The Levers to Pull to Make the Cloud Work for You
I was interested to read recently a government agency talking about the different levers they needed to pull to achieve the right configuration for their IT infrastructure.
They talked in terms of the need to balance performance, stability and resilience, and how different weightings applied to a particular configuration could lead to very different outcomes.
It’s a familiar conversation that plays out with IT infrastructure teams both in and outside government as they look to take advantage of private, public and increasingly hybrid cloud environments.
It’s a conversation I often find myself involved in, and I think it’s also an area that NTT ICT has put considerable effort into finding solutions for.
In the cloud world, one of the common trade-offs one must negotiate is between scalability, elasticity and cost.
While the hyperscale public cloud providers offer services that are both elastic and scalable, users know that kind of flexibility can be expensive. They are also finding that this type of cloud isn’t for all workloads; for example, if your workload is fairly static or linear in growth it may be better suited to another cloud model or provider.
Another set of trade-offs one can expect on their cloud journey concerns the inclusions in the standard service level agreement (SLA), which states the percentage of uptime a customer should expect each month and the remedies – usually in the form of service credits – should that availability target not be met.
This is not much different to your standard colocation agreements which generally guarantee an x9’s level of availability.
But as customers move more workloads into the cloud – or into a mix of cloud and managed systems that may or may not be hosted on-site – we find they are often looking for a greater level of assurance than that which can be found in a one-size-fits-all SLA.
This is where being with a cloud provider like NTT ICT can make all the difference.
One of the advantages of hosting your private cloud or IT infrastructure with an experienced data centre provider is we have a lot of flexibility to customise environments – and contracts – to meet certain specifications.
That could manifest in a choice of the hardware or software stacks used to underpin your cloud.
It could be in the types or range of managed services capabilities on offer that can help free up your engineers’ time to work on projects with a greater potential value-add to the business than infrastructure management.
It might also be in how SLAs are structured.
For example, customers wanting the protection of a public cloud SLA usually need to meet certain architectural criteria for the applications or workloads they are hosting on that infrastructure. Typically, that means having multiple instances of a service or process split between availability zones in order to qualify for the SLA. Enterprise IT applications often aren’t designed to operate in this fashion, and may require cost-prohibitive changes to even qualify for SLA protection.
By contrast, if a customer comes to us and says they want a certain level of availability, or they want a certain SLA we have the flexibility to be able to present them with a range of options to meet their individual needs.
It’s not a case of taking up a service and being given the SLA, nor is it a case where you can only negotiate a custom SLA if you’re of sufficient size to command that degree of one-on-one attention. We work with customers to get their SLAs right.
Being a managed service provider also gives us additional flexibility when it comes to deploying infrastructure to meet an individual customer’s requirements.
Because we also manage our hosted environments up to the operating system level, the customer doesn’t need to concern themselves with patching, operational maintenance and monitoring. It’s just another area where we have more flexibility than the hyperscale operators to personalise our services and meet a wider variety of specific needs.
These are capabilities we’ve honed over time and that we continue to improve to help customers as they adapt to operating in a cloud world.
And it’s an area where, if your current provider isn’t offering a high enough degree of flexibility, you should probably ask why not, or at least see how hosting with NTT ICT could make your life easier.