Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Moving the IT Infra-structure into the datacenter or the cloud !?

My company is growing considerably. We have a small room that we call our "datacenter" but it's just a room with minor adjustments in order to support our IT infra-structure. Since we are now just reaching the 100 employees mark, our "datacenter" needs to grow in order to accomodate our needs and also to provide the features that will avoid failures and the inevitable downtimes.

I started asking for quotations for revising our datacenter having these things in mind:

  • "Professional" Ar conditioning
  • Access control
  • easy passing of cables
  • "Professional" UPS with separated energy
  • Fire detection and prevention
  • wall layout change
  • etc

I started thinking if it made sense to make such an investment on a local "datacenter", and two alternatives came to mind:


  1. Moving the local infra-structure to a professional Datacenter

  2. Starting the shift to the so called "Software-as-a-Service" (SaaS)


I think any of these alternatives would provide a more professional service with less costs in hardware and people to administer it. It would obviously increase the communication costs and the dependency on communication links. Another benefit would be the ease whenever the company would need to change it's headquarters.


1. Moving the local infra-structure to a professional Datacenter


All servers and storage would move to a professional datacenter where we would be able to connect over a fibre optic channel. Only local communication hardware and some local high demanding storage would stay in the company premises. All else would be housed at the datacenter. Products like Riverbed could help on the bandwidth optimization of the link to the datacenter.

This option would provide professional services for housing your machines: cooling, ups, access control, 24x7 service, fire and temperature control, etc. It would also allow you to grow as you go, without the need to have major changes on your local office. Possibly we could use their backup robots and a NAS storage ... not having to invest in your private solution.


2. Starting the shift to the so called " Software-as-a-Service " (SaaS)

Forget about any investments on the local datacenter, and migrate services into the cloud.

If I sum the anual cost of delivering Microsoft Exchange to our employees: Anti Virus, The OS license, the Exchange License, the CAL's, The System Administration time, the cost of downtimes, etc, it will surely be higher then any of the SaaS options out there like Exchange Hosted Services or Google Apps. Besides, the SaaS model for email would provide some functionalities that I don't have on my current model, like the possibility to search the index of all email remotly (If I have local PST's they are not availble over Outlook Web Access ).

There is allways that fear of losing control and security concerns when moving to SaaS, but ... do you keep your money under the mattress or int the bank ? With time, confidence in the SaaS providers will for sure increase and using their services will be as normal as putting your money in the bank.

Here are some services that I see feasible of migrating into the cloud:

http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/services/default.mspx- Exchange Hosted Service

http://cvsdude.com/

  • Spam Filters

http://www.anubisnetworks.com/


Also, instead of using a SaaS, another alternative of having the server locally or a hosted datacenter is to use Amazon EC2 . It is a is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. One EC2 Compute Unit (1 virtual core with 1 EC2 Compute Unit, 160 GB of instance storage, 32-bit platform ) costs around 72 USD per month (depending on the used bandwidth).


Please share with me your thoughts :)


3 comments:

Jose Antonio Silva said...

Tiago, esse IT (doesn't) Matter, pelo menos para a tua empresa que tem outras ferramentas mais diferenciadoras.

É normal que comeces a olhar para alguns serviços e os metas fora de casa.

Cá em Portugal há Exchange (OWA e Direct Push), e Sharepoint em alguns operadores Telco/Hosting. Ou seja, podes meter no mesmo contrato de comunicações (Telefone, Mobiles, GPRS, ...~).

Procura na PTPrime, Interhost/Vodafone, NFSI, Mainroad, ...

Pedro Rebordão Gouveia said...

Engraçado este teu post – tem sido a mensagem que eu próprio tenho tentado passar.

Acredito profundamente no modelo SaaS, ou melhor ainda no S+S na versão MS e tenho estado activamente a posicionar a InterHost para ser um player nesse mundo.

Isso neste momento materializa-se no HMC (Hosted Messaging & Collaboration) que montámos – são serviços de Exchange e Sharepoint numa plataforma de Service Provider.

Se quiseres avançar, é só dizeres quantas caixas de correio queres e de que tipo (toda a parte do anti-virus, antispam, backup por robot estão incluídas em ambos os planos: base e plus). Tens inclusive um portal para poderes fazer a gestão administrativa das contas em real-time: mudança de passwords, criação/alteração/remoção de contas, …
O setup de uma organização inteira faz-se em minutos, tem é de se planear bem a propagação das alterações no MX do dominio.

Outro ponto é a iniciativa que estamos a desenvolver de formalmente estabelecermos na InterHost um “SaaS Incubation center”. A ideia geral é criar condições para ISVs (por exemplo a FullSIX) desenvolverem as suas aplicações e as colocarem no mercado, usando por exemplos serviços do ISV do lado, sendo toda a parte de infra-estrutura da responsabilidade do centro de incubação.

Já agora tenho de dizer ao Zé Tó que a InterHost, pertence ao Grupo Satec e a relação com a Vodafone é, como aqui advogo, de seu Service Provider.

João Luis Canais said...

Tiago, será natural que progressivamente as aplicações que até algum tempo atrás eram core para uma empresa se vão progressivamente desmaterializar das nossas empresas e deslocar para a “nuvem”, tens os exemplos dos sistemas de e-mail, as aplicações de SAP, o Sharepoint, etc … irás reduzir custos de operação, administração e de espaço. No entanto, no caso da Fullsix, tal como disse o Zé Tó, a especificidade dos teus trabalhos e ferramentas irá necessitar de uma componente de datacenter local com alguma dimensão. Terás de saber viver com uma solução mista.