Synchronoss Takes a Clear View of the CloudBy Samuel Greengard
By Samuel Greengard
Over the last few years, cloud computing has drifted into the mainstream of the enterprise. Organizations aren't only adopting the technology for internal use; many are turning to hosted and managed services to expand the products and services they offer to customers and clients. As a provider of services targeted at mobile device manufacturers and major global cellular carriers—including device activation and automated backup of content and data—Synchronoss Technologies is at the center of the digital equation.
"We have had to build out fairly large-scale datacenters and systems using our own recipe for storage and networking," says Andy Cox, senior vice president of infrastructure, architecture and engineering. While the approach has worked well for tier-one carriers in the U.S. and Europe, it is not feasible for smaller customers with limited budgets and resources. "Many of these companies we work with require a more cost-effective technology solution and a higher level of flexibility surrounding IT resources," Cox explains.
Synchronoss, which has committed to a large-scale development initiative using Amazon Web Services (AWS), has gained internal skills revolving around EC2 and S3, Cox says. "We started to examine how to use our current Amazon deployment model to deliver the same level of performance and functionality but at a lower price point by choosing the ideal configuration for a given situation." As a result, the company recently turned to XOcur to provide SaaS-based cloud planning and design tools. Cox believes that the initiative will lead to a 35 percent or greater decline in monthly expenses at AWS by reconfiguring products and approaches to match a client's specific requirements.
The XOcur cloud-planning tool allows Synchronoss to gain deep insights into real-time pricing and configurations—along with dynamic data about price changes. The firm is also able to identify when new virtual machines are available through Amazon and what price points are available through different combinations of service offerings. "One of the common problems is that people pick from a menu of different services, sizes and configurations. In many cases, they tend to take an educated guess at what's best," Cox explains. "We can see a provider's prices and understand whether there are any compelling reasons to move, switch or adapt our current configuration based on the fact that prices have changed."
The new approach eliminates any guessing and simplifies choices. "When we have an environment with 150 virtual machines that need to run within a single instance on our platform, guessing at configurations can lead to being off by 20 cents per minute or more," Cox adds. "When you multiply 20 cents per minute by 150 machines and run the numbers over the course of a month, the impact of guessing wrong becomes expensive." Cox says that Synchronoss may expand the use of the tool to include other service providers, including Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, Verizon Terremark and the Google Cloud Platform.
The end result? "We are able to operate in a much more efficient manner and address IT and development issues in a way that wasn't possible in the past," Cox points out. "Using this approach we are now able to generate detailed data that helps our clients make the best decision at any given moment."
About the Author
Samuel Greengard is a contributing writer for CIO Insight. To read his previous CIO Insight article, "Big Data Demands Big Changes in Storage," click here.