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SaaS Benefits

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  • 1. An introduction to Software as a Service (SaaS) and SaaS Hotel™ 1ST EASY WHITE PAPER | MARCH 2010 Stephen Bell, Managing Director, 1st Easy Limited What is this document about? This document introduces company IT Management, Directors and The Board to the concept of Software as a Service (SaaS), explaining how and why companies are increasingly adopting it as a business and supply strategy. It also introduces the SaaS Hotel™ brand from 1st Easy — its architecture and how it can help support and benefit commercial organisations that have adopted or plan to adopt a SaaS delivery strategy. 1st Easy Limited – “Your Internet Resource Partner” www.1stEasy.com | sales@1stEasy.com | 0808 222 2221 SaaS deployment | Dedicated Servers | Colocation | Web hosting | Remote Backups | Email filtering
  • 2. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Contents The trend towards Software as a Service (SaaS) 3 • Key drivers for adopting a SaaS strategy 3 • Key SaaS success factors 4 Contents SaaS Hotel™ from 1st Easy Limited 6 • The SaaS Hotel architecture 6 • Layer 1 - Enterprise-class datacentres 7 • Layer 2 – Resilient commercial grade IP transit and security 8 • Layer 3 – Network layer, local and global application management and security 10 • Layer 4 – Enterprise SAN and servers 11 • Layer 5 – Virtualisation delivery platform 12 • Layer 6 - Common Solution Service Platform (CSSP) 13 Glossary 14 About the author 16 Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 2
  • 3. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case The trend towards Software as a Service (SaaS) Traditionally, software has been rolled out from IT departments by physical transfer media such as CD-ROM, DVD or direct copy over networks. The The trend towards SaaS problem arising from this model lies with the time consuming, repetitive and complex task of version management and the support of client side systems — an increasingly pertinent issue as software becomes progressively more integral to the business which it drives. As a result, companies often find difficulties in overcoming this barrier to application improvement, resulting in creeping costs, constrained productivity and ultimately, reduced profitability. Leading businesses are now taking advantage of the “Software as a Service” (SaaS) deployment model where applications are accessed online via a web browser, as opposed to distribution via physical formats which are traditionally installed on end-user desktop computers. Importantly, the SaaS model introduces the idea of centralised version management where updates, bug fixes and new features are instantly made available to users at the click of a button, the benefits of which are immediately apparent: Time, costs and process: Busy IT departments benefit from simplified, more efficient software distribution and updating, cost-effective worldwide deployment and a reduced dependency on desktop system configurations. Consider the familiar scenario of managing a typical computer suite: what once potentially represented months of complex work in installations and individual workstation reconfigurations can now be achieved in an easily coordinated, timely manner. This advantage is multiplied with scale (i.e. multiple office locations, global distribution if international sites are involved). Productivity: End users (staff) within the business benefit from instant access to the latest software version, resulting in a better experience, improved security, reliability and anytime-anywhere access — all of which contribute to improved productivity. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 3
  • 4. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Key drivers for adopting a SaaS strategy Key SaaS success factors The need to reduce the complexities of managing end user software applications. The need for upgrade cost, time and process efficiencies, not available through the software-in-a-box distribution model, but easily possible through centralised SaaS delivery. More stealth-like support of application security as compliance requirements grow; SaaS centralises application security and reduces associated costs to a minimum. The need to improve distribution of applications across multi(national) sites, best done by making applications Internet compatible. The Internet has become the distribution agent for SaaS. Where a software product is delivered as a saleable item (as opposed to an internal business application), the SaaS model facilitates more accurate license reporting and ensures that only authorised (via subscription) end-users have access to the application. Key SaaS success factors Whilst the benefits of the SaaS model are clear, its wider success extends beyond the software application itself (quality, value, functionality, security, performance etc.) and is equally reliant on the underpinning Internet infrastructure (datacentres, networking, security, and server platforms). Such components — termed here as “Layers” — can be graded in terms of reliability, performance and global reach: Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 4
  • 5. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Enterprise-class datacentres with 24/7/365 technical support and high Service Level Agreements (SLAs) on power, networks and cooling. Fast and reliable bandwidth (IP transit) in the required volumes. Key SaaS success factors High performance servers on which applications are powered. Comprehensive physical security measures at the datacentre level and digital security at the network level, to ensure applications and business/customer data are protected. Tightly coupled remote backup datacentres, with cost effective private network connections, to allow efficient backup of vast quantities of end user data in a secure manner. Global inter-connected datacentres and relationships, in order to deploy software applications closest to the end-user and customers alike (minimised latency), handle currency and customs differences and deliver the best possible experience to users of the applications themselves. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 5
  • 6. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case SaaS Hotel™ from 1st Easy Limited SaaS Hotel from 1st Easy “Your Apps. Any Place. Any Time.” SaaS Hotel is an environment optimised for the deployment of software over the Internet. Composed of six service layers, the SaaS Hotel infrastructure has been designed to cover each aspect of successful SaaS delivery — from a reliable foundation of datacentres and networking, through to a choice of global delivery points to ensure the most responsive experience for end-users. Figure 1: SaaS Hotel architecture Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 6
  • 7. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Layer 1 - Enterprise-class datacentres With its roots in hosting and ecommerce application serving (the earliest SaaS Hotel architecture deployments of the SaaS model) and expansion into colocation services, the success of 1st Easy has been dependent on the selection of datacentres appropriate to the task of hosting business-critical software. Qualifying criteria include: Physical security: 24/7/365 on-site security, access control systems, VESDA fire suppression Resilient connectivity: multiple connections with major hubs Power availability: dual UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) power feeds and backup generators Environmental control: resilient air conditioning By necessity, resilience is a factor taken very seriously by 1st Easy — a shortfall in any of these attributes at one of our datacentres would cost our company dearly for any outage event extending beyond just 30 minutes. SaaS benefits End-user application experience is underpinned by datacentre reliability, whilst scalable off-site backup architectures are available to protect their data. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 7
  • 8. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Layer 2 – Resilient commercial grade IP transit and security SaaS Hotel architecture Figure 2: Dual UK datacentre inter-connection and network configuration Highly specified datacentres, expert technical support and state of the art server architectures are important; the fact remains however, that the heaviest reliance in SaaS application delivery is the network driving it all. That's why 1st Easy have invested heavily in this area, including part-acquisition of a network company. Like the best, we peer directly with the best — the most important in the UK and worldwide — in return, they reciprocate. This gets IP network packets from A to B via the most direct route, enhancing end-user application performance. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 8
  • 9. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case This strategy has proven most effective at meeting demanding Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and is capable of coping with the severest of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. SaaS Hotel architecture Figure 3: Graph showing 100% network availability over a one year period at our Manchester facility. Our dual fail-over firewall architecture has rarely lost the ability to deliver data packets to and from servers and further enhances security, without compromising the SLA levels. SaaS benefits Secure, high performance point-to-point delivery between your SaaS platform and end-users ensures a smooth, crisp experience, improving productivity and enhancing your credibility. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 9
  • 10. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Layer 3 – Network layer, local and global application management and security SaaS Hotel architecture Using network technologies from trusted suppliers such as Juniper Networks, F5 Networks, HP and Cisco, we provide protected, high availability and load balanced configurations, on both local and global scales. We can add layers of additional control and security that perform the following functions: Application Local Traffic Management (LTM), optimisation and load balancing of your applications. Global Traffic Management (GTM) across multiple datacentre points of presence, ensuring constant application services, global delivery and automatic failover. Application Security Management (ASM) that significantly reduces the risk of data loss or damage and protects intellectual software property. Hardware web application acceleration, capable of improving performance by between two to ten times - reducing the need for costly hardware upgrades and improving the end user experience. SaaS benefits These advances in network technology make the deployment of SaaS far more reliable, secure, manageable and scalable on a global basis. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 10
  • 11. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Layer 4 – Enterprise SAN and servers As a direct Enterprise level customer and reseller of Dell Corporation, 1st Easy SaaS Hotel architecture are able to source and deploy some of the most advanced and reliable server architectures available in the market today. These servers form the backbone of deployment of SaaS, delivering scalable performance, dual PSU reliability and high end configurations to support your applications. Our adoption of Dell PowerEdge® technology has introduced considerable improvements in power efficiencies, reducing by a third our server related power consumption. Quite aside from “riding the green bandwagon”, the benefits of reduced power consumption are as much about moderating datacentre operating costs as protecting the environment. As part of the strategy of virtualisation delivery (see further in this white paper), we have adopted the industry leading Storage Area Network (SAN) platform, based on EMC Corporation's CLARiiON® CX4 product range. This SAN platform delivers “five nines” (99.999%) availability, high throughput SAN storage to your applications and servers, improving uptime and application database performance. Our dual datacentre architecture allows full disaster recover procedures to be deployed, using EMC's MirrorView constant backup imaging at all data layers, without impacting on server (and hence application) performance. SaaS benefits Using the latest Enterprise server and SAN storage technologies, we can ensure SaaS operations run smoothly, cost effectively, and with the minimum of impact on the environment. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 11
  • 12. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Layer 5 – Virtualisation delivery platform The deployment of SaaS is delivered via Virtual Private Servers (VPS). The SaaS Hotel architecture reasons for deployment on this platform layer can be summarised as follows: VPS can be considered flexible physical hardware servers, which can be instantly deployed, moved and resized - providing the flexibility to respond to the fluid and ever changing characteristics of a SaaS environment. VPS are power efficient, utilising spare capacities of the hardware server platform layer, hence reducing the cost of SaaS deployment and providing a greener solution for the environment. Management of VPS is easier at large scales, allowing support services to easily identify servers requiring extra resources. We offer two tiers of virtualisation that are suited to different requirements and budgets: VMware at enterprise-level (comprehensive functionality) and Open Source Citrix Xen technologies at entry-level (reduced, core functionality). SaaS benefits Virtualisation improves application uptime, as resources are easily redeployed at the press of a button. It introduces greater flexibility by allowing VPS resizing on demand and helping you to grow without expensive upgrades or downtime. The result is better application platform deployment: cheaper, more reliable, and more scalable. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 12
  • 13. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Layer 6 – Common Solution Service Platform (CSSP) Working closely with large USA-based datacentre provider CoSentry, we have SaaS Hotel architecture extended our SaaS Hotel platform to encompass deployment in the North America. This reciprocal arrangement allows UK and European software vendors to more effectively establish North American markets, whilst USA/Canadian based vendors can expand into Europe. Forthcoming links with datacentres in Australia and Asia will provide a truly global SaaS deployment platform for the lowest latencies at end-user level. A coordinated CSSP standard provides datacentre support teams and software vendor clients with a unified platform that enables: 24/7/365 access and visibility to local support operations for clients and technicians Rapid resolution of issues Pooling of technical resources and knowledge Deployment of best technical skills to fix complex issues A single and consistent support workflow and process of resolution SaaS benefits The CSSP provides improved business continuity of applications, disaster recovery procedures and simplifies support call management on a global basis. It also provides global visibility to control local disaster situations, allowing the coordination of end-user application/data redeployment on a temporary basis, should one locality be affected by a serious outage or act of God. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 13
  • 14. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Glossary Software as a Service (SaaS) Software deployment model where applications are accessed by users online, as opposed to locally via a program running on a desktop computer. Glossary Commercial datacentre Designed to host “mission critical” Internet applications, a purpose built commercial facility is served by resilient networks, power and environmental controls, and also offers high levels of physical and digital security. (Low) latency In the context of SaaS, latency is the perceived delay (or lag) experienced by users of online services between issuing a command and seeing a response; low latency (highly responsive performance) therefore, is desirable when delivering an application online. IP transit / bandwidth / traffic A measure of the speed or volume of traffic that is supplied to a datacentre client. Often referred to in Mbps (Megabits per second) or Gb (Gigabytes) per month. Service Level Agreement (SLA) Typically associated with a percentage figure for the guaranteed level of service over one year (e.g. 100% power SLA indicates power availability without failure during an annual period). Pre-agreed monetary compensation can often be claimed if service falls short of the stated SLA. Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) The provision of emergency back-up battery power to ensuring ongoing power supply to equipment in the event of a mains power failure. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 14
  • 15. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case Resilience / redundancy The provision of fault tolerant services, generally in the area of networks and power. For example, a resilient network will consist of at least two routes, so that if one fails, the second (backup) network will continue to service Internet traffic. Load balancing Intelligent distribution of traffic amongst a server cluster to optimise application Glossary performance and reliability. Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 15
  • 16. e Datacentre Colocation Business Case About the author This article was written by Stephen Bell, Managing Director of 1st Easy Limited, as well as two other internet services companies in the North West of England. About the author Stephen has 30 years experience in business and IT services delivery and has worked for leading companies such as Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, Sequent and IBM during his career. As a Director and owner of companies for the last ten years, he has focused on the delivery of advanced Internet based services to many companies, both large and small. Contact details sbell@1steasy.com 0800 222 2221 Copyright © 1999-2010 1st Easy Ltd 16