Tag Archives: Cloud

Why Your Website Needs the Scalability and Availability of the Cloud


 

As more people live essential parts of their lives online, their expectations for website performance and user experience rise. These heightened expectations can impact business success.

 
For example, according to one study, 47 percent of visitors expect your website to load in 2 seconds or less—and if it doesn’t, they’ll have no problem clicking away to find what they’re looking for elsewhere. Meanwhile, research and advisory firm Gartner estimates that the average cost of IT downtime is roughly $5,600 per minute, or more than $300,000 per hour; the costs can be even higher for large organizations or e-commerce websites that depend on a steady flow of traffic.

Given these issues, scalability and availability need to be essential concerns for any company that depends on its website to do business or offer services to its customers. By migrating your website hosting from on-premises to the cloud, you can improve your site’s reliability, performance, and uptime while leveraging the advantages of public cloud ecosystems.

Scalability and Availability for Websites in the Cloud

In cloud computing, “scalability” refers to the ability of an application or service to dynamically expand or contract its capacity as necessary (e.g., during times of peak usage). “Availability,” meanwhile, refers to the amount of time that an application or service is accessible.

Both scalability and availability can be dramatically increased when moving your website to cloud hosting:

  • Scaling in the cloud is much easier than scaling inflexible on-premises servers. Websites hosted in the cloud can take advantage of horizontal scaling, distributing and balancing the increased load across multiple servers to prevent overloading any one of them. On the other hand, on-premises resources have fixed capacity, and it’s difficult to scale them without making an expensive capital purchase. In addition, the extra on-premises resources you purchase will go unused much of the time, and you may spend more than you need if you don’t correctly estimate the amounts of peak usage.
  • Many cloud providers offer a guaranteed uptime percentage in their service level agreement (SLA). For example, the Microsoft Azure SLA guarantees 99.9 percent uptime (or more) for its various cloud services, which corresponds to downtime of roughly 9 hours over an entire year.

 
Hosting your website in the cloud also offers benefits in terms of disaster recovery and business continuity. The best public cloud providers offer automatic backups and data replication, letting you quickly restore operations in the event of data loss.

On the other hand, on-premises backups need to be handled manually, and hosting your website on-site puts you at risk of a natural disaster, such as a flood or fire.

Case Study: Major Utility Company

One of Datavail’s clients, a major Canadian utility company, was faced with several pain points when refreshing its outdated front-facing customer website. Just 8 percent of the client’s customers were paying their bills online, which was costing the client millions in mailing expenses.

Part of the problem: the client’s existing website suffered from a clunky user experience and archaic technology. In particular, the website needed to be more mobile-friendly and accessible for customers with disabilities. The client was also concerned about the website’s scalability and availability, especially during times of peak usage such as storms and widespread power outages.

Datavail worked with the client to refresh and modernize its outdated customer website, with a particular focus on cloud computing. Although the client faced data sovereignty issues that required it to maintain its customer data on-premises, Datavail helped the client design a hybrid cloud architecture and migrate the website infrastructure to Microsoft Azure.

The client now uses fast, modern cloud services such as Azure Data Factory for ETL data integration and Azure App Service for building and deploying web applications. Thanks to its partnership with Datavail, the client has slashed postal costs due to a fivefold increase in customers paying online via the new modernized and customer friendly website. In addition to the OpEx savings, the customer has also significantly improved its website’s JD Powers customer satisfaction rankings.

Want to make your website more robust, user-friendly, scalable, and available by migrating to the cloud? Datavail can assist you. Find out how we helped one client by reading our case study “Major Utility Company Improves Residential Customer Website Experience with Azure.”

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Why Access to Software Portals Is More Important Than Ever


 

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the way businesses of all sizes and industries operate—in particular, the places that employees do their work. According to an October 2020 Gallup poll, 33 percent of U.S. employees say that they are “always” working remotely, while another 25 percent say that they “sometimes” telecommute.

 

Faced with this rapid and unexpected shift to working from home, organizations have had to make sudden changes and evolutions, especially regarding their IT systems and software. Despite the pandemic, businesses must ensure that their employees, customers, partners, and third-party vendors can enjoy continued access to key software applications and services. These concerns are especially relevant for companies with locations and employees scattered across the country, around the world, or those who must navigate different time zones, regulatory environments, and more.

Although the pandemic is waning, its effects and repercussions will be long lasting. Businesses that take advantage of this time of change, uncertainty, and turbulence will position themselves well for whatever comes next.

For some companies who have not adopted a resilient mindset and a transformation-focused organizational culture, the pandemic has been a challenge to their business—often an existential one. Others, however, have seen the COVID-19 pandemic as an affirmation that justifies the investments they previously made in their IT infrastructure. Below are just some digital technologies that have paid dividends for their users:

  • Cloud computing for easier access to applications and services and rapid horizontal and vertical scalability.
  • Identity management (IdM) solutions to monitor and control employees’ access to business-critical applications.
  • Automation of tedious manual processes, freeing up employees for higher-level, more revenue-generating activities.
  • Data analytics to collect, process, analyze and visualize vast quantities of information, mining it for insights to enable more accurate forecasts and smarter decision-making.
  • Workplace communication and collaboration tools (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello, Zoom, etc.).

 

The rise in telecommuting has fostered the growth of SaaS (“software as a service”) usage. Software applications running in the cloud have greatly expanded user connectivity and productivity. Cloud-native software services have many advantages, with a few of them especially relevant in this day and age:

  • Support and maintenance for SaaS applications is the responsibility of the software vendor, rather than the in-house IT department. This means less stress on overburdened IT teams, and not waking up at 3 a.m. when a server goes down.
  • As a corollary, SaaS upgrades are rolled out smoothly and automatically, without the need for business-disrupting downtime.
  • Users can access SaaS applications from anywhere with an Internet connection and at any time—a vital asset during this time of telecommuting, but also tremendously convenient in general.
  • During times of uncertain demand, SaaS applications can easily scale to accommodate spikes in usage without degrading performance.
  • By using a centralized, streamlined solution rather than disconnected legacy systems, SaaS improves visibility and makes IT governance easier.

 

In particular, SaaSOps (“SaaS operations”) i.e. managing and monitoring an organization’s use of SaaS applications, is becoming more and more relevant and important. According to BetterCloud’s “2020 State of SaaS” report:

  • Organizations use an average of 80 SaaS applications.
  • IT teams spend an average of more than seven hours offboarding an employee from the company’s SaaS applications after they depart the organization.
  • Only 49 percent of IT professionals are confident in their ability to detect unauthorized SaaS usage on the company network.

 

To confront these SaaSOps challenges, organizations need a centralized coordinated approach. One of the easiest IT projects for your business to take on—yet one of the most impactful for employee productivity and user experience—is to build a clean, streamlined application portal with single sign-on (SSO), simplifying the process of logging in and using enterprise software.

With a single application portal, users can enter their credentials and access the services they need to do their jobs efficiently, from anywhere and at any time.

Looking to implement your own software application portal? Datavail can help. To learn how we helped one client implement a secure application portal in the Microsoft Azure cloud, check out our recent case study “Major Auto Manufacturer Migrates Application Portal to Azure Cloud.”

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The Importance of Database Modernization for Cloud Adoption

Getting the most out of cloud technology involves far more than simply adopting cloud-based infrastructure. Older databases shifted into the cloud may not serve the needs of modern applications. As your users have more complex use cases, with a growing amount of data and data sources, real-time feature requests, and rapid scaling requirements, your database technology needs to change too.

 

Database modernization is spread throughout multiple stages, as your organization goes through testing, evaluation, and pilot projects to determine which areas benefit the most from upgrading the database.

In our recent cloud adoption survey, 46 percent of respondents planned on using or are considering modern data platforms, 34 percent are remaining on their current solution, 22 percent are considering a move in the future, 19 percent are evaluating and planning their migration, 15 percent are in the process of migration, and 10 percent are building new applications on new platforms and keeping legacy applications on old platforms.

As you can see, the way that organizations go about database modernization comes in many forms.

Benefits of Database Modernization

Gaining Purpose-built Databases
Databases are not a one-size-fits-all technology, but some organizations opt for the same technology no matter what application it’s for. By matching purpose-built databases to specific use cases, you can improve performance, expand functionality, and get the data structures that make sense for the project.

Reducing Costs
Modernizing your databases can also lead to lower expenses. Since they’re fine-tuned for a specific purpose, you get access to the features you need without paying for those that are not useful. These database platforms often require less time spent on maintenance, security, and optimization, so your database administrators and system administrators have more time in their workdays.

Better Reliability
Modern database platforms are filled with features that help your systems stay online and meet SLAs, including high availability, distributed processing, and robust disaster recovery options. If you’re using cloud-native database solutions, you also have the advantage of using technology specifically designed to get the most out of the cloud.

Fast Provisioning
You drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to spin up a new database instance and often enjoy a streamlined process. For some database platforms, all you need to do is click a button. Scaling is also simple, with many solutions offering automated control over the resources you’re using.

Signs That You Should Modernize Your Databases

  • Difficulty in keeping up with growing usage: Your users and workloads are rapidly increasing, and the system is starting to strain under the pressure. Performance issues abound and make it difficult to achieve peak productivity.
  • Inability to work with new data sources and structures: As new data sources and structures develop, older databases may not support these formats. You could lose out on valuable insights or end up with a major opportunity cost in the long run.
  • Increased demands on the IT team to keep the system running: Frequent downtime, crashes, errors, and other issues add up fast with older databases. You also have to worry about security exploits and other vulnerabilities occurring with databases that are past their prime or end of life.
  • Struggles meeting SLAs: You fail to meet your SLAs due to issues with the system, whether it becomes inaccessible or has extremely slow performance.
  • Database costs rising uncontrollably: Propping up older technology can become expensive in many ways, from the resources required to keep it operational to sourcing specialists of less popular databases.

Moving to Modern Databases in the Cloud with Datavail

As a leading cloud partner with AWS, Microsoft, Oracle and MongoDB we can help with your database modernization and cloud migration. We have more than 15 years of experience and over 800 data architects and database administrators ready to move your applications to cutting-edge databases. Learn more about the cloud adoption journey and see the results from the rest of the survey in our latest paper. Contact us to get started.

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Modernize Legacy Tech with MongoDB

Your organization is probably running technology that is past its prime, and you probably know you need to update and upgrade it all to maintain your corporate competitiveness. In short, you need to ‘modernize,’ and MongoDB provides you with the tools you’ll need to bring all your tech – software, apps, and systems – up to speed.

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Aligning Your Cloud Adoption Costs with Your Expectations

A big selling point of the cloud for many companies is cost savings. Shifting capital expenses to operational expenses makes it easier to buy-in to cloud adoption, but it’s important to have a deep understanding of your costs so your total cost of ownership doesn’t exceed your expectations.

 
In a recent survey we conducted, we asked companies where they’re at in their cloud journey. Ten percent of respondents are 100 percent in the cloud, 61 percent use a hybrid cloud infrastructure, 21 percent are currently in the evaluation and planning stage, and 8 percent haven’t started on cloud adoption at all. Each stage of this journey has important costs to consider so that you can better plan for your future moves.

We found that 27 percent of organizations had cloud costs that were higher than they planned. You have several ways that you can better predict your cloud expenses to avoid surprises.

Understanding the Shift from CAPEX to OPEX

You’re fundamentally changing the way that you handle the bulk of your technology expenses with cloud-based solutions. The models you use to predict the total cost of ownership for on-premise systems don’t work with usage and subscription-heavy payments. Adjust your accounting to better predict the real-world costs of your cloud technology. It may take several quarters to pin down these numbers, but you’ll be able to build on the data as it comes in.

Consider Your Cloud Implementation and Optimization Costs

Look beyond the base cost of the cloud solution. How much will it cost to fully implement in your organization? You may need to change workflows, increase your network bandwidth, or expand your endpoint security to support mobile devices.

If you use an Infrastructure as a Service solution, you need to optimize it based on your requirements. Depending on the complexity of your project, you could end up paying significant amounts to get the best performance out of your cloud investment.

Keep a Close Eye on Your Cloud Consumption

Monitor your real-world usage and adjust your cost predictions based on this data. Sometimes it’s hard to pin down exactly how many resources you need, especially when you’re working with a usage-based payment model. Many cloud providers have calculators that allow you to get a general idea of your numbers, so you can better align them with your expected costs. Third-party tools are also available for cloud monitoring.

Develop a Scaling Plan

Unlike on-premise infrastructure, it’s simple to scale cloud workloads up and down as needed. Create a strategy that maximizes your flexibility, so you don’t overpay for capacity you’re not using. Don’t be afraid to adjust this plan as you gain more experience with your selected cloud platforms. Many systems offer automated scaling features to make this process even easier.

Use Reserved Instances for Predictable Workloads

If you have workloads that have static requirements or change very slowly, many cloud providers allow you to set up reserved instances. You pay for these instances on a long-term basis, such as a year upfront, and get a substantially decreased cost.

Work with an Experienced Cloud Migration Partner

One way to get better insights into the cost of your cloud migration is to work with an experienced partner. At Datavail, we’ve guided hundreds of organizations through cloud migrations and modernization. Our experience leads to cost savings throughout the entire process, allowing you to deploy cloud-based solutions faster, optimize your cloud infrastructure, and plan around well-informed expense predictions.

We’re an AWS Advanced Consulting Tier Partner, an Oracle Platinum Partner, a MongoDB Premier Partner, and a Microsoft Gold Partner with 15 years of experience and over 800 data architects and DBAs. No matter what type of cloud technology you’re migrating to, we’re able to help. Learn more about cloud adoption trends in our white paper. Contact us to get started on your cloud journey.

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Cloud Adoption Industry Benchmark: Trends & Best Practices

Datavail partnered with TechValidate, an independent third-party surveyor, to conduct a cloud adoption industry benchmark survey. This paper takes a look at the results along with a big picture view on cloud history and trends.

The post Aligning Your Cloud Adoption Costs with Your Expectations appeared first on Datavail.

The Types of Databases Powering the Cloud

We recently conducted a survey on cloud adoption, and one of the questions we touched upon was the type of databases powering the cloud. Our respondents leverage a wide range of database technologies for their cloud approaches. Here are the top selections, presented in order of popularity.

1. Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server was the overwhelmingly most popular database selection, with 140 respondents. It is a strong general-purpose relational database that is widely supported across many cloud platforms. You can deploy it on Windows and Linux servers, as well as containers. One of its biggest advantages is being able to query other databases’ data in-place. SQL Server 2019 also added Spark and HDFS support out of the box. You can work with both structured and unstructured data and use your programming language of choice.

2. Oracle

More than 80 respondents use Oracle to power their cloud adoption. This widely used database technology offers a multi-model database management system. It also supports MySQL, NoSQL, and in-memory databases. Oracle offers many types of implementation, as well as deep integration with their other solutions. It’s powerful with significant reliability and commercial support, making it popular among larger organizations and those with particularly demanding workloads.

3. MySQL

MySQL is a general purpose open-source database known for its low total cost of ownership, user-friendliness, and support for scaling OLTP applications. Over 40 respondents use this database for their cloud adoption strategy. Replication features offer high-performance and reliability, while InnoDB integration brings ACID compliance to the table.

4. PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is another open-source relational database finding itself high on the list, with over 20 respondents. This database has been around for more than 30 years, is ACID compliant, and is known for being extremely reliable. A major advantage of this platform is that it offers a lot of flexibility. You can easily add custom data types, develop custom functionality, integrate add-ons from the active developer community, and it’s all available for free.

5. IBM Db2

IBM Db2 is the choice for 20 respondents. It’s a relational database that leverages artificial intelligence for modern applications. It supports multi-cloud and on-premise deployments, and offers both structured and unstructured data storage. This enterprise-grade database is commonly used in IBM host environments.

6. MongoDB

MongoDB is one of the most commonly used document stores, designed for general purpose use. Organizations of all sizes leverage this platform, and the features support many modern applications. Transactional, operational, and analytical applications are all supported in a single database, and it has significant support among third-party developers.

7. MariaDB

MariaDB is an open-source relational database that is compatible with MySQL and Oracle, offers a column-oriented storage engine, and has JSON support. You can put your transactional, analytical, and hybrid workloads on the same database technology, and use row and column storage as needed for each use case. Deployment options include using it as a relational database, setting it up as a distributed SQL database, or powering a data warehouse with it. You can plug-in different storage engines to optimize each workload.

8. Cassandra

Cassandra is a wide-column store, NoSQL database. It’s designed to support multi-cloud and hybrid cloud environments, with reliable performance, high scalability, and features that power modern applications. Operating this database is intentionally kept simple so the total cost of ownership stays low.

Moving to a Modern Database

At Datavail, we’ve guided hundreds of customers through database modernization and cloud migration and have extensive expertise with all mentioned databases. We’re partners and certified with many database platforms, including Oracle, MongoDB, AWS, and Microsoft.

We can help you bring your databases up to speed with end-to-end service. Learn more about cloud adoption trends by reading our white paper.

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