British Telecom shows productivity up by 31% with telecommuting
Cloud applications must be delivered at high speed, security and reliability
By Stephen Ng
With the volume of digital data expected to hit 2.7 zettabytes (ZB) by year end, up 48% from 2011, the IT industry worldwide is trending towards cloud computing and virtualisation, says Avaya’s networking director for ASEAN and global accounts, Andrew Hindmarch.
A study conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC) states that 90% of this information is driven by increasing consumption of online data worldwide, from images, videos and MP3 files to files based on social media and Web-enabled workloads – a phenomenon common in the age of heightened communications and social media sharing.
Andrew Hindmarch, Avaya’s networking director for ASEAN and global accounts (photo credit: GPA Photo)
Hindmarch, who is based in Singapore, sees the term “green IT” as a given norm within the IT industry. “It is no longer a buzzword or just another marketing gimmick,” he adds. In the US, for example, Hindmarch says manufacturers are already thinking how they can design servers that can run at higher temperatures, making fresh-air cooling possible instead of having to depend on air-conditioning.
Hindmarch says when an engineer at Avaya starts to design a product, application or solution, and build the prototype, up to the final stages of the manufacturing process, the idea is to incorporate best practices and make the product as green as possible. When deploying the Avaya Aura, for example, Avaya consultants are able to re-use legacy equipment from any vendor and minimise rip-and-replace, thereby minimising e-waste.
This explains why Avaya is in the forefront in green IT with its unified communications (UC) and contact centre (CC) solutions having recently been certified “green” by Miercom as “earth-friendly designs that can save companies money and boost efficiency.” The Tolly Group has also certified its Ethernet Routing Switch 8600 as being capable of helping businesses save 60% in energy consumption, leading to dramatically lower operating costs and lower CO2 emissions. Again, the Group has independently verified that its IP networks use 45% less energy compared with leading competitors. Avaya Services and EXPERT Systems are environmentally-friendly, emphasising remote management support and providing fault and error correction remotely over 98% of the time.
“All our customers are already getting the benefits of green, knowingly or unknowingly,” he says. “In fact, from a corporate social responsibility perspective, we are very focused on delivering a cleaner solution to our customers. By this, I mean we seek to reduce the operational cost of power consumption, which contributes to the bottom line of the company, and to ensure that after the product is obsolete, it can be disposed of safely. Green is, therefore, something on everybody’s mind.”
This sets the basis for Hindmarch’s expectations that the market for both virtualisation and cloud computing will expand rapidly in the near future. Cloud computing presents an opportunity for enterprises to increase capacity or add capabilities because it offers the flexibility to expand or contract computing storage or infrastructure resources, as and when needed.
With cloud computing becoming comparable to other standard utilities such as the electricity grid, companies no longer have to worry about capital expenditure for big servers, or application software, as they can now enjoy shared resources, software and information on pay-per-use basis. What’s important is that it helps to reduce operational costs, improve the time it takes to deploy business applications across networks, and imcrease storage capacity whilst minimising rack space in the data centre. Everything leads to a reduction of cooling needs and, ultimately, of energy demand and the carbon footprint.
Virtualisation & cloud computing
Going by Hindmarch’s predictions, soon, when you walk into any office in this part of the world, instead of large servers in server rooms, you will just see a few virtual machines (VM), which run various kinds of software. “The idea is to reduce energy footprints through visualisation and cloud,” says Hindmarch. “It is already happening with network, storage and server virtualisation.”
Hindmarch elaborates: “If software can be run on a VM, it will help reduce energy consumption by reducing the requirement for physical servers when running multiple applications. There will be only one footprint. When it comes to disposing the VM, it is as easy as the click of a button – no more the headache of physically disposing the hardware.”
Hindmarch names Avaya's Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture (VENA) as an example of an open virtualisation solution that dramatically simplifies the design, deployment and management of networks by enabling a network fabric within and between data centres and campuses.
“It is a virtual fabric that gives businesses the ability to turn certain services up and down based on demand, reacting instantly to the needs of end-users,” he says. “You can create virtual services across the network, deploying voice and video without impacting business transactions. It can create both public and private (for banking institutions) clouds that allow the enterprise to react to the consumerisation of technology and the proliferation of communication vehicles.”
With consumer-based products becoming an integral part of the business communication environment, solutions providers like Avaya are designing infrastructure and client software that are compatible with iPads, smartphones and other personal devices to help companies implement effective teleworking (photo credit: Avaya)
The biggest challenge in cloud computing, Hindmarch admits, is how different customers view the cloud and what it can do for them. “For some, the cloud implies inter-enterprise collaboration (by video, voice, and including presence and other applications) in a secure way across multiple vendors and technologies,” he says. “For another set of customers, cloud technologies imply evolution to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Others are simply looking for a hosted or managed environment, where they are driving towards being virtualised, more green, and reducing their carbon emission while leveraging on the disaster recovery capabilities of data centres.”
But it all boils down to just one thing. As Hindmarch points out, the core of successful cloud computing is the applications used by the customer. “To be successful, as part of the overall cloud solution, you need to be able to deliver the applications to the customer at high speed, security and reliability,” he says. “This is central to the customer, because that’s what make employees productive.”
Apart from that, it is also important to tailor the applications to suit the customer’s needs. Where the customer wants to introduce teleworking into the organisation, Avaya has the UC solutions for teleworkers and for small businesses to help meet the unique needs of full-time, part-time and mobile workers.
Walking the talk
Avaya’s own experience with green IT is a good case study. “We wanted to remain competitive and meet our changing needs for talent by recruiting globally, and having learned through surveys that our employees want a better balance between their personal life and work life, we needed to provide flexible work options,” says Hindmarch.
“The perfect solution to address this was the deployment of our extensive, comprehensive teleworking solutions, including soft phones, VPN remote hardware, Extension to Cellular, Avaya one-X™ Mobile, and Microsoft integration for presence capabilities and contacts.”
Avaya then initiated a plan to hire teleworkers globally, while avoiding business disruption. As a result:
• Carbon emissions were reduced by over 8,000 tonnes per year by reducing employee travel by over 24 million kilometres annually.
• Over 2,200 employees are full-time teleworkers.
• 75% of Avaya’s employee base telework at least part of the week.
• Teleworkers collaborate as effectively from a remote work site as they do when in the office.
• Avaya experienced zero down-time during Hurricane Charley.
Read more… Advantages of teleworking