Jamie Libow
Jamie Libow has 17 years of experience in IT, with a focus on Unified Communications, Contact Centers and Voice. ...
Read Full Bio >>

Jamie Libow | July 29, 2013 |


Cloud: The Answer to a Good Night’s Sleep for the IT Manager?

Cloud: The Answer to a Good Night’s Sleep for the IT Manager? Cloud benefits aren't white and fluffy, but rather they are hard, significant ones.

Cloud benefits aren't white and fluffy, but rather they are hard, significant ones.

As an IT manager for many years, there were many thoughts that kept me up at night. The focus of this article will be on improving the quality of sleep of the bloodshot-eyed IT manager, and to determine if the cloud can assist in this lofty endeavor.

Human Single Points of Failure
Most organizations have a single subject matter expert on critical technologies. This isn't necessarily by choice, since the skillset to design, build and maintain communications infrastructures is rare and difficult to find. If that subject matter expert leaves the company or moves on to another role within the company, they generally leave behind a gaping hole.

As a manager, this is something I was constantly worried about, and at times it literally kept me up at night. In fact, at a few times early in my career when I was an engineer, I was that single point of failure. At one point I moved on to another role within the company I worked for, and since my management couldn't find anyone to replace me after a multiple month search, they ended up bringing in an outsourcing partner to manage the communication system I used to manage.

Clouds can alleviate this stress since the cloud providers have teams of subject matter experts on staff, thereby negating the risk associated with one subject matter expert leaving the company.

Infrastructure Environment Build Time
In most organizations, particularly in large enterprises, bringing up a new environment is a very time-consuming process. Usually there is an overall governance process, along with other processes, paperwork and lead times for server builds, database builds, application builds, QA and testing, and oftentimes a project manager is assigned to manage the overall process.

In my experience, it generally takes 6 months to bring up a new environment for an existing application, and 12 months or more to bring up a new application. This was true regardless of what company I worked for, and my internal business customers were constantly frustrated with the amount of time it took for the IT department to implement technology solutions for them.

Cloud providers are able to spin up environments for their customers in a much more rapid manner. They generally measure their implementation time in days or weeks rather than months, thereby improving customer satisfaction.

System Currency
One of the most common and time-consuming and tedious initiatives that take place in IT organizations is system upgrades. Teams of people get together for numerous meetings spanning multiple weeks in order to plan for system upgrades, and the upgrades themselves are even more time consuming, spanning months or even years.

In addition, an organization may not focus on currency initiatives, or may not wish to dedicate the financial and human resources required for currency. These companies may not realize they should have upgraded until they come across a situation such as a requirement for a patch to be written to fix a production issue or to meet a business need, only to find out that their system has reached end of support.

With cloud infrastructures, the upgrades come along with the cloud, and you don't have to spend countless hours working on the upgrade. The only area of caution is to ensure that you have adequate test environments with your cloud provider so that you can properly test an upgrade before it migrates to production.

Enterprises generally build out systems to meet defined capacity requirements. If they need to scale an environment up, this can be a very time-consuming process (on the order of months) which is usually similar in nature to bringing up a new environment. I often had my business customers baffled at how long it would take to simply add capacity to a system.

Clouds are generally designed to scale up or down very rapidly. Depending on the application and the provider, they may even have "elastic" capabilities, which allow you to dynamically expand and contract capacity as required. Your business customers will appreciate the speed at which you can offer scalability.

System Stability
Enterprise applications are designed for a certain level of availability such as 99.5%, 99.9%, 99.99%, etc. The reality is that many factors can cause availability to fall short of the published metric, and often applications don't perform at the level where they should be performing. Below are a number of areas that can impact system stability:

* Disaster Recovery Testing: Many companies discuss DR testing, but DR tests aren't performed nearly as often as they should be. Or, if a DR test is performed, applications are somewhat gracefully shut down, as opposed to the abrupt nature of a true disaster. During disasters, data center outages, or partial system outages, systems often do not fail over as expected and outages end up occurring. In my experience over almost two decades with Fortune 500 companies, I've participated in less than a half a dozen DR tests, and experienced three actual disasters. The applications I was responsible for did not recover as expected during the true disasters due to incomplete and infrequent DR tests.

* Stress Testing: Stress testing is commonplace for many applications, but can be difficult and costly to perform in the communications world. For example, most companies don't have the ability to drive hundreds or thousands of calls into their infrastructure, so they need to rely on 3rd party companies to assist. Using a 3rd party can be costly, yet regardless of complexity or cost, it is still important to perform stress tests, and these tests can uncover vulnerabilities in an environment. Nevertheless, companies often choose to use their resources for initiatives other than stress testing. Unfortunately, it is in times of high volume that system availability is most important, and that is when many issues are encountered due to a lack of stress testing.

* Overall system and regression testing: Initial testing usually takes place when a system is put into production, but often, after changes are made to environments, full regression tests don't take place as frequently as they should. This can result in unexpected outages in production.

* System backups: This one should be a no-brainer, but surprisingly enough, even backups aren't always performed as they should be. I know of a Fortune 500 company that lost thousands of call recordings due to a maintenance glitch, only to discover that the servers weren't being backed up properly, so the recordings were lost forever.

Competent cloud providers know and understand that system stability is their number 1 job. Therefore, they provide infrastructures that are likely to meet or exceed availability targets on a regular basis.

As you can see, there are many benefits to migrating applications to the cloud. The cloud benefits aren't white and fluffy, but rather they are hard, significant ones. As more applications become available with cloud providers, enterprises have more choices when it comes to on-premise vs. cloud and should take a serious look at what the cloud providers have to offer.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.