This year we are beginning the trip to a infrastructure-less world. In the next 24 months I want to get rid of all our servers and hardware, so we are heading to cloud. I will talk about that transition here.
Let me bring you up to speed. I run the IT shop at an Insurance Agency. What that really means is I get to hang out with my best friend and solve problems. And thats what we love to do. Solve problems with software solutions. He is a front end guy I am database and we work together like magic so its a blast. But what we dont want to do and dread doing is hardware maintenance. We are just over it. Its cool to play with new hardware and check it out but I will gladly give that up to never have to deal with physical BS again.
My reasons for going to cloud are many. The first is the cost savings that we will see in the long run. You think about the systemic cost of hardware, support, maintenance, keeping extra parts in stock, cooling, power, redudant power, not to mention upgrade cost and time, and old hardware removal and space ahhh it just all adds up. The next is core competency. I am not a hardware expert, or a storage expert or a security expert- I know a bit about each thing and that knowledge is heavily bolstered by google or twitter when the need arrises. Disaster Recovery. If you are in IT you know the deal, we all have plans, we all have backups and redundant systems but it is absolutely a pain in the ass nightmare to go through those kind of situations. In a Clouded world who cares, internet access and a netbook and you are back in business. Scaleability. I dont have to worry about when to upgrade or hardware exchange, its mac minis all around with multiple screen displays rdping into the cloud. AD doesnt exist in the home site so if you did want to transition to BYOT(bring your own tech) you could. To me it makes sense. I want to help my business solve our customers problems not deal with infrastructure crap that I am not great at and have no passion for.
So those are my reasons.
A little about our environment. We have about 100 users in 2 sites. We virtualize almost everything and run thin clients in the office at both sites. I dont have exchange virtualized yet but i think we are going hosted, at least I am in the process of getting quotes from venders for it right now. My favorite at the moment is Elephant Outlook, they are a local company with some big name clients. They run out of 6/10 Corp, a top end super tech facility in winter haven, fl. I like them primarily because they synch very nicely with our AD and they have a very compelling all in one solution(Communication server, share point,archiving,encryption, spam,antivirus). What I haven’t seen yet is the price so I am excited about that. I also enjoy working with their staff immensely. Good thorough folks. But, I am considering google mail. We have a doc management solution that integrates with outlook right now but that really shouldnt change, I keep trying to find a reason not to go to google and I have a hard time coming up with them. 25 bucks a year per user is pretty compelling.
We are a Sagitta shop. Sagitta is an agency management software that does all the policy detail and billing for insurance. Its a big app that runs on unix and a pseries ibm and we don’t know know unix well. We get in there google stuff and do what we need to and get out but its not something that the normal projects that we are working on has us in everyday. We are almost positively moving to hosted Sagitta. In looking at it I see no advantage or cost savings in maintaing our own hardware. We have to pay support costs on that hardware and for Sagitta support, plus the whole upgrading hardware costs. So thats in the works. I have a meeting with Sagitta on tuesday to discuss and start getting a plan together.
Then we are left with all the other core systems. We have about 20 physical servers now and probably 45 ish virtuals. Those are our AD,exchange, file server, san, backups, docmanagment, vmware infrastructure, sagitta, etc etc. We need a plan to get rid of those so matty called our good buddies at CDW and they got us intouch with Teramark a enterprise cloud vender. Currently they are doing utilization research on our VM logs. Next time I’ll talk about Cloud billing and how that works, I should have their qoute by then as well.
There are 3 types of clouds when people are throwing that word around. IaaS, SaaS,PaaS – learn about them here. Hosted exchange and Sagitta are examples of Saas and a hosted managed virtual enviroment that you plug your vm’s into is IaaS which is what we will use for all the other systems we have in house currently.
Our users will then connect through a dedicated connection to our virtual environment.
I’ll blog up weekly recaps of what we are doing and our steps through out the year. Thanks for reading. Leave comments and I will give you cookies.