Optimising the public cloud – Andrew Hillier – Ep71

 

The move to public cloud is nothing new, many companies have moved or attempted to move key workloads into the big hyperscale providers, AWS, Azure, Google and IBM, but for some it has been a mixed success.

Somethings of course move easily, especially if your initial forays into cloud are via software as a service platforms (SaaS) such as Microsoft Office365 and Salesforce, but if you’ve looked to move more customised, or traditional workloads this presents a whole set of new challenges.

We have probably all heard of cloud projects (or maybe even had projects) that have not gone to plan, this can be for a range of reasons, cost, technical difficulties, performance. There is a long list of reasons that cloud projects don’t go the way that’s expected. But at the heart of many of those projects is the presumption that cloud is both cheap and easy. It comes as quite the shock we we discover it isn’t!

However, things may be about to change as a new wave of technology companies are emerging that are starting to address, what is, the highly complex world of public cloud platforms. These companies are looking to extract some of the complexity away from the enterprise solutions architect and provide them with tools that assist them in their decision making and design, using a mixture of analytics, intelligence and human interaction to address the complexity of moving to the cloud.

This week is the first in a few shows where we look at the complexity of using public cloud and chat with some of the technology companies who trying to address some of these challenges by taking fresh approaches to the problem and aiming to make the cloud experience better, both technically and commercially.

In this first show I’m joined by Andrew Hillier, co-founder and CTO at Densify. Densify have taken a fascinating approach to the problem, built on Andrews long and strong analytics background.

Densify uses a robust analytics platform to build a full understanding of the workloads that have moved to the cloud, develop a performance profile then automatically modify those applications to fully take advantage of the cloud platform they are running on, ensuring they are optimised for the right services and right commercial cost models.

One particularly unique approach to their platform is the use of the Densify advisor, which then takes this analytics model and pairs it with a human being who works closely with their customer to take them through what the analytics platform has discovered and ensure that they understand any optimisation approach and its impact.

If that sounds interesting then dive in as we discuss a wide range of topics including why public cloud is complicated, why it should never be about the money alone, the limitations of first generation approaches to optimisation and how one of the biggest reasons cloud project fails is people buy the wrong cloud stuff!

Andrew provides some valuable insights and shares what is a pretty smart approach to the problem.

If you want to understand more about Densify you can visit densify.com

Find them on twitter @densify

Or on Instagram densify_cloud

Thanks for listening

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Something for the weekend – it’s back!

I haven’t done one of these posts for ages, just one of those things, end of the week, didn’t really get time to write them out. But this week I’ve listened to three really interesting podcasts and wanted to share them, so instead of tweeting them out individually I thought i’d pop them all into this blog.

One of the most fascinating areas of my role at the moment is working with organisations around their data strategy and future plans, a big part of those plans is how to get the most from their data in the future, using machine learning, AI, data analytics etc.

Shows and articles on those topics always catch my attention, but three this week really stood out.

Tech Village Podcast – Ep18 – The Dark Side of Algorithms – Guest: Rachel Traylor, Ph.D.

techvillage podcast

Rachel is a proper mathematician and delivers some fantastic insight into the world of analytics and the reality of just how complex this subject is and why it is crucial, if you are going to use analytics and algorithms you need to invest in true expertise.

Great listen from a proper expert in her field and you will learn lots.

Have a listen https://soundcloud.com/techvillage/ep-18-the-dark-side-of-algorithms-guest-rachel-traylor-phd

Arrow Bandwidth Big Data Edition. AI in the wild

On the AI subject, this special edition of the Arrow Bandwidth podcast features a recording of David Fearne chatting about practical implementations of AI and some of the projects that Arrow and David have worked on in the last few years.

He shares some of the challenges on deploying AI and also how services such as IBM Watson has had a significant impact on the ability to bring AI to all kinds of organisations, some fascinating case studies.

Windows Insider – Jobs of Tomorrow

Twindows insider podcasthis focuses on some of the new job types that the future of computing is starting to generate and includes a fascinating chat with members of Microsoft’s quantum computing team, what quantum computing can do, the kind of problems they are solving and the skills they look for to help build this fascinating technology!

You can find the show here : http://windowsinsider.mpsn.libsynpro.com/jobs-of-tomorrow

Some fascinating listening there, so while you’re kicking back this weekend why not give them a listen.

And of course I can’t forget a bit of self promotion, if you’ve never checked out Tech Interview, then Episode 70 is a great place to start as Storage Industry Analyst Howard Marks joins me to discuss the state of the data market, the impact of cloud, the changing roles of those working in the industry and what the future holds.

Check it out here : The State of the data nation – Howard Marks – Ep70

If you’d rather read your tech than listen to it, then I’ve published a couple of articles in the last week, one looking at the challenges of using public cloud storage in the enterprise and how some of those challenges are starting to be tackled, you can find that here:  https://www.infoworld.com/article/3290394/cloud-storage/the-challenges-of-public-cloud-storage-and-how-to-overcome-them.html

And last but by no means least, I revisit an old favourite as we discuss data protection for Office365, As i take a look at Veeam’s new Backup for Office365 tool and why you may want to take the do it yourself stance to protecting your 365 data. Protecting 365 – a look at Veeam Backup for Office 365

Enjoy the content and enjoy the weekend.

 

 

Protecting 365 – a look at Veeam Backup for Office 365

Recently Veeam announced version 2.0 of their Backup for Office 365 product this extended the functionality of its predecessor with much needed support for SharePoint and OneDrive for business. While looking into the release and what’s new it prompted me to revisit the topic of protecting Office 365 data, especially the approach of building your own solution to do so.

Back in April I wrote a post for Gestalt IT (“How to protect Office 365 data”), the basics of which considered the broadly held misconception that Microsoft are taking care of your data on their SaaS platform. While Microsoft provide some protection via retention and compliance rules and a 30-day rolling backup of OneDrive, this is not a replacement for a robust enterprise level data protection solution.

The article examined this issue and compared two approaches for dealing with the challenge, either via SaaS (NetApp’s SaaS backup platform was used as an example) or doing it yourself with Veeam. The article wasn’t intended to cover either approach in detail but to discuss the premise of Office 365 data protection.

This Veeam release though seemed like a good opportunity to look in more detail into the DIY approach to protecting our Office 365 data.

Why flexibility is worth the work

One of the drivers for many in the shift to 365 is simplification, removing the complexity that can come with SharePoint and Exchange deployments. It then surely follows that if I wanted simplicity, I’d want the same with my data protection platform. Why would I want to worry about backup repositories, proxy and backup servers or any other element of infrastructure?

The reality however, is when it comes to data protection, simplification and limiting complexity may not be the answer. Simplicity of SaaS can come at a price of reducing our ability to be flexible enough to meet our requirements, for example limiting our options to;

  • Have data backed up where we want it.
  • Deal with hybrid infrastructure and protect on-prem services.
  • Have full flexibility with restore options.

These limitations can be a problem for some organisations and when we consider mitigation against provider “lock-in” and the pressures of more stringent compliance, then you can see how for some, flexibility quickly overrides the desire for simplicity.

It is this desire for flexibility that makes building your own platform an attractive proposition. We can see with Veeam’s model the broad flexibility this approach can provide;

Backup Repository

Data location is possibly the key deciding factor when deciding to build your own platform, Veeam provide the flexibility to store our data in our own datacentre, a co-lo facility, or even a public cloud repository. Giving the flexibility to meet the most stringent data protection needs.

Hybrid Support

The next most important driver for choosing to build your own solution, is protecting hybrid workloads. While many have embraced Office365 in its entirety, there are still organisations who, for numerous reasons, have maintained an on-premises element to their infrastructure. This hybrid deployment can be a stumbling block for SaaS providers, with an Office 365 focus only.

Veeam Backup for Office365 fully supports the protection of data both on-prem and in the cloud, all through one console and one infrastructure, under a single licence. This capability is hugely valuable, simplifying the data protection process for hybrid environments and removing any need to have multiple tools protecting the separate elements.

Recovery

It’s not just backup flexibility when building your own platform that has value, it is also the range of options this can bring to recovery. This flexibility to take data backed up in any location and restore it to multiple different locations is highly valuable and sometimes an absolute necessity for anything from practicality to regulatory reasons.

What’s the flexibility cost?

Installation

Does this extra flexibility come with a heavy price of complexity and cost? In Veeam’s case no, they are renowned for simplicity of deployment and Backup for Office 365 is no different. It requires just the usual components of backup server, proxy, backup repository and product explorers with the size of the protected infrastructure dictating the scale of the protection platform.

There are of course limitations (Backup for Office 365 System Requirements) one major consideration is bandwidth, it’s important to consider how much data you’ll be bringing into your backup repository both initially and for subsequent incremental updates. While most SaaS providers will have substantial connectivity into Microsoft’s platform for these operations, you may not.

Licencing

A major benefit of software as a service is the commercial model, paying by subscription can be very attractive and can be lost when deploying our own solution. This is not the case with Backup for Office 365 which is licenced on a subscription basis.

Do it Yourself V as a Service

The Gestalt IT article ended with a comparison of the “pro’s and Cons” of the two approaches.

Do It Yourself

As A Service

Pro’s

Cons

Pro’s

Cons

Flexibility Planning Simplicity Lack of control
Control Management Overhead Lower Management Overhead Inability to customise
Customisation Responsibility Ease of Deployment Cloud only workloads
Protect Hybrid Deployments Data Sovereignty

I think these points remain equally relevant and when deciding what approach is right for you, regardless of what we’ve discussed here with Veeam’s offering. If SaaS is the right approach, it remains so, but If you do take the DIY approach, then I hope this post gives you an indication of the flexibility and customisation that is possible and why this can be crucial as part of your data protection strategy.

If building your own platform is your chosen route then Veeam Backup for Office365 V2 is certainly worthy of your consideration, But regardless of approach remember the data sat in Office365 is your responsibility, make sure its protected.

If you want to know more, you can contact me on twitter @techstringy or check out Veeam’s website.

The State of the data nation – Howard Marks – Ep70

A couple of times a year I like to do a show that reviews the current state of the data market, the chance to take a check on the challenges facing both the makers and consumers of data technology, how they are been addressed, the technology changes and trends that decisions makers should consider and what the future holds for the industry.

I always think these shows are useful for those who are tasked with making strategic decisions and designing data platforms for their businesses, I know when I speak with people on these topics it’s always useful to understand current market thinking and the general direction that the technology vendors are taking.

Earlier this year I spoke with industry analyst Chris Evans as we looked ahead at what 2018 had in-store (you can find that episode here). For this half year review, I was very fortunate to get some time with renowned industry analyst Howard Marks.

Howard is founder and Chief Scientist at DeepStroage.net as well as co-host of the excellent Greybeards on storage podcast. With over 30 years’ experience as a consultant and writer on the storage industry he is very well placed to comment on the current state of the market and its direction.

In episode 70 of Tech Interviews, I chat with Howard about a range of topics. We discuss the current rate of change of the industry and is it the rate or amount of change that’s concerning us?

We look at the impact cloud is having and how much of a driver to change it is, Howard shares some thoughts on Software as a Service (SaaS) and its impact on traditional roles.

We examine in more detail changing roles, how storage admins need to be in charge of “data paranoia” and we ask if simplification is a good thing? and why cloud simplicity doesn’t sit well with organisational complexity.

We end our show looking ahead, what Howard would like to see the storage industry tackle, why a focus on data management will be key and the impact that storage class memory is going to have on both producers of and consumers of technology.

Howard shares some fantastic insights and left me with a lot of food for thought. I am sure he will you too.

To find out more about what Howard does, you can visit DeepStroage.net follow Howard on twitter @DeepStorageNet and if you deal with data and want to understand the data technology market then get the Greybeards podcast on your listening playlist, you’ll find it here.

Thanks for listening.

Don’t forget me and Mrs Techstringy are taking on the Prudential Ride London event for the Marie Curie charity in the UK to help support their work in delivering end of life care, if you can help and support us, it would be much appreciated, you can find our story here.

Fear of the delete button – Microsoft and compliance – Stefanie Jacobs – Ep69

Compliance of data continues to trouble many business execs, whether IT focused or not, it is high on the agenda for most organisations. Anyone who has listened to this show in the past will know, while technology only plays a small part in a building an organisations compliance programme, it can play a significant part in their ability to execute it.

A few weeks ago I wrote an article as part of the “Building a modern data platform” series, this article Building a modern data platform “prevention” focussed on how Microsoft Office365 could aide an organisation in preventing the loss of data, either accidental or malicious. This article explains how Microsoft have some excellent, if not well known tools, inside Office365 including a number of predefined templates which when enabled allow us to deploy a range of governance and control capabilities quickly and easily, immediately improving an organisations ability to execute its compliance plans and reduce the risk of data leaks.

This got me to thinking, what else do Microsoft have in their portfolio that people don’t know about? What is their approach to business compliance and can that help organisations to more effectively deliver their compliance plans?

This episode of the podcast explores that exact topic, this is a show I’ve wanted to do for a while and finally have found the right person to help explore Microsoft’s approach and what tools are quickly and easily available to help us deliver robust compliance.

This week’s guest is Stefanie Jacobs, a Technology Solutions Professional at Microsoft, with 18 years’ experience in compliance. Stefanie, who has the fantastic twitter handle of @GDPRQueen, shares with fantastic enthusiasm the importance of compliance, Microsoft’s approach and how their technology is enabling organisations to make compliance a key part of their business strategy.

In this episode we explore all the compliance areas you’d ever want, including the dreaded “fear of the delete button”. Stefanie shares Microsoft’s view of compliance and how it took them a while to realise that security and compliance are different things.

We talk about people, the importance of education and shared responsibility. We also look at the triangle of compliance, people, process and technology. Stefanie explains the importance of terminology and understanding exactly what we mean when we discuss compliance.

We also discuss Microsoft’s 4 steps to developing a compliance strategy, before we delve into some of the technology they have available to help underpin your compliance strategy, especially the security and compliance section of Office365.

We wrap up with a chat on what a regulator looks for when you have had a data breach and also what Joan Collins has to do with compliance!

Finally, Stefanie provides some guidance on the first steps you can take as you develop your compliance strategy.

Stefanie is a great guest, with a real enthusiasm for compliance and how Microsoft can help you deliver your strategy.

To find out more about how Microsoft can help with compliance you can visit both their Service Trust and GDPR Assessment portals.

You can contact Stefanie via email Stefanie.jacobs@microsoft.com as well as follow her on twitter @GDPRQueen.

Thanks for listening

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