Five SLA Criteria to Evaluate When Public Cloud Shopping
Last December, Gartner's lead cloud IaaS analyst Lydia Leong made the now oft-repeated declaration that many leading public cloud SLAs are "practically useless." For companies considering offering enterprise IT services in the cloud, this type of public proclamation undoubtedly fuels the fire of public cloud naysayers who insist that enterprise-level services cannot be delivered via public cloud infrastructure.
Not surprisingly, at Dimension Data, we're big believers in the ability of the public cloud to deliver all types of enterprise IT and B2B SaaS applications, though Ms. Leong's comments highlight the importance of vendor selection when making your platform choice.
One thing we’ve learned in cloud is that no one ever asks for things to go slower. And that the faster we go, the higher the speed bar keeps getting raised. As a result, we’re always trying to find ways to make the Dimension Data Cloud perform ever more quickly.
Since launching Dimension Data Cloud services, we’ve opened Managed Cloud Platforms (MCPs) on 5 different continents and our clients have been putting up sites in every corner of the world. This allows them to not only serve worldwide customers with low latency, it also means they can replicate their data in a variety of locations for the greatest level of redundancy. To this end, we have been deploying multiple systems for individual clients to help them speed up both image replication and access/transfer of database data.
One of the benefits of our specialization in helping ISVs successfully deliver their SaaS products is that we are exposed to dozens of new SaaS architectures every month. We see everything from single-tenant legacy software solutions to the latest "stateless, self-healing, share-nothing, built to withstand massive failure" application architectures.
Given our experience, we're often asked by clients for advice on their architecture, particularly related to what should be virtualized and what should not. Not surprisingly, most new prospective clients enter the discussion assuming they need to migrate to a 100% virtualized environment when they move their application "to the cloud." The unrelenting hype about the latest public cloud offering or newest cloud feature set has IT teams neck-deep in cloud mania.
Our recent release had a little trumpeted feature called anti-affinity. Anti-affinity is the ability to insure that your servers sit on distinct vmHosts within our architecture. It allows an even greater level of High Availability within your environments.
I was asked by one of our largest clients why we needed to offer this service. His question was very simple; if Dimension Data offers a 99.99% up-time SLA, then doesn't that mean I can just run one server and be sure it's up all the time? That mindset has become a common misperception in the cloud. Cloud providers provide all the redundancy, so I don't need to make sure my application is HA.
Two things have been happening lately that’s got us thinking about how people buy cloud. First of all we recently launched our Dimension Data Cloud sites around the world and working with our regions to do on-line sales on 5 continents. Secondly, we were having a conversation with one of our One Cloud partners on how they could accelerate their cloud uptake. They had implemented the same solution we sell directly, at the same price points, and we had worked with them to provide all sorts of sales training and marketing collateral. Yet their sales were still below their expectations.
What a difference a year makes! In October, we received notification from Gartner that, for the first time in our company's history, we had been selected as a Leader in their Magic Quadrant (MQ) for Cloud IaaS. Gartner defines "leaders" in the MQ as distinguishing themselves by offering an excellent service, and having an ambitious future roadmap. Despite the play on words in the title, this was no surprise to us, as our team has been demonstrating to clients for the last three years that we belonged in this category, though it was exciting to see that Gartner now agrees with us as well. :)
On a serious note, we're extremely proud to be selected as one of only five companies in the world to land in the leaders quadrant, and see it as a tremendous validation of the strategy we've put in place over the last three years since we first made our public cloud available.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post, a bit more than a year ago, Dimension Data acquired OpSource. The idea behind the purchase was to integrate the two companies, capitalize on OpSource's expertise in the SaaS and Cloud markets, and make the OpSource offering available to Dimension Data's extensive global client base.
I'd be willing to bet that the last time you asked a Cloud salesperson about their security story, the answer loosely mimicked the following... "At <vendor>, security is of paramount performance. We take pride in offering security that is iron-clad, enterprise-class, best-of-breed, industry-leading…"
In fact, I hear this so often myself that I'm considering implementing a "buzzword swear jar" my sales reps have to contribute to any time I observe one of these over-hyped and largely meaningless words used in front of a client. In my opinion, if we're going down that path, we just as well say our security is "awesome," which would be more succinct and provide roughly the same amount of information.
So, if everyone is saying the same thing, as a buyer, what questions can you ask to uncover meaningful differences in Cloud security offerings?
Obviously, in the context of a short blog post, we can only scratch the surface of a complex subject like this, but below are a few points I find most compelling in OpSource's approach to Cloud security.
While the lack of any recent activity here on the blog wouldn’t indicate it, the last 12 months have been extremely exciting for OpSource. Last June, we were acquired by Dimension Data, a ~$6 billion global systems integrator and the world’s largest reseller of Cisco technology. For OpSource, the acquisition was validation of the huge value of our Cloud technology, which was the key driver behind the acquisition for Dimension Data.
Since then, OpSource and DiData have been busy integrating the two companies and cultures (which have proven to be a very strong fit). In addition, our infrastructure teams have been hard at work quietly doubling the size of our global Cloud footprint. Since last year, we’ve opened new datacenters in the Netherlands, Sydney Australia, Johannesburg South Africa, and are currently working on our next location, which we expect to announce before the end of this year.