The 2018 Data Centre World conference program look at the following key topics.
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.
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.
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:-
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
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:-
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!
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:-
In the end, the discussion group agreed that the following actions needed attention in the future:-
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.
The traditional train of thought to managing vendors is changing with the wider adoption of cloud services. Partnerships are key for business critical ICT services; as is transparency as to both what the organisation expects and how the vendor proposes to provide the service.
Management of cloud based services requires a change in thought regarding the construct of three key components being; contracts, relationship and performance management.
Contracts: The contract must address the relationship, based on the vendor type, required by the organisation. Vendor’s relationships under service based contracts for ICT services require more performance based with outcomes defined rather than products specified, well defined inter-vendor dependencies and integration points, not just with the organisation but its partners also.
Relationships: The more strategic the partner (ie. the greater reliance the customer has on it), the greater the risk to the organisation of things were to go wrong. It is important to categorise your vendors and manage each category accordingly e.g. a Legacy or commodity cloud service could be deemed as low risk whereby a new or strategic partner should have a higher focus from the outset of the vendor management function as it will deliver the highest return in terms of strategic business outcomes but also introduce higher risks that require mitigation.
Performance: The cloud vendor must be accountable for the delivery of services in a similar manner to the organisations IT manager being accountable for the delivery for an on premise service. Vendors must be performance managed over the life of the services contract against agreed criteria to ensure the organisation is achieving optimal performance from their cloud services. As important as it is to agree performance criteria during the establishment of a contract it is of utmost importance that the organisation understands the criteria and has the ability measure it. Performance must be measured and reported against agreed KPI’s – and the services contract should include penalties on the service provider commensurate with the lost value or productivity to the organisation noting that incentives and rewards should be considered for the vendor exceeding the KPI’s and increasing organisation value or productivity (e.g. positive media releases regarding the success of the service).
Organisations must understand the varying levels of control they will have across public, private and hybrid cloud solutions for managing their cloud service contracts, relationships and performance. Understanding this in advance will significantly increase the likelihood that an organisation will select the correct cloud service model to support their business needs whilst aligning to their business risk appetite.
The traditional models of vendor management have changed. Three key components can ensure successful cloud deployments, reduce the risk of excess costs and ensure the organisations data integrity is maintained and is accessible through all stages of the cloud service agreement.
With the increasing adoption and confidence in Cloud Computing Services, the new customer/vendor relationship impacts are changing significantly from how things have been done in the past. Organisations will buy services not products, will rely on vendors to deliver ICT services not hardware and software to support in-house service delivery and vendors become more entrenched in the relationships with the organisation without being a part of the organisation.
With change; comes inherent risks which if not effectively managed may significantly impact to your organisation later. The importance of ICT Governance within organisations should be at the forefront of any manager’s strategic planning as you prepare to transition to cloud computing services.
Two key components that organisations need to consider are an ICT Governance Framework and a Vendor Management Plan.
A robust ICT Governance Framework will assist those charged with the governance of ICT to understand and fulfil their legal, regulatory and ethical obligations in respect of the organisations use of ICT services. The Framework will also inform strategic decision making by enabling those charged with the governance of ICT to focus on the strategic use and business value of technology, rather than on the specifics of individual technologies.
For many organisations, vendor management commences as a key function following the signing of a contract. However industry best practice suggest vendor management is a strategic function that must be applied well before a business engages the market. Organisations must ensure they categorise their vendors and apply the correct evaluation and negotiation focus from the beginning. The Vendor Management Plan should break down how differing vendor categories should be managed, provide guidance on contractual arrangements for cloud services and determine how performance will be measured and reported.
The traditional train of thought to managing application services must change for cloud based services to cater for service termination and transition provisions – once a cloud service contract expires or is terminated due to performance issues customers are challenged with ensuring the integrity of their data is maintained whilst maintaining continuity to the business functions during the transition to a new service provider. In the past a breakdown in the vendor relationship or the expiry of the contract allowed the customer to maintain the application on premise without ongoing support.
Governance for cloud based ICT services must consider the entire service lifecycle from service selection, through entry and ongoing operations to service exit provisions. At the end of the day, you remain responsible for the provision of effective services to your customers, regardless of the cost and quality of the cloud based ICT services you choose to enable your business.
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.
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!!)
One industry leader – American giant AT & T recently committed to edge computing services that will see the company put micro data centres in its central offices and cell towers throughout North America.
While acknowledging that hyper scale cloud has advantages in scale and efficiency – AT & T recognises that some things need to have processing power much closer to the source of the data. The advantages will be lower latency, highly parallel, near real-time workloads that will play a huge role in many other emerging applications including IoT, Smart City applications, Smart Phone applications, autonomous cars, AR/AV and robotics.
In a recent US Government Technology publication – scientists predict that IoT and Smart City projects will force the move of more computing to the networks edge. They say that moving processing power to the edge of networks would solve many of the toughest problems associated with robotics and computing Infrastructure.
IoT, Smart City applications and data analytics mean connecting pools of data that never needed to be brought together before. Traditionally, organisations have maintained data silos successfully, without sharing – but the advent of Smart City and IoT technologies is forcing the move away from silos to more open and mutual sharing of systems and data.
Another interesting by-product of this development will see greater use of better and more powerful sensors including RFID – by adding processing capability that will allow them to act on a real time basis. The increased deployment of sensors on roads, bridges, and other infrastructure is already happening particularly in Smart City applications around the world. In years to come the current sensors will improve exponentially in terms of power, capability and intelligence.
In Smart City situations, the growing need by city leaders for more operational intelligence and a greater focus on the needs of the community will drive the need for edge computing power. Currently there are advanced IoT and Smart City applications (using edge computing methodologies) underway in Mesa, Arizona / Palo Alto, California, Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles. In the words of the team involved “ we are moving the algorithm to the data and not the data to the algorithm.”
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.
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”.
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.
WEST CHESTER, Ohio, Feb. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Penton Technology’s AFCOM and Data Center World and Strategic Directions today officially announced a strategic alliance partnership. AFCOM and Data Center World have the mission to advance data center and IT infrastructure professionals by delivering comprehensive and vendor-neutral education and peer-to-peer networking to its members around the world. Strategic Directions is dedicated to ensuring innovative data center design, operations and management is supported across the global marketplace.
Data Center World is the global conference for data center, facilities and IT professionals. It offers premier education, abundant networking and the broadest access to best-in-class vendors. Designed to help data center and IT infrastructure professionals with challenging issues, Data Center World presents top-quality knowledge without bias toward a specific vendor product or service. Data Center World will be held April 3-6, 2017 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA.
Strategic Directions is the only company outside North America on the AFCOM Data Center Institute (DCI) Board, a thought leadership group that provides guidance in all areas of the data center industry including cloud computing, security, disaster recovery, business process continuity and data center operations and management. Additionally, Strategic Directions is an active local AFCOM Chapter supporter in the Asia Pacific region.
Mike Andrea, Director Strategic Directions and member of the DCI Board, is a frequent presenter at Data Center World and at the local Chapter level and was the lead author of the DCI White Paper “Data Center Sizing and Density.” Andrea said, “We will continue to invest in our relationship with AFCOM and the DCI Board by providing thought leadership and educational content to assist ICT and facilities professionals with the challenges and opportunities they face on a daily basis in a rapidly changing environment. The sole focus of Strategic Directions is to provide our customers with the knowledge and insights to maximise the value from their ICT and data centre investments. We are looking forward to presenting at the 2017 Data Center World event in Los Angeles and continuing our thought leadership work with the global data center industry as well as our Data Center World and AFCOM colleagues.”
Tom Roberts, President, AFCOM, Chairman, Data Center World said, “Strategic Directions has been a tremendous supporter of AFCOM, Data Center World and our efforts to present top-quality knowledge without bias toward a specific vendor product or service. We look forward to a long lasting relationship with the Strategic Directions team.”
This year, Data Center World will be co-located with HostingCon and will feature an expanded exhibit hall that combines the best of both conferences exhibitors. Attendees will be able to discover even more products and services than ever before and have the chance to make more connections.
Registration for Data Center World can be found at www.datacenterworld.com.
ABOUT DATA CENTER WORLD
Data Center World is the global conference for data center, facilities and IT professionals. It offers premier education, abundant networking and the broadest access to best-in-class vendors. Designed to help data center and IT infrastructure professionals with challenging issues, Data Center World presents top-quality knowledge without bias toward a specific vendor product or service. Data Center World will be held April 3-6, 2017 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA. For more information, visit datacenterworld.com.
Penton Technology, AFCOM, HostingCon and Data Center World are part of Informa, the international business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and events group. Informa serves commercial, professional and academic communities, helping them connect and learn, and creating and providing access to content and intelligence that helps people and businesses work smarter and make better decisions faster.
Informa has over 7,500 colleagues in more than 20 countries and a presence in all major geographies. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a member of the FTSE 100.
About Strategic Directions (www.strategicdirections.com.au)
Strategic Directions are ICT Strategy and Management specialists, providing vendor independent ICT and data centre advice and guidance to Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies, as well as Commercial Organisations, at the Executive Management level.
The sole focus of the Strategic Directions Group is to help our clients improve their operational efficiency and maximise the return on their ICT and Data Centre Investments.
AFCOM Strategic Partners support the data centre industry.
Strategic Directions is AFCOM’s Asia Pacific Strategic Alliance Partner where we support collaboration of data centre professionals, vendors and providers in continuous learning and business improvement regarding data centre management and operations.
SOURCE AFCOM; Data Center World