Cloud Success Stories – Part 1

Multicloud has become a popular approach for organizations moving to the cloud.  

Although it isn’t practical in all business casesRightScale finds 84% of companies already run applications in a mix of cloud environments.[1]  

In the last several years, Softchoice has seen many of our customers revisiting their approach to the cloud to gain the distinct advantages of several cloud platforms. At the same time, many are looking to de-risk their cloud strategy by avoiding vendor lock-in 

But today’s measure of success in the cloud isn’t just how an organization gains in efficiency or agility. Instead, it’s how fast the cloud can drive real business transformation.  

Sharing Customer Stories

Many of our customers are turning to one or more clouds to stay true to the goal: Spend more time delivering great products and services than maintaining infrastructure.  

Nonetheless, each organization – and each application – is on a journey of its own. We wanted to share our experience helping 1,400+ organizations transition to the cloud and help others benefit from what they’ve learned.  

This series will explore real-life stories on the journey to the cloud. In this article, we’ll look at three organizations and how they integrated Google Cloud into their cloud strategies to deliver the best possible customer experiences.  

Michael Young, Vice President – Technology Strategy, Birch Hill Equity  

The Challenge: Birch Hill Equity wanted to adopt serverless architecture to the greatest extent possible to focus on delivering analytics products rather than maintaining infrastructure.  

Multicloud certainly ties into our strategy at Birch Hill…Our number one priority is for as much of what we do as possible to be serverless.”  

The Journey 

  • Birch Hill started in the public cloud with AWS, using a PostgreSQL, Databricks and a data warehouse to support its then lightweight data center needs.  
  • The company’s growing portfolio of analytics products required faster and faster response times, prompting the company to adopt Google BigQuery, due to its sub-second response times and lack of infrastructure to maintain.  
  • Google identity and secure access through OAuth met some critical security needs while allowing a small team to run data-intensive analytics workloads.  
  • Today, Google Cloud allows Birch Hill to spin up new analytics offerings fast while AWS supports heavy workloads with Databricks over EC2 clusters along with other infrastructure components.  

“We wanted to focus our time on delivering analytics products, not maintaining our cloud.”   

Next Steps: 

  • Birch Hill still faces challenges in implementing and managing effective security across multiple clouds – a common difficulty for multicloud adopters.  
  • Meanwhile, the company struggles with skills shortages in DevOps, infrastructure and architecture design, preferring to focus on expanding its analyst bench.  

Read the full conversation 

Sergei Leschinsky, Senior Director – Information Services, Polar Inc.  

The Challenge:  Polar needed to minimize delays and embrace a distributed network to support exponential growth and global expansion for its real-time bidding product for digital advertising.  

Distributed geographies became an essential part of the Polar Platform, which is a distinct advantage of public cloud. 

The Journey: 

  • Polar started its cloud journey as an early adopter, extending some of its production workloads to the public cloud – however, the project was unsuccessful.  
  • Overcoming an early false start, the company began a second migration with AWS, favoring its industry-leading versatility of services and solutions.  
  • As its product entered a period of rapid growth, Polar consolidated CDN providers and started bringing its heaviest-traffic workloads to Google Cloud. The result was a 50% savings in egress traffic.   
  • This allowed them to take advantage of geo-locations to support expansion in Europe and Australia. 
  • Today, Polar is using Google Cloud to support compute, load balancing and MySQL while AWS supports its data storage needs.  

Next Steps: 

  • Polar’s next steps in the cloud are to migrate its remaining high-traffic workloads to its Google Cloud environment.  
  • However, the company finds getting the attention of cloud providers to escalate and resolve issues is sometimes an uphill battle as a customer with a smaller footprint.  
  • They also see some difficulty in navigating the changes in billing structures and program changes across several large, complex and innovative service providers.  

“Our approach and need for public cloud today are very different than what we were trying to use it for in the past.”  

Read the full conversation.  

Norman Shi, Chief Technology Officer, Gradient.io  

The Challenge: As a startup, Gradient needed to process massive amounts of data in very short periods to support its SaaS tool ranking brand performance on Amazon’s retail platform.  

“Eventually, your application requirements will get to a stage where you require a higher level of infrastructure that offers greater scale, elasticity and processing speed.” 

The Journey: 

  • As a cloud-native company, Gradient started its journey without legacy infrastructure, allowing it to select the cloud provider or providers best able to meet their needs.   
  • Although Gradient recognized the strengths of AWS, potential data hosting conflicts with its retailer customers rendered it impractical for their needs.    
  • The company built its technology stack on Google Cloud to take advantage of its exceptional data collection and processing capabilities.  
  • Gradient also wanted to benefit from Google Cloud’s user-friendly interface and open source services like Kubernetes.  
  • Today, Gradient uses Google Cloud to power and optimize its SaaS dashboard for a fast-growing customer base.  

Next Steps:  

  • As a small but growing company in the cloud, Gradient still struggles with resource constraints and the challenges in accessing Google Cloud-specialized skills 
  • They also have some trouble tracking, managing and optimizing their cloud spend as their offering goes through a period of rapid growth.  

“These services are game-changers for any organizations who want to process terabytes and petabytes of data. 

Read the full conversation 

What’s Next for You Cloud Journey? 

The cloud journey is not always a pleasant or a complete success at first.”  

We’ve covered three real-life journeys that led to successful cloud transitions. However, no cloud transition is ever fully complete. Working with a strategic managed services partner like Softchoice will help you:  

  • Achieve the right mix of cloud services to meet your business needs 
  • Take the risk out of cloud adoption and migration 
  • Optimize your cloud spending across multiple providers 
  • Balance product and service innovation with proper cloud governance  
  • Upskill your team on every aspect of the cloud 

Learn more about how we can help by exploring Softchoice Cloud Services. 

Planning to migrate one or more workloads to the public cloud? First, check out this Forrester report, 10 Facts Tech Leaders Should Know About Cloud Migration. 

 [1] RightScale 2019 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera

 

Roadmap to Multicloud Success: 5 Things to Consider

You want to spin up new digital business capabilities. Maybe compliance requirements mean some of your workloads can’t move to the public cloud.  Or you’re a cloud-native business with no plans to build your own data center. 

If any of these describes you, multicloud is an attractive option.  

Combining cloud services and infrastructure from several providers allows you to bolster your portfolio with the best features from each. At the same time, you avoid the contractual, technical and cost burden of shifting from one cloud provider to another in the event something doesn’t work out 

In fact, Gartner estimates 75% of organizations will have deployed multicloud this year.  Nonetheless, adding new cloud services without a solid architecture and governance strategy in place means success in a multicloud environment is far from guaranteed.  

In the article below, we explore 5 key technologies to consider before making the move to multicloud.  

Software-defined Everything

When it comes to building digital business capabilities, the software-defined data center (SDDC) is a big enabler. The SDDC extends virtualization to data center resources, including network, storage, compute and security.

The result is an environment that is much easier to extend to the cloud (or clouds) of your choice. The SDDC also uses the same frameworks thanks to technologies like VMware Cloud on AWS.

In turn, IT gets the benefits of managing it all within software instead of hardware, including:  

  • Virtualized IT infrastructure for compute, network and storage  
  • Flexibility to use the data center as a private or hybrid cloud  
  • Extension to the public cloud through providers partnered with the SDDC vendor 
  • Virtualization efficiencies/economics across all data center services 
  • Protection of legacy hardware investments that can be virtualized  
  • Centralized and policy-driven management for all software-driven workloads 

A virtualized and automated data center allows for more efficient deployment of applications and infrastructure within these types of restrictions. For this reason, the SDDC will be a major growth area going forward as organizations look to acquire cloud capabilities while accommodating security and compliance requirements. 

In fact, Allied Market Research foresees a $139 billion SDDC market by 2022, in which the government, banking, finance and insurance verticals lead the way in deployments.

Unified multicloud management and orchestration

Multicloud delivers considerable benefits. But every cloud service in your environment also adds to the management burden and skills required by IT. 

Each cloud platform comes with its own cost structures and provisioning processes. Moreover, workloads management across multiple environments often calls for technologies like containerization, Kubernetes (for container orchestration), performance monitoring tools and analytics engines to name a few. 

Making all of this work in concert can seem like a daunting prospect. Without a detailed plan for migration, cost, service management, and overall visibility into your environments it can be overwhelming. Tasks like accurate cost forecasting and budgeting, plus rightsizing of cloud services for current requirements, have to be front and center.  

The Flexera State of Tech Spend 2020 report finds 68% of respondents already struggle to understand on-premise versus cloud costs, just one illustration of the extent of this challenge in the multicloud environment.

Better application and workload portability through containers

Today the leading public cloud providers operate on a pay-as-you-go model. But this doesn’t erase the sometimes substantial (and expensive) technical hurdles that impede the transition of applications and workloads between clouds.  

A cloud solution provider (CSP) controls the way applications work on its infrastructure. The specifics of each platform have a considerable impact on the portability of applications between different cloud environments.

Enter containers. Containerization technologies like Docker package an application’s full runtime environment, including files, dependencies, and libraries, and isolates them so that it can be easily ported across cloud domains.  

Beyond enhancing the portability of apps and workloads, containerization insulates developers from an upfront requirement to invest time and resources learning the ins and outs of each public cloud platform. Because they can remove that extra dev effort as they move applications between clouds, the result is lower cost to transition. 

Placing applications in containers also reduces the overhead you would experience in a virtual machine-heavy setup. Containers don’t require a hypervisor to emulate hardware and instead share OS resources, making them more streamlined.

Improved app performance and user experience with SD-WAN

Supporting real-time and TCP applications within a multicloud environment requires a dynamic, cost-effective network. Above all, this network needs to deliver predictable performance. Legacy WANs are not built to meet these requirements.  

The traditional WAN facilitates VPN access to an enterprise application via pricey MPLS links. These backhaul traffic to a data center. But performance for cloud applications degrades to noticeable levels when bandwidth doesn’t meet demand. 

In contrast, a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) provides more flexible transport. It also provides dynamic, intelligent routing and a greater range of modern security features.

To help multicloud adopters, an SD-WAN (depending on the vendor) provides:  

  • Application-aware connectivity between branches and across cloud services, including IaaS and SaaS deployments 
  • Constant measurement of jitter, packet loss and latency to send critical workloads down the best available path
  • Compatibility with broadband, cellular and satellite internet as alternatives or supplements to MPLS
  • Secure direct-to-cloud connections, without the traditional backhaul that degrades Quality of Experience (QoE)
  • Aggregation to colocation sites for more consistent performance for large multi-branch organizations 

Greater business continuity with a secure approach to backup and DevOps

Modern organizations face daily risks to business continuity. These include everything from ransomware and DDoS attacks to downtime resulting from technical issues or even old-fashioned human error. 

To keep your data secure and your business running in a multicloud environment calls for a multi-pronged resilience strategy. Each cloud provider applies its own authorization and authentication models. Keeping security standards consistent when workloads live in different clouds is a big ask for any DevOps organization.

As such, scoping out potential security challenges is an important step in securing your multicloud environment. The task extends to backup and disaster recovery. Identifying the weaknesses and potential points of failure in your architecture is an essential part of determining where and how different cloud technologies will intersect in your environment.

Making multicloud work with strategic partners

Multicloud is fast becoming the main way organizations adopt and consume cloud services. But this approach is still very new. However, recruiting for the right skills is often time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. Working with a strategic partner like Softchoice helps you ensure your multicloud strategy is a success.

We’ve covered five of the key technologies and architecture decisions that lead to successful multicloud adoptions. To learn how the right approach to architecture can make the difference, check out our guide, Roadmap to Multicloud Success: Why Architecture Matters.

Softchoice can help you navigate the difficult decisions and make the best possible choices for your environment. Learn more by contacting our team or explore Softchoice cloud services.

 

 

 

 

How Deep Security Supports Better DevOps Processes 100%

IT organizations have seen too much of their time consumed by non-strategic tasks. This comes at great cost to their bottom lines and cloud transition strategies. 

In fact, a 2018 Stripe survey found that between dealing with bad code, technical debt and various refactors or modifications, most of the typical developer workweek was wasted.  

That leaves organizations with fewer resources for pushing their operations and businesses forward – for example, by securing the transition of their workloads into the cloud. 

Enter DevOps, exit IT bottlenecks

This is why many organizations have adopted DevOps as a methodology that reimagines the connections between different teams and the technologies they use. 

Implemented right, DevOps supports better collaboration and productivity. Meanwhile, its rapid iterative approach is a perfect fit for continuous delivery paradigms, wherein developers build around microservices and containers, supported by public clouds like AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.

Thanks to the agility enabled by the combo of DevOps, microservice architectures and containerization, developers can release and update software at a cadence that benefits both the company and its customers. High-performing DevOps organizations outdo their competitors on multiple fronts:    

  • They deploy to-market faster.
  • Their change failure rates and time to recovery are much lower.
  • Revenue and profit growth are also higher at DevOps organizations.

To realize its full value, though, DevOps-driven development in the public cloud must incorporate security at every step. In fact, Amazon Web Services (AWS) now refers to that security as “job zero.” It takes priority over everything else.

Security has been a core concern around cloud computing since day one. It’s also caused some worry around containers since their rise to prominence in the early 2010s. Fortunately, solutions like Trend Micro Deep Security for Containers make it easier to secure containerized workloads in cloud-like AWS. IT organizations no longer need to choose between moving fast and staying secure.

Using Trend Micro Deep Security in a shared security model

Let’s look at interactions between AWS and Trend Micro Deep Security, in particular, to see they balance security with the fresh agility possible through DevOps. 

Customers putting workloads into AWS follow a shared security model. Under this setup, AWS itself takes care of the fundamental security of the underlying hardware and software. This includes everything from availability zones and edge locations to storage and networking. Meanwhile, the customer takes care of tasks such as identity and access management, client/server-side encryption and securing data.

It’s the latter set of responsibilities that have posed the greatest management challenge. Common problems include lack of visibility into what’s happening across environments, low automation and general difficulty in keeping up with the overall speed of DevOps.

The Deep Security advantage

This is where Trend Micro Deep Security can provide a pivotal advantage:

  • It delivers a comprehensive set of security controls, including log inspection and anti-malware, for AWS EC2 instances and containers.
  • For EC2 instances, it integrates with AWS Security Hub, GuardDuty, Lambda and other native security services.
  • It handles orchestration and automation through Puppet, Chef and Ansible.
  • Containerized workloads get full-stack protection, e.g. at the host OS, Kubernetes, Docker and container levels.
  • Intuitive features such as Deep Security Smart Check make it easy to identify and address vulnerabilities.

As a whole, Deep Security helps protect cloud instances and containers. This, in turn, simplifies compliance with applicable regulations as well as incident responses. IT organizations can capitalize on the promise of DevOps by moving beyond manual tasks and related complications.

Trend Micro itself is part of the AWS Partner Network, a partner of choice for AWS Managed Services, and a top security provider for many AWS customers.

Learn more Deep Security 

Softchoice and Trend Micro teamed up to deliver a recent webinar exploring container security using Deep Security in AWS. View the full session.