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Oct 5, 2017

AgileMigration Part 1

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Discovering the Monster

If you ever have to manage an IT system migration, you will have plenty of potential conflicts. Based on what I have experienced in over a decade in the field, you may encounter something like this:

You accept a job at a great company managing a pretty sizeable IT environment. You’ve been made aware that stability and cost control will be your primary concerns. This includes moving the majority, if not all, of your infrastructure to “The Cloud” in the next 6 months!

You arrive enthusiastic, but, after a major outage in your first week, you try to triage with a root cause analysis. Each department in IT can only give an account of a few specific systems, so you ask for access to monitoring systems and to be added as a recipient of all critical alerts to get an overhead view.

That’s when you find out that such a system doesn’t exist in the department. You ask why, and one of your employees explains, “Johnny DBA doesn’t want us to monitor his program because he says he owns it.” Suddenly you realize why stability and cost control are your navigational goals: territorial thinking and departmental silos have led to a dysfunctional organization.

You ask your team for an inventory of all the systems, and over the next few weeks you dig further, uncovering more and more gaps in the inventory and even a feeble attempt at a coup, which results in the termination of one of the most tenured system admins. With his termination, knowledge of the oldest systems still clinging to the infrastructure leaves with him.

It’s at about this point that you realize you’ve inherited a monster:

  • Outdated servers running critical systems
  • Questionable backup processes
  • A staff with entrenched territorial thinking

I call this the Frankenstein of IT, and I learned early on in my career that only a formal inventory could protect my IT environment from the monster.

Taming the Monster

Introducing INAP’s AgileMigration Service

As the leader of your IT organization, the need for accurate and detailed reports is critical to your success. This includes things like:

  • The physical infrastructure – What hardware and how old
  • The application stack including versions, service packs and patches
  • Resource utilization – What is assigned to the host or guest v. how much is really needed

To migrate any environment, then, you want to call out gaps and issues as quickly as possible so that you can set real expectations. Performing a data audit will help you determine what budget is likely needed, who you will need to manage, and how to migrate the environment. You need to understand not only the infrastructure being moved, but also the inter-application dependencies and affinities. In other words, you need to know how any system works with each other system for any given report or service.

In talking with our customers, we found that they struggle to get this information in a timely manner. This was the primary driver for launching AgileMigration, a comprehensive white glove migration service.

The AgileMigration solution is comprised of three distinct phases: Map, Manage, and Migrate. In the Map phase, our noninvasive technology collects a complete inventory in the environment, including the application workloads and dependent systems across the network. In the Manage phase, detailed infrastructure inventory reports compiled from the data create a clear plan to migrate. Finally, our technology will Migrate your entire environment from your existing platform or cloud provider to new environments with minimal or no downtime.

AgileMigration

 

Discovery is the First Step

Whether you are looking to use INAP services or you have no intention to move but you need assistance auditing your environment, we can help. The AgileMigration service is made up of discovery tools, migration tools and professional services, each with a unique role to play.

For discovery, we will provide you with a physical or virtual appliance to set up in your environment to collect the details you need. We typically like to run the collection for a period of no less than two weeks, but we recommend at least a month to capture any end-of-month activity.

Our Agentless Deployment provides you with the following benefits:

  • No Software Prerequisites or server reboots
  • Lightweight, Quick implementation
  • No port scanning or packet interrogation
  • Affinity mapping
  • Discovers all equipment (servers, networking, security appliances and storage appliances)

To get the most from your discovery, Customized Detailed Reporting allows you to configure the information you need in exportable spreadsheets.

Banishing the Monster

Our AgileMigration service will lower your project costs by reducing personnel hours associated with manual discovery efforts and eliminating challenges associated with subjective data. More importantly, you will be able to keep skilled IT staff on projects that add value to your organization’s mission. Finally, our discovery provides a “source of truth”: using hard data for planning will help break down silos.

Once you have completed Discovery, you have several options for how to use the information. In the next blog post, I will detail how INAP can help your company through the Mapping and Migration phases.

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Jan 22, 2013

Will Cloud SLAs keep pace with the demands of enterprise SaaS?

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Cloud SLAs keep pace with enterprise SaaSBy Charlie Alsmiller, CEO, Appterra

I recently spoke with an enterprise software company that had launched a “Cloud” initiative. Like so many others, ourselves included, they had flocked to the variety of services available from Amazon, Azure, Softlayer, Rackspace and others to “scale” their business using the latest cloud technology.

I have examined all these services in some level of detail, and have found them all to be very good when paired with the right job. In our business, we rely on our technology partnerships to help ensure 100% uptime for our customers. In turn, our customers rely on us for dependable service that allows their business to run smoothly. Downtime is a really big problem. As such, they expect us to write a fairly intense SLA (Service Level Agreement) into our contracts, because if we are down, they are down. There are usually substantial financial implications of downtime, and it’s important to ensure that all parties are fully “incented” to react quickly if a downtime situation arises.

As we all know, downtime has been a problem with many of the larger providers recently. I understand that downtime happens, but where this gets to be a challenge is in the SLAs of these firms. Are you willing to bet your business on this? Below is an excerpt from a leading firm’s Service Level Agreement, which is typical.

“XXXXXX will use commercially reasonable efforts to make XXXXXX available with an Annual Uptime Percentage (defined below) of at least 99.95% during the Service Year. In the event XXXXXX does not meet the Annual Uptime Percentage commitment, you will be eligible to receive a Service Credit.”

This firm goes on to note that the service credit will equal 10% of your bill for the affected period. Thanks.

I have a former customer that once calculated downtime costs for his business at $1000/minute. I also have a current customer that received EU 500/minute penalties for downtime in their ability to communicate and take orders from their customers. So, let’s run some quick math. 99.5% uptime translates into approximately four hours and 23 minutes of downtime per year, or around 22 minutes per month. In the case of my former customer, 22 minutes of downtime per month equals $22,000 of lost revenue. If a business pays $10,000/month for cloud services, they would only receive a $1000 credit for their loss. That’s not acceptable, and I can assure you, they won’t wait around for it to happen again – they WILL look elsewhere.

The bottom line is that while the outage will have financial impact, both in terms of lost revenue and SLA payouts, the major hit will be that of customer confidence. Any credits offered will be insignificant in replacing either revenue or customer perception.

As a SaaS company, we have a lot of moving parts — our network, hardware, operating systems, database systems, our code base, etc. All must work flawlessly together to ensure a great end customer experience. As enterprises seriously consider cloud services, take a cold, hard look at the Service Level Agreements and the real commitment to uptime that the supplier can provide. I think you will be surprised and choose your partner very carefully — which is why we chose Internap as our cloud hosting provider.

For more information about evaluating cloud providers, read the Cloud Hosting Buyer’s Guide.

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Nov 30, 2010

Revving up the ‘NASCAR Cloud’

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What’s another sign to me that cloud services are going mainstream? I was watching an episode of 30 Rock recently and it had a commercial from Microsoft with home users talking about going “to the cloud.” As more businesses and consumers use cloud services, the networks to access the cloud and the processing, storage and virtualization resources within it invariably could get bogged down. So performance will become a critical issue.
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Nov 17, 2010

Cloudy With a Chance of Confusion

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While “cloud computing” has been reverberating as a hot topic in the telecom and IT trade press for years, you know it is reaching critical mass when USA Today writes about it.

In fact, that story about how small businesses are able to leverage a host of services and applications delivered from the cloud is a good example of how confusing this phrase can be. Is the cloud a network-based application? Is it a service creation environment? Or is it the hardware and networks for service delivery? Or is it all of those things?
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