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On Cloud 9 – Symphony Services

by tapangarg on December 1, 2010

Symphony Service’s success story on extracting the most from the Cloud

The journey from dedicated IT infrastructure to IT on the Cloud has been much talked-about in recent times. From
saving Capex to battling Opex, CIOs have much to contemplate before they take the flight to the clouds. Amidst a landscape that is clearly fast evolving and potentially transformative, Vijayashanker, Vice President – IT and Managed Services, Symphony Services, India, shares his experience.

CIOs worldwide are grappling with rising Data Center spends. Besides, they have to contend with licenses, upgrades, legacy systems, and technology that becomes fast obsolete. Cloud computing has brought the much needed respite.

What is India’s story on Cloud computing? How keen are CIOs here to try it out, we ask Vijayashanker?

Early advantage

Symphony Services, with a 3500-plus workforce, is a market leader in product engineering, right from product development to delivery. Having deployed the Cloud model successfully, it also offers services to Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) it works with, helping enterprises virtualize their applications on the Microsoft Azure or Amazon platforms.

The Cloud advantage

Symphony’s Cloud usage is for both, enterprise applications and services to customers. Using it at every stage of the Product Development Lifecycle, from development to testing, today Vijayashanker vouches for the efficacy of the Cloud on short-term projects. “Earlier for load testing, performance testing, and such short-duration requirements, we had to buy capacity, incurring Capex. Today, we just go to the Cloud and request for storage, computing power, etc. It’s all available to you and takes a maximum of one hour to set up,” he adds, clearing the clouds of doubt among IT decision-makers, who are still undecided about the change to the Cloud.

“We have Azure, Rackspace, Amazon, Oracle, IBM, so many private Clouds too. We use Cloud computing extensively and it has given us a phenomenal advantage, adding a lot of value at low cost.”

Slowly but surely

SEven as Cloud usage in India is steadily on the rise, one finds that adoption has been slow. Vijayashanker attributes this to the bandwidth prices in India, which still impede full-throttle adoption. Having successfully monitored his organization’s journey to the Cloud, he feels that it is only a matter of time before the Cloud becomes a rage in India.

“Cloud computing is a disruptive model,” he predicts, as he foresees the Cloud as a pathbreaking innovation. He attributes part of its popularity to the fact that “ISVs don’t want to miss the bandwagon. This will give rise to a whole lot of new companies who perished before their time from the burden of Capital expenditure”.

A step at a time

In an age where benchmarks such as IT Opex per capita are closely linked with IT’s performance, a Cloud model would certainly enhance IT’s reputation. What then are the key adoption issues that CIOs should be aware of? “There has been a lot of concern over security and Service Level Agreements (SLAs). What happens if the cloud goes down? In your own Data Center, the fix is in your control; with a Cloud you don’t know the cause of the drop in service. Therefore, it is advisable to proceed one step at a time.”

Another attribute that marks Symphony’s success with Cloud computing is the hybrid model of adoption, where a portion of the enterprise applications still lie with the Data Center and only those that are light in terms of legacy are migrated to the Cloud – the cost of migrating and remodeling mission critical applications is just too high and Vijayashanker advises against this. “A small organisation may leverage the Cloud 100 percent but for a medium organization, a hybrid model works well.”

Despite the direct gains from reduction in Data Center load and hence power savings, a hybrid model could present challenges such as a single sign-on authentication for every user. Symphony has seen a way out of this concern by using Microsoft Azure, which enables single sign-on. Additionally, the organization ironed out concerns of global connectivity speeds by connecting to the nearest Data Center in the APAC region.

Reaping rewards with Microsoft Azure

Symphony’s foremost partner in using applications based on the Cloud and providing the same to their customers, has been Microsoft, allowing the organization to reap the benefits of Platform as a Service (PaaS). Symphony has today, built significant expertise on the Azure platform, where it is able to leverage not just enterprise applications on Microsoft, but also ensure support on Java.

In terms of other benefits, Symphony has gained from the services provided by Microsoft on Azure, “I don’t need to maintain databases, infrastructure, OS maintenance, patch updates, antivirus – everything is managed by platform service provider. I concentrate on the product and how best I can deliver value in the service I provide to the end customer or employee,” he adds, claiming that the Cloud has eradicated any previous issues of scalability and agility, with a pay-as-you-go model.

In Symphony’s case, it has clearly been a win-win for them and the vendors. Their vendors have brought in the ability to switch between releases, absorbed license costs, and eradicated the pain areas of maintenance. Symphony on the other hand, has leveraged the Cloud (Azure) for many of its ISV customers too. “It’s all a matter of trust – the vendor has a reputation and customer base to protect. Security and service promise naturally come first!” he closes with his assuring message to the CIO community.

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  • Noor Patel

    superb piece of writing

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Noor. Will pass the compliment along to the writer of this piece.

  • Suresh Kumar

    Nice Article. I liked it.

    Suresh

  • Gracekumar

    Way to go and good to be in right track from the starting point.

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