Q&A with JF van der Zwet, GlobalMarketing Manager Cloud, Interxion (www.interxion.com)
Why is the Cloud Test Lab useful in today’s enterprise data centers? Why should data center and IT managers care about it? How can they benefit from it?

It’s no secret that cloud computing as a whole is booming. The number of connected devices that leverage the cloud to store and send information is growing. Plus, the vast majority of businesses are likely to opt for cloud when their hardware comes up for refresh, according to Interxion’sCloud Survey 2011 of European IT decision makers. Cloud is so popular, in fact, that cloud data is expected to grow12-fold by 2015, increasing the opportunities for data centers, enterprises and service providers (SPs) and systems integrators (SIs) that deliver cloud services.Interxion’s Cloud Test Lab is at the very center of those opportunities.
Interxion’s Cloud Test Lab is a turnkey proof-of-concept environment, designed to help cloud providers develop and test cloud hosting services before fully deploying them. Developed with best-in-class performance guarantees, the Cloud Test Lab combines industry-leading software, systems, connectivity and colocation capabilities, accelerating the process of developing new cloud services and significantly reducing start-up costs. This type of testing is critical when deploying any new cloud solution or service, as it helps to ensure that functionality is checked against a variety of software and systems. Without such tests, cloud services may perform poorly for end-users, resulting in lower customer experience and reduced revenue. As a result of using the Cloud Test Lab, service providers and enterprises are able to offer more high-quality, lucrative cloud solutions.
Whether companies are looking for a cost-effective way to develop cloud-based infrastructure services or expand their service offering, Interxion’s Cloud Test Lab presents an ideal solution to do so.
Where should the Cloud Test Lab rank in terms of overall priority in deploying cloud services in the data center?

The Cloud Test Lab should rank high in terms of overall priority when deploying cloud services for several reasons:
  • As a proof-of-concept testing environment, it allows companies to test and determine how their cloud service will perform once it’s in a real, working environment.
  • Because the Cloud Test Lab environment is ready-to-use, it shortens the time to market for new cloud services.
  • It offers a free-of-charge test period to help reduce start-up costs and remove the risk of testing a cloud service.
  • With easy access to industry-leading software, systems, connectivity and colocation capabilities, the Cloud Test Lab enables enterprises to focus on other priorities, including developing new services.
  • The Cloud Test Lab is located within Interxion’s highly-connectedCloud Hubs, providing more realistic test results than if an enterprise or service provider was using local hardware.
  • Once enterprises and service providers have tested a cloud service they’re happy with, they can instantly deploy the service from Interxion’s Cloud Hub, accelerating the company’s go-to-market strategy and the service’s delivery to customers.

What challenges do data center and IT managers commonly face when deploying new cloud services?
Data center and IT managers face a number of issues associated with deploying services in the cloud. To investigate and categorize these challenges, Interxion conducted a survey of European IT decision makers last year. Its findings revealed that a lack of security and SLAs (45%), vendor lock-in (40%) and regulatory concerns (39%) are the biggest challenges when deploying new cloud services.

Which of these challenges can Interxion help IT managers overcome?
It’s important to keep in mind that the management of cloud environments is fairly complex and therefore does not have a “one size fits all” solution for concerns about security, SLAs and regulations. Every vendor uses a different combination of orchestrated virtual machines and software solutions that make up the cloud infrastructure, and must therefore deploy a similarly unique combination of solutions to overcome these challenges.

However, with that said, Interxion’s Cloud Hubs offer a strong solution to concerns about vendor lock-in. Colocated data centers in general help avoid vendor lock-in by allowing users to implement the hardware and software necessary for their business. Furthermore, as a carrier neutral data center, Interxion provides users with a number of connectivity providers from which to partner, giving them the freedom to choose one that suits their specific needs and budget. Interxion’s carrier neutral environment allows its tenants to switch between the more than 400 carriers and ISPs and 18 Internet Exchanges housed in its facilities, at the flick of a switch, which is particularly beneficial for back-up and redundancy purposes. Finally, within the Cloud Test Lab specifically, Interxion has established partnerships with three software providers –Microsoft HP, Flexiant and Eucalyptus – to create a variety of customer offerings.

Another way that Interxion is helping users amend common cloud challenges is with its European Customer Service Center (ECSC). The ECSC conducts in-depth network monitoring 24/7/365, removing a layer of performance monitoring for which cloud providers are responsible. With uptime levels exceeding 99.8 percent in all of Interxion’s data centers, the Cloud Test Lab makes it easier to meet customer SLA requirements while testing out the cloud.

What advice can you give to IT and data center managers that have a plethora of similar solutions to choose from?
Because there are so many available cloud platforms and ways to test them, it’s important to take into consideration where each environment is hosted. Interxion’s Cloud Test Lab is hosted in the company’s Cloud Hubs, which are specifically designed to host cloud services by guaranteeing the flexibility, agility and cost savings that cloud computing delivers. With fast connections, proximity to end users and strong connectivity to 18 of Europe’s leading Internet Exchanges, Interxion’s Cloud Hubs provide the optimum environment for the cost-effective development, launch and management of successful cloud-based services and, thus, the optimum environment for a cloud proof-of-concept.

It’s also important to think about what each service can offer for the cloud services being tested. Interxion has a strong understanding of individual verticals, including financial services, digital media, gaming and cloud. Combined with its large connectivity community, the Cloud Test Lab is well-suited to support and manage a cloud deployment within any of these segments. Because of this customer base, Interxion already has established communities for each segment, which allow companies that work together or within similar industries to cross-connect in its data centers to achieve extremely fast connectivity and performance speeds.

Anything else?
Interxion welcomes inquiries for participation in its Cloud Test Lab. To find out more about the Interxion, including how to sign up, please visit the following webpages: