Information Technology

Cloud services provider: real experience, real cases

Cloud services provider

Vasily Belov, Deputy CEO, Head of Integration & B2B Departments of the global cloud services provider ITGLOBAL.COM, tells the differences of private vs public clouds, describes the main consumers of private clouds in Russia, examines private cloud architecture and more.

“In 2020 private cloud market had noticeable grow due to at least two reasons. Firstly, for many customers who are using public clouds for quite a while, tasks become more complicated. The infrastructure grows, requests towards it are getting shifted. The next evolutionary step for such customers is the transfer to a private cloud – service more customizable, more oriented for individual needs.

The second reason is that in 2020 many entities do transfers from on-premise to private clouds. This is, in part, due to crisis, including the dollar exchange rate growth: nobody wants to bury money in CAPEX these days. While the private cloud is OPEX – this is why it successfully competes with local installations.”

Main consumer of private clouds in Russia is the enterprise sector, those who survived the crisis well, who is in need of digitalization. Retail is the example: offline shopping keeps going down, so digital is getting more and more weight in business structure. Quite the same is happening with delivery services, marketplaces, various online services, gaming, etc. All are experiencing the dash of attendance, sharp traffic growth – due to massive lockdown as well. There is the demand for scalable super quality infrastructure.

“I see the following advantages of the private cloud:

– High customization options: more isolated and secure environment compared to public cloud. Computing power is fully available for a specific, just a single customer. A serious business owner wouldn’t like another client of the same cloud provider somehow affecting the service availability – that may cause hampering.

– Information security risks are also much lower in the private cloud. Today, for example, is not a problem to get a test machine from a public cloud provider. With this machine you are inside the perimeter and, if you wish, you can scan some ports, look for vulnerabilities. Again, a serious business owner wouldn’t appreciate such risks, so he chooses the private cloud, where these risks are eliminated on physical level.”

Private cloud is developed for specific tasks of the customer, whose requirements vary greatly. The private cloud support requires high level of the provider’ maturity: extensive CMDB, ITSM platform, ITIL processing approach. SLA is somewhat different in private clouds as it should include the clients’ specific needs: availability level, architectural design, custom backup, lines of support, etc.

“There are cases when the customer wants to be deceived, like the one we have witnessed many times in the past. The customer describes the dimensions of infrastructure, but wants it to grow 10 or 20 times literally on a finger snap, in just one day – and is not willing to pay any extra for this. “Sorry but we cannot implement, and you are hardly our client” is out typical answer in such conditions.

Some customers think ITGLOBAL.COM is like Amazon. But Amazon is, figuratively speaking, a taxi service. You go outside, press “Order a taxi” in an application, and in 3 to 5 minutes a car comes for you. We are the car with the personal driver. So if someone asks something like: “I need 2 cars, how fast can you deliver the second one?”, we honestly reply that we’ll pick both car and driver in a week. If the client replies back that he needs this 2nd car any moment, we are saying “You’d better take a taxi”.

Hyperscalers like Amazon, Azure, Alibaba, etc. offer an array of standard solutions that fit the majority of clients. Private cloud market operates differently – with different clientele of different preferences. Architecturally ITGLOBAL.COM private cloud uses FlexPod as the base: Cisco UCS servers, NetApp AFF storage systems and VMware virtualization platform. The rest is designed according to the customer’s needs. 

“We dedicate more attention to the interesting and large tasks. You are not disclosing your full technological potential to a client paying some hundreds USD per month. Private cloud welcomes serious people with serious tasks. I will not disclose the names of the companies, but the rest is worth attention:

  1. The country-wide (Russian) network of gas stations within the large oil company. We put more than 100 virtual machines to the private cloud; outsourced the 1st support line; optimized development process in our separate Managed DevOps service framework.
  2. Branch of the large aircraft company. They transferred their infrastructure from the public cloud to our private. We also comprehensively outsourced the infrastructure.
  3. Large country-wide delivery service. The transfer to the private cloud had natural causes mentioned earlier: the client had grown, individual needs emerged, so the typical public cloud was no fit for its tasks anymore.”

Russian private cloud market is different from the Western one, because the latter is influenced by the presence of hyperscalers – who are not present in Russia. Western customers have much wider choice of services. But private clouds do not compete with hyperscalers, so in this sense there is not much difference, except for better overall development. Private clouds market will continue growing as long as there is the enterprise sector, or the customers with evolved IT and some individual needs.

“There is the plethora of ways today: 4 hyperscalers; “micro hyperscalers” like Yandex, Mail.Ru or Sberbank on the local market; about a dozen of local public cloud providers and 20 integrators – more than 40 offers altogether. The natural need to outsource all this emerges, preferably in the “single window” mode: the same guys that are properly deploying everything.

I would talk not about the private clouds potential, but rather about the service format – Managed IT model in particular. There is the perspective. Today more and more customers are striving to pass the infrastructure management to a reliable provider – simply because they want to concentrate on their IT products and not to be bothered with infrastructure support. On the West managed services is already a norm. We see such approach only emerging.”

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