CEO Andrew Schaap on Agility, Speed, and Vision in the Digital Age

July 20, 2017

Our new CEO Andrew Schaap talks about the role of agility, speed, and vision in the Digital Age – for organizations and their data centers.

Quick take

  • We now live in a world where every business is a digital business.
  • Organizations that succeed in this environment have three traits in common: agility, speed, and vision.
  • But organizations are only as agile, fast, and visionary as their data centers.
  • Aligned is uniquely positioned to enable agility, speed, and vision.

By Andrew Schaap, CEO, Aligned

We operate in an environment that has been characterized as “a world eaten by software,” “business @ the speed of thought,” and “the age of the customer.” Underpinning these trends is what IDC has called “the biggest industry shakeout since the Industrial Revolution” – digital transformation. We now live in a world where digital disruption has dramatically impacted every business in one way or another.

Organizations that succeed in this environment have three traits in common: agility, speed, and vision.

  • Agility – In both B2B and B2C, successful organizations have become “more agile and more sensitive to changes in the marketplace.” They’re able to pivot as consumer demands change (which they do, often).
  • Speed – Successful organizations move fast to respond as new demand arises. Take the example of Pokémon GO (launch traffic was 50x the company’s projections – now that’s scale). And it’s not only companies born and bred on the internet that are taking this approach. Huge legacy companies have also adopted startup-like speed in order to succeed in this new world.
  • Vision – At the same time as they’re pivoting and moving fast to meet customers’ needs today, successful organizations are looking to the future to ensure they can meet customers’ needs tomorrow. It’s why GE is all in on the Industrial Internet of Things and why Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon have all launched AI funds – as just two examples.

Agility, speed, and vision in the factory of the digital age

A world in which every business is a digital business means the pressure is on IT. As Gartner puts it, IT is no longer “business support.” It’s the engine that drives digital business. And so the foundation of IT – the data center, that place where all the compute, network, and storage work gets done – is core to the success of business today.

Organizations are only as agile, fast, and visionary as their data centers. Cloud, colocation, or on-premises, the data center is the factory of the digital age. Success requires a data center partner who can deliver compute, storage, and network capacity nimbly and quickly and has a strategic vision for how to meet the capacity needs of tomorrow.

That’s what Aligned is all about:

  • Enabling agility – Our mechanical and electrical infrastructure enables clients to support mixed density in the same footprint, accommodate increasingly variable IT workloads, and increase density without reconfiguring their IT footprints.
  • Enabling speed – With a combination of highly scalable, factory-built components and pre-provisioned capacity in the yard, we can deliver multi-megawatts of capacity in 10-12 weeks.
  • Enabling vision – Infrastructure that supports agility and speed, and a supply chain that de-risks global deployments enable our clients to meet their future needs as well, no matter the location, the scale, or the density they’ll demand.

In nearly 15 years in the data center industry, I’ve seen how demand for an adaptive data center approach – a data center partner that is agile, fast, and visionary – continues to exceed expectations. That’s why I joined Aligned, a company uniquely positioned to deliver on all three.

If you’re looking for a data center partner that can enable your agility, speed, and vision, come check us out.

Security in the Data Center and Beyond – A Layered Security Approach

July 18, 2017

With high-profile cyber attacks continuing, it’s no surprise that security is a #1 concern for CIOs. Solving it requires a layered approach.

Security has continued to make headlines, most recently with WannaCry and Petya hitting high-profile multinational organizations and wreaking havoc for critical infrastructure providers. So it’s no surprise that recent CIO priority surveys list security as a #1 concern. For example, in the recent CIO Tech Poll by IDG, 51% of respondents said the “threat of information security breaches … have led to increased investment in security solutions and security risk analysis.”

Of course, WannaCry and Petya are cyber attacks, but as this blog post makes clear, security atevery layer – from applications to network to physical (including the data center) – is essential. Cyber security matters for the data center: According to the 2016 Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Center Outages study, “Cybercrime represents the fastest growing cause of data center outages, rising from 2% of outages in 2010 to 22% in the latest study.”

This post was originally published on November 17, 2016.

CIOs are increasingly tapped to guide their entire organizations into the digital future. Parallel to keeping the lights on, they must continuously reinvent themselves and their organization’s digital roadmaps, while maintaining their business’ security posture and mitigating risks – even as threats continue to rise in number and sophistication.

That’s a formidable task, and it keeps many IT leaders up at night. In a survey by TechTarget, CIOs said they expect security to be the top IT project for the third year in a row. In particular, the greatest anxieties about security are around the Internet of Things, which will connect tens of billions of new devices to the Internet in the years ahead. Indeed, it was IoT devices that hackers used in the recent massive DDoS attack.

Source: TechTarget survey

Overcoming security insecurities

Following the massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack in October, we wrote about security at Aligned’s data center facilities (After Massive DDoS Attack, Focus is on Cyber Security – But Data Center Security Matters Too). In this post, we take a more detailed look at the benefits of a layered security approach, which employs multiple security controls and defenses in multiple locations to safeguard the network and data against a variety of threats.

The key to a layered security approach is that every protection and detection measure works in concert, building on the others’ strengths and together providing the capabilities needed to compensate for any one measure’s weakness. With comprehensive security coverage at every layer, businesses minimize their overall risk exposure.

Examples of security measures in a seven-layer approach

These partial lists will give you an idea of the security measures that can fall into the different layers in a layered security approach; of course, these in no way encompass all of the measures to consider at each layer.

At the policies, procedures and awareness layer, security measures include certifications and audit completions including SSAE 16, ANSI/TIA-942 Tier III+, PCI-DSS, and HIPAA, among others. Security measures at this layer also include background investigations, training and certification for employees, contractors, and vendors; security clearance for employees, contractors, vendors, customers, and guests; mandatory security training policies; vulnerability management policies; incident response policies; data handling policies; incident detection, response, reporting, and cleanup procedures; and disaster recovery plans. All data center policies and procedures need to be documented to ensure that they are understood and followed.

At the physical layer, security is all about keeping unauthorized hands off the IT property – it’s about locks, guards, cameras and alarms. Physical security measures start with location selection and include diverse utility feeds, 360-degree perimeter line of sight, limited and controlled entry points for staff and visitors, 7x24x365 security on-site security staff, multiple one-way emergency exits, internal and external IP video surveillance integrated with dual-factor access control, among others. This layer takes into account physical and environmental controls that address common vulnerabilities and ultimately lower risk, by enforcing authorization, authentication, access controls for both people and equipment – protecting the assets and services within from threats.

The perimeter layer refers to the network perimeter – the boundary between the privately managed-and-owned side of a network versus the public side of a network. At the perimeter layer, security measures include stateful firewalls, anti-virus/anit-malware, virtual private networks and access point security, and security information event management.

The network layer is the internal local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN). At the network layer, security measures “rely on automated, policy-driven traffic management systems that recognize traffic anomalies and react in real time to block, redirect and throttle problematic traffic, ensuring that bandwidth is available for mission-critical applications.”[1] Security considerations at the network layer may include intrusion detection systems (IDSs) and intrusion prevention systems (IPSs), network vulnerability assessment (VA), access control/authentication, data loss prevention, network access control (NAC) or protocol (NAP), and security information event management.

The host layer “pertains to the individual devices such as servers, desktops, switches, routers, wireless access points, etc. on the network. Each device has a number of configurable parameters that, when set inappropriately, can create exploitable security holes.” [2] Security systems at the host layer include antivirus and anti-malware applications, intrusion detection and prevention software, spyware tools and personal firewalls, OS hardening, update management, and authentication.

At the application layer, security focuses on the contents of traffic reaching applications. “Poorly protected applications can result in easy access to confidential data and records.”[3]Source code analysis, application-level firewalls, input validations, and vulnerability scanning are just a few security measures at this layer. Security measures should cover both server-side and client-side security exposures.

The data layer is arguably the most critical – and therefore the most insulated layer. “Data security is highly dependent on organization-wide policies that govern who has access to data, what authorized users can do with it, and who has ultimate responsibility for its integrity and safekeeping.”[4] At the end of the day customers must protect their data. Security measures at the data layer ensure that all parties involved have controls in place to secure access – including passwords; remote access authorization; encryption at the data, application, and OS levels; and file, disk and removable media encryption.

Three elements of a layered security approach

  1. It takes a village. A comprehensive layered approach cannot be accomplished by the customer alone. It must be addressed in partnership with your vendors and their respective area of expertise. It means that security specialists working within the organization, alongside vendors such as data center colocation providers, cloud providers, software, and content providers are focused on the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the organization’s data.
  2. Inspection is required. In a layered security approach, the organization inspects security measures from every angle – every layer – in order to avoid blind spots. Working under this level of security vigilance ups everyone’s game.
  3. Vendors are accountable.  A layered approach reminds organizations to inspect potential vendors’ security measures thoroughly. Vendors’ security measures become the organization’s security measures when that vendor is brought on board.

The data center’s role in a layered security approach

At the first two layers in particular (policies, procedures & awareness; and physical), Aligned Data Centers as a colocation provider has a role to play. We detailed our security measures at those layers in a recent blog post: After Massive DDoS Attack, Focus is on Cyber Security – But Data Center Security Matters Too.

Security attacks are bound to become more frequent and more damaging in the coming years. And there is no magic bullet to ensure security for your data. One good answer is a layered security approach – a defensive tactic whereby you use multiple security measures in a strategic way to create multiple layers of protection. After all, the more difficult you make it for hackers to steal your data, the more likely you are to spot activity before experiencing a breach – which could help you save millions in minutes,

[1] Source: Eric Ogren in Computerworld. Ogren is a Senior Analyst with the Information Security team at 451 Research.

[2] Source: George Moraetes in Layered Security Architecture. Moraetes writes for the IBM-sponsored site

[3] Moraetes

[4] Moraetes

Global Cloud-Based Gaming Company Selects Aligned as Data Center Provider

DALLAS, TX (July 17, 2017)Aligned, a data center infrastructure technology company that offers colocation and build-to-scale solutions to cloud, enterprise and managed service providers, announced today that a leading global cloud-based gaming company has signed a colocation agreement in their Uptime Institute Tier III-certified, Plano, TX adaptive data center.

“Our client was looking for a rapid deployment schedule, flexibility to increase capacity on demand as their business grows and a partner who can handle high densities during peak IT loads,” said Andrew Schaap, CEO of Aligned.  “Through our suite of services and experienced team of operational professionals, we’re excited to help our client deliver the low latency experience online gamers expect.”

Aligned’s adaptive data centers, powered by intelligent infrastructure solutions, support standard and high power densities while guaranteeing a 1.15 power usage effectiveness (PUE).  Their solution allows you to increase capacity without operational disruption, and is rapidly deployable and configurable.  Additionally, Aligned is able to achieve environmental efficiency with their patented cooling solution using less space, electricity and water, reducing total cost of ownership.

In April 2017, the company opened its second adaptive ultra-efficient data center in Phoenix, Arizona with multiple pre-leased tenants.

About Aligned

Aligned is an infrastructure technology company that offers colocation and build-to-scale solutions to cloud, enterprise, and service providers. Our intelligent infrastructure allows us to deliver data centers like a utility—accessible and consumable as needed. By reducing the energy, water and space needed to operate, our data center solutions combined with our patent cooling technology offer businesses a competitive advantage by improving reliability and their bottom-line.

Press and Analyst Inquiries

Jennifer Handshew

[email protected]
Mobile: +1 (917) 359-8838

2017 Mid-Year Tech Trends from Gartner, IDC, 451 Research

July 6, 2017

Mid-year research shows the tech world is thinking about digital transformation, a growing acceptance of AI, and data storage challenges.

Quick take

  • A new Gartner CEO survey indicates that digital transformation is moving from a goal to reality for most companies. IDC anticipates that by 2018, digital transformation will be at the center of corporate strategy for two-thirds of the world’s top companies.
  • 61% of respondents to a survey about AI think artificial intelligence will help society become better, especially in medicine and science.
  • That means increasing data, and increasing pressure on infrastructure. According to new 451 Research, IT pros say their top storage pain point is data storage/capacity growth.

A quick look at mid-2017 research touching on the tech world reveals three themes that are sure to continue impacting data centers: digital transformation, the growing acceptance of artificial intelligence (AI), and data storage challenges.

Here we share relevant highlights from recent surveys by Gartner, 451 Research, IDC, and Northstar Research Partners.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is the reinvention of business activities, processes, competencies, and models driven by technology innovation and the expectations of increasingly digital savvy customers.

“IT-related priorities, cited by 31% of CEOs, have never been this high in the history of the CEO survey,” said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “CIOs should help CEOs set the success criteria for digital business. It starts by remembering that you cannot scale what you do not quantify, and you cannot quantify what you do not define.”1

“Digital transformation has become the defining issue of the business environment as a whole, with IDC anticipating that by the end of this year two-thirds of the world’s top 2,000 companies will have it at the center of their corporate strategy … IDC analysts estimate half of organizations’ IT spending this year will be on digital transformation technologies and services, rising to more than 60% in the next three years.”2

Digital transformation demands a fundamental change in the systems that support it, increasing pressure on software, hardware, networks, and infrastructure – including, of course, the data center.

Attitudes Toward AI, VR & AR

One driver of digital transformation has been the rise of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR).

“The survey [by Northstar Research Partners and ARM] shows people expect to see a major shift to AI within the coming years: Just over a third said AI is already having a notable impact on their daily lives, yet three-quarters say they expect AI to have a big impact on their lives by 2022 … More than six in 10 people expect that, by the year 2050, humans will love AI as they would love a pet. Yet 20% were most concerned about giving some control over our lives to machines, while 18% were most concerned about more data being shared and potentially stolen.”3

“Dedicated AR and VR headsets collectively are expected to grow at a very strong pace from just under 10 million units in 2016 to just shy of 100 million units in 2021, with a 5-year CAGR of 57.7%.”4

Data and Storage Challenges

One of the key characteristics of digital transformation, AI, VR, and AR is data – massive amounts of it. All of this digital work is done, of course, on IT infrastructure – servers for compute and storage, and networking equipment – inside a data center.

“Things don’t always go as planned with new technologies. Two new research reports document the struggles, disappointments and false starts that challenge enterprise storage pros as they modernize their infrastructures for digital business … 451 Research asked enterprise IT pros to rank their most pressing storage pains. ‘Data/capacity growth’ landed in the top spot. ‘Meeting disaster recovery requirements’ and ‘high cost of storage’ ranked second and third, respectively, among survey respondents.”5

The data explosion brought about by these trends requires IT infrastructure that can support workloads that are dynamic. IT infrastructure has risen to the challenge, including by increasing density. But then the data center has to rise to the challenge as well, keeping pace with the increasing amount and dynamic nature of the work it’s asked to do. Can yours?

1 Gartner,  2017 CEO Survey: CIOs Must Scale Up Digital Business.

2, Digital transformation in financial sector, June 2017.

3 ZDNet, Global survey: Most people expect humans will grow to trust, even love, AI, June 2017.

4 IDC, Augmented and Virtual Reality Headset Tracker, June 2017.

5 Network World, Most acute storage pain points, letdowns, June 2017.