hybrid cloud computing

How Your Business Could Benefit from a Hybrid Cloud Approach

In the not-too-distant past, many firms proudly promoted their “cloud first” strategies. By moving infrastructure and applications to the cloud, these adventurous organisations hoped to increase operational flexibility (and reduce costs). Over time it has become apparent that some workloads are not currently suited to hosted platforms. Anything that is time sensitive (IoT and real time analytics) or exceptionally sensitive (personally identifiable information, intellectual property) may be more effective in the on-premise data centre. The hybrid cloud developed as a natural response to these different workloads – and has gone on to become the new norm for most organisations. This change in strategy is not necessarily a bad thing – there are definite benefits to the hybrid operating model according to research from the Aberdeen Group.

Improved application performance

Speed of IT is closely associated with speed of business, so any gain is important. 50% of hybrid cloud adopters report improved application performance.

Increased IT infrastructure agility

The ability to change operations and processes quickly is vital to competing with disruptive start-ups and shifting customer preferences. 43% of hybrid cloud users believe they have a data platform capable of supporting that change.

Genuine cost savings

Early cloud platforms promised enormous financial savings – but only if applications were re-engineered around the pay-as-you-use business model. By retaining control of some apps and data in house, 38% of hybrid cloud using companies have achieved an overall reduction of IT expenses.

Improved system reliability

In most cases, data availability is as important as speed. By moving to enterprise-class hybrid cloud platforms operated by data centre experts, adopters can reduce at least some of their on-premise footprint. The fewer “moving parts” they operate, the lower the risk of outage – as confirmed by 35% of users.

Building for the future

Once they have established some of their operations in the cloud, hybrid users have the option of increasing capacity and resources as and when required. And as other applications become cloud-enabled, they can migrate more of their workload off-site to compound the benefits and gains listed here.

Hybrid cloud doesn’t “just happen” though. You will need a proper cloud strategy, one that assesses current workload and identifies which assets are suitable for hosting in the cloud. Systems that remain on site will need at least some degree of reconfiguration for optimal performance and compatibility.

With the right technology platform and cloud partner, you can define a roadmap that offers maximum flexibility moving forwards. In return you can expect to reduce operating risk and increased control of your entire IT estate.

If you would like to learn more about hybrid cloud and exactly what it means for your business, please give us a call.

Useful Links

White Paper: IT Benefits from a Hybrid Cloud Approach Continue to Grow

Why Oracle SPARC for your Data Centre

Why Oracle SPARC still has a place in your data centre

Despite the general trend towards cloud computing, there will almost always be a need for onsite data storage and processing. Given that hardware ages at the same time as stakeholders become increasingly demanding, you will inevitably need to refresh your data centre hardware periodically.

So why should you choose Oralce SPARC systems instead of cheaper, generic servers?

A perfectly optimised technology stack

Oracle SPARC servers are admittedly not suitable (or necessary) for every IT environment. But when it comes to running Oracle databases, it would be a serious investment mistake not to choose SPARC.

Every SPARC system has been designed and optimised for Oracle workloads. The M7 processor has been tuned to handle transactional workloads and data analytic workloads simultaneously – in real-time – for maximum performance. In addition to superior speed, SPARC systems offer seamless security that protects the entire stack, from bare metal through OS and applications.

Meeting the challenge of legacy applications

For well-established businesses, legacy applications are essential to operations – otherwise, they would have been replaced. These applications pre-date the cloud and may rely on now-redundant technologies. To stay in operation may normally require a rebuilding infrastructure from scratch at a significant cost.

Oracle SPARC servers provide a platform capable of supporting legacy applications and delivers a much-needed performance/security boost. The performance gains are complemented by lower cost of deployment and an increase in overall security thanks to the close integration of hardware and software.

Easing your transition to the cloud

Even as you refresh your data centre, you will also be planning the future of your data operations. As mentioned earlier, the cloud will almost certainly factor in your strategy, so it makes sense to consider how to smooth the transition when you are ready to begin the migration.

The Oracle SPARC Cloud Service is built using the same technology as SPARC servers deployed in on-premise data centres. Which means that any systems you build now will be fully compatible with Oracle Cloud. Future migration projects will be both quicker and cheaper because code will not require significant re-engineering to take advantage of the hosted platform.

In fact, SPARC users can simply extend their environment into Oracle Cloud using the dedicated compute service that has been built for precisely this purpose.

Investing in on-premise SPARC servers is an investment in the future

With the prevalence of “cloud-first” strategies, it seems that the era of the on-premise data centre is in decline. But as demand for exceptional computing speed and real-time processing accelerates, your choice of local servers becomes even more important.

Thanks to the full-stack optimisation of SPARC servers and the seamless workload cloud transitioning functionality, investment in an Oracle environment will deliver more benefits for longer. If nothing else, your business buys time to solidify its future cloud strategy and enjoys superior performance and security in the interim.

To learn more about your SPARC server options SPARC and the advantages available to your business. If you are looking to define a long-term strategy for your SPARC enviroment our  latest infographic  looks at some of the opitons and questions you should be asking.

Journey to the cloud

The Challenges You Face in your Journey to the Cloud

With demand for IT capacity and features outpacing budgets, cloud services offer a helpful alternative to expanding the on-premise data centre. As such, almost every business will be moving at least some of their workload into the cloud in the near future.

Although vendors expend a lot of time and effort to simplify this process, you will still encounter challenges along the journey to the cloud. Here are five to be aware of.

1. Realising new performance gains

Not all cloud services are the same – as evidenced by the increasingly complex platform choices and pricing structures. This means that you need to carefully define workload requirements and specify a cloud platform that is capable of delivering maximum performance – otherwise you will never realise the true value of your investment.

For workload specific operations, like Oracle databases, it makes sense to choose a platform provided by the software vendor wherever possible. Not only will you benefit from maximum compatibility, but the platform will have already been optimised for your workload to deliver maximum performance.

2. Controlling costs

For many organisations, initial migration involves little more than replicating their existing environment in the cloud. But there are two problems with the ‘lift n shift’ approach.

First, all of the existing limitations, bottlenecks and failures of your on-premise applications will be replicated in the cloud. You gain almost nothing tangible from the move.

Second, your systems are not optimised for the pay-as-you use billing model employed by cloud providers. Every CPU cycle and gigabyte of storage and RAM is billable, so you need to ensure you do not use more than you need. Otherwise you pay for resources you are not ‘using’, limiting the cost-saving potential of your cloud deployment.

To avoid over-paying, you may need to re-architect applications and services to adapt to the new cloud operating model.

3. Public, Private or Hybrid?

Cloud providers are keen to stress the security of their multi-tenant environments – but they may still be inappropriate for your most sensitive workloads. In some cases, this may mean moving towards a private cloud solution that offers the same resource flexibility as a public cloud platform.

Most commonly, businesses choose to split workload between their on-premise data centre and the cloud to build a hybrid solution. This offers the greatest control over sensitive data while allowing them to tap into the power and flexibility of the cloud for other workloads.

4. Legacy technologies

Mature businesses may be heavily reliant on legacy systems that were designed and deployed before the cloud was even a concept. As a result, they cannot easily be migrated to a cloud platform – if at all.

Rather than trying to force these old systems onto a hosted platform – and undertaking the required re-engineering work – businesses may be better advised to invest in building new APIs to interface with other cloud-based applications.

5. Compliance and sovereignty

Another issue to consider is the physical location where your data is being stored while hosted in the cloud. Industry regulations or legal requirements (like GDPR) may prohibit data being transferred to certain jurisdictions.

Because cloud services often rely on a global network of data centres to maintain performance and availability, it may be that your data is transferred automatically to an unauthorised location. As such you must confirm where a provider’s data centres are located and whether you may run into issues of sovereignty by using their service.

Conclusion

Like any major IT project, cloud adoption can be extremely complicated. The five issues outlined here are just some of the challenges you face in your journey to the cloud, so you should speak to a cloud expert before proceeding.

To learn more about how best to manage your Oracle databases and for help in your journey to the cloud, please give us a call.

Oracle spare servers for enterprise infrastructure and data centres in Birmingham

Why Oracle SPARC?

Choosing server technology is an important part of any businesses’ technology strategy and there are many factors affecting the decision. IT leaders should factor in the business platforms it should be running, will they be frontline applications or backup files, will it be cloud based or on premises, does it need to consolidate an existing server estate, what is the best technology the budget will allow?

What platforms will it be running?

For customers who are looking for server technology to run Oracle database and applications, Oracle SPARC servers are fully optimised for Oracle databases and applications and will deliver the best performance and security available. Oracle SPARC’s reporting and analytics capabilities are incredibly fast and inbuilt virtualisation features secure data and improve application performance. Whilst SPARC is optimised for Oracle applications, it is non-proprietary, enabling transformational performance and efficiency gains for most enterprise applications, at an affordable price point.

Cloud or on-premises?

Most businesses today are using the cloud, the Flexera State of the Cloud Report for 2019 found that 94% of businesses surveyed used cloud services, with 91% using public cloud, 72% using private cloud and 69% using at least one public and one private.

For organisations that are considering migrating services to the cloud, or extending onsite data centres to the cloud, even if it is not an immediate plan, servers that have been designed with cloud services in mind will have greater longevity. By taking a cloud-first approach to technology infrastructure development, Oracle has built its cloud solutions using the same SPARC technology that it uses in its servers allowing customers a clear path to the cloud. Customers undecided on when they will move to the cloud can purchase SPARC servers to use on premises, easily moving to cloud services with few migration costs, and without the need to change applications, driving value from today’s investment in the future.

Server consolidation

By consolidating large numbers of smaller servers onto fewer large symmetric multiprocessing (MSP) servers the workload demands on compute power are evened out improving overall utilisation and performance. Large SMP servers simplify the deployment of applications, and less servers to manage means less management overhead, meaning further savings. Oracle approaches server consolidation with different levels of partitioning within SPARC servers, involving PDoms, Oracle VM Server partitioning and Oracle Solaris Zones technology, getting increasingly more granular and flexible. Different workloads have different service levels and will utilise resources differently, which will require different configurations. Oracle’s centralised, single management console simplifies the management of the consolidated servers.

Cost

Oracle SPARC has been priced competitively in the enterprise server market, with feature rich hardware at comparatively lower prices than many other vendors. Cost savings can also come from efficiency gains, enabled because SPARC servers perform more business transactions at a faster rate, so customers need less of them, keeping hardware costs and software license costs down.

Performance

Performance is critical for servers that will be running enterprise applications and serving mission critical data, and this is another area where Oracle SPARC performs well. Core and processor performance are strong, and specific features like Software in Silicon have been designed to ensure faster enterprise apps.

Security

Oracle has built in security from the group up, with advanced encryption for data at rest, in transit and in storage, with no degradation of performance. Oracle’s Silicon Secured Memory provides 24/7 intrusion protection. In addition, SPARC servers running Oracle Solaris offer protection for applications in memory, access controls, automated patching, and security compliance auditing.

Whatever the business requirement, application or environment, Oracle SPARC is a viable server technology that can meet the needs of a modern business, today and in the future.

Useful Links

Flexera State of the Cloud Report – 2019

Shows opened padlock to represent security threat

Why automation will become the most reliable way of preventing, detecting, and mitigating security threats

Modern organisations are taking advantage of new and innovative technology, transforming their business operations, continuously improving efficiencies, delivering high levels of customer service, and unearthing new opportunities for products and services that wouldn’t have been conceivable 5-10 years ago. This transformation comes at a price however, and the same technologies used to drive businesses forward are also being deployed maliciously, primarily for financial gain (71% of data breaches were financially motivated, according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report) or to gain a strategic advantage. Businesses face greater numbers of security related events more frequently and in different guises than they did five years ago, with attacks on individuals using social channels becoming more prevalent. Alongside this, workforces are hypermobile, well used to downloading applications and accessing, storing and transmitting corporate data anywhere and on any device. In order to keep this edge data secure, businesses must now do more than simply protect against attacks, they must try and prevent them from happening in the first place, wherever the user happens to be and whatever device they happen to be using.

So how do you do that?

The first step is to identify genuine threats from the vast swathes of security incident data that is collected for analysis from a myriad of different sources. They are deliberately not easy to spot, and attackers will use next generation technologies such as AI to hide amongst legitimate traffic. However, some AI and machine learning driven security solutions can analyse massive amounts of data from across any number of data sources, using the power of the cloud to process the analysis right across the organisation, from the edge to the core.

Oracle is one such security solution, enabling businesses to secure modern hybrid clouds with a set of security and management cloud solutions, which draw on data gathered from logs, security events, external threat feeds, database transactions and applications. It uses AI and machine learning technology to detect malicious intentions, then automates the process of finding available security patches and applying them, and all without downtime.

In addition, Oracle’s automated services encrypt production data and enforce user controls, so you don’t have to do it manually.

As we’ve mentioned, to protect data from edge to core, organisations must implement a multi-layered strategy, and when using the cloud, don’t assume that all data protection responsibility lies with the cloud provider. Most cloud providers assume a shared responsibility model, where they offer assurances around the security of the data held on their infrastructure, but access to that data and SaaS data is usually the responsibility of the customer. Consider layering your security solutions to protect every layer of data and each access point, including a Cloud Access Security Broker and Identity Access Manager which will monitor, detect threats, automate the identity management process, sending alerts if anomalous behaviour occurs and remediate wherever possible, without the need for human intervention. Making this work across heterogenous technology on different platforms, on-premises, in the public cloud and in private clouds, is the trickiest part, but Oracle has got it absolutely spot on. Consider the manual alternative, thousands or even millions of security alerts coming into different management consoles, to be sifted through, users to be authorised and behaviour to be monitored and analysed, patches sought and applied and data to be encrypted. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

WTL offer a range cybersecurity solutions which employ next-generation features to ensure you remain one step ahead of the cybercriminals.

Useful Links

Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report

Oracle Cloud Essentials – Secure and Manage Hybrid Clouds

Oracle’s Top 10 Cloud Predictions 2019