Improving the efficiency of IT infrastructure

This buzz session at Orange Business Live looked at how to improve the efficiency of the IT infrastructure and was led by Jean Critcher, Solution Director Orange Business. 

The current economic crisis is affecting most investment decisions, and research from analyst Gartner identified that improving business processes and reducing costs were the two most important business priorities for CIO at the moment. The session identified four key areas that can help CIOs in this regard. They were IT infrastructure optimization, virtualization and cloud computing, selective outsourcing and M2M.

Critcher stressed that it's no longer enough just to optimize the network because all parts of the infrastructure can affect the performance of key business processes - including the data centre, applications, storage, etc. Application acceleration is the latest trend in current WAN optimization processes with many companies particularly interested in optimizing Web 2.0 applications. Orange customers have had much success with WAN optimization including:

  • Tobacco manufacturer: used application performance management to offload applications such as mail into the Internet to free up the IPVPN for critical apps. It managed to achieve 80% more usage from the IPVPN with this approach
  • Lenovo: used WAN optimization to increase its WAN capacity three-fold at no extra cost
  • Leading hotel group: used WAN optimization to give it 99.9% uptime in applications and reduced its TCO by 27% through outsourcing

 The next speaker, Rob Hodgkinson, introduced cloud computing to the audience. He said that two main types of cloud computing were emerging: software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service - which he also dubbed platform as a service (PaaS), and said that Orange was more interested in the latter. Basically cloud computing is a scalable, opex-centrix model, which is accessed over the Internet.

Most cloud computing services are currently targeted at small businesses, such as Amazon Web Services, and there are a number of issues that need to be sorted out before they are a viable option for corporates, including SLAs and penalties, security and internal business processes. For example, rapid provisioning in cloud computing is pointless if the internal process for provisioning computing power is a bottleneck.

Orange has an ambitious plan for cloud computing services and already offers basic cloud servers. By 2010 it plans to offer a virtual cloud based data centre that can be automatically provisioned over the Web.

The final part of the session was on M2M, and the main theme was that M2M is ready for deployment right now, and that many Orange customers have already achieved substantial business benefits from it. Basically M2M helps companies optimize their business processes, and even in some cases create entirely new business models. Examples include:

  • The Belgian railways that used M2M to track its locomotives, helping it locate resources and prevent accidents;
  • Singapore Port Authority that is able to move twice as many goods through M2M;
  • Gefco, which saved 5% of its fuel bill by better route optimization.

We have carried out exclusive video interviews with all of the above speakers and they will be available in due course. 

Anthony Plewes

After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.