Windows Azure – Cloud Usage Scenarios and Total Cost of Ownership


[This paper explains, Windows Azure Cloud usage scenarios in relation to different Web Application Patterns/scenarios and justifies how Cloud Computing can save your money against on-premise deployment in each of the pattern/scenario.]

Introduction

Mission of every business is to devote all of its energies to the production of tangible or intangible objects that are high in quality and competitive in cost, meet customers’ expectations for performance, and are delivered in a timely manner. Finding and achieving the appropriate balance among these attributes—quality, cost, performance, and time to market—challenge all businesses. Those companies that are successful in meeting that challenge remain in business; those that are not usually disappear.

An objects (Tangible/intangible) production environment that is perhaps changing more rapidly now than during the Industrial Revolution, competing successfully will require that businesses increasingly provide customers with shorter times between order and delivery and between product conceptualization and realization, greater product customization, and higher product quality and performance, while meeting more stringent environmental/market constraints.

Accomplishing these goals will require major changes in current industry practices; such changes include the use of new and/or more complex technologies, greater use of information to reduce waste and defects, and more flexible business styles.

A million dollar question rests, what can be done to effective face these challenges?

And a one word answer to such a gigantic question is “Innovation!

Now with this answer, one may innovate in specific core business processes and/or innovate in support processes which can substantially impact overall performance of business. Innovation in specific core business processes goes hand in hand with basic engineering and science progression which has got its own pace. One can invest and wait till such innovation to happen where results may not be in control of decision maker.

Smart business owner may keep an eye on this progress of core engineering area with appropriate investment but will also empower his business by adopting something which is cutting edge, latest and ever fast growing area which can substantially change the game and prove as an differentiator in the market i.e. Information Technology!

Over a decade it has been proven fact that information Technology is the only dimension of modern industry which can wonderfully impact on progress of every part of industry processes giving tremendous benefits to early adopters.

The role that IT can play -

IT (information technology) can provide the tools to help enterprise achieve goals widely regarded as critical to the future of enterprise –

  •          Faster implementation of new concepts in products/services with ever fast Sales/marketing
  •          Faster delivery of Products/Services to customers/users
  •          More intimate and detailed interactions with customers
  •          Fuller utilization of capital and human resources
  •          Streamlining of operations to focus on essential business needs
  •          Elimination of unnecessary, redundant, or wasteful activities
  •          Faster, accurate, and more useful presentation and analysis of information for decision makers and information workers

All of above key objectives can be addressed by judicious use of Information Technology.

Q. What? Information Technology has been part of every industry from at least a decade? What has changed recently?

Well, it is fact that IT has been playing critical role in business growth, but it is also fact that yesterday’s technology was inefficient in solving all the problems that industry has been facing. IT, being the fastest growing technology industry, solution has been found and realized which can take care of all of above business challenges in cost effective manner. Yes, this is about Cloud Computing which is now a reality, a new era of computing. 

The development and implementation of new information technology to meet these goals will be shaped by organizational, managerial, and human resource concerns that may prevent businesses from exploiting fully the technology that exists today.

Sensitivity to these concerns will be essential to the successful development and implementation of the information technology associated with visions of industry for this century.

This paper outlines how Cloud Computing techniques under Information technology, a wing of your organization can empower your business in driving your business goals and meeting challenges effectively. 

Q. Ok, let me understand how Cloud Computing will impact my existing way of working and Information Technology wing of my business?

There are couple of things those we need to consider before answering it simply-

In a typical business environment, things may not be so simple or smooth going always. So many external factors impact on business and you need to provision that flexibility and agility in your enterprise to sustain those changes. For e.g. one decision by Olympic committee on dropping wrestling from 2020 Olympics can result significant impact on businesses directly or indirectly related to this game. Will those businesses be able to stand through such an impact had they invested all they can in IT capital investment?

Let us take an example of Pizza Shop owner, who accepts Pizza orders over phone and using his web based system running on his owned IT resources which can serve 100 customers placing orders at the same time. What will happen during Christmas period or holiday season when 500 customers trying to place orders. Predictable, he will lose his business.

pizzawala“A Pizza shop owner has to decide how much time
he wants to invest in inventing new Pizza versus little investment on how he
can increase sell of existing Pizzas to mass by opening multiple sell channels
leveraging information Technology” – A Judicious decision decides  his future 

Now, should he buy IT resources worth sustaining 700 customers placing orders concurrently in anticipation? If he does that, he his investing too much for short period of year for peak load being over optimistic assuming that there will not be any new Pizza shop opening in due course as a competitor.

pizzawala“Will it be sensible decision to procure high-end IT resources for a Pizza owner considering huge capital investment” – IT expenses are necessary but with extra care

To solve this problem, a typical business should be agile in all possible scenarios, and should adopt technology which enables required business agility.

pizzawala  “Pizza shop owner need an IT which is agile and will cope up with his customer demands” – On-demand IT is the new mantra

Now suppose Pizza shop owner has invented a new Pizza with delicious recipe. He wants to make it popular by marketing it quickly so that he can realize quick benefits over his investment in innovation. Apart from so many marketing channels, nowadays best place to market a product is on Internet. The time required for starting a web based system to launch his new Product will decide his success of business. Although he has product ready which can be sold and can become popular, time to market remains the critical part of complete cycle 

pizzawala“Time distance between innovation and market should be minimal for a business – every minute wasted after innovation before reaching market is loss to the business.”

Understanding the need of IT, Now Pizza Shop owner invests in IT to grow his business and believes in powerful IT to add more channels for online sale. Ultimately, he provisions high power software and hardware resources along with skilled labor to manage IT related activities including procurement, maintenance, backups, Servers, licenses, load balancing mechanisms, disaster recovery, failover mechanism, antivirus tools etc.

As a result of his investment in IT resources including human resources, he is forced to spend his time to manage these things and take decisions as an owner of business. One day, he feels he needs a good manager who will manage all these things. He ends up spending more for IT manager who will manage IT and human resources. Over a short period, he found out that, his business is getting impacted because of ever increasing IT expenses resulting because of technology changes, licenses getting expired, maintenance expenses going higher, employee attrition rate and foremost his personal time spent on IT related activities which defocused him from core business innovation and customer interactions.

pizzawala “A Pizza shop owner should never defocus himself from innovating new Pizzas and talking to customers. He should never become IT expert with huge upfront investment in terms of money and time” – Cloud computing allows him to do so.

Even after investing so much in IT, Availability of IT resources all the time is a challenge along with Performance which users love when it comes to online business applications.

Just to summarize with above few examples, Cloud computing can benefit businesses with various aspects like lower capital expenditures, maintaining good ratio of CapEx vs. OpeEx, time to market, agility, elasticity, scalability allowing you to focus on core business and not on IT integrities.

Now, after analyzing importance of IT in business and importance of Cloud computing in IT, let us understand some scenarios where Cloud computing can be leveraged.

Q. As I know there are many cloud vendors, which one should we consider for understanding and discussion purpose?

We will consider Microsoft Windows Azure cloud Platform for the discussions which is complete cloud platform, when needed we will refer about other cloud platforms.

Q. Why do you think Microsoft Windows Azure can help me in my IT better way? Let me understand the Economics first!

To talk about economics we need to compare apple with apple, which might not be the exact case when you compare on-premise data center with Cloud deployed data center. Still we will try to do fair comparison of your on-premise data center running an application in various situations. To start with lets us understand Pricing method of Windows Azure platform.

Windows Azure Cloud Platform Pricing Methods

Free usage – Try your idea and then pay for it!

Windows Azure provides some resources free for use. This free quota can be used for setting Run up to 10 Web Sites per sub-region for free in a multi-tenant environment. Seamlessly upgrade to a paid Shared multi-tenant or reserved instance model as your traffic grows.

Pay-As-You-GO – Pay only for what you absolutely use

The Pay-as-You-Go pricing option is extremely flexible. It involves no up-front costs and no long-term commitment. You pay only for the resources that you use each month.

Resource Type

Charging Pattern

Cloud Services and Virtual Machines

Per hour usage

Storage, SQL Database, Bandwidth,   Caching and Content Delivery Network(CDN)

Per Gigabyte

Some resources(Storage, Service Bus)

Per transaction

Pay less if you are sure you are going to use it for longer period

Commitment based plans – Have commitment with Microsoft and pay less

Make a monthly commitment to Windows Azure for 6 or 12 months and receive a significant discount. The discount you earn is determined by the monthly monetary amount you commit.

6 months plan

Make upfront commitment for 6 months for minimum $500 per month and win 20% discount

12 months plan

Make upfront commitment for 12 months for minimum $500 per month and win 22.5% discount

Pay upfront your commitment and win discount

PrePay

Win additional 2.5% discount if you prepay your entire commitment amount upfront. Below table shows discounts and their upper limits.

Monthly commitment Discount
$500 to $14,999 20%
$15,000 to $39,999 23%
$40,000 and above 27%

If your computing demands are excessive, one can contact Microsoft and talk on those.

Microsoft is continuously inventing new ways of maintaining their data centers at reduced cost effectively so that same benefit can be provided to customers, as a result Microsoft has reduced Azure pricing many times.

Modes of using Azure resources

There are basically three modes for using Windows Azure resources.

Free

Some of the Azure resources are free in limited form. Such types of resources can be used when you are low in resource/traffic demand or you want to try an idea and till that time want not getting paid. Even smaller web sites intended for small duration such as product launch sites with less longevity can be hosted here.

Note: Please note that not all types of resources are available under this category

Can you please mention which of the Services/resources are free?

Websites, mobile services, scheduled jobs are free in limited form along with some amount of storage, bandwidth are free. Please refer http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/details/ for more details.

Shared

In this mode, one can use resources in shared mode along with other applications on the same instances. This is cost effective way of hosting your applications to start with, once your idea shines or are convinced about outcomes, you can go for reserved or dedicated instances for your application.

Note: Please note that not all types of resources are available under this category

Reserved instances

Reserved instances are only for you and will be dedicated for your application. You still are not locked with specific number of instances; you are in complete control of removing or adding instances to your application deployments. Since you control resources available for your application, you are in control of giving better performance and throughput to your users.

Before we move on to deal with economics let us try to understand the different application usage patterns/scenarios, enterprises have been dealing with these scenarios with crude way because of lack of innovative options available.

Web Application Usage Patterns

Let us now understand how different web application usage patterns can leverage cloud computing for cost effectiveness and added advantages.

1.   Time bound and on-off Application Pattern

These are the applications having less longevity. Such applications live small life because of the intention of their existence is any occasion spanning for few days or few months. They may be used again after some duration in on-off pattern periodically but never constantly.

For example-

  • Company launching new product or offers, or periodic launch of products
  • Notifying customers or employees about something periodically
  • Seasonal initiatives
  • Sports events
  • Social events
  • Movie releases
  • Conference or competition enrollments
  • Sometimes such applications acts as an extension to existing large portal where users get navigated to new sites which are meant for small duration

Resource requirements of such applications may be low, medium or high, to fulfill the resource requirement, enterprises face challenges in provisioning resources which are required for small duration causing budgets to increase because enterprise has to ensure every part of data center ready for anticipated load, there is always rush in provisioning Servers, network hardware, system software, database software’s, storage systems, load balancing/failover mechanisms and last but not least human resources need in managing all these. Usually it has been found that to serve such kind of business request will cause total cost of ownership to go considerably high. Again these resources cannot be used in other initiatives because of periodic use of that which blocks them for same purpose decreasing utilization.

Since industry had no option to opt any cost effective option other than traditional way, this results in high expenses, resources being underutilized after the period, inconvenience to stake holders and impact of possible customer dissatisfaction along with risks of losing business or impact on the business goal may result.

Scenario Analysis

In below given sample scenario, we are launching an internet facing web site which will be used for 6 months period at a time. This 6 months usage is needed with a gap of 6 months. For deploying this application in on-premise environment, architect of this solution has suggested to have 2 web servers in load balanced manner and 1 Database server. Because load on this application cannot be correctly known, IT has to provision all three servers for complete 6 months period.

No of Web servers

2

No of Database Servers

1

No of months

18 months

Actual usage of servers

12 months

Considering traffic pattern is unknown, to sustain traffic for 6 months, all servers are provisioned for from day one till last day.  This results in wastage of resources.

If we use Windows Azure Cloud platform for hosting this application, Actual Azure VMs can be provisioned and de-provisioned in response to on-going traffic as shown below graph which will result in cost saving, better user experience by providing required resources to application when absolutely needed.

graph1

Cost Analysis

Information below gives complete cost analysis about different options such as On-Premise Servers, Azure Deployed Servers and Azure costing plans such as Pay-As-You-Go, commitment based plans for availing discounts. Some of the conclusions drawn with the help of below analysis are -

  • With 3 On-premise Servers for all 18 months, required cost is $20,448 which includes web servers and database server
  • Where as with cloud adoption, you don’t need to allocate all 3 servers for 18 months, we can just provision servers in minutes when needed. With 3 Cloud Servers for 12 months, required cost is $10,809 (If we use VM installed SQL Server) and $7,488 for use of SQL Cloud Database (SQL Cloud database). These rates are as per no-commitment Azure pricing plans. With Azure based Hosting using Pay-AS-you-GO plan we are getting net 47% and 64% savings respectively as compare to on-premise option.
  • With 3 Servers in Cloud for 12 months using 6-Months Azure Commitment pricing plan, we are saving 58% (SQL Server in VM) and 71% (SQL cloud database) cost as compare to on-premise option respectively.
  • By leveraging Auto Scaling feature, you can save up to 81% (SQL Server in VM) and 84 %( SQL cloud database) for a given sample usage/traffic scenario.
  • Additional 2.5% of savings can be done by prepaying the monthly Azure services fees
  • For very low usage/traffic scenarios one can use Free/Shared services as part of the Azure platform such as ‘Websites’, using this will bring down cost substantially.

Application with short life (6 months, intermittent for 18 months) – TCO – Amortized over 36 months (2 Web Servers, 1 Database Server)*

chart1a

*Please refer below assumptions section for understanding base for above calculations

**6-month commitment based plan

2.   Steady – Application Pattern

These applications live long life may be through entire business life. Users of such kind of applications are pre-decided or known in total number. Such applications may have some spikes in between occasionally but may not cause impact of it on real business or cause of worry for IT.

For example-

  • Company/ corporate websites
  • Sites for employee , partners, customers collaboration
  • Sites for company subsidiaries, public relations or for key stakeholders

Although the traffic attracted by such sites is known, predictable and can be controlled. Resource requirements may vary over a period with slight spikes because of occasional increase in download or upload of information such as appraisal letters, pay-slips, media contents (audio/video), Process/Product (PDF) manuals, accounting reports, Periodical reporting etc.

Scenario Analysis

In below given sample scenario, we are considering an internet facing web site which will be used for 36 months period. The users of the application are known and fixed in number so this site doesn’t undergo so many spikes in un-controllable manner.  For deploying this application on on-premise environment, architect of this solution has suggested to have 2 web servers in load balanced manner with 1 database server. Although load on this application doesn’t vary so much, but to sustain the anticipated smaller spikes, IT has to provision all three servers for complete period of 36 months.

No of Web servers

2

No of Database Servers

1

No of months

36 months

Since all servers are provisioned from start, this result in wastage of resources in relative low in volume, in this case because of steady state nature of this application.

If we use Windows Azure Cloud platform for hosting this application, Actual Azure VMs can be provisioned and de-provisioned in response to on-going traffic as shown below which will result in cost reduction, better user experience by providing required resources to application as need be.

Below graph showing how resource demand is being served cost effectively over a period.

graph2

Cost Analysis

Information below gives complete cost analysis about different options such as On-Premise Servers, Azure Deployed Servers and Azure costing plans such as Pay-As-You-Go, commitment based plans for availing discounts. Some of the conclusions drawn with the help of below analysis are -

  • With 3 On-premise Servers for all 36 months, required cost is $40,896 which includes web servers and database server
  • With 3 Cloud Servers for 36 months, required cost is $32,427 (If we use VM installed SQL Server) and $22,463 for use of SQL Cloud Database (SQL Azure). These rates are as per no-commitment Azure pricing plans. With Azure based hosting using Pay-AS-you-GO plan we are saving net 21% and 45% respectively.
  • With 3 Cloud Servers for all 36 months using Azure Commitment pricing plan, we are saving 39% and 57% using SQL Server in VM and SQL cloud database usage respectively.
  • By leveraging Auto Scaling feature, you can save up to 41% and 59% for a given sample usage/traffic scenario. In this sample scenario, by dynamic allocating/ de allocating resources as shown in graph
  • Additional 2.5% of savings can be done by prepaying the monthly Azure services fees

Application with Steady State – TCO – Amortized over 36 months (2 Web Servers, 1 Database Server)*

chart2a

*Please refer below assumptions section for understanding base for above calculations

**12-month commitment based plan

3.   Predictable Spikes – Application Pattern

These are long living public facing business (core) applications. Traffic attracted by such applications indicates popularity, transaction volume of your business. Customers visit such sites either for direct purchase of product or services or take part in surveys you launched or to track orders or log complaints about their orders and most importantly product enquiries or quotations. Such applications do not have liberty to perform slow, sluggish or keep users waiting for completing their intended operations. This will directly impact on your business and customer satisfaction index. These applications not only get accessed by end users browsing through the home page but also will be accessed by other means such as Search engines, analyst reports, blogs, Product reviews, Product comparison sites etc. These users are more important because they are the potential customers of yours and your site should have potential to satisfy them with performance for turning their opinions about your offerings, customer focus and IT enablement aspects.

One can monitor the traffic and predict spikes in such applications with greater degree of accuracy but spikes are normally very heavy and your normal infrastructure may not be sufficient to serve your business as normal. You need to be very aggressive in handling traffic spikes and provisioning required resources during that period. Most common approach enterprises consider for this by extra provisioning IT resources which remain underutilized except the peak period leaving behind high cost of ownership, underutilized resources wasting capital investment.

Scenario Analysis

In below given sample scenario, we are considering an internet facing web site which will be used for 36 months period. The users of the application are not known and not in fixed in number but with appropriate traffic monitoring and experience one may predict the load pattern.  For deploying this application on on-premise environment, architect of this solution has suggested to have 3 web servers in load balanced manner and 1 database server. Because load on this can be predicted with some amount of accuracy, some resources consumption can be optimized but considering business dynamics one has to be ready for un-expected case so IT has to provision all four web servers for complete period of 36 months. IT may add or remove some Servers with great care as shown in below graph.

No of Web servers

3 ( 1 Web server added in 12th month because of predictive nature)

No of Database Servers

1

No of months

36 months

Graph shows IT has deployed 3 servers for initial 12 months, and later added one more server for rest of the 24 months. Since all four servers are procured for disaster scenarios; there is certainly loss of capital investment here.

If we use Windows Azure Cloud platform for hosting this application, Actual Azure VMs can be provisioned and de-provisioned in response to on-going traffic as shown below which will result in cost reduction, better user experience by providing required resources to application.

graph3

Cost Analysis

Information below gives complete cost analysis about different options such as On-Premise Servers, Azure Deployed Servers and Azure costing plans such as Pay-As-You-Go, commitment based plans for availing discounts. Some of the conclusions drawn with the help of below analysis-

  • With 3 On-premise Servers for initial 12 months and 4 servers for remaining 36 months, required cost is $49,536 which includes web servers and database server
  • With 4 Cloud Servers for all 36 months, required cost is $42,831 (If we use VM installed SQL Server) and $32,867 for use of SQL Cloud Database (SQL Azure). These rates are as per no-commitment Azure pricing plans. With Azure based hosting using Pay-AS-you-GO plan we are getting new saving of 14% and 34% respectively.
  • With 3 Cloud Servers for all 36 months using Azure Commitment pricing plan, we are saving 33% and 49% using SQL Server in VM and SQL cloud database usage respectively.
  • By leveraging Auto Scaling feature, you can save up to 58% and 66% for a given sample usage/traffic scenario.

Application with Predictable Spikes – TCO – Amortized over 36 months (3 Web Servers, 1 Database Server)*

chart3a

*Please refer below assumptions section for understanding base for above calculations

**12-month commitment based plan

4.   Unpredictable Spikes – Application Pattern

Again these are long living applications having unpredicted user base and their access patterns. Even if you monitor the resource utilization over a period you will not get an idea about the usage pattern leaving behind low prediction accuracy. These are also your core business applications but based on content or nature of business you do, user access pattern remains unpredictable. It has been also found that predictions does not turn true because of number of variable parameters involved in prediction are very high or the geography your business caters is very wide.

For e.g. You are a global manufacturer of some cosmetic products, such products are in demand based on population of country their ethnicity, weather conditions, sales and marketing efforts, your competitors presence, sudden goodwill by analyst reports or successful campaigns or offers which has high turnout rates. It is difficult to judge impact of all such variables on traffic ratio accurately as these variables are scoped globally.

IT has very important role to play in such scenarios, enterprise cannot keep on investing new resources to sustain every possible spike found high for current infrastructure. Such high capital investment cannot be justified in terms of their outcomes and utilization over a period. IT cannot use these resources for other business scenarios and take risk of losing users/customers. Such underutilized resources sometimes applies breaks in progress in new IT initiatives which can benefit business where organization does not see value because of lack of IT innovation in other areas where wastage is happening.

Scenario Analysis

In below given sample scenario, we are considering an internet facing web site which will be used for 36 months period. The users of the application are not known and not fixed in number so this site may undergo any number of spikes in un-controllable form.  For deploying this application on on-premise environment, we have considered 3 web servers in load balanced manner with 1 Database server. Because load on this application may vary to greater extent, IT has to provision all four web servers for complete period of 36 months.

No of Web servers

3

No of Database Servers

1

No of months

36 months

Since average utilization of servers may remain low, this may result in wastage of resources in relative high in nature in this case because of unpredictable state of this application.

Windows Azure Cloud platform is ideal for such kind of applications providing complete elasticity and high scalability and availability.

graph4

Cost Analysis

Information below gives complete cost analysis about different options such as On-Premise Servers, Azure Deployed Servers and Azure costing plans such as Pay-As-You-Go, commitment based plans for availing discounts. Some of the conclusions drawn with the help of below analysis-

  • With 4 On-premise Servers for all 36 months, required cost is $53,856 which includes web servers and database server
  • With 4 Cloud Servers for all 36 months, required cost is $42,831 (If we use VM installed SQL Server) and $32,867 for use of SQL Cloud Database (SQL Azure). These rates are as per no-commitment Azure pricing plans. With Azure based hosting using Pay-AS-you-GO plan we are saving net 20% and 39% cost respectively.
  • With 3 Cloud Servers for all 36 months using Azure Commitment pricing plan, we are saving 38% and 52% using SQL Server in VM and SQL cloud database usage respectively.
  • By leveraging Auto Scaling feature, you can save up to 62% and 71% for a given sample usage/traffic scenario.

Application with Unpredictable Spikes – TCO – Amortized over 36 months (3 Web Servers, 1 Database Server)*

chart4a

*Please refer below assumptions section for understanding base for above calculations

**12-month commitment based plan

5.   Rapid Growth – Application Pattern

This type of applications become popular day by day and continuously attracts traffic. Normally this happens with successful startups or with companies launching new innovative ideas. Although, we know that site is doing good we can’t predict what will be the rate of progress and anticipated resource requirements of it. Since it’s highly impossible to predict the traffic and resource need, you need a flexible resource model to provide consistent user experience. Long delays in procuring server(s) can hamper your business and you may start losing users. Aggressively provisioning resources in anticipation is also not suggested as it might prove bad capital investment.

Scenario Analysis

In below given sample scenario, we are considering an internet facing web site which will be used for 36 months period. The users of the application are not known but are continuously increasing; site may grow and become uncontrollable very quickly if resource requirements are not well coped with.

For deploying this application in on-premise environment, we have considered 4 web servers in load balanced manner with 1 Database server. Because load on this application will grow constantly but without knowing the actual rate, IT has to provision all 5 web servers for complete period of 36 months. Since there is some idea that not all four web servers will be needed for total period, IT has procured 3 web servers initially and 1 web server in 16th month as shown in graph below.

No of Web servers

4 (3 Servers from day one, 1 added in 16th Month)

No of Database Servers

1

No of months

36 months

 Since we don’t know the rate of traffic increase, there is always risk of underutilized and over utilized servers if you procure in advance or be pessimistic and wait of the day. Windows Azure Cloud platform is ideal for such kind of applications providing complete elasticity and high scalability and availability.

graph5

Cost Analysis

Information below gives complete cost analysis about different options such as On-Premise Servers, Azure Deployed Servers and Azure costing plans such as Pay-As-You-Go, commitment based plans for availing discounts. Some of the conclusions drawn with the help of below analysis-

  • With 3 On-premise Servers for initial 16 months and 4 servers till 36 months, required cost is $74,016 which includes web servers and database server
  • With 4 Cloud Servers for all 36 months, required cost is $43,587 (If we use VM installed SQL Server) and $33,623 for use of SQL Cloud Database (SQL Azure). These rates are as per no-commitment Azure pricing plans. With Azure based hosting using Pay-AS-you-GO plan we are saving net 41% and 55% cost respectively.
  • With 3 Cloud Servers for all 36 months using Azure Commitment pricing plan, we are saving 54% and 65% using SQL Server in VM and SQL cloud database usage respectively.
  • By leveraging Auto Scaling feature, you can save up to 71% and 77% for a given sample usage/traffic scenario.

Application with Rapid Growth – TCO – Amortized over 36 months (4 Web Servers, 1 Database Server)*

chart5a

*Please refer below assumptions section for understanding base for above calculations

**12-month commitment based plan

Scenarios Summary – Cost Comparison

TC1

TC2

TC3

TC4

TC5

Assumptions for cost analysis

 

A . Assumptions – Azure Server

azure cost1

  1. *Considered ‘Web’ Version of database for SQL Server Azure VM calculation
  2. ‘Predictable Load’ and  ‘unpredictable Load’ Scenarios -10 GB of SQL Database considered
  3. ‘Time bound’ Scenario – 5 GB database size considered
  4. VM size considered is – Large VM with 4 x 1.6 GHz CPU, 7 GB RAM, 300 GB storage)
  5. Band width costing is not considered in either cases for keeping calculations simple

B. Assumptions – On-Premise Server

On-premise Costs for 1 Server amortized for a 3-year Period

onpremise cost1

Details

  Resource Type   Details
  On-Premise Server Hardware   Per month Expenses = $1519/36 months = $42
  Network Hardware, Hardware Maintenance   Per month Expenses = 3695/36 = $102,Per Server contribution =102/4 Servers =  $25.5,Load balancer – $10 per server
  Power Cooling   $29/Month/Server(Cooling and electricity)
  Data Center Space   $24/Month/Server
  Personnel   $200/Month/Server (50:1 Server-to-People ratio),cumulatively all people involved(Admin, DBA, Network Admin,Security) to cost   $120,000/annum
  System Software – Windows Server 2012   $882 i.e. $25/Month
  Database Management Software- SQL Server2012 Standard Edition   $2000 i.e. $56/Month
  Virtualization software   Not Considered to keep calculations simple
  Band with(Inbound/outbound)   Not Considered to keep calculations simple

On-Premise Server and Network Hardware configuration

(Equivalent to Windows Azure – Large VM instance – Large VM 4 x 1.6GHz CPU, 7GB RAM, 3,00GB Storage)

Costing by Dell as As of Date & Time: February 18, 2013 4:53 AM CST

Dell PowerEdge R310

Standard Price            $2027.00

Discounts                    -$508.00

Sub Total                       1519.00

Dell Edge Rack 1920W UPS

Dell UPS, Rack, 1920W, 2U, 120V, with 5-20P to C19, 3m input cord

Standard Price              $1218.00

PowerConnect 6200 Series

PowerConnect 6224, 24 GbE Ports, Managed Switch, 10GbE and Stacking Capable

 Standard Price            $3128.00

Stacking Module           $299.00

Discounts                    -$950.00

Sub Total                     $2477.00

SYSTEM COMPONENTS                         

PowerEdge R320 Quantity Unit Price
PowerEdge R320 1 $2,027.00
Special offer – Save   25% on select PowerEdge R320 servers through Dell Small Business! - $508.02
Catalog   Number: 4 BECT133    

 

Module Description Product   Code Sku Id
PowerEdge R320 PowerEdge R320 R320 [225-2955][938-3184][939-6767] 1
Hardware   SupportServices 3Yr   Basic Hardware WarrantyRepair:   5×10 HW-Only, 5x10NBD   Onsite U3OS [939-6857][939-6947][994-4019][995-8451] 29
ProactiveMaintenance No   Installation NOINSTL [900-9997] 32
Shipping PowerEdge   R320 Shipping SHIP [331-6952] 1500
Add-in   NetworkAdapter On-Board   Dual GigabitNetwork   Adapter OBNIC [430-4715] 1514
EmbeddedSystemsManagement Basic   Management BMC [331-3482] 1515
ChassisConfiguration 3.5″   Chassis with up to 4Cabled   Hard Drives andEmbedded   SATA 4CBSATA [318-2037][331-6958] 1530
Bezel No   Bezel NOBEZEL [313-0869] 1532
RAIDConfiguration No   RAID with EmbeddedSATA   (1-4 SATA HDD) withCabled   Chassis NRS110C [331-6986] 1540
RAID   Controller Embedded   SATA NCTRLR [341-3933] 1541
Processor Intel®   Xeon® E5-24072.20GHz,   10M Cache, 6.4GT/s QPI, No Turbo, 4C,80W,   Max Mem 1066MHz E52407 [317-9802][317-9826] 1550
Memory   Capacity (2)   4GB UDIMM, 1333 MT/s,Low   Volt, Dual Rank, x8 DataWidth 4U3LDR [317-6881][317-6881] 1560
Memory   DIMMType   and Speed 1333   MHz UDIMMs 1333UD [331-4423] 1561
MemoryConfigurationType Performance   Optimized PEOPT [331-4428] 1562
Hard   Drives 1TB   7.2K RPM SATA 3Gbps3.5in   Cabled Hard Drive 1TS35C [341-9211] 1570
SystemDocumentation Electronic   SystemDocumentation   andOpenManage   DVD Kit forR320 EDOCS [331-6962] 1590
Internal   OpticalDrive DVD+/-RW,   SATA, Internal for4HD   Chassis DVDRW12 [313-9091] 1600
Rack   Rails ReadyRails™   Static Rails for2/4-post   Racks STATIC [331-4764] 1610
Power   Supply Single,   Cabled Power Supply,350W SCPS350 [331-7025] 1620
Power   Cords NEMA   5-15P to C13 WallPlug,   125 Volt, 15 AMP, 10Feet   (3m), Power Cord 125V10F [310-8509] 1621
ServerAccessories 8x   DVD-ROM, USB, External 8DRUSB [313-9094] 1630
Operating   System No   Operating System NOOS [420-6320] 1650
OS   Media Kits No   Operating System MediaKit NOSDOC [420-1908] 1652

 

Dell   PowerEdge 1920W Rack UPS Quantity Unit Price
Dell   UPS, Rack, 1920W, 2U, 120V,with 5-20P to C19, 3minput   cord 1 $1,218.00
Catalog   Number: 4 BECTU219R    

-

Module Description Product Code Sku Id
Dell   PowerEdge1920W   Rack UPS Dell   UPS, Rack, 1920W, 2U,120V,with   5-20P to C19, 3minput   cord 150WLR [225-2386] 1
Hardware   SupportServices 3Yr   Basic Hardware WarrantyRepair:   5×10 HW-Only, 5x10NBD   Onsite U3OS [935-2197][938-8378][995-3092][996-4610] 29
InstallationServices Onsite   Installations Declined NOINSTL [900-9997] 32
NetworkManagement Dell   UPS NetworkManagement   Card UNTWM [430-4100] 1230

-

PowerConnect   6224 Quantity Unit Price
PowerConnect   6224, 24 GbE Ports, Managed Switch,10GbE   and Stacking Capable 1 $3,128.00
Special   offer – Save $950 on select   PowerConnect 6224 switches through Dell Small Business. - $950.00
Catalog   Number: 4 BCCWRK1_CC    

-

Module Description Product   Code Sku Id
PowerConnect6224 PowerConnect   6224, 24 GbEPorts,   Managed Switch, 10GbEand   Stacking Capable PC6224 [222-6710] 1
HardwareSupportServices Switch   includes LifetimeWarranty   repair. Choose DellProSupport™   for advancedtechnical   support. PD [934-7080][981-0890][985-5977] 29
InstallationServices ONSITE   INSTALLATION: PowerConnect   Hardware InstallationOnly UMOUNT [989-6197] 32
SFP+   Optics andCables PowerConnect   SFP+ DirectAttach   Cable (Twinax) 3m SFPTD3 [330-6566] 1217

-

Stacking Module, 48Gbps, Includes 1m   StackingCable Qty Unit   Price
Dell   Part# 320-5171 Manufacturer Part# K0644Dell   Part# 320-5171 1 $299.99
Catalog Number: 4 BCCWRK1_CC    

Friends! I hope this analysis will help you understand the Cloud Usage scenarios, different Web Application patterns and associated cost savings as compared to on-premise deployment.
Please let me know if you are interested in knowing further details of above calculations. Just express your will by putting ‘Comment’ against this article, I will share every bit of information with you.

Happy reading :)
Regards,
Laxmikant Patil

Business Agility and Windows Azure Cloud Platform


IT contribution to Business agility using Cloud Technology

This white paper describes what is business agility, how it can be improved using IT Agility and role of Cloud computing on IT and business agility. “Agility typically refers to the ability of an organization to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways and meet customer demands by adjusting to the changes in a business environment by taking advantage of available resources”. Here, the word “resources” carries significant importance as it indicates what can change the entire game in organizations operations.  Agility and competitiveness goes hand in hand and is key factor in success of any business. As an Organization, who does not believe in agility is supposed to be leaping towards the obsoleteness and will be out of business in no time. Consider below 6 attributes which majorly influence the business agility in typical case.agility

An Organization can acquire agility by institutionalizing above 6 pillars in every possible business function of it. And IT is considered as one of the most important strategic business function of modern industry. IT becoming agile adds higher percentage of agility to overall organization. In this paper we will try to understand how IT agility impacts business agility. We will discuss this in the context of Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud computing as a platform to make your IT more agile, cost effective, efficient and flexible.

IT agility and business agility

Agility attributes

Focus on Time to value:

There is an almost obsessive focus on getting new products/services/features to market as soon as possible.  This enables a shorter feedback cycle and, equally importantly, a quicker timeframe to earn a return on the investment made. One can influence the market and competitor with this attribute.

cloudIT Response using Windows Azure Cloud Platform

  • Provision IT resources (Processing power, storage, bandwidth, databases, O.S etc.)  in minutes. No procurement review/approval cycles, negotiations, shipping delays, escalations. Windows Azure provides resources as quickly as you can imagine. Hit the market with your innovative ideas/ products in least possible time.
  • Tools and frameworks support to rapid application development shortening time to market. Windows Azure platform provides all the tooling and frameworks for your team to help build applications quickly.
  • Respond to your customers/needs immediately with added capacity, Windows Azure powers you with scalability and elasticity to allocate resources on the fly automatically as much you need any time. You can double or multiply the data/application load capacity in automatically.
  • Achieve quicker, faster and secure integrations with customers, partners, and vendors. Windows azure platform provides secure way to connect on-premise applications for data exchange with best in class security standards.
  • Expand your business around the globe. IT will follow you everywhere in no time. Windows Azure has data centers around the world providing lowest latency by deploying applications near to customer locations.
  • Gather data intelligence and analytics for taking brave decisions quickly, enable your application with cloud based reporting, Big data options to provide business predictions
  • Collaborate with stakeholders, provide right information at right place for right people using SharePoint Online or with any Content management and collaboration software

Innovation:

Always look for better way of doing things using latest and better technologies. This is considered as the most significant attribute and can impact to larger extent on enterprise’s success.

cloudIT Response using Windows Azure Cloud Platform

  • Cloud technology is the future, early adopters will benefit from it, all the innovations impacting business and IT will happen on this platform, future proof your business with this technology before your competitor does.

Flexibility: Flexible processes and options

This is where a lot of businesses (particularly larger enterprises) find it very difficult to move quickly to exploit new opportunities.  The more each business process is intertwined (coupled) with others, the harder it is to implement change quickly.

cloudIT Response using Windows Azure Cloud Platform

  • One of the reasons Cloud technology exists today is to provide required flexibility to business which was difficult to achieve earlier. Windows Azure platform provides numerous features and resources and each resource is available for use on Pay per use model. No capital expenditure is needed. No commitment to use resources is needed. Businesses can leverage Cloud resources on clock hourly basis and release them any time when no required. This flexibility will bridge the gap in large and small businesses where large business use to rely on their IT capacity to beat the small business competitors.

Low Latency: Faster decision making

The quicker a decision can be acted upon, the sooner the business knows whether the decision was right and what else needs to be done to achieve the underlying goal.

cloudIT Response using Windows Azure Cloud Platform

  • Once you sign up for Cloud, you will not face any challenges in procurement of resources like we do in on-premise case. No need to worry about Operating system software’s, Database software licenses, Server hardware, Network hardware, storage devices, load balancing mechanisms, back up mechanisms, disaster recovery mechanisms, failover sites, antivirus software’s, hardware support contracts, trainings, SLAs, WAN optimizations, routers, switches, power UPS, cooling, storage space, Blade/Rack Servers and what not. Cloud eliminates the decision making and waiting time delays.

Economic efficiency: Cost effective processes and resource leverage

A lazy, bureaucratic organization will protect its turf at the cost of progress and innovation.  Lean operations that minimize waste have the added incentive of promoting new and innovative ways of doing things, and being able to implement them quickly.

cloudIT Response using Windows Azure Cloud Platform

  • No upfront capital investment in any hardware, software’s, licenses allows you to try more business ideas with the market and fine tune your idea in response. This not only saves capital expenditure but also provides economic value in terms of Pay as you use model.
  • Reduce overall Total cost of ownership by eliminating CapEx and controlling OpeEx smartly.
  • If you don’t want 5 servers out of 7 in the night time, just remove them instantly and save money
  • With the help of Windows Azure platform support, Man to server maintenance ratio will increase allowing IT admin to manage, monitor more Cloud deployed Servers saving time which otherwise can be spend on innovative ideas which can benefit customers and prove to be differentiator in the market
  • If you are sure that you need certain resources for at least 6 months, you can opt commitment based plan and gain discounts up to 20%

Rapid Adaptation

This component really refers to the mindset of continual monitoring of, and adaptation to, changing market conditions.  It is the ultimate feedback mechanism that ensures the product/service offering is continually refined to best meet the needs/constraints of customers, suppliers and partners.

cloudIT Response using Windows Azure Cloud Platform

  • With an advent of cloud computing technology, you save lot of time in procurement, IT resource management, training, managing peak loads, licensing policies, support contracts etc. This allows you to focus more on your customer needs and studying market trends. This study will empower you to add more value in your business and correcting, fine tuning ideas, processes and methodologies regularly.
  • Once you are sign up for Windows Azure platform, all the inventions happening in the platform will follow your way which will help you further optimizing resources, adding more features to your applications and get feedback on it from customers to fine tune your offerings.

what can cloud do

Business Requirements and solutions

example

Company Profile for the Case study:

Dream medico equipment’s is public limited company having 2000 employees with annual revenue of $600 million. Company primarily manufactures innovative medical devices for customers around the globe which are majorly hospitals, pathologies spanning public, private and military sectors. Company has captured good market in America, Europe and Asia and is also planning to develop low cost medical devices/Products for personal use at home. Company has got many market competitors selling products at aggressive rates and providing good quality support services. As of now, IT department which manages all the application ecosystem on-premises including core JD Edwards ERP product. Through its lifespan company tries to solve above mentioned problems to be more agile and competitive. Let us see how IT agility will help company in achieving certain goals.

Revenue Growth

Problem statement: Dream medico equipment’s has been reviewing its revenue growth since last two quarters and it was found that it is satisfactory. However, company management thinks that if they focus more on possible growth areas they can increase revenues further.

Company higher management decides to be little aggressive in introducing new products in the market which was supposed to be launched one quarter later under personal use product category.

Company wants to prelaunch few innovative products with attractive price portfolio and sees how market responds to it. Company wants to book good amount of business during pre-launch offer and collect feedback about the sample products and Product specifications in accordance with prices quoted. Also customer, partners and vendors may provide feedback in terms of few new features they want to see in the products or entirely few new product ideas may take birth.

Dream medico equipment’s CEO calls for a meeting with other executives to decide on feasibility to conduct prelaunch event in months’ time and seek if one month is sufficient for the preparation. CEO explains significance of this prelaunch offer for forthcoming projects in terms of below benefits -

Business Benefits

  • Booking a business in advance
  • Market capture ahead of competitors
  • Brand establishment
  • Seek customer feedback on products and go back to Product design team and incorporate wherever applicable
  • Reduce risk of mass producing products if certain products are not well received
  • Look for big orders by health care institutions and care homes

Sales Head explain about the possible sales channels for Product promotion and accepting prelaunch orders. He wants to open up multiple sales channels to promote the product.

Business head explains which products to be launched with which features. Since this event will be driven and owned by business. Business head has determined some budget for it, when he discloses the budget and the date for the event which is just one month away. Other executives are not happy with available time, required preparations and budget which is they feel is very constrained.

Business head reiterates the significance of this event and also explains why there is definite budget available, he explains – “Since this event can empower our revenue growth, event has significance in time which cannot be postponed. Since this is just a onetime event and not an ongoing activity there cannot be more budget available for this. Also if products are not received well by customer, all these expenses will become waste and also it may impact on company brand in the market, so management doesn’t want to spend very big numbers for this event.”

Business Risks

  • Available time – The entire event may fail if preparations are not completed well in time. This included efforts by teams like marketing, sales, IT and Products team.
  • User experience – New product site may have performance issues because of unpredictable number of customers, partners, and analysts can visit from around the world. As site will be visited, videos will be downloaded, product documents will be downloaded, adverts will be played, orders will be accepted, and payment transactions will be done.

As usual, IT head was under pressure to provide the required support for this business initiative. After further discussions with business, marketing and sales team, it was decided to build below systems for specific purposes.

  • Web Sales Channel – Major sales channel will be a new web site where all pre-launch products will be listed along with prices, estimated arrival time, features and specifications, videos, adverts. Customers can visit the site, review products and put comments /feedback against it. If they like a product they can place an order. This site should be separate from existing company product web site. However, there should be feature in existing and new site to allow users move back and forth.
  • Second sales channel will be a tablet application for sales team who will be in the field in various hospitals and health care institutes. Sales team will be demoing products and showing videos, adverts on the tablet along with accepting orders through tablet application.
  • Business team needs a light weight reporting tool for understanding business realization of this event. This reporting application will not be needed after this event unless another product launch in future.
  • Company wants to add new products into their existing distributor’s portal so that they can place orders for new products. Business estimates that there will be large traffic attracted by this portal because of distributors accessing it concurrently. IT needs to take care of appropriate performance needs during peak time.

Major challenges in front of IT manager are –

1. Development of –

  • New web site for web sales channel in short period of time
  • Tablet application for sales team
  • Reporting website

2. Manage high traffic demands on all of above sites

3. Provision hardware, network and software resources in available time and available budget

4. Delays in procurement of resources(hardware, software)

5. Keeping total cost of ownership low, avoid upfront investment as resources are not needed for ever

6. Look for some innovative way of achieving all these challenges to serve such requests in future

During this analysis, IT head and Manager decides to take a next step and concludes to select Microsoft Windows Azure Cloud Platform as a future platform not investing any more in on-premise data center.

Cost Reduction

The first challenge of budget limitation is addressed by choosing Windows Azure platform.

  • No upfront cost investment in software’s, hardware, licenses, failover sites, storage disks, bandwidth, Racks/blades, load balancers etc.
  • Company need to pay as per your usage only
  • Cost can be controlled at hourly unit basis
  • Stop paying for resources released back to platform
  • Company can also save from other costs involved in on-premise deployments like electricity power, cooling, Space
  • Human resource time saving which is usually required to monitor, manage and maintain the servers
  • Better human-to-server maintenance-ratio for managing cloud deployed servers saving administrators savings
  • Time saving in Procurement, decision making, reviews and approvals
  • Time saving in maintaining Server O.S and database licenses, service packs/patches, license expiries, hardware compatibility, CALS etc.

Manage Business in Peak Period

Major challenge in managing business in this period was lack of information on potential load or unpredictable nature of traffic spike. Team needed really dynamic scalable solution to auto adjust the server resources per actual traffic need.

Azure Platform inherently supports scalability and elasticity in cost effective manner. Team implemented auto scaling solution to increase number of servers as load increased and decrease number of servers during low traffic time. All this process can be done automatically without manual intervention.

Company could reduce lead time completely by providing adequate number of resources required for the event resulting in best user experience and successful sales trial.

Response to Risk

With the help of Windows Azure technology, IT department could deal with Business and IT risks in below way-

  • Using Windows Azure platform support, tools and frameworks, websites were developed in rapid way. Company opted for cloud enabled ‘NopCommerce’ open source framework to quickly develop the new web site. This framework has features already available required for this website.
  • Since ‘NopCommerce’ framework like other numerous products is pre-integrated into the Azure platform. This allowed development team to quickly develop the websites and test it by deploying it in Azure staging environment.
  • For storing video, audio, images, product specifications document, team used Windows Azure Blob storage services. This is very cost effective and efficient option.
  • For managing another risk of user experience under such a high load condition was managed by –
    • Better video and audio streaming Video/audio content is stored in ‘Block blob’
    • Since Site was supposed to be used across the globe, team used Azure Content distribution Network (CDN) for distributing and caching content among various Azure nodes for best performance.
    • Using Azure ‘Auto scaling’ feature, sites could be dynamically scaled out to required number of servers to server the traffic

Thus, IT agility could help manage business risk effectively.

Low Cost Reporting Solution

Development of reporting site was done with least amount time by developing few reports using SQL Server Reporting services feature. Team needed web server to deploy the reports on-premises, which was time consuming process to get. Team used SQL Azure Reporting services for report deployment which is charged per number of reports, which also eliminated the need of buying SQL Server license. After the event, reports will be removed from the SQL Azure Reporting service server stopping getting charged further.

Sales team Mobility

For Tablet application development, Windows Azure Mobile Services proved to be accelerator where team just designed a database and platform automatically creates required template web services and sample client mobile application specific to platform such as windows Phone, IPad/IPhone etc. Team could save considerable time in development and testing phase, Team did not experience any environment differences (Production/Staging) and effort wastage cause of it. Team could gain required scalability in no time when needed.

Sales – Distributor Connect

Anticipating high load on Sales-Distributor portal, entire portal was moved to Azure platform. Team used IaaS feature of platform by provisioning Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtual machine and another virtual machine with SQL Server 2008 R2. Since this portal was built for scalability, team could scale this portal on multiple web servers in load balanced manner which is implicitly available in Azure platform. Team need not bought O.S or SQL Server licenses for this migration which is already considered by the platform in per hour pricing.

last image

Friends ! I hope this helps :)
Laxmikant Patil

 

 

Windows Azure Technology Partner Selection Guide – white paper


Dear All,

My white paper on “Windows Azure Technology Partner Selection Guide” has been published on company web site at http://www.kpitcummins.com/application-and-consulting-services/application-services/microsoft/windows-azure

Please visit this page and click on “Download White Paper” link.

Or

Paper can be downloaded directly at http://www.kpitcummins.com/downloads/whitepapers/windows-azure-partner-selection-guide.pdf

Enjoy reading it !! :)

 

Thanks

Cloud Storage Use Case Scenarios – Considering Windows Azure Storage Platform


What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is a model of networked online storage where data is stored in virtualized pools of storage which are generally hosted by third parties. Cloud storage is based on highly virtualized infrastructure and has same characteristic as Cloud computing in terms of agility, scalability, elasticity and multi-tenancy.

Cloud storage services may be accessed through a web service application programming interface (API), a cloud storage gateway or through a Web-based user interface.

  • Cloud storage provides On-Demand storage space
  • Cloud storage can be accessed through internet
  • It’s pricing is based on Pay as you go and usage model
  • Cloud storage platform exposes Rich application interfaces for communication purpose
  • User need not manage the storage, everything is transparent to the user
  • High degree of security and data redundancy and disaster recovery is built into Cloud storage
  • Companies can focus on their core business and get rid of on-premise storage disks, maintenance tasks, backups, data replication, space and cooling requirements including human resource bandwidth.

How is it different from traditional storage?

  • There is No difference with traditional storage techniques at functional interface level
  • Traditionally there was need to pre-pay and buy storage device, Cloud Storage is delivered on demand
  • Like traditional store there is no need of Capital Expenditures, Cloud storage is based on Pay as per used model
  • Because Cloud storage is maintained by third party, it reduces CapEx and OpeEx significantly
  • Traditional storage capacity use to be low because of upfront investment required, whereas in Cloud storage you get virtually unlimited storage capacity without upfront commitment/investment
  • Traditional on-premise storage could not provide the level of high availability promised by Cloud Storage
  • Unlike traditional storage, Cloud storage services are specialized for structured storage, unstructured storage, NOSQL data, large binary files, Media content streaming etc.
  • Cloud storage services has data redundancy and disaster recovery built into it
  • Cloud storage services are inherently build for high fault tolerance
  • Since data will be stored in cloud storage which can be accessed from anywhere in the world with adequate security which gives kind of comfort for data users

Overall Cloud storage provides customers with required agility, scalability and cost effectiveness.

Economics of Cloud storage

While understanding the economics, it is necessary to try to compare apple with apple, generally organizations compare on-premise storage devices cost with cloud storage/GB, which will be wrong to do. For understanding actual cost required for X GB storage you need to consider below parameters.

  • Upfront devices investment cost
  • Operating Costs
  • Redundancy cost
  • Buy in advance to provide required capacity to the business
  • Human resource involvement
  • Disaster recovery
  • Hardware support
  • Technical trainings

Source: Forrester Research – based on sample data provided under specific conditions*

Forrester Internal Storage

Forrester Cloud Storage

Forrester Cloud Gateway Storage

Challenges in using Cloud storage

Security

  • Outsourcing data storage out of organization premises causes security risks increasing attack surface area.
  • Security of data during transit

Accessibility

  • Performance, reliability, available depends on WAN bandwidth between customer and Cloud Service Provider
  • Although Cloud Service providers promises 99.9% availability, still it may prove problem for some organizations

Regulatory Compliances

  • Data being stored in Cloud storage could be subject to government regulations and legal affairs e.g. Personal information or health care records
  • Copyright and Piracy infringement for intellectual property

For e.g.

              1.The Patriot Act in the US allows the government to subpoena all data stored within the US. This might not be acceptable to many organizations.

              2. European Privacy Acts require that data be stored within the country of origin. Storing in the datacenter of out‐of‐country Service Provider cloud might not meet these requirements.

Cloud Service Provider stability

  • Companies are not permanent and the services and products they provide can change. Outsourcing data storage to another company needs careful investigation and nothing is ever certain. Contracts set in stone can be worthless when a company ceases to exist or its circumstances change.

Total Cost

  • Total recurring cost and bandwidth cost added up, may not prove feasible to some of the customers depending upon the size and data size and sensitivity to the business.

topic

Many of the above concerns can be taken care by using Cloud storage Gateways.

What is Cloud Storage gateway?

For many organization’s may it be small-medium business or large businesses, majorly two obstacles stopping from utilizing cloud storage and those are really genuine but resolvable.

The first is the relatively slow performance as measured by response time obviously because of limitation of available internet bandwidth. This slow response time often makes cloud-based storage unacceptable for some users. The second is the requirement to write code for applications to the representational state transfer (REST) API. If the applications don’t have a native interface to cloud storage, many small to medium businesses lack the aptitude, desire, skills or time to develop it themselves.

So, what is the solution?

The potential solution could be to have a mechanism in place which will overcome above two obstacles and provide a way so that enterprises don’t need to worry about the storage, communication and performance complexities. A solution should provide wrapper to Cloud storage allowing users to use storage as normal as they had been doing on-premises.

‘Cloud storage gateways’ are the appropriate solution to this, since they are designed to overcome above two obstacles and they allow you to deal with cloud storage as if you are dealing with traditional SAN, NAS storage systems using NFS, iSCSI or FC methods. Additionally they can be used as a ‘primary storage’ unit providing features such as snapshots, thin provisioning, de-duplication and compression. This also eliminates any requirement of writing an application code for enterprises before using cloud storage.

There are many cloud storage gateways in the market, one has to understand how cloud storage gateway move your data cloud storage and how it brings back to you when needed. Various gateway companies use different approaches and algorithms some of them are patented technologies as well. The more efficiency achieved in data movement decides the quality and productivity of the cloud storage gateway. Additionally some cloud storage gateways allows you to use different cloud storage platforms such as Windows Azure, Amazon S3,  EMC Atmos, Nirvanix and others providing complete flexibility.

Basic working of Cloud Storage Gateways

Cloud storage gateways are nothing but a customized appliance (server) having various types and specialty disk storage in it like HDDs, SSDs (Solid state devices) and software control  on it. On-premise applications interact with these disks as normal, data is stored on these disks initially, it is them moved to the storage cloud based on policy/ algorithms such as age of the data, last access timings, or number of snapshots etc.

Though cloud storage gateways come with some costs but they relax you from several responsibilities providing low TCO solution. You get relax mind as cloud storage gateway takes care of data backups, snapshots, archival, de-duplication, compression, allowing you to use cost effective cloud storage, disaster recovery along with acting as a primary storage medium with classic storage technology combinations.

There are a number of cloud storage gateway vendors in the market today, with more emerging every quarter. They include Cirtas Systems, CTERA Networks, Nasuni Corp., StorSimple Inc., TwinStrata Inc. and others that are still emerging.

Usage scenarios for Storage as a Service

1.      Web Facing Applications

Opting out from owned on-premise infrastructure for a business application and moving it to the cloud could streamline the operations especially for data driven applications. Although, cloud storage can be used for any application dealing with data, it benefits specially when your data is increasing rapidly or existing data size is more than you want to control it on-premise. Cloud storage specially assists in web facing applications where upload and download of content is entirely up to end users and size of data can grow by any extent. Data could unstructured (simple files, documents, videos, audio, media content, database backups) or structured content (SQL databases) or NoSQL data, cloud storage is applicable for all kind.

Few examples of places where cloud storage can be used is-

  • Media Streaming : streaming of audio & video
  • Files/ document /photos/audio/ video storage e.g. drop box, You tube
  • Store content for Social media sites like – Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc
  • Content Storage & Sharing : Pictures and content are stored in Cloud Storage e.g. Smugmug,
  • NoSQL data storage

How about using cloud storage for on-premise web applications?

One can use cloud storage for on-premise application and it is perfect to use it. However, for better performance, Storage and application should be co-located in the cloud to avoid possible latency. REST API exposed by cloud storage services can be easily consumed by applications for leveraging services and reaping benefits like data redundancy, availability and cost effectiveness.

2.      Interfacing Smart Mobile devices

Mobiles are everywhere. Be it  be business phones like blackberry, Windows, iPhones or tablets/iPads with full blown applications generating and pushing data to central database for analysis, accounting and reporting purpose. Sales force or field agents and inspections generate lot of data with audio and video contents which need to be stored for longer period of process compliance purposes or reference purposes. Nowadays devices comes with inbuilt facilities to store content on local storage or on cloud, it has just become an option and cloud storage just a click away. Because of limited processing power, memory and bandwidth, data from mobile devices need to be pushed /pulled more frequently with availability requirement from anywhere in the world.

Cloud storage proves very efficient option in such cases providing complete data availability; data transfer rate doesn’t matter here since anyways it will happen via Internet with on-premise data center.

3.      Unstructured Data Storage

This is data is largest in size in any organization and uncontrollable also. People create copies of documents and version them as they want, it is difficult to track or control the pattern that users manage documents including emails, text documents, images/photos, manuals, training contents, proposals, marketing contents, accounting statements etc.

As per An IDC paper, “The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe,” highlights how a single email with 1MB attachment when sent to four people consumes a total of 51MB of storage. (Source: “The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe, An Updated Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2011,” March 2008, by International Data Corporation.) In other words, email suffers from attachment size limitations and is also an inefficient way of data sharing.

If constraints are applied on storage sizes, users tend to delete the content which may again create problems in accessing that in future. So to deal with such situations, strong storage policy is needed appreciating business need and impact of data availability for the organization. There should be a flexible way of data sharing which will increase collaboration in the organization along with an approach should prove cost effective and add value in terms of availability, disaster recovery, data redundancies, backups and versioning support.

Cloud storage helps you address all of above concerns fostering effective data storage, sharing, availability and pay as you storage option.

4.      Backup/ Retention/Preservation to Cloud

I have met with one customer who is into construction business from homes to business towers to ships and dams. Company operates in 7 countries following country specific policies and regulations for record keeping. Some of the countries like U.S and Canada need all the records for a construction project to be retained for 10 to 15 years. Data should be recoverable and available when it is required.

One may serve such request by regular maintenance of your storage policies and infrastructure considering backups, verifications, retention, duplication activities. Not only for the regulatory compliances but it is also important for every organization to retain, backup and preserve their data which is a real asset and outcome of thousands of hours of work.

topic 2

Cloud storage takes all of your responsibilities of storing your data consistently for years you want to store. Outsourcing such as pain area will allow your IT to focus more on innovation and value added service for the businesses and not merely on record keeping purpose. Below are some of the instances where cloud storage has been used from some time -

  • Backup for individual machine & laptops to cloud E.g Cirrustore
  • Backup of cloud computing data like OS images Eg: vsphere, Openstack Swift storage
  • Backup for one cloud provider to another – double sure it!
  • Restore the data backed up in cloud- Retention period and Secure deletion purposes
  • Data Preservation (is distinguished from Archive/Retention) in that the goal of preservation is to actively maintain the upkeep of information, most likely for long periods of time. E.g. Preserve Libraries & University Archives / repositories
  • Archive data that is less sensitive to latency

topic 3

5.      Databases in cloud

Databases, may those be SQL or NoSQL can happily reside in the cloud. Some of the Cloud service provides like Microsoft Windows Azure has SQL DB database provided in a ‘Database as a service’ mode. Microsoft has partnered with other database providers like MySQL to make it available on their cloud platform. There is a long list of databases supported on cloud platform like –

  • Cassandra
  • Bigtable
  • Hbase
  • Hypertable
  • Neo4j
  • mongoDB
  • Azure tables

SQL Database can deployed in cloud could be your primary databases, backup copies or as a secondary data source purpose like reporting purpose. SQL database in the cloud are charged based on monthly database size.

NoSQL databases present very cost effective ways for managing data and there are very good example in the industry that how people are using it for storing large data sets in the NoSQL database like Azure tables with partitioning policies spanning data in multiple datacenters around the world.

6.      Cloud Storage for cloud computing

If you are using cloud computing for any reason, there is high possibility that you will fall in love with cloud storage. Most of the cloud providers have storage integrated with other offerings they have.

Whenever we use cloud platform like Microsoft Windows Azure either in IaaS, PaaS or SaaS mode, you are actually using Azure Cloud storage in some or other format.

One of the typical examples when people use Cloud storage is when they use IaaS offerings-

  • VM Image Store :Image of the Guest OS which is made available to hypervisors for staring a VM
  • Guest Auxiliary storage: Provision the storage space, at a given QoS, which the guest needs beyond the boot storage.
  • People store entire deployment packages in cloud storage in PaaS mode for providing autoscaling feature to add more servers in response to traffic attracted by the application.

7.      Global Content Distribution in Cloud

Global content distribution is not a new mechanism to boost application performance when you have wide range of users around the globe and your application content is cached at many places nearer to the users for faster delivery to them. With the advent of Cloud computing, this mechanism has become more powerful with integrated support from the cloud providers like Microsoft has CDN(Content distribution network) feature as of Windows Azure platform, users has to perform few clicks to configure it for their application and your site will be transformed with tremendous boost in content delivery. With increased number of CDN nodes around the globe, latency and scalability issues are being addressed very proactively and easily.

8.      Scientific calculations and researchers to collaborate and discover

Scientific societies and researchers need large storage systems to store their simulations during their research. Not all scientists have liberty to buy storage systems and maintain them. Cloud storage provides efficient technique for them to use actually when required, pay for use and release the resources once results are drawn from the calculations. Cloud storage has been considered good candidate for storing content generated in digital movie production. Computer generated movie production generates huge data which need to be stored for short period of movie production may be for few months.

For e.g. movie like ‘avatar’ generated one petabyte or one million gigabytes of data which was stored using Microsoft digital asset management solution’ which could be today stored in Cloud storage with added benefits.

Hope this helps!  :)

Laxmikant Patil

Why to use Windows Azure Storage against local portable hard disk?


Since the inception of computers, enterprises had been using hard disks for data storage and transfer purpose. Most popular option is ‘portable hard disk’ being cost effective, easy to use and ability to carry anywhere features. Because of success of portable hard disks enterprises got attracted to it and started leveraging them for business data storage, backup and archival purposes, which is not the purpose these disks are meant for. Portable hard disks were developed for storage of temporary data and primarily for portability purpose.

Companies need to look at more reliable storage solution considering below mentioned criteria’s, because data not available on time or loss of data is as bad as data was never available!

Below is the comparison summary between ‘portable hard disk’ and ‘Windows Azure Storage services’ storage options against different criteria’s.

Sr. No

Criteria Portable Hard Disk Cloud(Windows Azure)

Winner

1

Data Security Low – Easily accessible High- Always Secure Access Azure Storage

2

Ease of data Access Data Access is easy as one has to just plug the HDD in USB Internet based data access HDD

3

Portability High Low – but data is available around the world via Internet

HDD

4 Reach Low – Need to physically carry everywhere High – Data accessible globally

Azure Storage

5

Disaster Recovery Low – Very less chances of data recovery High – Inbuilt disaster recovery. Data gets copied at 3 places and   will be automatically made available in disaster recovery scenarios

Azure Storage

6

Data redundancy Low – Need to implement explicitly which costs your more High – Inbuilt data redundancy. Data gets copied at 3 places

Azure Storage

7 Availability Low- Vulnerable to numerous environmental conditions High – 99.9% promised availability with world class data centers   support

Azure Storage

8

Performance High – Local access Low- Internet based access HDD
9 Maintenance Need more care in periodic verifying of device No maintenance needed

Azure Storage

10

Vulnerable to physical damage, heat, dust, wear and tear Yes- highly vulnerable No

Azure Storage

11

Life of storage device 2-3 years max Virtually unlimited Azure Storage
12 Risk of device theft High Low

Azure Storage

13

Data access concurrency Cannot be accessed concurrently for more than few users Can be accessed by large users concurrently

Azure Storage

14

Governed SLAs  No YES – by Microsoft Azure Storage
15 Device Driver needs YES NO

Azure Storage

16

Data Access time Less because of local data transfer More because of internet based data transfer HDD
17 Price 1 TB for Approx. $100 $0.07 per GB per month

HDD

18

Storage Capacity Fixed – need to decide at the time of buying Virtually unlimited Azure Storage
19 Storage flexibility If data size increases, Data storage cannot grow by itself Cloud storage supports scalability out of the box with ability to   storage unlimited data. Flexibility in terms of Pay as you go model

Azure Storage

20

Pricing Model Capex – Capital investment is needed. Opex – Only monthly usage charges need to pay, no upfront commitment Azure Storage
21 Focus Organization need to spend time and give focus on maintaining HDD in   good way along with redundant copies of it No need to spend additional minute in caring about the storage once   data is uploaded.

Azure Storage

Just to conclude, ‘Windows Azure Storage Services’ wins in most of the cases and proves to be best option for storage purpose. Use this information wisely in your scenario to analyze the benefits scenarios.

Hope this helps !

Laxmikant Patil :)

Windows Azure platform – Tools and Utilities


 

I was looking for tools available on Windows Azure Platform, thought to share with you all. Certainly this is not the complete list available out there but I found these are useful to start with. My next post will cover few more tools -

1. Windows Azure Monitoring Management Pack(http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=4f05f282-f23a-49da-8133-7146ee19f249):

Windows Azure Monitoring Management Pack enables you to monitor the availability and performance of applications that are running on Windows Azure.
 
 
Feature Summary
• Discovers Windows Azure applications.
• Provides status of each role instance.
• Collects and monitors performance information.
• Collects and monitors Windows events.
• Collects and monitors the .NET Framework trace messages from each role instance.
• Grooms performance, event, and the .NET Framework trace data from Windows Azure storage account.
• Changes the number of role instances via a task.
 
2. CloudXplorer from clumfsyleaf(http://clumsyleaf.com/products/cloudxplorer):
CloudXplorer is a rich UI client for browsing Windows Azure blob storage.
 
Feature Summary
  • Copy and move blobs between folders, containers or even different accounts.
     
  • Rename and delete blobs, create new containers and folders.
     
  • Upload local files/directories and downloadblobs or entire blob folders.
  • Supports downloading/uploading of page blobs.
  • Auto-resume upload of large files.

3.Windows Azure Stoarge Explorer(http://azurestorageexplorer.codeplex.com/): Azure Storage Explorer is a useful GUI tool for inspecting and altering the data in your Windows Azure Storage storage projects including the logs of your cloud-hosted applications. All 3 types of cloud storage can be viewed and edited: blobs, queues, and tables.

The Windows Azure Traffic Manager provides several methods of distributing internet traffic among two or more hosted services, all accessible with the same URL, in one or more Windows Azure datacenters. It uses a heartbeat to detect the availability of a hosted service. The Traffic Manager provides various ways of handling the lack of availability of a hosted service.
 
5.   Sqlcmd utility(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee336280.aspx): You can connect to Microsoft SQL Azure Database with the sqlcmd command prompt utility that is included with SQL Server. The sqlcmd utility lets you enter Transact-SQL statements, system procedures, and script files at the command prompt. 
 
6.   SQL Server Management studio(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#ssms): The SQL Server Management Studio from SQL Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 R2 Express can be used to access, configure, manage and administer SQL Azure Database. Previous versions of SQL Server Management Studio are not supported.
 
You can transfer data to SQL Azure Database by using the bulk copy utility (BCP.exe). The bcp utility bulk copies data between an instance of Microsoft SQL Server and a data file in a user-specified format. The bcp utility can be used to import large numbers of new rows into SQL Server tables or to export data out of tables into data files.
 
8.  SQL Azure Reporting(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#azurereport): The Customer Technology Preview of SQL Azure Reporting is also available. Microsoft SQL Azure Reporting is a cloud-based reporting service built on SQL Azure Database, SQL Server, and SQL Server Reporting Services technologies. You can publish, view, and manage reports that display data from SQL Azure data sources.
 
9.  SQL Server Management Objects(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#ssmo): A partial set of SQL Server Management Objects (SMO) are enabled by SQL Azure Database. The partial set of SMO are only enabled in order to provide Management Studio access to SQL Azure.
 
10. Sql Server Migration Assistant(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#ssma): Starting with the SQL Server Migration Assistant 2008 for Access version 4.2 release, SSMA enables migrating Microsoft Access schema and data to SQL Azure Database and adds support for Access 2010 databases.
 
11. Data –tier applications(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#datatier):Starting with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010, data-tier applications (DACs) are introduced to help developers and database administrators to package schemas and objects into a single entity called DAC package.SQL Azure Database supports deleting, deploying, extracting, registering, and in-place upgrading DAC packages. SQL Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 included the DAC Framework 1.0, which supported only side-by-side upgrades.
 
12. Generate and publish script wizard(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee621784.aspx#generate):You can use the Generate and Publish Scripts Wizard to transfer a database from a local computer to SQL Azure Database.The Generate and Publish Scripts Wizard creates Transact-SQL scripts for your local database and the wizard uses them to publish database objects to SQL Azure Database.
 
13. Cerebrata Cloud Studio(http://www.cerebrata.com/products/cloudstoragestudio/):Cloud Storage Studio is a Windows (WPF) based client for managing Windows Azure Storage, an important component of Microsoft’s Azure (Microsoft’s Cloud) platform and Hosted Applications.
 
The utility will perform a series of data-upload and -download tests using sample data and collect measurements of throughput, which are displayed at the end of the test, along with other statistics.
  
15. SpaceBlock File transfer utility(http://spaceblock.codeplex.com/): SpaceBook is a simple Windows front-end for managing Amazon S3, Nirvanix, Azure Blob Storage, and now Sun Cloud Object Storage online service accounts.
 
16. Windows Azure Management Tool(http://wapmmc.codeplex.com/): The Windows Azure Platform Management Tool (MMC) enables you to easily manage your Windows Azure hosted services and storage accounts.  This tool is provided as a sample with complete source code so you can see how perform various management and configuration tasks using the Windows Azure Management and Diagnostics APIs. 
 
17. CSPAck utility(http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd179441.aspx#Subheading2): The CSPack Command-Line Tool packages your service to be deployed to the Windows Azure fabric. The cspack.exe utility generates a service package file that you can upload to Windows Azure via the Windows Azure Platform Management Portal. By default the package is named.cspkg, but you can specify a different name if you choose.
 
18. AzureWatch utility(http://www.softsea.com/download/AzureWatch.html): AzureWatch aggregates and analyzes performance counters, queue lengths, and other metrics and matches that data against user-defined rules. When a rule produces a “hit”, a scaling action or a notification occurs.
 
19. Windows Azure Bootstrapper(http://bootstrap.codeplex.com/):
The Windows Azure Bootstrapper is a command line tool meant to be used by your running Web and Worker roles in Windows Azure.  This tool allows you to easily download resources (either public resources or ones in your blob storage), extract them if necessary, and launch them.  Since you don’t want to always download and run during restarts, it will also help track those dependencies and only launch an installer one time!  In addition, there are some very useful features that make it a great tool to package with your roles.
 
20. Windows Azure GAC Viewer (http://gacviewer.cloudapp.net/)
This tool shows you a dynamically generated list of all of the assemblies present in the GAC for an Azure instance. Additionally, it also allows you to upload your project file (*.csproj or *.vbproj) to have the references scanned and let you know if there are any discrepancies between what you are using and what is available (by default) in Azure.
 

21. Azure Database Upload(http://azuredatabaseupload.codeplex.com/):

This utility will allow users to take the data from a SQL Server database and upload it in their Azure table storage account. It provides an easy to use GUI to read data from a SQL Server and upload it into specified Azure table storage.
 

22. Azure file upload(http://azurefileupload.codeplex.com/):

This utility will allow users to take the data from a delimited flat file and upload it in their Azure table storage account. It provides an easy to use GUI to read data from a delimited flat file and upload it into specified Azure table storage.
 

23. DocaAzure utilities(http://www.softpedia.com/get/Programming/Components-Libraries/DocaAzure.shtml) :  DocaAzure is a handy package that contains various utilities to help you with your Windows Azure development. DocaAzure is developed in C# and includes:

* Lightweight messaging framework
* IDbSet implementation for Azure Tables
* SMTP relay and server
* Azure Tables & Blobs Backup to the same or other Storage Account
* Some other useful utilities 

 
CloudBerry Explorer for Windows Azure Blob Storage. CloudBerry Explorer makes managing files in Azure Blob Storage EASY. By providing a user interface to Azure Blob Storage CloudBerry lets you manage your files on Azure just as you would on local computer.
 
25. Windows Azure Powershell CmdLets(http://wappowershell.codeplex.com/):
The Windows Azure Platform PowerShell Cmdlets enable you to browse, configure, and manage Windows Azure Compute and Storage services directly from PowerShell.  These tools can be helpful when developing and testing applications that use Windows Azure Services.  For instance, using these tools you can easily script the deployment and upgrade of Windows Azure applications, change the configuration for a role, and set and manage your diagnostic configuration. 
 
26. Windows Azure Hosted Services VM Manager(http://azureinstancemanager.codeplex.com/): Windows Azure Hosted Services VM Manager is a Windows Service that can manage the number of hosted services (VM’s) running in Azure on either a time based schedule or by CPU load. This allows the application to scale either dynamically or on a timed schedule.
 
27. Windows Azure Guidance(http://wag.codeplex.com/):

This is open source prokect, The key themes for these projects are providing guidance on below scenarios -

1. Moving to the Cloud
2. Developing for the Cloud
3. Integrating the Cloud

 
28. FTP to Azure Blob Storage Bridge(http://ftp2azure.codeplex.com/)
Deployed in a worker role, the code creates an FTP server that can accept connections from all popular FTP clients (like FileZilla, for example) for command and control of your blob storage account.
 
29. Storage Explorer online app(http://storageexplorer.cloudapp.net/login.aspx):Windows Azure Web Storage Explorer makes it easier for developers to browse and manage Blobs, Queues and Tables from Windows Azure Storage account. You’ll no longer have to install a local client to do that. It’s developed in C#.
 
Hope this is useful !
 
Laxmikant Patil
 
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