Automating Virtual Datacentres for ISVs

Software developer

While many business leaders are now internalizing the general benefits of cloud technology, including the ability to scale resources up or down during seasonal spikes in activity, there is perhaps one area that should be discussed more: Automation.


One example of a how a SaaS product shook the foundations of its on-premise rival


What’s an example of on-premise software being threatened by the emergence of a SaaS upstart operating in the cloud?  Answer: Mint Vs. Quicken

Quicken, for years, had cultivated a devoted base of users who waited for each new version of the software to appear from Intuit.   This nifty little personal finance tool is easier to use than QuickBooks albeit it more limited in scope.   Then came along this amazingly simple and intuitive online offering called Mint, which promised to integrate all your personal finance into one single web interface, with no requirement to download software. And, it was free!

In 2009 TechCrunch reported that Mint claimed it gained 3000 users per day jumping from 600,000 to 850,000 in just a few short months.    The numbers were disputed by Intuit, who suddenly understood how the cloud could reshape a landscape it had for years dominated.

This led intuit to purchase Mint for around $170 million, stating in a Press Release that “With this transaction, Intuit will gain another fast-growing consumer brand and a highly successful Software as a Service (SaaS) offering that helps people save and make money. This move will enhance Intuit’s position as a leading provider of consumer SaaS offerings that connect customers across desktop, online and mobile.”

Intuit had of course tried to defend itself prior to the acquisition of Mint, by implementing Quicken Online. However, it perhaps suffered from being too close to the product and did not get the creative user interface right that made Mint so popular. It was also more of an extension of its existing product, which failed to integrate the core concepts of web 2.0 and the additional features offered by the cloud.

After the purchase of Mint, Intuit said it intended keeping both the Mint.com and Quicken Online offerings, with each serving separate and equally important purposes.

“Mint.com will become the primary online personal finance management service that is offered directly to consumers by Intuit. Quicken Online will connect Quicken customers across desktop, online and mobile to deliver easy, anytime-anywhere access. This will help accelerate Intuit’s ability to create products and services that make managing money easier for all Intuit customers.”

And therein lies a valuable example of how traditional ISVs (who have not yet embraced the cloud) should consider the future landscape.  Not many will have the deep pockets of Intuit to purchase the competition (and thereby absorb developer brainpower) that could drive a new way of application innovation.   Further, failure to deploy a SaaS version opens the door to the competition, which can have a number of adverse consequences that are difficult to predict, but sure to transpire.

This is a major reason why Virtual Internet has released a new dedicated Virtual Datacentre aimed at SMEs, web professionals and traditional ISVs. It allows the rapid deployment of new cloud services using a utility pricing model.  It offers a simple, cloud-delivery mechanism for ISVs to get their feet wet and explore new options for both testing and deploying a SaaS version of their product.


Cloud Computing Finding its Way In

A survey of 785 companies has found that only 3% feel that cloud computing is still a bit “too risky”. This figure has been slashed from 11% one year ago. This is positive, encouraging news as it now looks like more and more corporations believe that cloud computing is the way forward.

Growing Confidence

The survey also found that only 12% of respondents thought the cloud platform was too “immature”. Again this figure is significantly lower than last year when 26% believed the cloud was too “immature”. In addition, a fantastic 50% of respondents now have “complete confidence” in cloud services. This is up from a lowly 13% one year ago. That is therefore a significant year on year increase and suggests that many more people and businesses are looking to implement cloud computing.

In addition, 57% of companies identified that their main reason for adopting the cloud was due to scalability whilst business agility was seemingly the second most important factor with 54% stating so.

The survey was carried out by North Bridge Venture Partners and contained a wealthy of industry support as it was sponsored by some 39 companies, including Amazon Web Services.

Ongoing Concerns

However, the results from the survey didn’t reveal entirely good news as concerns were still flagged. Unsurprisingly, security remains the primary concern regarding cloud computing as 55% of the survey respondents pointed out. Understandably corporations will feel that they have to know their data is 100% secure. Confidential information is a sensitive thing and any leakage can potentially cost businesses thousands if not millions of pounds.

Furthermore, it has been reported that 84% of all new net software will be Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based. Many companies have increased their spending by around six times on SaaS delivered applications when compared to the amount they’re spending on software overall. The survey also revealed that a vast majority of the respondents believed that mission-critical software categories are being, or will soon be, disrupted. Systems such as CRM and ERP are thus bound for online delivery.

Cloud computing is clearly having a bigger impact than ever before and it seems that it is only a matter of time before nearly all corporate data is stored on the cloud. Have you adopted the cloud yet?


Breaking Through The Cloud

Cloud computing is a revolutionary technology that is changing the way we interact with data and files, however, due to the fact that it is such a fresh technology, a lot of the terms and jargon involved can be quite hard to understand for those that may not have a huge amount of experience on the cloud. So, we’ve simplified the jargon in order to help even the least techy among us decipher exactly what cloud computing entails.

As a Service

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This is the most basic form of cloud computing. IaaS includes computer processing, memory, storage and networking. Companies that make use of IaaS clouds are able to add storage or processing whenever they wish. They can also run whichever applications they want along with any operating system they require on their cloud service. IaaS differs to dedicated hosting however as it usually makes use of virtual machines that run across the service provider’s equipment, whereas dedicated hosting enables customers to rent a physical server in a remote data centre.

Platform as a Service (PaaS): This is the next step up from IaaS as it moves away from raw hardware and instead provides a business’ software developers with tools in order to create their own applications.

Software as a Service (SaaS): This pretty much does what it says on the tin as it involves renting software directly from a company via the cloud.

Virtual Machines and Types of Cloud

Virtual Machines: The essential building blocks of the cloud. Virtual machines are created by software that takes slices of computing power, memory and storage on real hardware and uses it to create more, smaller, flexible virtual computers. This process then allows information, data and devices to be shared from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Businesses can therefore make use of virtual machines whenever they need to.

Private Clouds: This is infrastructure provided solely for a single organisation.

Community Clouds: This is a service for a group of businesses or a public sector organisation. This type of cloud can derive some of the economies of scale but also allows for a high level of security.

Hybrid Clouds: This can be useful in helping companies migrate to the cloud as IT loads can be moved from their own data centre to a third party during busy periods.

The above is by no means an exhaustive list as there are numerous other terms associated with cloud computing, for full details on the services provided please visit our product pages.


Survey Reveals Cloud Adoption Should Quadruple

Cloud adoption amongst enterprises is now expected to significantly grow throughout the rest of 2012, however it has also been revealed that some serious obstacles must be overcome. This is according to a customer survey carried out by Cisco Systems.

The 2012 Cisco Global Cloud Networking Survey of 100 IT executives in each of 13 countries has unveiled that while just 5% of the IT executives are currently using cloud computing technology, in order to deliver the majority of the software applications they are using within their business, the figure is expected to rise to around 20% by the end of the year, thus quadrupling the amount of enterprises using cloud hosting as a solution.

Inbar Lasser-Raab, Senior Marketing Director of the Cisco Services Routing Technology Group (SRTG) has been explaining: “The reason so many are moving the majority of their apps to the cloud is because there are more cloud applications out there, more choice, and then there's the maturity of the process.”

She went on to state that the cloud adoption process is beginning to mature as businesses are becoming more familiar with the technology and how cloud computing can benefit their business. It thus seems the adoption of cloud computing is on an upward curve, however this hasn’t, so far, simplified the process as it remains complex, time-consuming and includes a number of pitfalls. This, again, was revealed by the customer survey. 37% of the IT executives surveyed suggested that networking issues was the primary challenge that cloud computing must overcome.

As cloud computing has progressed and cloud adoption has grown, many enterprises discovered the limitations of their current wide area network (WAN) infrastructure and so depending on the application, the infrastructure may need to be upgraded. A typical WAN link, in the case of a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment, can support 20 virtual desktop sessions however they may not deliver the sub-50 millisecond latency limit that is required in a service legal agreement (SLA). Inbar Lasser-Raab concluded that cloud technology has had to adapt and grow to adhere to many considerations that were not previously planned for.