Managing Multiple IT Vendors to Avoid Content Delivery Downtime Featured

Managing Multiple IT Vendors to Avoid Content Delivery Downtime Image Credit: LuckyStep48/Bigstockphoto.com

With the rise of the Internet of Things, 5G connectivity and cloud computing, service uptime on various application delivery networks form a critical aspect to any telecommunications organization when serving users in our fast-paced, always-connected world. On an average day, Instagram handles up to 95 million photos and videos, and wearable devices would have generated 28 petabytes worth of telecommunications data by next year.

While the telecoms industry can rely on vendors to carry out traffic management and application delivery for social media platforms and IoT devices, how can we better manage multiple vendors to ensure that traffic interruptions and downtime is kept to a minimum? Earlier this month, applications such as Microsoft's Office365, Facebook, and WhatsApp experienced a multi-hour partial outage, due to a spike in CPU usage that crippled telecommunications throughput.

Typical IT strategies and layouts in startups and large organizations are inevitably complex as businesses tend to see their IT infrastructure expand organically over time. Such multi-vendor use cases are true for servers, storage solutions, networking equipment, multi-cloud services, as well as load balancers.

This results in most application delivery platforms comprising of a mix of hardware and software components and services to handle copious amounts of data transmitted daily. The projected increase in global data consumption would make it challenging for both vendors and their telecommunications customers to deal with further disruption and infrastructure complexities.

Given this, having a diverse selection of hardware and software across multiple IT vendors has its advantages. A diverse IT strategy protects against simultaneous, disruptive attacks by malicious actors or viruses. However, there are also massive disadvantages to multi-vendor upkeep.

Managing multiple IT platforms increases management and support complexity, with each product or solution requiring unique deployment roadmaps, using separate management tools, and producing non-conforming reporting formats. The downtime affecting Microsoft Office365 struck a chord with telecoms providers and its users, given how it affected several microservices, such as the main e-mail application, the login area, and overall connectivity uptime.

Diverse IT strategies led to organizations - especially in APAC - struggling to control multiple vendors in their application and content delivery networks. A recent study highlighted that 82% of respondents from APAC organizations, including companies in the telecommunications sector, want better multi-vendor management in their IT infrastructure. Most organizations in Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia believe it is a high (if not critical) IT priority for their businesses.

Further prodding revealed that 71% of APAC firms juggle with at least four unique infrastructure providers at any given time. Across the U.S. and the U.K., ZK Research found that approximately one-third of companies surveyed struggle with having no centralized management for their IT processes. The telecoms industry and the wider IT sector want simplified management, preferably with some automation, and they want it now.

A single point of management

Multi-cloud deployment across different vendors, however, offer greater strategic benefits over technological ones. Key advantages of adopting multi-cloud strategies are the ability to avoid vendor lock-ins, superfluous add-ons, and unfriendly pricing models.

To mitigate content delivery downtime, a multi-cloud solution helps most when cloud providers are geographically dispersed. Instead of having all your eggs in one basket, mission-critical services across several cloud platforms can help applications remain available even if an outage occurs on the other side of the world.

Some cloud providers propose integrating client apps into a single pane of glass to control, govern, and automate everything, and that is because the reality of multi-cloud management sees organizations using specific cloud infrastructure for different types of workloads. As such, the organization utilizes multiple vendors, but they get the best fit for each core microservice and can monitor network health at a proverbial glance.

Various approaches have been taken to reduce this management complexity. In an ideal environment, managing multiple vendors implements a variety of solutions tailored to the business’s needs, but these approaches need a mindset update to keep up with new management tools.

The multi-vendor management interface should also be friendly enough, even for end-users to understand. Putting the control within the IT managers’ grasp is just as important as any uptime resilience because that person interprets and acts on the cloud’s health and load directly.

Strategizing for future multi-vendor approaches

Telecommunications and online businesses often permeate internal IT decision making. A research showed that 91% of APAC organizations want speed and agility in load balancing and app deployment, while a good 90% also want the ability to scale workloads easily and quickly. Other demands include flexible consumption where organizers pay only what they used (40%) and increased automation across their various servers (60%). Informing vendors of these new demands ahead of time helps vendors become more targeted in serving organizational needs, instead of locking-in to SLAs (service-level agreements) or contracts that do not address application or content delivery needs.

Beyond relying on vendors to integrate the latest offerings into various app delivery layers, the organization’s IT leads stand to benefit more when they research on industry advancement and vendor’s ability to provide with the best-fit approach in mind. Involving opinions of key business verticals can help define, if not fine-tune the selection process based on business priorities.

Studies showed that HR Management software, Finance, and Accounting software, and Enterprise Resourcing Planning software are core APAC-business applications that are increasingly developed for cloud environments.

In all, managing vendors should be a key consideration in any application deployment strategy itself, but the complexity can be mitigated by centralizing your oversight with the right tools, container-based deployment approaches, and of course, picking the right vendor for the right workload. By prioritizing downtime reduction, telecommunicators and their vendors can work towards servicing the age of data better.

Tony Sandberg has two decades of experience in senior positions within the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. His leadership experience spans across several markets around the world, including Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America. As the APAC Regional Director of Kemp headquartered in Singapore, he oversees Kemp’s growth and direction in the region. 

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