Friday, July 14, 2017

Managing Your Hybrid Cloud

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Runaway cloud computing cost may be causing an information technology industry crisis.  Expanding requirements, extended transition schedules and misleading marketplace hype have made “Transformation” a dirty word.  Questions about how to manage cost variances and deviations with assets and cost across different suppliers abound. A  recent Cloud Tech article explained that while public cloud offers considerable cost savings in comparison to private or on-premises based alternatives, there may also be significant hidden costs. Operational features like auto-scaling can cause costs to soar in line with demand for resources, making predicting costs difficult and budgeting even harder. There is also an acute need for a holistic and heterogeneous system that can track the costs of cloud services from the point of consumption (e.g., an application or business unit) down to the resources involved (e.g., storage or compute service).
Sitting at the apex of all of these issues is the CFO or corporate Vice President of Finance. As the key budget manager for most organizations, it is where many of the key financial decisions are made. This is also where the spectrum of IT cost responsibility extends from the pure financial analytics tasks of:
  • Optimization;
  • Forecasting and projection; and
  • Financial reporting
To the pedestrian but crucial accounting tasks like:
  • Show-backs and charge-backs
  • Charge reconciliation; and
  • Budgeting policy management
The most prevalent cause of these financial problems is a failure to keep track of virtual assets in the cloud.  Many companies have lost complete visibility and control of cloud computing cost simply because they failed to tag and track these assets.  Unfortunately, this error is typically realized after hundreds or even thousands of cloud based assets have been instantiated.
Experts have also outlined a five-step process that help enterprises bring control and governance to hybrid cloud IT cost.
Step 1: Establish governance thresholds and policies for services
Step 2: Access your cloud service provisioning accounts
Step 3: Track the costs of the services, including recurring and usage-based costs
Step 4: Enforce compliance on the costs and asset usage using the purpose built cost analytics engines; initiate and track changes
Step 5: Simulate and optimize the control and compliance actions and better control your costs
Managing spend and assets across hybrid clouds also requires the availability of actionable data. This will help the CFO focus on which assets are performing as expected and which are not. Predictive analytics and insight-based recommendations can also help to drive the prioritization of changes that can have the most effective impact.
These sort of challenges can certainly be acute but the solution for helping organizations gain control of these issues will typically include holistic hybrid cloud management. In fact, financial organizations are just now realizing their critical role in managing the operational expenditure model embraced by cloud computing. Services specifically designed to address the financial management aspects of cloud metering, billing, workload management and service provisioning policies are just now hitting the marketplace.
One of these leading financial management services is provided by IBM. Their newly launched Cost and Asset Management application helps companies address escalating cloud costs and complexity while offering guidance into the next steps of hybrid cloud transformation. Through the use of predictive analytics to monitor and provide recommendations on a single dashboard, this service can provide finance and IT on one system of reference for hybrid cloud governance. This particular service can establish and enforce governance control points using financial and technical policies. Its ability to easily combine asset tags with policies can help the CFO identify and respond to financial variances before they become problems. Through the innovative use of Watson Cognitive services, this particular application can tap into a years of IBM experience to offer recommendations using built-in advanced analytics and cognitive capabilities. Acting on these suggestions can streamline cloud usage, predict future trends and identify waste.
If your company is currently experiencing these digital transformation challenges, learn more about managing hybrid IT finances at ibm.biz/ExploreCloudBrokerage. Establishing a focus on cloud governance, cost and asset management is a truly essential step towards expanding the operational benefits of hybrid cloud.


This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit IT Biz Advisor.



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Thursday, June 29, 2017

American Airlines Adopts Public Cloud Computing


Did you know that the reservations systems of the biggest carriers mostly run on a specialized IBM operating system known as Transaction Processing Facility (TPF). Designed by IBM in the 1960’s it was designed to process a large numbers of transactions quickly. Although IBM is still updating the code, the last major rewrite was about ten years ago. With all the major technologies changes since then, it’s clear that IBM has already accomplished a herculean task by keeping an application viable for over 50 years!

Just like Americas aging physical infrastructure, the airlines are suffering from years of minimal investment in their information technology. This critical failure has been highlighted by a number of newsworthy incidents including:

·         Delta, April 4, 2017 - Following storms that affected its Atlanta hub, Delta's crew-scheduling systems failed, causing days of operational issues for the airline. Buzzfeed reports that flight staff were left stranded and unable to log in to internal systems. There were reportedly hours-long wait times on the crew-scheduling phone system.

·         United, April 3, 2017 - A problem with a system used by pilots for data reporting and takeoff planning forced United to ground all flights departing from George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston for two hours. This is the third time that this system has been blamed for causing operational problems at United. Around 150 flights operated by United or its regionally flying partners out of IAH were delayed on the day, and about 30 were canceled, according to flightaware.com.

·         ExpressJet, March 20, 2017 - A system-wide outage at ExpressJet delayed flights it operates as Delta, United, and American Airlines for hours. The FAA issued a ground-stop at the airline's request, preventing its planes from taking off. On the day, it had 423 delays and 64 cancellations, about a third of its scheduled operations, according to flightaware.com.

·         JetBlue, Feb. 23, 2017 - An outage at JetBlue forced the airline to check in passengers manually in Ft. Lauderdale and Nassau. Passengers were unable to use mobile boarding passes and check-in kiosks

While these incidents can be scary, American Airlines has recently taken a major step towards avoiding such events by migrating a portion of its critical applications to the cloud. In a recent announcement the carrier said that it will be moving it’s its customer-facing mobile app and their global network of check-in kiosks to the IBM Cloud. In addition, other workloads and tools, such as the company’s Cargo customer website, will also be moved to there. In a parallel effort, all of these applications will be rewritten so that they can leverage the IBM Cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS). This will be done using a micro-services architecture, design thinking, agile methodology, DevOps, and lean development.

“In selecting the right cloud partner for American, we wanted to ensure the provider would be a champion of Cloud Foundry and open-source technologies so we don’t get locked down by proprietary solutions” said Daniel Henry, American’s Vice President Customer Technology and Enterprise Architecture. “We also wanted a partner that would offer us the agility to innovate at the organizational and process levels and have deep industry expertise with security at its core. We feel confident that IBM is the right long-term partner to not only provide the public cloud platform, but also enable our delivery transformation.”

This latest announcement demonstrates why cloud computing is the future of just about every industry.  The cost savings, operational improvements, data security and business agility delivered by cloud based According to Patrick Grubbs, IBM's vice president of travel and transportation, American Airlines will also be able to reduce cost by leveraging an inherent cloud computing ability of matching compute resources to the variable requirements that come from seasonal peaks.

This move by American Airline is sure to spur others towards a quicker adoption of cloud computing.  I look forward to the stampede.

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)
 



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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Crisis Response Using Cloud Computing



Cloud computing is more than servers and storage. In a crisis situation it can actually be a lifesaver. BlackBerry, in fact, has just become the first cloud-based crisis communication service to receive a Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) authorization from the United States Government for its AtHoc Alert and AtHoc Connect services. If you’re not familiar with FedRAMP, it is a US government-wide program that provides a standardized approach to security assessment, authorization, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services. The Blackberry certification was sponsored by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

While you may not need a US Government certified solution in an emergency, your organization may really want to consider the benefits of cloud computing for crisis response. From a communications point of view, companies can use cloud based services to quickly and reliably send secure messages to all members of staff, individual employees or specific target groups of people. Smartphone location-mapping functions can also be easily installed and used. One advantage of using application-based software installed on an employee’s smartphone is that it can be switched off when an employee is in a safe-zone, providing a balance between staff privacy and protection. Location data can be invaluable and result in better coordination, a more effective response and faster deployment of resources to those employees deemed to be at risk. 


Using the cloud for secure two-way messaging enables simultaneous access to multiple contact paths which include SMS messaging, emails, VOIP calls, voice-to-text alerts and app notifications. Cloud-based platforms have an advantage over other forms of crisis communication tools because emergency notifications are not only sent out across all available channels and contact paths, but continue to be sent out until an acknowledgement is received from the recipient. Being able to send out notifications and receive responses, all within a few minutes, means businesses can rapidly gain visibility of an incident and react more efficiently to an unfolding situation. Wi-Fi Enabled devices can also be used to keep the communications lines open when more traditional routes are unusable.  


While you’re thinking about your corporation’s crisis response plans, don’t forget about the data. Accessing data through cloud-based services can prevent a rescue effort from turning into a recovery operation. Sources for this life-saving resource include:
  • Data exhaust - information that is passively collected along with the use of digital technology
  • Online activity - encompasses all types of social activity on the Internet such as email, social media and internet search activity
  • Sensing technologies – used mostly to gather information about social behavior and environmental conditions
  •  “Small Data” - data that is 'small' enough for human comprehension and is presented in a volume and format that makes it accessible, informative and actionable
  • Public-related data - census data, birth and death certificates, and other types of personal and socio-economic data
  • Crowd-sourced data - applications that actively involve a wide user base in order to solicit their knowledge about particular topics or events

Can the cloud be of assistance when you’re in a crisis? Cloud-enabled crisis/incident management service from IBM may be just what you need to protect your business. IBM Resiliency Communications as a Service is a high availability, cloud-enabled crisis/incident management service that protects your business by engaging the right people at the right time when an event occurs, through automated mission-critical communications. The service also integrates weather alerts powered by The Weather Company into incident management processes to provide the most accurate early warning of developing weather events and enable proactive response



This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit ITBizAdvisor.



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( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2017)