18 July 2013Life

The future of good data support

Depending on your perspective, cloud computing can mean many things, from infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to simple outsourced web hosting. This article will explore two facets of the cloud: IaaS and software as a service (SaaS).

The cloud computing industry has expanded exponentially, with providers such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon and now Verizon (with the purchase of Terremark) providing cloud services. I wonder whether the team at VMware knew they were creating an entirely new industry, as many IaaS platforms are built on VMware products. With the proliferation of cloud service providers globally, and the meshed nature of cloud computing, businesses in Bermuda are asking where their data resides. Legislation, such as the US Patriot act, has caused Bermuda businesses to question 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 everexpanding capital expenditure budgets, and many are embracing the advantages of outsourcing the hardware to an IaaS provider. By removing the cost to evergreen the hardware and replacing this with a predictable monthly recurring operating expense, companies have removed the operational burden of sophisticated and customised hardware and repurposed staff for revenue generation. This has added predictability to their IT budgets and allowed them to scale 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 gives international companies the ability to deploy IT infrastructure rapidly (servers, storage, security, and telecommunications), as well as to adapt the scale to keep pace with business demands. The QuoVadis platform accommodates a broad spectrum of businesses, from the small startup looking for centralised fi le 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 costeffective, high performance computing and data centre solutions that enable companies to hit the ground running and to retain focus on their own core businesses,” says Gavin Dent, CEO of QuoVadis.

To add another level of redundancy, service provider Foreshore in the Channel Island of Jersey has built vCloud, a product very similar to that of QuoVadis. vCloud gives re/insurance companies the ability to have secure and predictable cloud computing in a friendly jurisdiction.

“Foreshore’s cloud services offer innovative levels of adaptability, flexibility, customisation, scalability and protection without the cost or the complexity of maintaining servers, networking and facility infrastructures at a secondary site,” says Polly Pickering, vice president of the Caribbean and Latin America for Foreshore. “We offer a variety of disaster recovery applications and scenarios that dovetail with any organisation’s business continuity plans.

“Our disaster recovery pay-as-you-go model has been a revolutionary success in the region. Depending on the recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) different scenarios can be designed and clients no longer have to provision disaster recovery infrastructure based on predicted peak workloads, which is inefficient and costly. Our vCloud makes it possible to ‘drag and drop’ computing workloads from internal virtualised infrastructure to our foreshore cloud platform and back, from a ‘single pane of glass’. With this seamless management, users can view and transfer virtual machines and virtual apps and templates between environments in minutes.”

Pickering continues: “We understand the business implications of technology changes in terms of data security and jurisdiction and the importance of data remaining in an approved jurisdiction with infrastructure managed 24/7 by professionals. Our world-class facilities are PCI DSS Level 1 and ISO 27001 certified, and we pride ourselves on our 100 percent service level agreements which are being delivered today to 350 customers in 30 jurisdictions worldwide.”

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

Data backup

Businesses run on data. That’s why data backup and the more important concept, data recovery, are so essential. When data was backed up to 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 event. However, the tape medium is unreliable, hard to manage and retrieve, especially after a disaster. The reason for this is evident in a study by Gartner, which stated 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 wide spread adoption of encryption in the industry. In this regard, Gartner stated, by 2014, 80 percent of the market will choose advanced, disk-based appliances and backup software-only solutions.

As such, 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 off the client’s premises.Sending the data encrypted over the wide area network allows data to move quickly, efficiently and safely.

In addition, the backups can be stored in multiple locations, including local to the business. This satisfies the compliance issue of offsite backups of encrypted data, while in the event of a site-wide disaster such as the false activation of the office’s fire suppression system, having encrypted copies of its data in an offsite, offshore jurisdiction, protects the business from prolonged disruption.

Foreshore in Jersey is uniquely suited to assist re/insurance providers with their enterprise risk management and disaster recovery strategies. Foreshore has built a remote backup and disaster recovery service in its Tier 4 datacentre located in the Channel Islands.

“Unlike some jurisdictions, Jersey has not implemented the type of legislation that grants rights to the interception and seizure of data in the same way as the US Patriot act or the Regulations of Investigatory Powers Act in the UK,” says Chris Evans, CEO of Foreshore.

“A third party may seek to gain access to customer information but can attempt to do so only with a court order. The order would be served on Foreshore and as a data processor the company is incapable of disclosing information that it cannot access. Information processed by Foreshore is in an encrypted form (and is therefore not able to be viewed by us) and, even if inadvertently disclosed, it would be of no value to the third party as it would be indecipherable. In the unlikely event that the customer itself sought access under data protection law, the response would be the same, because Foreshore does not have access to the information.”

To support these IaaS and SaaS providers, Logic has built an offshore network cloud that connects Bermuda to the other offshore jurisdictions in a secure, predictable and redundant fashion.

“Our newest product, Business Continuity Gateway, allows your traveling executives a secure method for accessing your business applications,” says Vicki Coelho, CEO of Logic. “This service, in combination with logic’s PIP (Predictable IP) service, is the backbone of a company’s business continuity plan as it allows your vital business applications to be accessed seamlessly from anywhere.”

Logic has built physical points of presence (PoPs) in key areas to create an offshore network cloud. “Logic’s PoPs enable re/insurance companies to have a reliable, predictable and secure network for their critical business applications,” says Wil Chan, head of network operations. “With PoPs in Bermuda, Cayman, Miami, New York, Toronto, London and Paris, Logic can reach all the offshore jurisdictions including the Channel and East Africa Islands.”

This network cloud enables Logic to provide services such as the Business Continuity Gateway. When Logic’s offshore network cloud is combined with Logic’s PIP service to provide low-cost predictable bandwidth to your smaller business units, there is only one conclusion: Logic has the depth and breadth to support your business