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Expansion of OTW Private Cloud platform into Sydney underway

Additional OTW PoP planned for Albany, New Zealand We are delighted to announce that Over the Wire has commenced the expansion of its Hosted Infrastructure (Private Cloud) platform. The platform has always had geographic diversity through hosting in multiple Brisbane data centres, however this next phase will nearly double the original environment configuration by adding a full production suite in Sydney. The end result for clients is not only resource and geographic backup redundancies, but also geographic zones to utilise for optimal performance.

Hosted in the Equinix SY3 data centre, the expansion comes on the back of demand from clients for additional resource availability and greater geographic redundancy between nodes. It also aligns with the Company’s geographic expansion plans into the Sydney market. Completion of the upgrade is expected by December 2016.

Want to know more? Get in touch with our team today.

Over the Wire Unveils Cloud Backup Service

Over the Wire Launches Backup as a Service (BaaS)Over the Wire is pleased to announce the launch of a new private cloud based backup offering. Dubbed BaaS (Backup as a Service), the hosted storage model eliminates the high capital expenditure and many of the fail points experienced in traditional backup solutions and affords clients greater levels of flexibility and control over their information.

Over the Wire’s General Manager of Services Simon Wren stated that Backup as a Service “complements our existing product set and offers Over the Wire’s customers the opportunity to access a secure storage solution at an acceptable price point for small and medium sized businesses.”

More information about Backup as a Service, including an online price calculator, is available via the BaaS product page. Businesses can also request a free 30-day trial from this page.
 

Migrating to the Cloud

With increasing interest being generated in Australia for cloud based infrastructure solutions businesses appear to be warming to the advantages of hosted services. A Frost and Sullivan report released earlier this month stated that the trend was strongest amongst Australian SME’s with large organisations following closely behind. The report cited “greater flexibility” and “lower costs” as two of the primary reasons that IT managers were looking to increase the allocation of their IT budget to cloud based services.

With cloud based backup solutions offering significant functionality advantages over traditional options many businesses are choosing to migrate these services to cloud backup providers rather than continuing with the hassles of physical backup technologies.

Other organisations are choosing to embrace fully hosted environments in the form of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platforms due to their ability to offer significant price reductions over On Premise solutions with comparable performance figures.

One of the major advantages of cloud-based solutions is the ease and flexibility with which existing platforms can be migrated onto them. Because there is no requirement for large upfront capital expenses, businesses can incrementally migrate their infrastructure across as their needs dictate, and as previous warranty and contract terms elapse.

Because Over the Wire houses our hosted infrastructure in our owned and operated data centres the process of merging multiple hosted products together is simple and painless. By having a full suite of products we are able to design a solution tailored specifically for your needs, with the ability to choose the right combination for you, whether it be implemented all at once, or in stages.

Adding BaaS and DRaaS to IaaS

What this means is that businesses who do not wish to move all of their infrastructure to the cloud can take advantage of it for a single service, and can choose to migrate the rest of their services down the line, if they wish. This can be done by coupling Backup as a Service (BaaS) with your on premise servers, utilising BaaS + Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) to provide greater Business Continuity options for your on premise servers, or use either of these two options as a stepping stone towards a longer term plan to migrate the on premise servers to IaaS. The solution combinations are highly beneficial, so speak to an Over the Wire Solutions Consultant to understand the best outcome for your business.

(Source: www.frost.com, State of Cloud Computing in Australia Report 2013)

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Five Things Every Business Should Look For in a Backup Solution

1. Data Replication

Although they may be the last place you want them to occur, backup systems are not immune from problems. To protect against failure, backup providers will often offer options for data replication, wherein archived data is duplicated across two or more disks. In highly sophisticated systems this can be done across multiple data centers to afford businesses site redundancy. However, these options will cost more due to the extra disk space required so businesses will need to balance up the increase in expenditure with the chance of failure, and the bottom line for the consequences of failure, which can be substantial should a disk be unavailable when a restore is required.

2. Global Deduplication

Deduplication refers to the process that backup software goes through to prevent the archiving of multiple copies of the same pieces of data. Global duplication simply means that this process happens universally across all of the different data sources (eg. separate servers, sites, etc.) rather than discretely within each individual source. Because most businesses have multiple copies of the same files spread across multiple sources, global deduplication is often capable of saving an enormous amount of disk space. As such it has become relatively standard feature in backup and recovery services.

The differentiating feature that businesses will want to keep an eye out for nowadays is whether or not the deduplication is a source side or destination side process. Destination side deduplication is the standard, so if the provider hasn’t specified anything they are probably using this. Source side is much less common, but comes with substantial advantages over destination side processing. In a source side model the deduplication occurs before the information leaves the client’s environment, meaning that the business will have a substantially reduced load on their network bandwidth. In many cases this will mean that businesses can make backups more frequently, and in spite of peak load periods.

3. Ease of Administration

Even highly sophisticated backup and recovery systems need to be maintained. Providers typically offer two solutions for this: self managed maintenance plans, and fully managed maintenance plans. As the name would suggest “fully managed” places the onus on the provider to ensure the smooth operation of the backup and recovery process, so clients should make sure ahead of time that the agreement stipulates an appropriate level of support. It must however be kept in mind that even the best fully managed solution is only as good as the infrastructure on which it is deployed. In contrast, a self-managed service places the onus on the business. There is nothing inherently problematic with this, but businesses will need to make sure that their IT staff have the time to maintain the backup systems appropriately, and factor these time costs into their budgets.

4. Business Continuity Planning

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is a consultation service offered by the provider in which they will design a backup solution to suit the requirements of your business. By utilising BCP your provider will help you to determine what technologies are and are not necessary for your organisation to use. This will be based on your desired Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs), which stipulate the recency and frequency of the data updates (ie. every 24 hours for the last month, every 8 hours for the last week, etc.) and your desired Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs), which stipulate the maximum time requirements for a system restore.

Although for some organisations BCP is not a top priority, it has the potential to change the costs of your backup solution drastically as the service is entirely reliant on the expertise and experience of the provider.

5. Fast Recovery Times

Fast Recovery TimesWhilst having a detailed backup of your company’s data is beneficial, it’s the time in which you can restore this data (in part or in full) that can have a significant impact on your businesses ability to recover from a loss. The traditional tape based onsite backup methods often do not facilitate the ability to quickly restore the full system, and if the hardware is no longer available this process can take days if not weeks to completely recover.

One of the best recovery speed indicators are Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs), which stipulate the maximum time a restore is likely to take. Because recovery times are dependent on the infrastructure and levels of support in place, as well as the volume of information to be restored, RTOs will vary for each individual business and are therefore not stated until a consultation has taken place. Several rule of thumb indicators for fast recovery times that businesses can look for are listed below:

  • The availability of data replication which can improve recovery times by minimising complications.
  • What the SLA’s of the provider stipulate with regards to service availability and response time.
  • The available bandwidth on the connection between the business and the backup archive for expediency of transferring backups.
  • The level of availability and reliability of the data center(s) in which the backups are stored. Data centres with a Tier III or higher rating are preferable.
  • The ability to house the backup data in close proximity to the restore location. Combinations of BaaS/RaaS and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) are ideal, however where the hosting facility is unreliable this increases the risk posed by a site outage.
  • Providers which offer Business Continuity Planning will provide advice on the best way to meet a business’s required RTOs.

Not All Backups Are Created Equal

Backup Tapes Compared to Cloud Backup Systems

With the continual growth in data that all businesses face, the issue of protecting this highly valuable and intangible asset has become a significant challenge to many businesses. Although almost all businesses understand the fundamental need to have a backup system in place, many forget that the manner in which the data is backed up can have a huge bearing on their ability to recover it.

The first important item to take note of when considering backup systems is that in recent years traditional tape based backup systems have become obsolete in the face of cloud based models, which eliminate the labour intensive process of changing and storing tapes. In addition, cloud based models also eliminate the high capital expenditure required for the tapes themselves, for which the number of days of backup is determined by the number of tapes your organisation is willing to purchase.

Tapes also have the drawback of physical vulnerability; even when stored in remote locations the tapes are vulnerable to hazards both in transit and by virtue of being a single copy. Moreover, because tape models use a sequential backup system if one of the tapes in a sequence is corrupt or damaged you may be unable to recover your data.

With most traditional onsite methods still including the use of data tapes, the process of ensuring that reliable backups are maintained, as well as decreasing the time requirements for getting the data back can be quite challenging. However, businesses can now look to leverage the high performance capabilities of WAN technologies to extend beyond the onsite model by using a cloud based solution.

Cloud BaaS systems are more reliable as they store the information in data centres, offering significantly higher levels of virtual and physical security than would otherwise be available. Additionally, the infrastructure holding the data doesn’t require physically moving locations, eliminating transport as a potential point of failure.

The second important item to note when considering backup systems is the difference between Backup as a Service (BaaS) and Recovery as a Service (RaaS) models. Typically BaaS models only allow for the backup and storage of the actual data. This means that in the event of wide scale data loss or system failure you will be able to recover the data, but nothing more. So in order to get your systems operational again you will have to undergo the lengthy process of restoring your operating environment before you will be able to begin recovering your data. Depending on the complexity and size of the affected systems this process can take anywhere from a few hours to several days to complete, with the time for a full environment rebuild often not considered in the recovery plan.

Recovery as a Service (RaaS) models differ from BaaS models in that the entire operating environment is backed up, not just the data. As these backups can then be restored on virtual infrastructure (IaaS) the whole environment can be recovered and spun up onto the new hardware in a fraction of the time it would take to rebuild the servers in a BaaS setup.

More sophisticated Recovery as a Service platforms can be offered as combinations of RaaS, Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), and Business Continuity Planning (BCP) rolled into one. Businesses should always be sure to check with providers whether this level of service is available.

How Does IaaS Compare to On Premise?

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) has become increasingly common in the Australian business community, but many managers remain sceptical as to the value of a hosted solution over traditional On Premise options. Over the Wire’s hosted services expert Sean Bofinger takes us through some of the major differences between these solutions. For detailed information about how much these differences cost, the video below runs through a price comparison between IaaS and On Premise for a typical 50 person organisation.

Hardware

On Premise

For many organisations, the hardware procurement cycle arrives every three years. Either purchased upfront or financed for a set term, evolving business trends often mean that hardware becomes obsolete very quickly. The risk for an On Premise Solution is that requirements arising between upgrade cycles will be ignored (resulting in a loss of productive capacity) or alternatively be expensive to implement. However, there is some good news, large infrastructure deployments can benefit from economies of scale in the hardware purchase.

IaaS

Hosted services have the advantage of being able to leverage dedicated infrastructure that is in a continuous state of upgrade. Service providers with high SLA's must ensure that the hardware is providing the best performance, and hence the supporting infrastructure is frequently upgraded. Due to the nature of the solution, these upgrades are seamless, meaning customers can benefit from the improved performance without costly disruptions.

Software

On Premise

Much like hardware, software upgrades usually have an associated cost incurred. In many cases the software purchase costs will exceed the hardware costs, with any associated annual or recurring licensing requirements adding to the overall expenditure. Further complications can be added via any increases in staff or endpoint numbers and the additional licenses these require. This can be particularly problematic if numbers are added on a temporary basis.

IaaS

On an IaaS platform, customers can leverage the flexible Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) available from software vendors. This allows for flexible monthly licensing options provided on a per-user basis, or node cost per month. In addition to being able to add or remove licenses as needed, the licensing arrangement entitles the customer to the latest version upon release, ensuring that the environment can be kept at the forefront of technology.

Support

On Premise

The increasing complexity of servers, storage, and software requires that the customer invest in a highly skilled internal support team. This team requires ongoing training, and may leave the company vulnerable to staff unavailability. Alternatively, IT companies may offer customers the required support arrangements for On Premise solutions.

IaaS

Like an On Premise solution, IaaS providers may offer support agreements to clients, however due to the difficulties of providing onsite support, this will typically come at a much lower cost than the maintenance for an On Premise solution.

Access

On Premise

The provision of physical servers on premise creates a dependency on the availability of that site. In the event of a localised network or environmental outage, access to the infrastructure can be adversely impacted. Remote sites dependent on that location may be cut off, or experience limited access. The implementation of multiple redundant paths and supporting infrastructure as well as the increased bandwidth needed to support remote sites creates additional costs that are not often accounted for. If reliability is not a principle concern however, redundancy can be foregone for additional cost savings.

IaaS

Most IaaS solutions are located within dedicated data centres with multiple levels of network and environmental redundancy far exceeding the capabilities of On Premise server rooms. The costs of this infrastructure are accounted for in the monthly costs, and ensure that a greater level of uptime is achievable. In addition, with all sites connecting to this centralised location and the extremely low likelihood of a site outage, the overall potential availability for all sites is far greater than an on premise deployment.

Performance

On Premise

Whilst performance for both solutions is comparable, it is dependent on who and how the solution was configured. Some existing deployments may not have been deployed to best practice or have unspecified hardware. In addition, scalability is limited to the capabilities of the initial purchase whereby additional virtual servers will require additional supporting hardware. When considering an On Premise solution businesses should ensure that their provider will take these constraints into account offering a customised solution which best suits their requirements.

IaaS

Ensuring that the IaaS platform is capable of supporting a customer’s requirements is the responsibility of the IaaS provider. This may require the ongoing procurement of hardware and software to meet a client’s changing requirements. Qualified and experienced technical engineers typically manage the deployment and support of the IaaS platform, to ensure that all systems are configured and supported to industry standards.

Security

On Premise

In terms of data sovereignty, an On Premise solution provides the greatest security for a business as complete control of the data is provided. However, both network and physical security are likely to be more vulnerable than a hosted solution. Customer personnel may have direct physical access to the infrastructure creating a potential security risk. Additionally, network access may be incorrectly configured leading to both internal and external access.

IaaS

Provisioned in highly secure data centres and controlled with strict access policies and procedures, IaaS solutions provide the highest level of access security. As data sovereignty is often a concern, clients should always check to ensure that their provider’s data centers are based in Australia, as this means that the same level of data control as an on premise solution applies, requiring legal notification of data access.

With the current software solutions in place, access between customer data is restricted to IaaS administration processes only and customers are securely segmented from one another.

Scalability

On Premise

The types of technology chosen for compute, storage, and software assignment bind the scalability of an On Premise solution. Moreover, additional increases in infrastructure capacity may require software purchases to be made up front. The capabilities for short-term capacity increase can be difficult or impossible to achieve without capital expenditure.

IaaS

By leveraging far higher performance technologies than the average On Premise deployment, IaaS platforms can more easily meet a business’s changing requirements. Software can easily be assigned in an “as needed” basis and any temporary infrastructure requirements can be easily and cost effectively supplied on a per month basis. This avoids the need for large capital expenditure should business’ requirements change. This becomes particularly useful should business’ requirements lessen as the extraneous infrastructure and licensing can be removed, thereby reducing monthly expenditure.

Power and Cooling

On Premise

Power requirements are one of the most overlooked aspects of any On Premise infrastructure deployment. A small 2-node virtual server environment with a shared storage solution can account for as much as $6,600.00 per year. However, environments with a significantly larger deployments including backup devices, network devices to support workstations and VoIP handsets, legacy servers, and other infrastructure devices may equate to as much as $18,000.00 in power costs per year (based on 9.4kW/h at $0.20 per kW). In addition, the majority of on premise server rooms have minimal Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) capabilities, often with only a few minutes of reserve power, and no access to backup generators, leaving a very small window in which problems can be rectified.

Much like power, the cooling required for server infrastructure is often greatly underestimated. A small server room with a 2.0kW A/C unit running continuously will cost around $300.00 per month, whilst a larger server room requiring a 5.0kW A/C unit will cost around $725.00 per month.

IaaS

The power usage costs associated with cooling are accounted for in the monthly IaaS services charges. Due to the efficient nature of a data centre’s cooling capabilities and large number of devices being cooled, the cost per device is much less than that of an On Premise solution. Consequently, this allows the IaaS provider to offer a more effective environmental solution than would otherwise be possible.

Like cooling, the power usage costs associated with infrastructure are accounted for in the monthly IaaS services charges. Utilising an IaaS provider will typically give you access to power redundancy. However, businesses should confirm that the following features are offered: A+B power feeds, UPS, on site generators, and redundancy for all of the above.

Backup

On Premise

Data Protection is paramount to ensuring that your business captures and maintains its critical business data. However, the ongoing management and preventative maintenance of backup systems can be challenging for in house support teams and is often overlooked, in light of more pressing matters.

IaaS

Most IaaS platforms provide clients with the option for a managed infrastructure solution that includes backup processes. Where archives are required businesses should confirm that long-term backup storage can be arranged.

Redundancy

On Premise

For On Premise deployments, a significant investment must be made to provide redundancy across compute, storage, and networking devices.

IaaS

Redundancy is a key aspect of any IaaS solution. Every IaaS Service provider must ensure that its services are able to recover from an unexpected outage as well as providing a seamless migration approach whilst undergoing scheduled maintenance. Businesses should check with their IaaS provider to ensure that their infrastructure is configured to their requirements.

Data Recovery

On Premise

Location, performance, and core services must be considered when implementing a Disaster Recovery (DR) solution, as each of these aspects has a corresponding cost. Moreover, adding additional business services will require detailed planning, a higher level of technical support, and additional implementation costs.

To achieve the organisation’s required Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs), the cost in implementing the DR solution may be significant. DR solutions can easily account for the same amount as the production environment cost.

IaaS

IaaS offers more cost effective DR solutions due to the higher performing networking infrastructure deployed within the provider’s solutions. With infrastructure deployed in a highly reliable environment and with high capacity networks between each site, an IaaS solution can be tailored to meet RPO and RTO requirements in a far most cost effective manner.

Cost

On Premise

On Premise solutions generally primarily consist of capital expenditures, with organisations required to make a significant upfront investment to procure hardware, software, and implementation expertise. Such investments can be outside the reach of some SME’s and in any case must be depreciated over several years.

In addition, the ongoing support of these solutions must be considered, whether it is delivered via internal staff or a managed service provider. When combined with the monthly costs incurred from power and cooling the ongoing monthly costs can be significantly higher than a comparable IaaS solution over the useful life of the hardware.

IaaS

With a set per month cost for both infrastructure and software licensing, businesses can easily plan their IT expenditure each year. A bonus of this system is that expenditure can be written off immediately, rather than depreciated. Ongoing upgrade costs are limited to the engineering time required to implement the new software, while the drawbacks regarding warranties, support, and performance are removed.

Public Versus Private Cloud

‘Cloud’ is a term that has made its way into everyday life, yet is possibly one of the most misappropriated terms in Corporate IT at the moment. Decisions between Cloud and On Premise solutions are often being made before properly understanding the differences, or without knowing the distinctions between Public and Private Cloud offerings.

Cloud platforms can be considered as a scaled up version of the Virtualisation Technology that is commonplace within businesses today; using large scale deployments to service a significant number of Virtual Servers, in turn enabling the cost be reduced. How these platforms deliver these services to your business defines the different cloud models, with the main categories being Public and Private Cloud offerings.

Thanks to Google Apps, Microsoft’s Azure and 365 products, and Amazon Web Services working to make 'cloud' a household term, Public Cloud has become the most commonly talked about version of cloud services. Public Cloud services generally have a set configuration, with scaling based on predefined options, and accessible only via the internet. These features work well for organisations whose staff are on the go, or that are able to adjust their business’ IT requirements to align with the provider’s offering. However, for businesses with custom applications or requirements, the ability to leverage these public cloud offerings can be limited. In addition some Australian businesses may experience compliance issues as a result of data being stored offshore. 

Private Cloud is a way of delivering similar Virtual Servers, though utilising the networking infrastructure of an ISP or Private Network service provider to connect directly into the platform core to avoid data traversing the public internet. In addition to the security and speed benefits, these products provide dedicated resources for the client while maintaining a common underlying platform. This means that customers receive a service specific to their requirements; adding site and hardware redundancy not experienced with an On Premise model, without the need to change the business to fit the offering. 

With the ability to provide both high speed network connectivity and Private Cloud services on a new locally hosted IaaS platform, Over the Wire can help you choose the best solution for your business requirements. To learn more about these and other deployment types, or to hear our General Manager, Ben Cornish, talk about our IaaS services click here or watch the video below

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