experience and innovative product design to the table, while IBM is offering up their industry expertise and position in enterprise computing. Together they have created 10 apps (so far) exclusively for IPhone and IPads that can be customized for any organization. But Why?  “The business world has gone mobile, and Apple and IBM are bringing together the world’s best technology with the smartest data and analytics to help businesses redefine how work gets done.” Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing.

So what are these knew apps and what do they do ?

The first IBM MobileFirst for iOS applications include:

  • Plan Flight (Travel and Transportation) addresses the major expense of all airlines—fuel—permitting pilots to view flight schedules, flight plans, and crew manifests ahead of time, report issues in-flight to ground crews, and make more informed decisions about discretionary fuel.
  • Passenger+ (Travel and Transportation) empowers flight crews to offer an unmatched level of personalized services to passengers in-flight—including special offers, re-booking, and baggage information.
  • Advise & Grow (Banking and Financial Markets) puts bankers on premise with their small business clients, with secure authorization to access client profiles and competitive analyses, gather analytics-driven insights to make personalized recommendations, and complete secure transactions.
  • Trusted Advice (Banking and Financial Markets) allows advisors to access and manage client portfolios, gain insight from powerful predictive analytics—in the client’s kitchen or at the local coffee shop, rather than the advisor’s office—with full ability to test recommendations with sophisticated modeling tools all the way to complete, secure transactions.
  • Retention (Insurance) empowers agents with access to customers’ profiles and history, including an analytics-driven retention risk score as well as smart alerts, reminders, and recommendations on next best steps and facilitation of key transactions like collection of e-signatures and premiums.
  • Case Advice (Government) addresses the issue of workload and support among caseworkers who are making critical decisions, one family or situation at a time, on the go. The solution adjusts case priorities based on real-time analytics-driven insights, and assesses risk based on predictive analysis.
  • Incident Aware (Government) converts an iPhone into a vital crime prevention asset, presenting law enforcement officers with real-time access to maps and video-feeds of incident locations; information about victim status, escalation risk, and crime history; and improved ability to call for back-up and supporting services.
  • Sales Assist (Retail) enables associates to connect with customer profiles, make suggestions based on previous purchases and current selections, check inventory, locate items in-store, and ship out-of-store items.
  • Pick & Pack (Retail) combines proximity-based technology with back-end inventory systems for transformed order fulfillment.
  • Expert Tech (Telecommunications) taps into native iOS capabilities including FaceTime® for easy access to expertise and location services for route optimization to deliver superior on-site service, more effective issue resolution and productivity as well as improved customer satisfaction.

The whole idea of these apps is to be able to have access to all necessary information Anytime, Anywhere. This will help employees of all kinds to work more efficiently and in turn it will create superior customer satisfaction rates as well as a more streamlined work flow.

“There’s terrific energy in our collaboration with IBM and Apple around the goal of equipping our professionals with mobile capability that will create new competitive advantage and enable us to re-imagine how we share our knowledge to improve the quality of life for our clients.” Heather Cox, Chief Client Experience, Digital and Marketing Officer for Global Consumer Banking at Citi

While this is the first of  IBM MobileFirst applications for iOS, both IBM and Apple have even bigger plans for the partnership heading into 2015, so stay tuned!!!

SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud now available on IBM Cloud

When you think of the “cloud” whats the first company that comes to mind? For most people, Amazon’s AWS is the first company that pops up, but there are a plethora of others out there. Some are small, serving a specific region or service, while others like IBM, are much larger with multiple data centers across the globe providing their customers with an array of services as well.

As we all know, the popularity and need for Cloud Services is expanding every day and IBM’s latest partnership has brought a much needed and requested change to the industry. IBM’s Cloud , Softlayer, recently just partnered with SAP, the German Software giant which allows them to bring you SAP’s business applications for the automated management of operations via subscription based services.

SAP announced their own cloud services last year, but chose to partner with IBM because of their many strengths, including their long experience with corporate customer, global presence and expertise in computer security and disaster recovery. Unlike some other vendors, IBM offers cloud computing either on shared software or as machines dedicated to a single company, so-called bare-metal cloud. Most importantly having data centers distributed around the globe is an advantage with corporate customers that do not want their business and customer information residing outside their home countries.

So whether you are a new or long time use of SAP applications, you can count on this new Cloud deliverance for speed, quality , security and cost effectiveness.

So why use cloud based SAP?

• Faster provisioning of SAP applications
• Greater flexibility in SAP environments
• Improved service levels for SAP users
• Easily stay up to date

New release features include:
• SAP HANA. You can bring your own box and have it connected to our managed cloud infrastructure. We then provide the hosting and administrative services needed to run HANA in the cloud. You can also run HANA as platform as a service where IBM provides a dedicated HANA appliance, plus hosting and administrative services, as part of IBM Cloud Managed Services for SAP Applications.
• Disaster recovery. New disaster recovery capabilities are designed to minimize data loss and downtime with industry-leading recovery point objectives of 1 hour and recovery time objectives of 4 hours. (Scheduled for availability in late second quarter 2014.)
• Extended landscape sizes. You can start small and grow as needed with SAP landscape t-shirt sizes ranging from XXS (1100 SAPS) to XL (20,000 SAPS). XL SAP systems are also now available on Intel in addition to IBM AIX.
• Enhanced availability 99.7% SLA for SAP instances on AIX, Linux and Windows at the application level.
• Support for large enterprise SAP databases up to 18 TB.

Quick video about the new IBM and SAP relationship


Having access to SAP applications via IBM’s trusted cloud is a huge advantage, it can allow you to maximize SAP’s value while minimizing the burden of maintenance. As always if you would like further information, please contact us

Its almost Hurricane Season – Are you prepared?

With Hurricane season quickly approaching the East Coast, does your company have a DR plan in place? Is it the same as it was before Sandy hit? Are you confident that your data will not only be protected but that you will also be able to retrieve your data quickly and efficiently?

Most likely you have some doubts, if not some… you have a LOT of doubts. There are tons of DR solutions on the market today but one of the best we’ve seen is from Sungard.  When you partner with Sungard they bring their over 35 years’ worth of expertise to you and your company. They are with you every step of the way to create a DR plan that fits your company’s unique wants, needs and budget. Sungard then combines your distinct knowledge of your company with their own expertise and experience in availability to create the perfect solution for you.

But how many times have you heard that before? How do you know they can do what they say? Or can be trusted with your valuable data and really perform in when disaster hits? Well 50% of Fortune 500 companies and 70% of Fortune 50 companies trust Sungard AS to keep their IT environments up and running , soooo they are obviously doing something right! If that doesn’t help convince you they have

  • Redundant network equipment
  • Redundant power and cooling
  • Redundant connectivity
  • Environmental controls
  • Multiple layers of physical and virtual security
  • Guaranteed overall business recovery backed by our SLA

And its all managed by experts in RECOVERY, which I think is extremely important. This way you can have 100% confidence in not only their solution but their personnel as well behind it as well. Sungard runs thousands of tests and recovery scenarios throughout the year and know exactly what can go wrong, so they choose the best and most current reliable hardware to be placed in their facilities. This isn’t always an option for every business’s budget, so why not take advantage of this best of breed technology and expertise when it really matters.

So ease your mind as hurricane season approaches, let us know what your concerns are and let Metrotech and Sungard create the perfect solution for you. Also here is a great read on some lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina just to really help bring it all into perspective. LessonsLearnedFromHurricaneKatrina_WPS-013


Questions? Comments?  Contact us at

Xand: How can they help YOU?

Our main goal at Metrotech is to provide our clients with the best solutions possible that not only satisfy their specific requirements, but also keep the newest trends in technology at their fingertips. So with many of our clients inquiring about Managed Services, Colocations and Cloud Environments, we decided to partner with a company that would allow us to not only provide them with these services, but to provide them with superior experience as well. Xand, a leading infrastructure solutions provider throughout the Northeastern United States, is large enough to handle intricate customer requirements across nearly 500,000 square feet of facilities, yet nimble enough to provide customized solutions with the highest level of service available in the marketplace.

So what do they offer?

Xand offers a multitude of different services:


The xCloud platform provides a full suite of flexible cloud solutions that are secure, scalable and backed by 24×7 technical support. Xand offers Private, Multi-Tenant, Hybrid and Disaster Recovery cloud computing options, all customized to your organization’s needs so you can stop worrying about the infrastructure and start focusing on the business.

  • Enterprise Class Infrastructure
  • Best of Breed Hardware and Software Layers
  • Hybrid Options – Ability to connect existing colocation environments to the virtual xCloud platform of virtualized resources
  • Vast Engineering and Cloud Support Specialists
  • Fully Secure Multi-Tenant, Private and Hybrid Clouds
  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning Clouds
  • Industry Leading Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • 24x7x365 Local, Onsite Support
  • SSAE 16 / SOC II Compliant Facilities
  • Multiple Data Center facilities connected via dedicated Fiber network


Why colo? Colocation facilities are built to specific specifications and standards to meet the needs of today’s high-tech hardware. They are built with conditioned power, cooling (HVAC), Generators, security systems and many other factors where costs can add up extremely fast. These systems are also monitored by professionals 24/7/365, meaning less staffing on your end. With a colocation, it takes the problem of the physical site and staffing required away, so it may make sense for your company to take advantage of a colocation for all of your data or just a portion of it, so your IT team can focus on more important tasks.

With an Xand colocation facility you are getting the highest level of application redundancy, security and performance along with the following services:

Colo Services Overview

  • Secured Locked Cabinet (Full or Half Cabinets)
  • Custom Cages
  • Built to Spec Large Enterprise Footprints
  • 24x7x365 Remote Hands & Onsite Support
  • Full Suite of xCloud & Managed Services

Xand Advantages:

  • Resilient – Secure, reliable, redundant, and concurrently maintainable facilities.
  • Geography – Diverse locations safely situated outside major threat zones, yet convenient to highways and metropolitan areas.
  • Flexibility – Ability to shift between colocation, xCLOUD, and Managed Services as your needs change.
  • Network – 10G Internet & Private Inter-Facility Backbone for optimal customer connectivity.
  • Secure – 24x7x365 on-site support provided by Xand engineers.
  • Modern – Over 80% of Xand’s premium raised floor space has been built within the last five years.
  • Guarantees – Industry leading Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
  • Hybrid – xCloud platform available with colocation services within the same data centers.
  • Experience – A veteran data center company you can trust.

Enterprise Hosting

Xand approaches hosting from the perspective of our customers’ needs by supporting a wide range of requirements from a single server to more complex environments. With a dedicated hosting and support team, you have a choice of platforms that includes Red Hat Linux or Microsoft Windows.

Enterprise Hosting Services Overview:

  • xCloud
  • Managed Tape and Backup Solutions
  • Storage Management
  • Managed Exchange
  • Managed Load Balancing
  • Managed Network Services
  • Server Monitoring and Management
  • Managed Security Solutions
  • System Administration

Disaster Recovery

Power failures. Floods. Fires. Theft. Natural disasters. With around the clock coverage and always-on services, Xand can offer solutions that will protect your vital IT Infrastructure.

Disaster Recovery Services Overview

  • Subscription Based Disaster Recovery Services
  • xCloud – Virtualized Recovery Solutions
  • Managed Backups and IP Vaulting
  • Replication
  • Colocation and Enterprise Hosting Services
  • Tiered Storage Solutions
  • Dedicated DR Seats and Suites
  • Shared DR Seats
  • Private DR Office Suites
  • Geographically Diverse Facilities and Infrastructure to mitigate single facility risks.
  • Industry Leading Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

Wan Services

Whether you’re  looking for basic Internet access or need a fully-meshed secure IP network, Xand offers the flexibility and scalability that your business requires.

 WAN Services Overview:

  • Dedicated Public Internet
  • Managed MPLS
  • Metro Ethernet
  • Managed Services
  • Managed Security Services
  • Customized Solutions

Managed Services: Fully managed IT Resource Solutions, Customized for your specific needs.

Xand delivers cost-effective, custom designed solutions tailored to meet your organization’s specific requirements; whether completely outsourced or partially managed point solutions such as monitoring, back-ups, or patching – flexibility is the cornerstone of our organization.

Managed Service Offerings:

  • High Speed IP and Native Fiber Channel Inter-facility Connectivity
  • 10G Metro Ethernet, Fiber, and MPLS Solutions
  • Disaster Recovery from Individual Seating to Dedicated Private Suites
  • Systems Operation and Administration Services
  • Comprehensive 24x7x365 Monitoring
  • Always-on Network Operations Center
  • Managed Storage, Backups, and IP Vaulting
  • Host & SAN Based Replication Services
  • Firewall / VPN / Security Management & Managed Networking
  • xCloud Virtual Private Server Solutions
  • Solutions Design & Architecture Services

Xand also offers Internet connectivity routed between geographically diverse data centers and points of presence for simplified multi-site benefits

With so many companies out there offerering these services, why choose Xand ???

Xand’s proven track record of managing IT infrastructure across multiple state-of-the-art facilities within four states is a platform you can count on.

  • Focused – Xand is focused on providing reliable, scalable IT Infrastructure Managed Solutions for every sector.
  • ROI – Xand delivers cutting-edge technology at competitive costs, putting even the most ROI-focused CFOs and CIOs at ease.
  • Customer Centric – Xand is 100% focused on clients’ needs. We invest the time to understand our customers’ unique requirements. Take advantage of our Colocation, xCloud or a mixture of hybrid services to satisfy the complex technological issues that face your business today.
  • Customized Solutions– We deliver the right balance of flexibility for customer requirements, while not sacrificing operational methods and procedure. custom tailoring solutions for your specific challenges.
  • Proven Track Record– Xand is a proven leader in the data center industry with a strong history of application availability, reliability and responsiveness.
  • 24×7 Technical Support – Your applications run 24×7, so do we. Our technical support is always available to lend a helping hand.
  • Diversity- Xand’s six data center Northeast footprint spans four states and is linked via a redundant 10G backbone for ease of customer interconnections.

As always, if you have any questions or inquiries, please email us at

In-house or outsourced cloud – Which is best for you and your company?

We previously went over exactly what Cloud Computing is here, so now how do you know what kind of cloud is right for you and your organization?

Outsourced Cloud Advantages:

  1. Cost: paying a small monthly fee can be a lot more economical then handing over thousands of dollars up front, and it will also allow you to take advantage of the newest technology without constantly investing in new infrastructure or added cost of personnel to maintain it.
  2. Security: Many are under the impression that cloud security is lacking, but do you have the level of security that Google, Amazon and other cloud providers do? I doubt it. These companies are forever increasing their security, so why not take advantage of that? Yes, it does mean that your data will be in the hands of another company, but is your data ever really just yours anyway? Companies are already relying on others like Microsoft to keep data safe, so why not trust it to another established and trusted company.
  3. Reliability: outsourcing your cloud can provide you with the highest amount of up time possible. Cloud providers have tons of resources so you don’t have to worry about a failover system for your cloud environment, that’s their responsibility, and they have experts for just that.
  4. Power/staffing/Infrastructure: Outsourcing power/cooling costs is a no brainer. Power outages and high monthly power/cooling costs won’t be something you will have to worry about anymore. Are you continuously training or hiring new staff in order to support new technology? Why not have those that built the cloud infrastructure run it for you? By outsourcing your cloud you won’t have to worry about the staffing costs, power costs, or the cost of the new infrastructure, that will all be taken care of by your provider.

In-House Cloud Advantages:

  1. Cost: If you are looking to deploy a cloud permanently in an enterprise space, investing in your own infrastructure is a large up-front investment, but may be the way for you to go. You would be responsible for staffing your own department to develop/maintain your cloud, as well as any/all future costs of keeping your infrastructure up to date. However, by implementing your cloud in house, you would be able to save on those monthly outsourcing fees, as well as any additional users you might have to add along the way.  
  2. Security: You and only you are responsible for your data. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. You must have a team dedicated to managing your cloud security, your network, your firewalls, and managing the resources that your virtual machines are sitting on. As far as security is concerned, since you control every aspect of it,  you will be able to know who has access to those resources because it’s your company.
  3. Control: If you want full control on every aspect of your cloud, like how it can be used, how quickly and how much it can be expanded, how its deployed, how its managed, how many users, how you manage these users etc. etc. then an in-house cloud is for you. You have some say in these areas if your cloud is outsourced but obviously not complete and total control.
  4. True Flexibility: Not every business is the same, so not every cloud will fit your specific needs. With an in-house cloud solution you can do whatever you need to do, to perfectly fit your business and its unique structure and needs.

It all boils down to one thing; can your IT department handle an in house cloud? Do you have the staff? Is the staff capable? Do you have the up-front capital ? If not, outsourcing is the perfect option, and as we move further into this cloud adapted world, outsourcing will become more customizable, flexible, compliant and secure.

So now that you know which cloud is right for your business, how do you make your case to the CEO?

Check out this article to help plead your case and as always if you have any questions at all please feel free to email me at

So what exactly is “The Cloud”??????

So what exactly is “The Cloud”? Do you really know the answer, or do you just think you know. Everyone in the industry has thrown the word “cloud” around, cloud this, cloud that, but is there really just one definition?

Some leading suppliers define cloud as the delivery of on-demand computing resources—everything from applications to data centers—over the Internet and on a pay-for-use basis. “ – that’s a bit broad, don’t you think?

Other suppliers define cloud as :

1. A dynamic managed compute infrastructure – with scalable, virtualized, dedicated and multi-tenant platforms

2. Enhanced customer user experience – greater user control with easy to access self-service portal for on-demand service.

3. Flexible business terms – usage-based billing terms and fractional compute resources

4. Meets a range of enterprise needs – from burstable compute for seasonal Web traffic, rapid delivery of SaaS, and flexible test and development environments

Well we’re getting better…

U.S National Institue of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines the cloud as : Cloud computing is “on-demand” network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” NIST has also identified five essential characteristics of cloud computing: (1) on-demand service, (2) broad network access, (3) resource pooling, (4) rapid elasticity, and (5) measured service.

There we go! Now that’s a definition!

So really rather than being new technology, cloud computing is just a new way of delivering and consuming computing resources to a platform made up of a combination of different technologies, all accessed remotely.

Simple right?

Now you just have to determine which deployment model is right for you. There are 3 types:  Public (community), Private and Hybrid

Public : services and infrastructure are provided offsite and accessed via the internet.

  • Benefits: greatest level of efficiency in shared resources
  • Disadvantages: More vulnerable to security breaches

Private: Services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network

  • Benefits: Greatest level of security and control
  • Disadvantages: Company still has to purchase and maintain the software and infrastructure.

Hybrid : mix of public and private options

  • Benefits:  keep each aspect of your business running as efficiently and securely as possible
  • Disadvantages: you have to manage multiple security platforms and ensure that all aspects are able to communicate efficiently.

That’s all well and good, but now how do you know which deployment model to pick?

Here are some guidelines that can help direct you towards the appropriate choice.:

Where should you use a private cloud?

  • Your business is your data and your applications. Therefore, control and security are paramount.
  • Your business is part of an industry that must conform to strict security and data privacy issues.
  • Your company is large enough to run a next generation cloud data center efficiently and effectively on its own.

 Where should you use a public cloud?

  • Your standardized workload for applications is used by lots of people, such as e-mail.
  • You need to test and develop application code.
  • You have SaaS (Software as a Service) applications from a vendor who has a well-implemented security strategy.
  • You need incremental capacity (the ability to add computer capacity for peak times).
  • You’re doing collaboration projects.
  • You’re doing an ad-hoc software development project using a Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering cloud.

Where should you use a hybrid cloud?

  • Your company wants to use a SaaS application but is concerned about security. Your SaaS vendor can create a private cloud just for your company inside their firewall. They provide you with a virtual private network (VPN) for additional security.
  • Your company offers services that are tailored for different vertical markets. You can use a public cloud to interact with the clients but keep their data secured within a private cloud.

So once you decide on which model would fit your business, you then have to ask yourself,

What exactly do you want to do in the cloud? Well, there’s lots to choose from!

 To start with, there are 3 different service models:

SaaS : (software as a service) the actual applications offered to users ( no software to purchase, install update etc. all is handled by the service provider)

PaaS: (Platform as a service)  allows users to develop their own Web-based applications or to customize existing applications using one or more programming languages and development tools. It essentially includes services for developing and deploying applications. (get to market faster)

IaaS:( infrastructure as a service) is the virtual delivery of computing resources in the form of hardware, networking, and storage services ( biggest advantage is the use of its dynamic scaling ability)

Once you’ve chosen your deployment model and service model, you’re ready to customize.

So really cloud computing can mean a whole plethora of different things. Everything from servers , storage, software applications, disaster recovery, backup, enhanced security, for long periods, short periods,  in-between periods etc. The list goes on, the point is, is that cloud is what YOU make it, and we are here to help you figure out exactly what you need.

So what problems do you want to solve by expanding into the cloud?

Here are the top 5 issues that seem to continuously  be our customers’ minds:

Faster Speed to Market: On Average it would take months to put together a complete physical environment, in the cloud it could be fully deployed and accessible within hours

Financial Efficiency: moving to the cloud will ensure that you will save money by eliminating the excess money spent on underutilized assets. Also remember that with resource pooling, it eliminates the need for each user to have their own dedicated infrastructure, reducing energy consumption which leads to the overall reduction of cost.

Business Expansion: when expanding a business there are a lot of risks involved. You want to minimize the capital investment, and with cloud you can do just that. If things don’t work out the way they were planned, you can just close up shop and move on, or if your venture is more successful than anticipated (which is hopefully the result)  you can quickly launch more infrastructure to satisfy the new data explosion.

Global Expansion : With a company already possessing a strong presence in the US, it only makes sense to go global. But going global comes with its own challenges, like having to duplicate your entire infrastructure to go global as well. This is an extremely large financial commitment and cloud can help. Certain public clouds will allow for the deployment of data centers in a pay-per-use fashion within many other countries, eliminating your need for a duplicate physical data center.

Core Competency: Let your cloud provider worry about the technical core of your business (Infrastructure as a service)  this will allow you the freedom to worry about actually running your business.

(See SAVVIS’s White Paper HERE on how they can efficiently leverage the value of Big Data for you in the cloud)

And just for a little added bonus, those of you who are terrified of moving to the cloud because of security concerns :

Enhanced Security Capability: By enabling uniform security management practices, clouds are capable of improving on certain key security practices, such as improved prediction, detection and remediation of threats, as well as the ability to provide better protection against end-user breach and corruption.

By discussing your needs with educated service providers (cough cough MetroTech cough cough) we can help you architect the perfect “cloud computing” infrastructure to meet your needs.

Cloud isn’t a “one size fits all” proposition and many companies aren’t aware of that, but we are.

Our experts can help find you the perfect solution to meet your needs and put together the best cloud to boost the success of your company.