The LAMCO team submitted RFPs to seven large cloud hosting companies, which it declined to name. LAMCO selected Bluelock’s VMware-based Virtual Cloud Enterprise service due in large part to its flexible scaling capabilities.
LAMCO began moving their IT assets onto Bluelock’s Virtual Cloud Enterprise in January 2009, with the goal of completing the migration by the end of the year. Prioritizing flexibility and scalability in their cloud provider soon paid off.
“Originally we assessed that 13 TB of data would be migrated, but in the end, it was well in excess of 65 TB,” said Johnson. “While our core computing capacity estimate was right in some areas, it was off in aggregate, and we found that we needed more capacity in other areas – something we were able to accomplish with Bluelock’s cloud. Their cloud’s flexibility enabled us to add more memory into given areas and disks into given business units, helping keep us on target despite all of the uncertainties and the lack of transparencies we had with our original capacity requirements.”
Being able to quickly and accurately diagnose and resolve issues in any part of the infrastructure not only ensures reduced downtime, but keeps one issue from threatening your entire network. Being able to contact a dedicated support team keeps your infrastructure running smoothly and keeps enterprise on track.
However, some vendor’s customer support is not available around the clock, or 24/7 customer service is categorized as an additional service (at an additional cost). That was the reality that WoundVision ran up against during their first foray into the cloud.
WoundVision, which provides technologies to health care professionals that enable them to predict and track wounds to provide improved quality of care, initially deployed their software solution on Amazon’s EC2, but experienced gaps in client service. “Amazon enabled us to cheaply host our software, but offered no support besides a forum or a for-fee service,” said WoundVision’s IT Director, Andrew Hoover. “They offered no real guidance on how to find or resolve problems.”
WoundVision surveyed other solutions and decided on Bluelock based on its track record of providing scalability and client support. In a field like healthcare, Bluelock was able to provide the security that WoundVision needed to entrust their patients’ data to the cloud. When tasked with precisely and accurately locating their data, WoundVision said that Amazon’s support fell short.
Hoover said, “With Bluelock, I know exactly where the data is, and I can get direct access to all the firewall and security logs and reports. I always know what is going on and can report on that to be in compliance. That is extremely comforting, especially when it comes to our industry.”
Outages are a problem for any computing model. On-premise apps break, and the data centers of major providers like Amazon or Google can be knocked offline. In fact, to look at a different tech space, smartphones, RIM took a major hit recently when the latest BlackBerry outage lasted for three days in some parts of the world.
When I asked Kaiser-Nyman of Impact Dialing if he was concerned about outages, he admitted he was. Impact Dialing was even brought down by an Amazon outage, but that hasn’t soured Kaiser-Nyman on the platform. “Outages definitely concern me, and should concern anyone, but one thing I like about Amazon is that they tell you up front that things will break and that you should design for failure,” he said.
Designing for failure should be obvious, but many cloud providers try to sweep the outage issue under the rug. Amazon does its best to mitigate outages through its “Availability Zones,” which are comprised of data centers located in geographically distinct regions that are engineered to be insulated from failures in other Availability Zones.
“It’s not easy to guarantee high uptime in the cloud or even in your own data center,” Kaiser-Nyman said. “For a business like ours, we couldn’t deliver the uptime and have the failover capabilities that we have without a service like Amazon’s.”
As part of your failover planning, it’s probably also a good idea to have a plan for moving from one IaaS provider to another should your provider go out of business, get acquired or fail to live up to its SLAs. After all, BlackBerry used to be the only credible solution for mobile enterprise email. Now, knowledge workers can’t get off of that platform soon enough.