Clear communication is important in outsourcing — particularly when you’re outsourcing something as critical as enterprise applications to a cloud hosting partner. Unfortunately, with the hype around cloud computing, many businesses end up with a hosting solution that isn’t optimal for them. Often, this is due to a mix of confusion and over-promising on the part of the cloud vendor: enterprise-level businesses are swayed into buying into “cost effective” solutions from commodity cloud vendors that just can’t handle the workload they require.
Sure, the commodity cloud is great for some companies, and the public cloud can serve a lot of businesses just fine. But if you’re an enterprise, you likely need more than they can offer. Don’t fall into the commodity trap like many companies do. Before you decide on a partner, make sure you understand the differences between these hosting solutions and the managed cloud hosting options offered by larger vendors.
Managed Cloud Confusion
In cloud computing, what you see isn’t always what you get. Low price commodity cloud vendors would like you to believe all public clouds are the same. In their view, you should directly compare the prices of storage space or computing power between vendors, letting price be the only differentiating factor.
In reality, the way a public cloud provider runs their data center has a big impact on how your applications run. Many vendors keep their data centers running as close to full capacity as possible. If there’s heavy traffic, or another client is using a lot of computing power on a shared server, it can slow down your own applications, dropping you way below their promised performance levels.
The private cloud can have an even bigger issue: data isolation. When Symmetry advertises a managed private cloud, we mean that we’re actually setting aside hardware, and isolating your traffic from other users to enhance security and privacy. While that might seem like a basic requirement of the private cloud, many companies don’t do this. Some commodity vendors just set aside a certain amount of hardware power and call it a virtual private cloud. It’s certainly cheaper to do, but has none of the real benefits of a private cloud.
The term “managed services” probably causes the most confusion, because it can mean anything from sending alerts when things go wrong, to planning, building, optimizing and maintaining a complete SAP® system. We believe a managed cloud partner should handle the day-to-day running and maintenance of core infrastructure, leaving internal IT free to focus on strategic goals. No commodity vendor offers a comparable level of service.
Commodity hosting companies run on different models, but none of them support their managed cloud services the way Symmetry does. Most others provide very few customized services, but gives customers the option of working with a wide variety of partners. Because their partners aren’t part of the commodity hosting company, however, there’s only so much they can do.
They can’t monitor your hardware for faults or help you optimize your SAP HANA® installation for maximum performance. They can’t provide cloud consulting to help you plan or budget for a hardware upgrade, since they have no access to the hosting company’s hardware. And if there’s a slowdown or outage, they’ll have to wait for the hosting company’s announcement, taking their best guess at how to mitigate the disaster in the meantime.
Most commodity vendors sacrifice service in one way or another. If you host your private managed cloud in an offshore data center, you’ll have to go through a help menu run with irregular hours, staffed by operators with little technical knowledge. With most onshore cloud consulting companies, when something goes wrong you have to communicate with an outsourced, under-qualified service team who have no direct connection to their own data centers. If your SAP system breaks at 2:00 AM, it might take hours to get someone on the phone who can actually help.
When every minute of downtime disrupts mission-critical applications, you need a partner who can fix the problem, ASAP. Symmetry’s highly-trained staff specializes in enterprise cloud services, leading to more uptime and quicker resolutions. These aren’t short-term contractors or offshore workers; they’re U.S. based, full-time, SAP-certified engineers with years of experience.
Even if an enterprise application breaks in the middle of the night, you’ll have immediate access to a managed services team that knows your installation and the hardware it runs on, and can fix the problem. That’s why we have a 93% customer satisfaction rate for issue response and resolution, and the highest SAP Basis services satisfaction in the industry.
Hardware Reliability: Step One to a Strong Managed Cloud
Of course, our support team doesn’t deserve all the credit — by starting with bulletproof hardware, we set ourselves (and our customers) up for success. We over-invest in hardware, using top-quality HP and IBM technology to make sure our clients can depend on consistent, error-free performance.
Enterprise cloud services don’t work without enterprise class equipment. Any time something breaks unexpectedly, there’s a potential for data loss and disruptions that can hurt your bottom line. That’s why we put in the time and money to diagnose hardware problems before they become hardware failures. It’s hard to overstate how much of an advantage that can give our managed private cloud partners.
Commodity cloud vendors use low cost, white-label machines, and under-power their databases to decrease equipment costs. They expect their servers to have a higher failure rate, and just swap them out when they go bad. While that might seem like a cost effective approach for them, it’s not something that typically translates to a better experience for their customers. Traffic spikes slow computations to a crawl, failing servers overburden the system until it goes down, and hardware crashes cause disruption and data loss.
Maybe that’s good enough for a small company hosting a simple website, but it’s no way to run mission-critical applications. If you can’t afford downtime, you need an organization that buys reliable equipment, swapping it out before it fails.
A Wide Range of Services: How Symmetry Helped Advanced Technology Services
Any organization can benefit from good service and equipment, but not every organization needs deep managed services. A small startup with simple computing needs might do well with a commodity vendor that provides nothing but service alerts and basic technical support. Because of their simple infrastructure, their internal IT department could handle routine maintenance and still have plenty of time for more strategic activities.
When an enterprise migrates to the cloud, however, a full-service cloud hosting vendor can mean the difference between reaping significant cost-saving and performance benefits, and spending six months dealing with instability and crashes in core applications. For our enterprise clients, we go beyond traditional managed hosting to provide a powerful competitive advantage.
Our success helping Advanced Technology Services, Inc. (ATS) develop and implement a cloud-based SAP solution shows what we’re capable of. ATS needed a managed cloud that wouldn’t disrupt business as usual. We had to get them running with no downtime and no unexpected costs or time commitments for internal staff. We put together a plan to implement, test, and manage their SAP installation, with key milestones and a complete cost estimate upfront. And we did it all, without service interruptions, in 45 days.
The project started with discussing the company’s needs and planning a system that would raise uptime and performance, while lowering cost and carbon footprint. We audited their hardware and migrated their entire SAP/ECC system to our IBM Power Cloud and Windows Cloud. Everything was executed, tested, and launched on time.
The results? A system that continues to serve them better with less demands on internal resources. Our migration cut their direct cost by 66%, improved performance by 15% and created a system that continues to save them time and money on maintenance tasks. That’s why they call Symmetry “the absolute best decision that [they’ve] made, since moving to SAP.”
Better Performance, Less Anxiety
The commodity cloud is fine for small businesses with simple needs, but it’s not up to the demands of enterprise IT. ERP and other mission-critical applications need the stability, support, and range of services Symmetry provides. Whether you need IT consulting, a managed private cloud or hybrid cloud, a SAP HANA partner, or all of the above, Symmetry is the perfect extension of your internal IT.