Data Center Geo-Diversity and the Cloud

Using Intelligent Cloud Lifecycle Automation to build efficient, smart, cost-effective geo-diverse data centers. (Part 1 of 2)

Sandy left a massive amount of destruction in its wake, particularly in New York and New Jersey, yet when Sandy made landfall it wasn’t even a hurricane – it had already been downgraded to a post-tropical depression.

For businesses maintaining data centers in the region, it was a tough lesson. Even data centers armed with meticulously detailed disaster recovery plans ran into unexpected complications. Even those sites with redundant power often failed when back-up power supplies eventually gave out. Other data centers that were potentially operational were inaccessible due to blocked roads and transportation system breakdowns. Only data centers with true geo-diverse configurations were best positioned to weather the storm and keep businesses running.

Broadcast Media, Video over IP and Workflow Virtualization

How the broadcast television industry can leverage cloud concepts and technologies to address mounting strategic and operational business challenges.

The broadcast media industry is in a state of chaotic flux, its aging business model under relentless threat from all directions. Netflix recently reported that its customers watched four billion hours of streaming video in the first three months of 2013, which would make it the most-watched cable television network, if it were one. New services, such as Dish Network’s Hopper, are challenging the traditional broadcast advertising model by offering network programming free of commercials. And tiny start-up Aereo is capturing free broadcast signals, uploading them to the cloud, and offering a cut-rate subscription service to consumers who can view them on line.

The Silver Lining in the Cable Storm Cloud

No form of entertainment provides more bang for the buck than cable, yet cable seems to be constantly under a cloud these days. The slow, steady drip-drip loss in subscribers that began late in the last decade has continued unabated. Cable lost 3 percent of its 56 million subscribers in 2012, following a 2.8 percent loss the year before. Some subscribers have simply given up on cable video services altogether, migrating to web-based streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix. According to a recent Nielsen study, more than five million U.S. homes now have no TV service, up from 3 million in 2007. And that trend is likely to continue, as these “zero TV” homes are largely headed by 20-somethings who grew up with these over-the-top options, and find cable TV increasingly expensive.

This is not news to cable company executives. Over the years they have sensibly responded with new or enhanced offerings such as phone service, video-on-demand, DVR, smartphone apps, and services for viewing videos on other platforms like cellphones, iPads and PC’s. These additional offerings have no doubt stemmed losses, reduced churn and improved ARPU, but they have complicated the business model and underlying technology requirements by, among other things, requiring support of multiple video formats and DRM’s.

“Don’t Pave The Cloud Path”

I’m gazing out my office window as I settle in to write this piece. It’s mostly cloudy out there, with thick, dark cumulus clouds obscuring the sun, reducing visibility and blending the landscape into a muted grayness on a wintry New England day. Thought: Could ‘cloud technology’, or more precisely the over-exposure and breathless hyperventilation over the cloud, be having a similarly effect, on IT organizations and, by extension, entire enterprises? Could the cloud-hype be obscuring our ability to distinguish smart, focused, strategic implementations of cloud technology from faddish, reactionary ones that add little value? How does my own organization navigate a cloud path amidst all this noise and hype without having to pave that path? A recent IDC survey[1] shows that despite the recent massive upsurge in virtualization (a projected 60 million virtual machines this year) IT costs continue to escalate as the “management of software patches, security policy updates, root cause analysis, end-to-end performance optimization, and capacity planning is more complex across virtualized environments than in traditional, static architectures… As a result, the costs of IT staff are escalating much faster than spending on physical virtual servers”.

How did this happen? The story is a familiar one for many IT organizations:

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