Category: Data Centre

DCW Event Preview – Data Centre World London 2018

The largest and best attended data centre event for business returns in March 2018 for a 10th year edition. 2017 brought 19,926 (BPA number) senior decision makers from across the technology ecosystem together, alongside 500 leading suppliers and 600 world-class speakers from across the globe. 2018 is already on its way to exceed all previous […]

The largest and best attended data centre event for business returns in March 2018 for a 10th year edition. 2017 brought 19,926 (BPA number) senior decision makers from across the technology ecosystem together, alongside 500 leading suppliers and 600 world-class speakers from across the globe. 2018 is already on its way to exceed all previous years figures.

Source: DCW Event Preview – Data Centre World London 2018 – Data Centre World, the world’s largest, most influential gathering of data centre expertise

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Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning (DR/BC) is something Strategic Directions have been helping clients with for over 14 years. The importance for organisations to ensure they have appropriate recovery provisions for not only natural disasters but Power Failures, IT Software Failure, Human Error and Hardware Failure is critical – you need to have a […]

Business continuity and disaster recovery planning (DR/BC) is something Strategic Directions have been helping clients with for over 14 years.

The importance for organisations to ensure they have appropriate recovery provisions for not only natural disasters but Power Failures, IT Software Failure, Human Error and Hardware Failure is critical – you need to have a plan to deal with all levels of disruption.

In such an event, companies need to not just look at the loss of data, revenue, IT services but reputation with employees, suppliers and customers.

All organisations have experienced some form of disaster, but it is those organisations that have a current DR/BC plan in place that deal with these effectively, reducing the impact to business operations, staff and customers.

The cost to business caused by potential disasters can be devastating, but worse is having to explain how this has happened to people affected, your staff, business partners and most importantly customers.

Five Questions to Ask Yourself?

Can you locate your DR/BC Plan?
What are your aspects of critical service and how quickly must they be recovered
Customer Services (Phone, Email)
Employee Services (Distribution, File Access)
Team Responsibilities (Who is in your DR Team)
Communication Assets (What is your plan dealing with media?)
Are you certain your data is protected, recoverable, assessable and what is your data recovery time?

Vendor Independent with local skills and global knowledge Strategic Directions are happy to discuss your DR/BC plan to see if it will ensure the impact on your business is acceptable in the event of a disaster.

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AFCOM’s DATA CENTER WORLD

Outstanding Educational Opportunities in a Vendor- Neutral Environment March 12 – 15, 2018, San Antonio, Texas, USA With more than 3500 professionals worldwide, and member organisations that include many Fortune 500 Companies and other Multinationals around the globe, AFCOM has gained a reputation for hosting one of the world’s best annual Data Center Educational Forums […]

Outstanding Educational Opportunities in a Vendor- Neutral Environment March 12 – 15, 2018, San Antonio, Texas, USA

With more than 3500 professionals worldwide, and member organisations that include many Fortune 500 Companies and other Multinationals around the globe, AFCOM has gained a reputation for hosting one of the world’s best annual Data Center Educational Forums – “DATA CENTER WORLD”.

Founded many years ago as a vendor independent group of data centre professionals – AFCOM now has Chapters in many cities in North America and in other Countries (including Australia.)

Any professional Manager, with responsibilities relating to data centres, should seriously consider attending this blue ribbon IT Event at least once. More than 30% of attendees are Directors, while most attendees have very senior status in their organisations.

The conference has several vertical channels including:-

  1. Infrastructure Technologies
  2. Data Centre Design and Development
  3. Data Centre Management and Operation
  4. Data Centre Strategies and Trends
  5. Security, Data Sovereignty and Risk Management
  6. What’s next – future issue to consider

The Conference also hosts an outstanding Vendors Exhibition, where many of the world’s leading Data Centre Suppliers show their current and future offerings. There are also many opportunities to network with other data centre executives (who not surprisingly have the same problems or issues confronting them.) Many contacts remain long after you get back – in some cases can become life-long friends.

The key words for this Conference are “vendor – neutral”, guaranteeing an environment free of vendor influences (although most vendors are exhibitors – allowing you time to chat with them and see what they have to offer, if you so wish!) AFCOM goes to extraordinary lengths to maintain an independent stance and many of the presentations / learning sessions are given by end users, who are able to share their experiences with other users. There are some vendors invited to present – however, they are engaged to talk about specific technologies, rather than making a straight out sales pitch. Any vendor who abuses this privelidge is prohibited from further presentations.

Strategic Directions has been an active member of AFCOM for several years and established the Group in Australia in the mid 90’s. Our Director, Mike Andrea has for several years been a Director of the prestigious AFCOM DATA CENTER Institute, (the only Director outside North America.) The Board consists or several of the most senior data centre executives from major companies such as HP, and BICK, and provides thought leadership to the data centre industry through a series of white papers and other research.

Strategic Directions Executives attend every Conference and have presented on many occasions. The Company   has been a Strategic Partner of AFCOM, here in the Asia Pacific Region for some years.

The company is often accompanied by senior representatives of Australian Companies, Federal and State Agencies. We are able to guide the attendees to the presentations that are of particular interest to them, and the “aussie contingent” regularly catch up for meals and networking opportunities.

If you or anyone from your team would like to attend, contact Strategic Directions at :-www.strategicdirections.com.au or log on to the Data Center World website at  :-http://global.datacenterworld.com/dcwg18/Public/Enter.aspx

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Cloud Computing Challenges

Cloud Computing Challenges – the experts all agree – plan carefully and avoid unnecessary pain! A recent look at Cloud commentators around the world – confirmed what we at Strategic Directions already knew. (Eureka!!) 3 Internationally respected (but totally unrelated) Cloud Forum Organisations all agreed that one of the major concerns to customers when moving […]

Cloud Computing Challenges – the experts all agree – plan carefully and avoid unnecessary pain!

A recent look at Cloud commentators around the world – confirmed what we at Strategic Directions already knew. (Eureka!!)

3 Internationally respected (but totally unrelated) Cloud Forum Organisations all agreed that one of the major concerns to customers when moving to the cloud was:-

Lack of resources and expertise                          (Open Cirrus :-  www.opencirrus.org )

Lack of resources and expertise                         (Cloud Tweaks :- www.cloudtweaks.com )

People and Processes                                           (Forbes Technology Council :- www.forbes.com )

The internationally regarded Forbes Technology Council comments “it’s critical not to get caught up in the hype….do proper planning.” Forbes offers firsthand insights on technology and business from elite CIOs, CTOs and other executives. They asked some of their senior members to identify challenges they thought a business might have to overcome when moving its operations to the cloud. This is what the executives (all from different organisations) had to say:-

  • Getting the solution right from a myriad of options
  • People and processes
  • Having a defined Strategy and associated Business Objectives
  • Getting over the psychological barriers (trusting your decision)
  • Time, cost and security challenges
  • Not getting caught up in the hype
  • Change Management issues (as with any major IT Project)
  • Dependable technological infrastructure
  • Accurately estimating the true costs of service
  • Avoid too much modification or customisation
  • One of the biggest challenges is translating your security posture to the cloud environment
  • The financial model – plan wisely!
  • Connecting legacy systems – they are most often not “cloud ready”

 

We note a very interesting point here !  The vast majority of the concerns identified have nothing to do with the actual technology!

 

This is not to demean Cloud solutions – the benefits are well known – merely to emphasise the “associated” issues that any organisation needs to be aware of, but which are often “lost in the translation.”

 

Other challenges identified by Open Cirrus included the lack of standards, different terminologies between vendors, lack of clear guidelines regarding the operations of cloud providers. Also, they note, bringing hybrid cloud infrastructure into the mix has made it even harder for organisations to determine the best choice.

The bottom line is – get objective advice and guidance before “setting sail” upon uncharted waters!

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Data Breaches

Mandatory Disclosure and Statutory Notification a wakeup call for Business – November 2017   Recent news articles have highlighted the seriousness with which the Federal Government is treating Data Breaches affecting Australian organisations. This follows hot on the heels of the recent announcement that the Federal Government is planning to invest up to $140 m into […]

Mandatory Disclosure and Statutory Notification a wakeup call for Business – November 2017

 

Recent news articles have highlighted the seriousness with which the Federal Government is treating Data Breaches affecting Australian organisations.

This follows hot on the heels of the recent announcement that the Federal Government is planning to invest up to $140 m into an “industry led” cooperative research centre focussing on cybersecurity.  https://www.itnews.com.au/news/govt-industry-invest-140m-for-cybersecurity-crc-473948

 

The government has just released a draft of the statement it expects organisations to file if they suffer a data breach after February 2018. Under laws passed last year, organisations will have to report a data breach as soon as practicable, including its severity, the type of breach (financials, government and tax details and other “sensitive” information), and the estimated harm to those impacted.  The OAIC (Office of the Australian Information Commissioner) will collect and publish statistics in connection with the scheme, with a view to reviewing this approach 12 months after the scheme’s commencement. Comment on the draft statement is accepted until 23rd October this year. https://www.itnews.com.au/news/govt-reveals-data-breach-notification-format-474360?utm_source=mobile&utm_medium=linkedin&utm_campaign=share

 

AGC Networks Australia recently hosted a group of C-Level executives to discuss the upcoming requirements. Concerns that were identified relating to this new Legislation included:-

  1. What to do to comply with the new requirements
  2. The extent of the data they are expected to collect
  3. Defining “breach vs compromise” and what exactly constitutes “serious harm”
  4. Agreement that Cyber Security is not just an IT risk – it is a Business risk and a Board risk

In the end, the discussion group agreed that the following actions needed attention in the future:-

 

  1. While focus on the notification process is important, organisations need to focus on prevention in the first place….
  2. Contracts and Service Agreements need review in consideration of the legislation….
  3. Incident management plans are vital, but this is part of the cyber security strategy and prevention is still the first step…..

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/data-breach-mandatory-disclosure-your-organisation-ready-heywood/?trackingId=xCohzCdujy2Fo7rBjwZaag%3D%3D

 

These recent initiatives underline the fact that cyber security is no longer associated only with military, government or large corporate targets. All organisations are at risk, and must proactively consider the security and privacy of their ICT services and the customer / supplier information they manage.

 

A crucial part of any organisation’s strategic plan MUST recognise the very real threat of cyber-attack, including prevention in the first instance, ongoing management and monitoring, and recovery once a legitimate breach has been identified.

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CLOUD REVERSAL – who would have thought……..?

A few years ago, the cloud was touted as the answer to our prayers. A handful of Public Cloud Hyperscale firms like Microsoft, Google and Amazon were going to take the world by storm, with all other providers left to pick up the scraps.   A recent survey by CRN however, shows that all is […]

A few years ago, the cloud was touted as the answer to our prayers. A handful of Public Cloud Hyperscale firms like Microsoft, Google and Amazon were going to take the world by storm, with all other providers left to pick up the scraps.

 

A recent survey by CRN however, shows that all is not what it seems.

 

While Australian organisations willing to be named are very thin on the ground – the survey reveals an alarming number of early adopters of public cloud services, who have backed away from the public cloud for a variety of reasons. What is clear is that in earlier times, some businesses jumped headlong into cloud services, in a classic “me too” trend setting, before understanding all the ramifications of the new technology. They implemented a “Cloud First” policy, without understanding the business benefits and risks.

 

The same is still true today, but at least most organisations are a bit better informed, and the smart ones get advice from independent specialists (like Strategic Directions may we say!) to develop a cloud strategy that is aligned to their business goals.

 

The main reasons for this reversal of public cloud usage include the following:-

 

a.        Bill Shock (or Sticker Shock as some people call it) was by far the biggest reason for disconnecting from the public cloud systems. Most often, this is attributable to organisations not accurately estimating or understanding the entry, operations and exit costs involved in running services in the public cloud.

b.        A realisation by customers that there is no “one size fits all” solution for ICT services (no magic bullet as usual!), which is why there is a strong movement towards a hybrid or private cloud approach.

c.         In some circumstances, cloud benefits can dissipate as volumes and scale increase, the result often being reflected in dramatically escalating costs.

d.        In a classic understatement by an Industry heavyweight – “not all workloads are ready for the cloud…” . As with any other IT solution – a customer needs to know and understand what they are buying and how the service will support their business priorities. In other words, don’t believe all the sales hype!

e.        Retrieval of and movement of vast amounts of data has caught a lot of users off guard, some having to pay enormous fees to get access to their own data…? Organisations now know how quickly a few cents per hour or per gigabyte can add up! As the old saying goes – “it doesn’t sound much if you say it quickly…”

f.         Other reasons given for reversal of cloud services include:- internet problems, access to cost effective and resilient bandwidth, underwhelming performance, project failures, a general lack of full functionality in the cloud, and the old hoary chestnut – data sovereignty.

 

Summary

The CRN survey included varying statements from Australian organisations, including “we are reviewing our approach to cloud services” – to “some of our customers have moved assets to the cloud, found it uneconomical and moved back to their own infrastructure.”

As one senior professional commented – “depending on scale and requirements, putting internal infrastructure in the cloud may not be as cost effective as running it in house.”

 

The bottom line is that any organisation considering a move to cloud based services, MUST first develop a CLOUD Strategy that aligns with the Corporate Business and ICT Plans.

 

A Cloud Readiness Assessment is a key component of the cloud strategy process. This approach should provide the same degree of diligence as would be required if you were looking to purchase and implement a completely new hardware and software solution, because in the cold hard light of day – the business impact of the wrong decision(s) is exactly the same.

 

Talk to specialists who are completely independent of any vendors you are considering for your cloud migration plans, and make sure you clearly understand the entry, operations and exit costs and services involved (not always an easy task!!)

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Texas Floods highlight the importance of Disaster Recovery Planning for Data Centres September 2017

The recent flooding and storm damage brought on by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, is a timely reminder of the need to have a very sound disaster recovery plan for your data centre that has been tested as much as possible, and which anticipates as much as possible what could go wrong in the event of a catastrophe.

 

Each natural disaster that takes place is a wakeup call for data centre operators around the globe. It is also a timely reminder to the customers of those operators, that even if they have outsourced some of their risk by contracting with a cloud or data centre provider to manage their infrastructure, assuring their data is protected and ICT services are available in the event of a disaster is ultimately their responsibility.

 

That said – given the magnitude of Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to hit the USA in over 10 years, there were several cases of data centres successfully weathering the storm, despite absolutely devastating conditions.

 

  • Some of the major challenges facing the Texas Data Centre Operators included:-
    a. Flooding. Not just the risk to the facility, but the fact that roads were impassable. This raised issues such as access by staff (many of whom either volunteered to stay, or could not get to work or were trapped at work), customers and ultimately fuel deliveries for generators.
  • b. Power outages. The biggest challenge is continuous power to the data centre, and the need for backup generators in the event of major power loss. Fuel deliveries could be delayed because of the flooded roads around the facility, despite the fact that many data centre operators have national fuel delivery contracts that put them immediately behind hospitals, first responders and other public safety organisations. Some companies arranged for staff to work from home but residential areas are normally the first to lose power and communications, and few staff have a backup generator at home!
  • c. Manpower and Client assistance. One data centre in Texas moved cots, fresh water and food supplies into its facility in anticipation of critical employees being stranded at the facility due to flooded roads. Another facility had showers and washing machines installed for staff and customers being on-site for extended periods. These initiatives proved to be smart moves because of the extended period of the disaster.
  • d. Customer liaison and support. The smarter operators continued to monitor and assess the situation and to keep their customers updated on the status of things. Given the unpredictable nature of events, it is important to reassure customers (or stakeholders in the case of in-house facilities) and to ensure they themselves have disaster recovery plans in place for their own local systems.

 

It is worth remembering that Australia’s ICT Infrastructure has also been hit by significant storm and flood events – in 2010 and 2011 in Melbourne – then in 2012 in Brisbane – each time causing extensive damage to major datacentres and clients.

 

There is evidence to suggest that such occurrences are likely to multiply. A recent UK climate change report highlighted the potential risks to British Infrastructure – noting that flooding as a result of changes in weather patterns and increased rainfall poses the greatest risk of all, despite redundancy measures taken by the ICT industry.

 

The bottom line for Australian data centres, whether in-house, colocation, or cloud based – is the need for robust, redundant, regularly tested systems, and a well- structured and prepared disaster recovery plan, able to be implemented in the event of flooding or (in Australia particularly) bushfire.

 

The lessons from Texas are that, even though the facility itself may not be in direct danger from a catastrophic event, the reliance on support structures including staff, roads, supply chain challenges, are critical. Almost all data centre operators assume short term chaos, but if roads and other infrastructure remain affected for an extended period, as has happened in Texas, everyone needs to anticipate and have a “PLAN B”.

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Melbourne Trains debacle underlines the need for a greater focus on resilience and Disaster Recovery !

Last week’s Melbourne Trains debacle provided graphic evidence that organisations need to be constantly alert and prepared for the worst, when it comes to their ICT operations! Whilst tens of thousands of commuters were left to fume about the inadequacy of their Train systems, Uber was the only winner, hiking fares from a normal $8.00 […]

Last week’s Melbourne Trains debacle provided graphic evidence that organisations need to be constantly alert and prepared for the worst, when it comes to their ICT operations!

Whilst tens of thousands of commuters were left to fume about the inadequacy of their Train systems, Uber was the only winner, hiking fares from a normal $8.00 to $40.00 plus for a local trip, in a typical display of concern for customer!

Melbourne Trains claim to have traced the computer glitch to “a single server” in the Metro Control Room! (http://www.9news.com.au/national/2017/07/14/03/34/possible-compo-after-vic-rail-meltdown)  They offered cold comfort in stating that they were confident the system was not hacked nor subject to cyber attack.

Briefly mentioned in the reporting of this peak hour meltdown was the fact that the back -up systems did not work.

Herein lies the real problem, and a salutary lesson to everyone involved in the ongoing operation of their organisations’ IT Services.

There are 4 important ingredients in preventing your own “melt down”:-

1.        Prevention (as much as humanly possible) of a major outage by having a sound and robust IT Strategy and architecture to provide the resilience required to support business operations. Consider the resilience of ICT services during design, procurement and implementation to meet or exceed business and customer expectations.

2.        Recovery. Develop a sound and robust Disaster Recovery Plan that addresses the entire organisation and train your team in business expectations and their roles and responsibilities.

3.        Action. As a crucial part of the Disaster Recovery Plan, have a well- planned and tested Back Up Plan. The key word here is TESTED!  It is cool to have a beautifully documented Disaster Recovery Plan and a Back Up Plan – but it is a good idea to test the process regularly!

4.        Update. Implementation the opportunities for improvement identified during testing will only improve your service resilience, staff knowledge and disaster recovery capability.

Big BTW here – if you use 3rd party Cloud Services or Co-locate in a Data Centre – this still applies to you! You need to clearly understand what Disaster Recovery and Back Up Plans your Supplier has and if these are aligned to your business needs. If you don’t understand – get someone involved who does know what the correct processes should be, in the event of a major outage of some kind.

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2016 Data Centre World Review

Data-Center-World-In-Review3

Strategic Directions have been Strategic Partners with Data Center World for the past 7 years and this year was not exception with both Mike Andrea, Director and Chris Goldstone, Managing Director attending the DCW 2016 held in Las Vegas on 14-18 March.

They joined more than 1,000 professionals across all industries from all around the world. They not only attended a plethora of educational sessions related to the industry they present on an array of sessions , Expert Panel Q&A and the Closing Session.

Here is just a taste of some of the topics which presented by them, which generated a lot of discussion; “Total Cost of Ownership – Defining Data Centre Options as part of cost of ICT Services”

“When businesses consider the choice of in-house, colocation or manage services (including cloud) for some or all of their ICT services, business owners and executives expect the true cost of ownership of each option to be fully inclusive of all related costs. They also expect demonstrated alignment to business priorities, including responsiveness, flexibility and business continuity goals. Data Centre decisions have the ability to affect ICT service costs, availability and performance. The session discussed critical components of the TCO models and defined a common set of metrics for use, considering core business, supply, maintenance, infrastructure and staff costs that should be assessed when presenting TCO comparisons an metrics”

Expert Q&A Track: “Organizational Convergence”

In today’s world of the data center, lines are being crossed and joined between all the segments of the IT industry. Come and have a conversation with an industry expert and with others about some of the trends being seen and what you are experiencing.

Closing Session: ”Introduction to the Data Center Institute’s White Paper: Convergence – Organizational Changes” (Expert Panel)

Expression of Interest

Attend our Data Center World “In Review” & Industry Networking event 26th May Contact rgoldstone@strategicdirections.com.au to reserve your seat today!

To wrap up, the team from Strategic Directions walked away with global insight but more importantly shared their knowledge and experiences regarding the industry. If you are fortunate to attend a DCW events it’s well worth the investment, who knows you may even get a chance to submit a case study to present at one of the sessions. Visit www.datacenterworld,om for more information or attend our Data Center World “In Review” Forum.

 

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