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Battle of the Archiving Models - Part 1: On-premise vs. Hosted vs. Cloud Computing

  
  

This will be the first of a blog series, "Battle of Archiving Models." To start it off, we will cover the basics; on-premise vs. hosted vs. cloud computing.  Below is a general description of all three, and the benefits that each model offers.

It’s been said that we generate more data on a daily basis than all of the data combined from the beginning of time until 2003. Most of that is attributed to you and I and what we do every day. From our daily emails, Facebook posts, tweets on Twitter, to our connections on LinkedIn, the files we download and the pictures upload, this all amounts to an enormous data load.

We in IT have struggled for years to address the ever-growing impact of user-generated data.  Email is a great example; within the past decade, the average corporate mailbox allocates over 10 gigabytes of storage—and the trend shows no sign of relenting. Organizations now want to provide users with “unlimited” mailboxes that could contain hundreds of gigabytes of data.

IT is also tasked with managing new data types. Priorities related to improved collaboration, data loss prevention, and intellectual property protection are driving us to move files from client storage (laptop and hard drives) to IT-managed storage. So now, IT is being called upon to address the unmitigated rise of social media, blogging, and mobile communications as business tools. 

Regulations and Their Consequences

The explosion in IT-managed data has occurred during a period when regulators are placing new requirements on the handling, retention, and disposition of content.  For example:

  • The United States Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) require that organizations of all sizes maintain data archives that are readily accessible in the event of litigation.

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) requires that companies preserve a variety of correspondences (including email messages) for a period of seven years.

  • The Financial Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) place numerous restrictions on financial services firms related to the management and preservation of email, instant messaging, and social media data.

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that companies operating in the healthcare industry retain certain communications and documentation (which can include email messages and attachments) for a minimum of six years.

In addition to the examples cited above, industries ranging from energy to state and federal government to education and the non-profit sector all fall under specific regulations that govern how user-generated content should be managed, and the penalties for non-compliance have never been higher:

  • In 2004, the SEC fined Bank of America $10 million for failing to retain and produce emails in accordance for SEC regulations.

  • In 2008, non-compliance with FRCP mandates compelled a judge in the United States to award $29 million to a plaintiff in a suit against UBS Warburg.

  • In 2010, FINRA fined Piper Jaffray and MetLife Securities a combined $2M+ for email-related failures.  While the amounts may be modest in the scheme of the financial services industry, we should consider the reputational impact to the companies; particularly after FINRA published press releases referring to “supervisory and reporting violations” as well as “investigations of broker misconduct.”

More Storage, More Problems

While the impact of fines and the publicity they generate should not be understated, they are dwarfed by the costs born by all customers as the storage of user-generated data places an ever-increasing drain on our budgets, focus, and productivity.

Organizations have tried to address the data explosion by buying more storage. But after years of this, it has been proven that on-premise storage systems are considerably more expensive than a line item on a budget would ever reflect.

Beyond the direct and indirect costs of storage systems, maintaining large data stores also impedes the performance of our IT infrastructure and applications.  Mail systems buckle under the weight of giant data stores. Network latency increases as backup windows span an ever-growing portion of the business day. Overall, businesses risk losing profits when critical applications are slow and unstable.

In order to address this “perfect storm” of unprecedented growth in unstructured data, most organizations have found that information archiving represents the only viable solution.

Archiving is the Answer

At a minimum, information archiving satisfies regulatory requirements and reduces the burden placed on IT applications, such as email.  In most cases, archiving provides significant storage and infrastructure cost savings, and in some cases, it enables IT to redirect focus and resources away from infrastructure and toward value-added activities.

With this solution, archiving is no longer a value-added service for IT; it is an essential component of the IT portfolio, and it is required to tame skyrocketing storage costs while maintaining compliance.  Now comes the next step, which archiving vendor do you choose; traditional on-premise archiving, hosted archiving, or cloud-powered archiving.

On-Premise Archiving

With the traditional on-premise model, archiving systems are completely located within a businesses’ data center, and the business maintains responsibility for the installation, configuration, and operation of the archiving system and underlying infrastructure. With on-premise systems, customers experience fairly rapid migration of legacy data—attributable in large part to the physical proximity of the archive system to the legacy data store. 

The on-premise archiving model was the most popular model for early adopters of archiving solutions (particularly large financial services customers in the early 2000s).  Due to the cost and complexity of the systems, which require investments in hardware, software, and storage as well as ongoing operations and support, adoption of this model has been waning as organizations are opting for a third-party archiving service.

Hosted Archiving

In the hosted model, archiving systems are housed within an archiving vendor’s data center.  Unlike the on-premise model, customers are not required to install, configure, or maintain the archiving system or its underlying infrastructure—the vendors manage these activities on behalf of the customer.

hosted archiving model resized 600

With this service, the customer only needs to be concerned with capacity management to the extent that it impacts pricing. Otherwise, hosted vendors shoulder the burden of capacity management. Customers can also focus on activities related to the archiving process and functionality, such as defining retention policies, searching for specific content, and exporting data for discovery. 

The benefits of this solution is that it reduces IT complexity and offers cost savings relative to on-premise systems.  It is also a fairly low-risk evolution of the legacy model in that (unlike cloud-powered archiving, discussed below), the archiving system leverages traditional infrastructure technologies. However, this solution comes with many of the same issues on-premise systems have; capacity management, service availability, and large capital expenses.

Cloud-Powered Archiving

Rather than operating their own infrastructure, cloud-powered archiving vendors build their applications to operate on top of cloud infrastructure from third parties, such as Amazon or Rackspace. In this model, neither the customer nor the archiving vendor operates physical infrastructure directly. The archiving vendor builds and maintains an archiving system (software layer) that is operated on top of cloud infrastructure. 

Of the three archiving models, the cloud-powered approach best capitalizes on the proposition values specializing in scale and elasticity. The infrastructure vendor, archiving service provider, and businesses are able to focus on core competencies, i.e. operating data centers, developing archiving software, and facilitating business processes, respectively. Likewise, the cloud vendor procures and operates infrastructure at tremendous scale, enabling them to offer the lowest prices in the market.  Finally, cloud-optimized technologies such as ElasticSearch and Chef enable archiving vendors to maximize availability performance based on their customers’ real-time processing, bandwidth, and storage requirements. 

Some Things are Certain in IT...

Moving forward, the volume of user-generated data will only continue to increase.  The number of restrictions placed on the management of that data will also go up, along with the number of  requests (and demands) for data to support litigation, compliance, and business intelligence. IT leaders need to be prepared for the convergence of these trends that, if left unaddressed, will drain the productivity of their teams, increase storage expenses, and put the reputations and financial viability of their organizations at risk.

For most organizations, the only way to effectively address the data explosion is with a robust and effective archiving system.  Fortunately, customers have their choice of numerous vendors and at least three archiving models in the market today that each offers unique benefits.  IT leaders should choose the archiving option that best suits their needs and budgets, but this should be done relatively soon—before an audit, discovery request, or regulatory inquiry arises that makes them wish they had.

Cloud Computing Harmony - Lesson 3

  
  

In the previous lesson of cloud computing harmony, we discussed how you can take advantage of on-demand scaling with a systems monitoring and automation framework. Once you have the correct foundation of framework and your cloud is running smoothly, the third lesson comes into play...

3. Game the Cloud with Elastic Applications

A simple fact proven through real-world experience: “Net new” software stacks, designed with cloud operating principles firmly rooted in the core design, are a "must have" to take advantage of cloud computing economics and reliability. In fact, the dual goals of economical operation and non-stop reliability can be achieved with the same architectural principles. Building for the cloud is all about “fluid designs” of discreet components that can be woven into cloud computing fabric. The days of rigid architectures are behind us.

The prevailing conventional enterprise software design and architecture patterns are not adequate for today’s new cloud infrastructures. Traditional architectures assume client/server, PC-based building blocks. The era of an assemblage of Windows or Linux compute nodes combined together in different component roles is falling behind us. And that is a good thing. When thinking about building software for the cloud, design patterns that were previously commonplace for mainframe thinking are more appropriate for the cloud, than trying to retrofit the old client/server model onto the cloud.

The cloud should really be thought of as an enormous mainframe computer.  Embracing this notion is a big leap in design architectures from where we are today, because our conventional modern thinking has been heavily influenced by the building blocks of yesteryear: cheap hardware running Windows and Linux operating systems, custom software, client/server and Web 1.0 architectures, all wired together to form various clusters of functionality.

There are three primary reasons to use the cloud versus a traditional co-located data center:

  • Your use case has dynamic, shifting, variable work loads
  • Your use case has a very high up-time SLA requirement (at whatever cost)
  • Your building a prototype and scale and cost are not important... for the moment

Not every SaaS application has these requirements. It’s easy to get caught up in the “cloud hype” dujour and desire to harness the cloud because it’s the “in thing” right now. But look seriously at your needs because maybe the cloud is not the best place to host your software. If you are running a web application that manages lightweight user generated content for a predictable number of simultaneous people, then the cloud probably offers no economic advantage. But if your app needs to be 99.9999% available, and your audience will pay for this up-time SLA, then the cloud is the right infrastructure. No other hosting platform has the ability to be economical, scalable and reliable all at the same time. And to be all three requires elastic applications.   

In 2007, Amazon introduced their Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service, which complimented the very reliable Simple Storage Service (S3). EC2 is flexible compute on-demand infrastructure with no upfront costs. EC2 allows you to build applications that can be both fault tolerant and economical at the same time. Without elastic software EC2 is a very expensive hosting platform for non-elastic software stacks.

The majority of enterprise software is not elastic. Traditional enterprise software created during the client/server of the last decade, or the more recent Web 1.0 era, didn’t know about cloud computing. You would need to look back in time toward mainframe design principles to get a feel for a software architecture with compute efficiencies baked in. But cloud, and the ability to take a step back and design differently, what was old (mainframe) seems fresh and new.

Take for example Microsoft Exchange Server. Used by hundreds of millions of people on a daily basis, it’s one of the most common examples of traditional non-cloud architectures. The Exchange Server software requires a dedicated amount of hardware, regardless of the “in the moment” usage patterns. Now envision a scenario where Exchange Server was re-built with elastic capabilities. Back-end and front-end Exchange components could dynamically scale up and down based on time of day or other usage patterns. Instead of dedicated compute resources for front-end services, data stores, gateways, etc. a re-architected Exchange Server could dynamically allocate compute to the component most under load. For evenings and weekends capacity could be pared back (saving money). During peak activity periods, such as at the start of the work day when everyone is checking their email, compute capacity could be added for a few hours, then scaled back and the same cycle could repeat after lunch. When the software has elasticity at the core it’s possible to operate at peak efficiency around the clock.

Elastic application characteristics include:

  • Enterprise service bus architecture patterns
  • Loosely coupled modules that scale independently of one another
  • A design that evokes “fluid” concepts as opposed to rigid constructs
Design to Survive an Earthquake and Save the Planet Time

The big data cloud needs applications that are flexible and pliable. Just as you would design a building to withstand an earthquake, structures need to sway and balance gracefully when the ground trembles. In a metaphorical sense the cloud has similarities to geographies with consistent seismic activity. Rigid structures won’t endure an earthquake’s potential to cause catastrophic destruction. The same can be said for software running in the cloud. A “rigid” application like Microsoft Exchange Server will suffer greater damage in the cloud compared to software written to be fluid and flexible.

In the cloud, like in an earthquake zone, the software gets no advance warning before calamity strikes. In the cloud, the software can’t “peer” beneath the virtualization layer to see pending doom. In the cloud you need to expect failure and be resilient. Being resilient doesn’t mean being rigid, it’s actually just the opposite. To enable software to endure an infrastructure failure in the cloud requires a fluid design that can adapt in real-time to a rapidly changing environment.

The dual goals of cost efficiency and resiliency are accomplished with the same design. To be resilient is to be a collection of loosely coupled services that are woven together and flex to accommodate a dynamic cloud environment. To be cost effective is to be a collection of loosely coupled services that can optimize every transaction and near 100% compute utilization. The closer to 100% utilization means less waste.

Re-thinking SLA's in a Cloudy World

  
  

rethinking SLA%27s 2 resized 600First came software as a service (SaaS) powered by dedicated data centers. All of a sudden enterprises had another way to solve their IT needs. Let’s call this SaaS 1.0. SaaS took off in CRM (safesforce.com), collaboration (hosted Exchange, Google Apps, etc.), file sharing (Box.net, SendUIt) and a myriad of more niche offerings that were typically less expensive and easier to use than on-premises software + hardware installations. This first wave of SaaS to hit IT shores also started the industry conversation about how to keep SaaS vendors accountable to their customers. Thus service level agreements (SLA’s) were introduced into the common enterprise IT lexicon.

With SLA’s, SaaS vendors could publish their expected “uptime” and be measured on performance. SLA’s could also be used to compare and rank one SaaS vendor over another within the same product space (for example does salesforce.com have better uptime than Netsuite.com?). The IT industry became comfortable with SLA’s as a quality measurement to help IT buyers make good decisions on which SaaS vendors can be trusted to manage a service that might normally been provided by in-house IT department.

The common SLA measurement for SaaS 1.0 is “levels of availability.” 99.9% available is called “three nines”, 99.99% is “four nines,” etc. It’s measured as “unplanned downtime” against 100% up-time, which means that if the SLA was anything less than a 100%, a SaaS customer was not able to use the system to it’s full capabilities (and thus entitled to compensation.) See the chart below for correlation of SLA availability percentage equated in downtime per week, month and year.

rethinking SLA%27s resized 600

SLA’s also helped SaaS 1.0 vendors compare their service to the on-premises equivalent. For example, SaaS vendors could show an IT decision maker that a hosted version of Exchange could deliver more “nines” in up-time compared to an equivalent in-house Exchange server.

With SaaS 1.0 and SLA 1.0, one vendor typically was on the hook for delivering the service and meeting the SLA. However, this all changes in cloud computing world.  

Starting in 2008, cloud computing infrastructures such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) started to be used to power the next generation of SaaS offerings. Let’s call this SaaS 2.0. With cloud computing, software developers had a tremendous amount of “on-demand” power and a whole new class of SaaS offerings began to emerge. With cloud computing SaaS could now be used to economically and reliably solve “big data” problems like information archiving and analytics, business intelligence, and backup/recovery.

But with “cloud-powered SaaS 2.0” the old SLA model didn’t quite fit. Instead of one single vendor (SaaS 1.0) on the hook to deliver a service with a pre-defined up-time guarantee, cloud computing and SaaS 2.0 is the combination of two separate companies working together to deliver a service.

Cloud and SaaS 2.0 means inherited responsibilities for an up-time SLA. Two or more vendors work in concept- this is a positive not widely discussed. Each cloud vendor, let’s use AWS as an example, publishes an SLA for the major services offered. In our example we’ll use core services like storage and compute. Amazon’s S3 storage offering has an incredible 99.999999999% (eleven nines!) guarantee.

Amazon’s EC2 compute offering has a very respectable 99.99% SLA. These are great building blocks to host a SaaS 2.0 service. So great in fact that Amazon has emerged as the leader in cloud computing and attracted many leading edge companies to host their SaaS 2.0 applications.

The advent of cloud computing powering SaaS 2.0 applications has expanded the thinking about SLA’s. Vendors see software SLA’s and infrastructure SLA’s de-coupled, but customers don’t care, and just want to work with one vendor. The SaaS vendor selling the service is the responsible party, and the SaaS vendor can use the positive attributes of cloud computing to deliver a service that builds upon the infrastructure SLAs. The result should be a more reliable, more available, service powered by the cloud than a legacy dedicated data center.

In summary, cloud computing has changed the way SaaS vendors think about measuring SLAs, with the concept of inherited responsibilities. The cloud vendor provides a SLA on core infrastructure, and the software vendor builds upon that SLA. The end result to the customer is a more reliable service and SLA that will far exceed on-premises capabilities.  

2011-2013, The "Hybrid IT" Years

  
  

describe the imageStarting this year, and until 2013, Hybrid IT will help enterprises harness cloud computing. Hybrid IT is a new paradigm for IT management, enabling organizations to benefit from cloud computing's low cost, infinite storage, and powerful and flexible central processing unit (CPU) platforms. All of these positive capabilities are accessible while still preserving the idea of maintaining control of data as if it were stored on premises. Hybrid IT is a "win/win" scenario for both the IT manager and the chief financial officer. 

From small to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) to the Fortune 1000, organizations will move parts of their IT infrastructure to the Cloud.  For the SMEs, Hybrid IT will level the playing field by enabling organizations to adopt strategic hierarchical storage management (HSM) and Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) features without breaking the technology budget. For larger enterprises, Hybrid IT will introduce new cost savings by allowing them to allocate portions of their storage environments to the Cloud and eliminate the hardware, software and management costs previously associated with keeping those activities on site. 

New software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications built specifically for the Cloud will act essentially as an extension of the customer's own data center. These Cloud-powered SaaS services enable organizations to strategically and tactically meld SaaS functions with on-premise servers. This is an important development on two fronts. First, the ability to use hybrid functions allows the enterprise to on-ramp into the Cloud without making a wholesale conversion. Second, the Cloud is perfect for back office applications that subsets of employees use. As businesses get more comfortable with the Cloud they can migrate more of their data processing needs to Cloud CPU and storage.

As a result of these technological advances, organizations will leverage the Cloud’s on-demand CPU to power through terabytes of content for large searches or deep analytics. With better business intelligence culled from employee generated content across the organization, businesses will unlock the previously inaccessible value of their data and gain new insights to their customers and operations. 

Cloud-powered archiving will help organizations focus on long-term growth initiatives. Cloud-powered archiving is an example of Hybrid IT service. The customer retains their existing messaging server on-premises, but uses a Cloud-based SaaS service to provide data archiving and analytics capabilities. 

Hybrid IT is ushering in a new wave of computing that will be as profound as the change from mainframes to minicomputers or client-server to the web. Hybrid IT will also help leverage the Cloud in a way that is comfortable to the early adopters, while also satisfying a valuable IT goal: Do more with Less.  Hybrid IT requires new software development skills and technology frameworks to build SaaS applications that can use the Cloud's positive attributes: scale and low cost. To leverage the Cloud also requires new IT management skills for the individuals who manage SaaS applications, which will result in an enormous payoff for end users.

eDiscovery for Dummies - Issues & The Cloud-Powered Solution

  
  
eDiscovery request
(Click here for the Part I and here for Part II of our "eDiscovery for Dummies" series)

This is our last installment of the "eDiscovery for Dummies" series. Today, we dig in details at the key ideas around eDiscovery, the challenge they represent for organizations lacking an archiving solution, and how a cloud-powered archiving provider can help organizations, of any size, address this IT and legal headache.

Idea N°1: Large amount of requested data (by the opposite party) must be produced within Discovery timeframe.

Without archiving: Without an archiving solution, the data is not easily retrievable. Indeed, backup tapes are not compliant with eDiscovery. Local PST files are cluttered and the data is stored “offline” and have a limited accessibility.

Cloud-powered Archiving: provides several non-negligible advantages went it comes to retrieve emails, IM, social media or other types of employee-generated content. It gives you a 24/7/365 accessibility to the data, and data is accessible from anywhere in the world as long as you have a web browser. In addition, the data is never stored “offline” and available in seconds in a one-stop repository providing you with unlimited storage capacity.

Idea N°2: Penalties for failing to meet FRCP deadlines can lead businesses to go bankrupt. Penalties in some cases are more expensive than actually installing a (archiving) system to retain ESI.

Without archiving: Meeting FRCP deadlines will be a serious time-consuming activity, which will monopolize the IT staff. It will induct to search through many different – cluttered – backups  (PST files), and the IT staff won’t be able to rely on any indexing feature or advanced search feature to assist them in their searches.

Cloud-powered Archiving: An organization doesn’t need to purchase any software, hardware, or server given that all the archived data is stored in the "cloud" and accessed through a web UI. There is no capital expenses or upfront costs. A Cloud-powered Archiving solution provide streamline eDiscovery and support mail migration from all the most commonly used email platforms (Sonian supports MS Exchange, Lotus Notes/iNotes, Zimbra, Kerio, Google Apps, Zimbra, Novell GroupWise…).

Idea N°3: Anything in eDiscovery can be asked by the opposite counsel (upon judge’s agreement).

Without archiving: Businesses could have to search through terabytes of ESI: emails, attachments, database systems, and employees’ personal storage. Moreover, there will be no data inventory ready up-front.

Cloud-powered Archiving:  Offers sub-second response time (to retrieve stored data in the single repository) thanks to the cloud technology. End-users have access to easy-to-locate files thanks to advanced searching feature based on full text indexing, offering unmatched flexibility.

Idea N°4: Obligation to secure, hold, and produce all pertinent data for litigation when directed.

Without archiving: There is no single instance storage, emails are not move off the server, and the business will clearly lack full retention capabilities (e.g. attachments, social media, and also Instant Messaging). Furthermore, the organization won’t be able to apply legal holds on public folders, which is a legal requirement, and there will be no access to the data in case of an unplanned downtime.

Cloud-powered Archiving: Organizations will have access to data encryption ensuring there won’t be any data leakage and preventing any data co-mingling between customers’ data. A Cloud-powered Archiving solution is compatible with many content types (eml, xml, pst, html, nsf, rcf822…) and platforms. In addition, full text indexing is an available feature and – this is specific to Sonian – organizations can rely on Amazon Web Services’ unmatched security and reliability.

Idea N°5: the requesting party is allowed to specify the form or format of data production.

Without archiving: The desired format can’t be chosen due to cluttered archives such as backup tapes. Basically, the organization facing the eDiscovery request won’t be able to match the opposite party’s request.

Cloud-powered Archiving: The files can be retrieve in their native format and conversion to other formats is also available, making sure that you can fill any request in a compliant and timely manner.

Idea N°6: Organizations don’t have anymore maneuvering room around producing “less accessible” data like IM, SMS, social media or electronic voicemails.

Without archiving: Retrieving the needed pieces (less accessible data) will be a highly time-consuming activity preventing the IT staff to focus on business-related issues driving revenue. Organizations will clearly be unable to retrieve those “less accessible” elements and won’t be compliant with eDiscovery, exposing them to major fines.

Cloud-powered Archiving: IM, SMS, social media, and (electronic) voicemails can be archived in the same repository used for emails. All the archived data is 24/7/365 available to administrators, end-users, and legal teams.

Summing up, a Cloud-powered Archiving solution is one – if not the best – of the best solutions to ensure that an organization can answer an eDiscovery request and face litigation with peace of mind, offloading a major IT headache to messaging experts. 

(Click here for the Part I and here for Part II of our "eDiscovery for Dummies" series)


What is the Best Way to Embrace Cloud Computing?

  
  

Moving to the cloudEarlier last month, James Urquhart posted “Moving to versus building for cloud computing” on CNET’s The Wisdom of Clouds blog.  In this post, James looks at the challenges of adopting cloud usage and dives into the differences between moving to the cloud and building for the cloud.

Here is a quote from James looking at the challenges of adopting cloud usage:

 “I, and others, have noted several times before that one of the key challenges for enterprises adopting cloud is the fact that they are not "greenfield" cloud opportunities. They have legacy applications--lots of them--and those applications must remain commercially viable, available, and properly integrated with the overall IT ecosystem for the enterprise to operate and thrive.”

So, how do you make your first move to the cloud...?

Businesses have to pay attention to the way they want their organization to tackle cloud computing. As James Urquhart highlighted it, it’s not only about the technology but also about your IT infrastucture and the business strategy that drive your strategies around cloud computing. There are 2 very different approaches here:

  • An organization can focus on the technology benefits of the cloud and only use it as a “data center” to archive corporate data. Quickly put, it’s most of time about moving from on-premise to hosted.
  • On the other hand, an organization can adopt a different view and shift its entire strategy around cloud computing and the benefits brought by this technology.

I think that, in the first place businesses, especially SMBs, should start taking advantage of cloud technology through the first option, being a safe, inexpensive move to the cloud using it as a storage instance for emails, files, IM, SMS, social media and other employee-generated content needed to be archived. My recommendation would be to start "moving" to the cloud before "building" anything. Hosted cloud services are a great first step in the cloud process, before making a total move or beginning to build applications specifically designed around the cloud.

Moreover, another great benefit of "moving" to the cloud, rather than "building" for the cloud, is that it can be a great way to familiarize your staff with cloud computing. If your organization has a long-term view in which cloud computing is expected to play a big role, starting through hosted services, is a smart way to slowly educate employees and your IT staff with this technology.

As I said earlier, hosted services offered by third party providers are, according to me, the safest first move to the cloud allowing any organization to weigh the advantages and issues encountered with the cloud with limited capital expenses. Even if my judgment is a little biased, I can share with you some advantages that we bring to our customers at Sonian:

  • No more fear of unexpected, expensive downtime (99.99% SLA)
  • Pas-you-go formula allowing much better visibility & planning
  • Flat costs as performance needs increases
  • Unlimited storage space
  • Reducing overall IT expenditures
  • Ability to set up realistic email retention policy
  • Knowing that all archived content is readily available & retrievable in seconds in case of an eDiscovery request or litigation
  • Regulatory compliant archive with HIPAA, FINRA, SEC, SOX, GLBA, FRCP… rules 

What Kind of Archiving Solution Are You Currently Using (for your emails, IM, social media, etc)? And Why?

  
  

email archiving pollWe recently did a series of three articles on Email Archiving and the different models that are available for organizations looking for an archiving solution for their emails, SMS, IM and social media content.

We first highlighted the need for Email Archiving, the regulations around archiving employee-generated content and their consequences. We then, provided an overview of the data explosion issue and how it should be addressed. Finally, in our last installment, we compared three Email Archiving methods (On-premise vs. Hosted vs. Cloud-Powered) and their relative advantages and drawbacks. 

So again, here is the question

What kind of Archiving Solution your organization is currently using to archive emails and other employee-generated content? And Why? 

  • Are you satisfied with it?
  • Would like to see any improvements?
  • What solution would you choose if you had the opportunity to change?

We would really appreciate your feedback and insights regarding this broad question that is becoming pressing issue for many organizations having to comply with ever more regulations and dealing with shrunk IT budgets. 

Cloud Computing by the Numbers: Skyrocketing Growth

  
  

Cloud computing statsDo you know what cloud computing is? Have you ever heard the words “cloud computing”? I know it might sound a little bit off for most of you. With all the noise in the industry regarding this technology, the M&As occurring every week and all the events taking place all around the US, you must have heard about cloud computing at least once.

You are maybe wondering what really is cloud computing. Is it only a buzzword, a fad that will be eventually shut down within few months? Or, is it happening for real and might be the future.

Our prospective is that cloud computing is here to stay and that it even might even be the next “industrial revolution” for the technology sector. I am not going to try to blur you with fancy words and endless sentences. No, I will just use the power of numbers in order to convince you that cloud computing is anything but not a fad. The credits are going to TotalCloud Blog, which released those compelling numbers a few days ago. Here are the big numbers that should “blow your mind”:

  • A recent survey revealed showed that every enterprise is using a SaaS application but less than 25% of IT departments were aware that they were.
  • Enterprise applications will need to adapt to mobile and social computing that are growing faster than anything before in the history of technology.
  • Merrill Lynch estimates that Cloud market will reach $160 billion by 2011 while Gartner foresees $150 billion by 2013.
  • SandHill recently conducted a survey from which 50% of 500 IT decision-makers surveyed cited business agility as their primary reason for adopting cloud applications.
  • IDC projects that the market for enterprise servers will double by 2013 even, while public cloud infrastructure, applications and platforms are growing at 25%+.
  • Again, according to IDC, public cloud products’ market should to $16 billion in 2010 and grow to $56 billion by 2014.

If you are still not convinced that Cloud Computing is here to stay, you can and should have a look at this video: Measuring the growth of cloud computing, which will provide you with even more mind-blowing stats.

Now that you are aware of those numbers and hopefully, you understand that Cloud Computing is most probably going to shape the future of IT, the next question question lying down is: How should you adopt/embrace cloud computing? 
We will try to bring the light on the different adoption's modes regarding cloud computing and which one is best suited to your organization regarding its size and IT budget. 

Email Archiving Models (Part III) - On-premise vs. Hosted vs. Cloud-Powered

  
  

(This is the part III of our 3 articles serie on Email Archiving Models - Click here for Part I and here for Part II)

On-premise Archiving


With the traditional on-premise model, archiving systems are completely located within a businesses’ data center, and the business maintains responsibility for the installation, configuration, and operation of the archiving system and underlying infrastructure.  The archiving software is installed on one or more servers (either as dedicated hosts or virtual machines), and archived data is stored on high-volume SAN or direct-attached storage.  With on-premise systems, customers experience fairly rapid migration of legacy data—attributable in large part to the physical proximity of the archive system to the legacy data store.

on-premise archivingHistorically, on-premise archiving software has been offered as a stand-alone system, but email vendors (such as Microsoft) have recently integrated basic archiving into their email server products.  Capacity management for on-premise archiving systems functions similarly to other on-premise systems (such as email), where businesses project their own storage and computing needs and procure infrastructure to accommodate needs periodically. 

The on-premise archiving model was the most popular model for early adopters of archiving solutions (particularly large financial services customers in the early 2000s).  Due to the cost and complexity of the systems, which require investments in hardware, software, and storage as well as ongoing operations and support, adoption of this model has been waning as of late.  Instead, resource-constrained businesses are turning to archiving services that are operated by third-parties. 

Hosted Archiving

In the hosted model, archiving systems are housed within an archiving vendor’s data center.  Unlike the on-premise model, customers are not required to install, configure, or maintain the archiving system or its underlying infrastructure—the vendors manage these activities on behalf of the customer.

Hosted archivingGiven that the archived data is hosted in the vendor’s data center, the customer only needs to be concerned with capacity management to the extent that it impacts pricing (as vendors’ fees can vary based on the amount of data in the archive).  Otherwise, hosted vendors shoulder the burden of capacity management.  Vendors benefit from economies of scale in procurement and operations given that they are serving hundreds or thousands of customers using one infrastructure (often a single data center).  In this model, customers focus on activities related to the archiving process and functionality, such as defining retention policies, searching for specific content, and exporting data for discovery

Many customers are attracted to the hosted model due the fact that it reduces IT complexity and offers cost savings relative to on-premise systems.  It is also perceived as a fairly low-risk evolution of the legacy model in that (unlike cloud-powered archiving, discussed below), the archiving system leverages traditional infrastructure technologies.  Unfortunately, this also comes at a price, as vendors struggle with many of the same issues related to capacity management, service availability, and large capital expenses that customers faced with their on-premise systems.

Cloud-Powered Archiving

Rather than operating their own infrastructure, cloud-powered archiving vendors build their applications to operate on top of cloud infrastructure from third parties, such as Amazon or Rackspace.  In this model, neither the customer nor the archiving vendor operates physical infrastructure directly.  The archiving vendor builds and maintains an archiving system (software layer) that is operated on top of cloud infrastructure. As with the hosted model, the customer focuses exclusively on the archiving process and functionality.

cloud-powered archiving

Of the three archiving models, the cloud-powered approach best capitalizes on the value that can be created through specialization, scale, and elasticity.  With this model, the infrastructure vendor, archiving service provider, and businesses are able to focus on their core competencies (operating data centers, developing archiving software, and facilitating business processes, respectively). Likewise, the cloud vendor procures and operates infrastructure at tremendous scale, enabling it to invest in world-class architecture while managing capacity and operations more efficiently than archiving vendors and their customers could achieve on their own.  This enables cloud-powered archiving vendors to offer the lowest prices in the marketFinally, cloud-optimized technologies such as ElasticSearch and Chef enable archiving vendors to maximize availability performance based on their customers’ real-time processing, bandwidth, and storage requirements.  

Some things are certain in IT...

Moving forward, growth in the volume of user-generated data will only accelerateThe number of restrictions placed on the management of that data will only increaseRequests (and demands) for data to support litigation, compliance, and business intelligence will continue to rise. IT leaders need to be prepared for the convergence of these trends that, if left unaddressed, will drain the productivity of their teams, increase storage expenses, and put the reputations and financial viability of their organizations at risk.

For most organizations, the only way to effectively address the data explosion is with a robust and effective archiving system.  Fortunately, customers have their choice of numerous vendors and at least three archiving models in the market today, and each offer unique benefits.  IT leaders should choose the archiving option that best suits their needs and budgets, and they should take action quickly—before an audit, discovery request, or regulatory inquiry arises that makes them wish they had.

(This is the part III of our 3 articles serie on Email Archiving Models - Click here for Part I and here for Part II) 


White Paper: Why Use Hosted Email Archiving

Why Use Hosted Email Archiving - Osterman Research White Paper

Download the Free White Paper: Why Use Cloud-Powered Hosted Email Archiving, In it, you will learn: Why you should archive your content, why hosted archiving makes sense, and the key issues to consider in selecting an email archiving vendor.

Shut Down the Email Monster With Hosted Email Archiving

  
  

Data overloadIn a recent article from the Computer World, Dan Tynan shared the six “IT’s biggest money wasters” and tried to advise readers “how to rescue precious resources from tech’s six most notorious money pits”. This is the perfect time to discuss such a subject as cloud computing is being discussed as never before, and IT departments across industries are trying to stretch limited budgets. Here are the six money-guzzlers according to the article:

- Dusty software licenses

- The paper chase

- Gold-plated service-level agreements

- The email monster

- Excess bandwidth

- IT projects gone wild

The one I will be focusing on today is “the email monster”. Email is often cited as the number one headache to deal with by IT executives. Email volume is expected to double by 2013, which adds to the already apparent storage and retention challenge, especially for enterprises. In order to give you an idea of the already massive storage headache, here is a quote from WilliowTree’s Douglass: “A 10,000-user organization without mailbox policies consumes an average of 30GB of storage per day from email messages alone”. And this is just a snapshot on a daily basis. Imagine what would be the number if you were to add instant messaging, SMS, voicemails and other employee-generated content that need to be archived for eDiscovery and compliance purposes!

Enterprises might be reluctant to shift their on-premise archiving solution to a fully hosted cloud alternativeone, due to the amount of time and money invested in on-premise systems. This is definitely understandable; I don't know any IT executive wanting to go to see his/her CIO or CTO and tell him that the on-premise solution adopted 3 years ago, which cost millions of dollars, is outdated. Even if IT executives know that the next solution for their data storage/management will be a cloud-based solution, they'll have to make sure that it intergrates with their existing infrastucture and on-premise solution to help amortize legacy IT investments.
On the other hand, a Hosted / SaaS Email Archiving solution might be the best answer for SMBs looking to outsource this IT headache to reduce IT-costs while staying at the top of the technology curve.

Gary Bahadur, CEO of KRAA Security quickly explains why a Cloud-based archiving solution is the way to go for SMBs. "For companies with up to 1,000 people, having an in-house Exchange architecture is a huge waste… Email is definitely one of those things that should be outsourced to the cloud. You no longer have to worry about the costs associated with hardware and software licenses, downtime, combating viruses, or emergency calls to IT admins at 3 a.m. A hosted email platform is backed up automatically, has a 24/7 staff, is more up to date on security patches, and is staffed by email experts instead of tech generalists. If you want to save some money, host your email."

What else could you ask for? The quote from Gary Bahadur summarizes the benefits of an Email Archiving Solution and the benefits that cloud compting brings to organizations, especially SMBs. 

Toolkit: Email Archiving Toolkit for Small & Medium Businesses

Save money with cloud computingDownload this free Toolkit (Webinar, data sheet, case study, Gartner study and latest news) to learn all the advantages of using a Hosted Email Archiving solution for Small and Medium Businesses. 

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