1 June 2012Life

Technology: into the cloud

Depending on your perspective, cloud computing can mean many things, from infrastructure as a service (IaaS), to simple outsourced web hosting. Here we intend to explore two facets of the cloud: IaaS and software as a service (SaaS). The cloud computing industry has expanded exponentially in recent years, with providers such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon and now Verizon (with the purchase of Terremark) providing cloud services, that is, a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server. With the proliferation of cloud service providers globally, and the meshed nature of cloud computing, businesses in Bermuda are questioning where their data resides. Legislation such as the US Patriot Act has raised further questions regarding data residency. This has created a market for offshore IaaS and SaaS providers, where the data is kept securely in a neutral jurisdiction.

Businesses in Bermuda are looking for ways to curtail their expanding capital expenditure, and many are embracing the advantages of outsourcing tasks to an IaaS provider. By removing the cost of ever-evolving hardware needs and replacing this with a predictable monthly recurring operating expense, companies have eliminated the operational burden of sophisticated and customised hardware and the retraining of staff for revenue generation. This has added predictability to their IT budgets and enables them to scale up their operations in times of peak demand.

One such IaaS provider is QuoVadis, which plays a leading role in developing IaaS and private cloud services for Bermuda. The QuoVadis technology platform provides international companies with the ability to rapidly deploy IT infrastructure (servers, storage, security and telecommunications), as well as adapt the scale of their needs to keep pace with business demands. The QuoVadis platform accommodates a broad spectrum of businesses, from the small startup looking for centralised file and print services, to complex international organisations looking for high performance computing.

“When setting up a new company, executives want to avoid IT becoming an obstacle in terms of cost or delay. QuoVadis provides cost-effective, high performance computing and data centre solutions that enable companies to hit the ground running and to retain focus on their own core business,” said Gavin Dent, CEO of QuoVadis Services.

SaaS providers have similar advantages to IaaS providers, where companies outsource software and, in some cases, hardware. TheSaaS model also adds predictability to the business and the ability to scale up in times of peak demand, but with the added advantage of offloading the burden of the complex software environments to the provider.

"Corporate data are protected with security features such as remote data deletion, port access control, device tracing and state-of-the-art encryption-- all especially valuable when a PC is lost or stolen."

Businesses run on data, so data backup and the more important concept, data recovery, are essential. When data were backed up on tape and the tape transferred to a secure location, businesses had the false confidence that the data and their revenue were safe in case of an unforeseen event. However, the tape medium is unreliable, and hard to manage and retrieve—especially after a disaster. A recent study by US information technology research and advisory firm Gartner found that 15 percent of one-year-old tapes fail, and 35 percent of three-year-old tapes fail. There is also significant compliance pressure to encrypt data and the speed and cost of encrypting tape backups is preventing the widespread adoption of encryption in the industry. In regard to this, Gartner indicated that by 2014, 80 percent of the market will opt for advanced, disk-based appliances and backup software-only solutions.

In view of this, backup and recovery technology has evolved with the enterprise applications that are being protected. Today we find SaaS providers taking the disk-to-disk backups away from client premises. Sending the data encrypted over the wide-area network allows data to move quickly, efficiently and safely. Second, the backups can be stored in multiple locations, including near to the business. This satisfies the compliance issue of offsite backups of encrypted data. In the event of a site-wide disaster, such as the false activation of the office’s fire suppression system, having encrypted copies of the data in an offsite, offshore jurisdiction, protects the business from prolonged disruption.

Logic Communications has launched LogicVault, powered by EVault—a cloud-connected data backup and recovery service. In addition to LogicVault’s having been built on the leading technology platform (67 petabytes of data under management) and a secure cloud infrastructure that is easy to deploy and manage, Logic also provides a team of data recovery experts to assist the enterprise with its enterprise risk management and disaster recovery (DR) strategy, which ensures that customers’ data are protected and always available.

“LogicVault also provides remote disaster recovery and business continuity services that ensure that critical data and systems can be accessed within as little as four hours of a disaster being declared,” said Ben Barlaba, head of sales for Logic. “End-to-end encryption ensures that the data remain private, satisfying specific regulatory compliance requirements. The service is tested before it’s activated to ensure postdisaster execution and, because the service is cloud-based, there are no upfront capital costs. The service actually eliminates the expense and complexity of maintaining one’s own DR site.

“LogicVault can also be used to provide endpoint protection, with backup, recovery and data security of desktops and laptops across mobile workforces. Backups to the LogicVault cloud and to the locahard drive automatically protect endpoint data without disrupting users, and ensure backups and restores keep working even when machines are offline. Users can easily recover files with no help from the help desk,” continued Barlaba.

With this service, corporate data are protected with security features such as remote data deletion, port access control, device tracing and state-of-the-art encryption—all especially valuable when a PC is lost or stolen.

“The level of data loss is huge, and only a few organisations are employing data protection best practices,” said Kim Caldwell, director of strategic alliances at EVault. “We are very excited about our partnership with Logic Communications in Bermuda. The combined expertise of the two companies brings significant value to organisations that are concerned about data loss and the business disruption that follows a disaster.”

The possibility of data loss has become a very important concern for organisations everywhere, as much for the impact it has on the organisation’s reputation as that on its revenues. Protection of digital assets can bring far-reaching benefits well beyond that of securing a competitive advantage, as it also prevents significant economic losses and provides the comfort of knowing that your data are safe and secure.

Richard Munday is vice president, international business development at Keytech. He can be contacted at: