Digicel’s Cloud Backup Services – A deep Analysis
Looks like that ChromeBook powered by Google Chrome OS smartbook I was planning to purchase this Christmas 2011 is definitely in my future after all!! The Cloud-based NC (Network Computer) made its debut on Tuesday December 7th 2010AD with chip maker Intel, and hardware makers Samsung and Acer.
The previously codenamed Cr-48 Laptop, is to make its final polished podium presentation to the public culminating in a Midnight Sunday June 15th 2011AD debut in the US of A, as fellow blogger Kelroy heralded in his article “Chrome OS and Chromebook – Simplicity, Security and Speed”.
So how can a Cloud-Based smartbook, as Google so affably calls their little protégé, be simmering in my crystal, ma cherie!?
Because Digicel, the reputed “Bigger Better Network” (sorry, no ads!!) is banking on Cloud-Based Services, with the initial launch of their Digicel Cloud Backup Service on Wednesday May 11th 2011AD as reported in both local Dailies.
What is Cloud Storage?
Simply put, Cloud-Storage is a Web Hosting subset, with the requisite Dynamic Hosting Services i.e. Half-Duplex communications, as in the case of a Web 2.0 website or Service Platform. This is as opposed to a Web 1.0 website, for which tradition Static Hosting Services would suffice.
Because of its “Cloud”-like or nebulous nature as its name so aptly describes, it translates to, like its weather based compatriots, being able to fill as much space in the Sky [Server] for which the client pays for. Effectively Pay-as-you-go Server, much as you already do with prepaid cellphones.
If you are a real aficionado of all things Digicel, then the fact that Digicel had an operational Data Center located in Caymanas, St. Catherine since November 2009 should not have come as any big surprise to you.
Neither should the fact that their three (3) main crash test dummies for the past two (2) years that helped Digicel’s army bunker Data Center achieve Tier III Certification, namely:
- JMMB (Jamaica Money Market Brokers)
- ICWI (Insurance Company of the West Indies)
- NCU (Northern Caribbean University) et al
Tier III Certification? Merdes Alores!!!
Tier III Certification is a big deal
This is a VERY Big Deal, as Digicel becomes the ONLY Telecom Provider operating a Data Center Operator in the Caribbean to achieve Tier III Certification from the Uptime Institute, a worldwide standardizing body for Data Center Certification.
In the Data Center, this for the uninitiated predates even Mobile Phones! It hearkens from the 80’s and the early days of Web 1.0 websites and evokes memories, albeit painful, of the Dot.com bubble of the 90’s – and those that survived!
Tier III Certification is the Holy Grail of Data Centers! It’s not cheap to achieve and it’s certainly not easy to implement. It, in a nutshell, speaks to guaranteeing that your Data Center can achieve what is commonly known in Telecoms as the five 9’s i.e. 99.999% uptime.
In Digicel’s case, their JA$500 million spend on this spanking new Data Center that was crash-tested by Corporate companies has achieved the ultimate that should make it attractive and affordable to cash-strapped SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) desirous of Data Backup services and having Broadband Internet access but bereft of Server or IT know-how thereof.
Digicel was riding on Cloud, Puff the Magic Dragon Style, a long time ago, folks. But just what makes a Data Center Tier III?
First clues can be seen in the Tale of the Tape for the Caymanas Data Center:
- Four thousand square feet (4000 sq. feet)
- Three (3) storey hurricanes and earthquakes-proof bunker-style building
- Halogen-based Fire Suppression System
- Two (2) 1400 KVA Stand-by generators
- Environmental Control Systems to maintain constant 22 degrees Celsius Temperature, high positive pressure, zero humidity level and dust and particulate level equivalent to an operating theatre
- Biometric Identification and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Badge Readers,
- Zoned Levels of access to only Data Center personnel; CEO and ICT staff have no access
- 24/7 365-day Armed security and electronic security Backup
- Cameras and microphones in front of every Server Access Terminal and on every floor
- Two (2) Fiber Optic Connections providing T1 access, one (1) from Triple Play Provider FLOW; the other from JPS Co
- The Servers sit on a raised Plenum with space for Power Cabling and Air Flow.
- 512-bit Encrypted Remote Computer Access to the Servers requiring Biometric Identification
- Rack mounted Blade Servers in orderly Rack Cabinets
- Servers running Linux Distribution for Greater Security from Hackers
This ensures adherence to the five 9’s i.e. 99.999% uptime, required by Tier III in terms of:
- Server Operations and OS Stability
- Data Integrity Checks of stored Data
- Power Systems Redundancy (JPS Co, Standby Generators, UPS Systems)
- Insurance Coverage against Acts of God e.g. Hurricane, Earthquake
Fujitsu a competitor?
As a comparison of what Tier III means, Fujitsu also launched their Cloud-Based backup Storage Service the following Thursday May 12th 2011AD. Their service, cleverly anointed with the name IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), has Data Centers in Trinidad and Jamaica is currently on the beginning lap towards Tier III Certification.
Fujitsu has approximately twenty to thirty (20 to 30) guinea pigs in tow as says Fujitsu Caribbean CEO, Mervyn Eyre. Some notables already running in their maze and taking turns on the treadmill are:
- Sangster International Airport
- (surprise!!) The GOJ (Government of Jamaica)
Even Better comparison of League of Extraordinary Tier III Gentlemen that Digicel Data Center occupies can be glaringly demonstrated when their operations are compared to FLOW!
Interestingly enough, FLOW also has a thirty thousand square foot (30,000 sq. ft) Data Center or E-Commerce Park, as they call, it based in Curacao. FLOW had launched it on Thursday July 22nd 2010AD, a month prior to Digicel Data Center being announced and four (4) months before Digicel went live with their guinea pigs…er…customers! They too, are not Tier III certified, but are working towards it.
Proof comes from the horse’s mouth, CEO and President Michele “Dallas” English”, quote: “We have a tier-three-ready Data centre facility … only one of its kind in the region, with 24-hour Network operation access”.
Note dear reader: “Tier III ready”, meaning that they [FLOW, subsidiary of Columbus Communications] do not yet have the coveted Certification! It’s just a bigger Data Center. They too, have to go the Guinea-pig-and-treadmill route to get the much coveted Tier III Certification.
Back of the line FLOW!! You are NOT a Certified Tier III Diva!!
So hands down, Digicel is packing the goods with their Triple Barreled Tier III shot gun.
The words of Digicel CEO Mark Linehan sum up Digicel’s ambitions as it relates to the now expanding Cloud-Based services, quote: “Cloud is suitable for all businesses, with solution for small, medium and large companies. From an economic perspective, the benefits are immeasurable. Cloud platforms in general are creating a new level of infrastructure that global developers can exploit, especially SMEs. This will enable SMEs to run their business more effectively and more efficiently, as they are now able to afford products that historically only large businesses would have access to.”
Thus, based solely on these utterances, I envision the following services by December 2011:
- Prepaid Cloud Storage – SME’s pay for what storage space they use
- Postpaid Cloud Storage – Corporate Clients pay Monthly Subscription for fixed block of storage
- Free Cloud Storage – University Students, ordinary folk; Advertising subsidized with prices competitive to DropBox or Amazon Cloud Drive for more storage
And eventually, alongside Cloud Backup Services that Digicel is initial offering, SMEs can eventually look forward to these goodies by Christmas 2011AD:
- Email Server Platform
- BlackBerry Server Platform for BB Messenger and email Support
- Virtual Server e.g. MMORPG Gaming Platforms and Streaming services
- Cloud Telephony Platform
- Cloud Computing Platform
The last service in this stellar Black Green and Gold (or is that Red and White?) offering by Digicel to Local Jamaican businesses, namely Cloud Computing Platform is why I am so hopeful about buying Google’s Chromebook by Christmas 2011. This as one of Digicel’s First customer may be Google……
Or even a Tablet running Chrome OS! This may be coming from Acer, makers of the Asus Transformer much coveted by fellow blogger Kelroy in his article “ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is a winner”!
So there you have it folks! Digicel is not the only one in this field, which is becoming crowded pretty quickly as even Cisco sees its Server orders swell to five thousand (5000) orders in the First Quarter of 2011.
More as this story develops………..