Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Pete Johnson, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Jim Kaskade

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, Linux, Virtualization, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

Top Ten Considerations for a Converged Infrastructure Investment

Ten tips you should consider to maximize the benefits of a Converged Infrastructure investment

Archie Hendryx looks at the benefits and challenges of managing multiple IT components through a single support solution

Many public sector organisations are not changing their ICT legacy systems. As a result, they face increasing number of inefficiencies and challenges. These issues can nevertheless be overcome, and performance increased, by managing these legacy systems within a converged infrastructural environment. This approach can also reduce the risks associated with legacy systems, such as security, missing functionality, increased complexity and operational expenditure.

Converged infrastructure simplifies support as it packages multiple IT components from different vendors into one single, optimised computing solution. So it offers end-to-end support unlike reference architectures, which require organisations to deal with a multitude of disparate vendors to gain support. Converged infrastructure removes the need to manage multiple upgrade cycles, offers pre-tested interoperability and release management resources. It enables organisations to centralize the management of IT resources.

A converged infrastructure has pre-configured and pre-tested configurations while reference architectures follow certain guidelines. Converged infrastructures tend to have defined scalability. Reference architectures are completely flexible but they have no defined performance boundaries, making it less predictable than a converged infrastructure.

The components of a converged infrastructure include servers, data storage devices, networking equipment, software for IT infrastructure management, automation and orchestration. A converged infrastructure can be used as a platform for private, hybrid and public cloud computing services: e.g. infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS).

The journey towards operating converged infrastructure should begin by establishing a business case: both technical and commercial goals and objectives such as the ability to deploy new products and services to market much faster than a traditional IT model all so often permits. Reliability, data security and a reduction in infrastructural complexity will no doubt be at the core of your proposition. There may be a number of other factors in play, and many of these could point you towards developing a converged cloud infrastructure because it delivers efficiency, reduces complexity without reducing security.

Tips to improve performance

1. Restructure your complex and disparate IT technology-focused silos to a centralised, streamlined and service-oriented converged infrastructure team that will be able to do a lot more a lot quicker. Traditional designs are based on in house and siloed expertise that inevitably introduce risk as success depends on this expertise being shared and correlated between teams prior to building the infrastructure.

Speed to deployment and agility is a key factor with converged infrastructure where new project rollouts can be reduced from months to days. To enhance this, a model that includes a capacity on demand buffer model should be looked at. This enables the public sector to have additional inventory installed in their converged infrastructure for unplanned growth and projects, where the payment of such inventory is only made once it's consumed. This consequently reduces project delivery times drastically.

Another key factor is the support model, which should provide a single and seamless model. Instead of a dial in number that ultimately sends you to various departments for all the infrastructure components, the support model should be set up to manage and maintain the single product, namely the converged infrastructure. This will consequently reduce the mean time to resolution for the public sector considerably if and when any issues arise.

2. Prepare for simplified operations. Converged infrastructure offers the opportunity to simplify and centrally monitor your workloads and capacity management as well as application performance.

3. Look to fully virtualise your environment. Converged infrastructures can enable you to immediately consolidate and virtualise your workloads. This provides the flexibility to seamlessly move resources from one virtual machine to another and also avoid vendor lock in should you decide to move to another platform at a later date. Legacy systems can often cause headaches, but with a converged cloud infrastructure an opportunity arises to gain a highly virtualised, optimised, secure and a highly available but also stable platform that will improve performance while enhancing existing services.

4. Plan for data protection. Accidental data loss is perceived as the biggest security threat to public sector organisations so a backup and recovery solution that comes pretested and pre-integrated with your converged infrastructure should be a serious consideration.

5. Prepare to streamline your security policies. Converged Infrastructures offer the ability to enhance security controls and increase compliance while still offering the benefits associated with cloud. For example instead of complex and costly deployments of physical security infrastructure, virtualised appliances and enterprise software security suites offer the same features but with the added agility of being virtualised.

6. Implement a disaster recovery solution. Converged infrastructures offer the ability to quickly standardise the platform specifications between two sites as well as shift away from complex, convoluted and manual failover methods. With pretested and pre-integrated disaster recovery and avoidance solutions, failover and failback processes can be automated tasks that mitigate risk and reduce OPEX costs being introduced when protecting against a disaster.

7. Initiate a private cloud strategy. A converged infrastructure removes a lot of the infrastructure challenges associated with deploying a private cloud and offers a standardised and optimised platform that can allow you to focus on designing service catalogues, blueprints, chargeback, billing, approval processes etc. By implementing an integrated self-service provisioning model, the converged infrastructure enables a Private Cloud to be quickly deployed allowing workloads and resources to be provisioned and allocated in minutes.

8. Include a strategy to accommodate a software defined data centre (SDDC) approach. Converged infrastructure offerings are already incorporating solutions that enable a SDDC that consequently help free up even more administration time and resources. SDDC extends the benefits of virtualisation by incorporating orchestration, automation and management to core components enabling IT admin to become proactive and subsequently innovative.

Additionally the load sharing and balancing of resources within converged infrastructures and SDDC models allows for higher efficiency and utilisation as well as streamlined infrastructure scalability enabling the business to meet future and unplanned demands in a seamless manner.

The higher availability and testable disaster recovery solutions also allow the business to safeguard against the unnecessary costs and fines associated with unplanned downtime. Ultimately the streamlining of manual and complex processes into functions that are automated and orchestrated allows the business to focus on new initiatives and application delivery and consequently forget about the infrastructure that supports them.

9. Establish new internal architectural and compliance standards that cater for converged infrastructure. Instead of having to design, document and adhere to standards for every single component within a traditional infrastructure, converged infrastructures are a comprehensive product. This simplifies internal processes considerably as the standardisation, design, integration, security, availability, support and maintenance of converged infrastructures are already catered for by the vendor.

A converged infrastructure should incorporate a release certification matrix that validates all of the patches, maintenance and upgrades of all of the product's components throughout its lifecycle. To ensure this compliance an API that can scan, validate, present and monitor the infrastructure as a whole is a necessity. Unless a converged infrastructure includes this it ultimately remains a well-marketed collection of components that will offer little if any advantage over a traditional infrastructure.

Furthermore the converged infrastructure offering should include quality assurance that fully tests and validates all software updates for security and availability vulnerabilities consequently reducing ongoing risks. This will allow public sector organisations to extend their capabilities by integrating additional security and compliance controls to meet their objectives. The key here is that security and high availability is built in at the outset rather than added as an afterthought, ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the business infrastructure.

10. Simplify process management. Change management, incident management, asset management etc. are all processes that can be significantly simplified with a converged infrastructure offering and in most cases automated. For example asset management becomes simplified in that the configuration management database input now replaces thousands of complex components with a single entity that has all of its components supported by a single vendor as a single product. Additionally monitoring, alerting, logging, maintenance, patching and upgrading procedures can all be automated with converged infrastructure, mitigating the risk associated with manual tasks.

With traditional deployments you need to keep patches and firmware up to date with multiple vendors, components and devices which requires internal IT to assess the criticality of each patch and relevance to each platform as well as validate firmware compatibility with other components. This requires costly mirrored Production Test Labs and then also having rollback mechanisms if there are any issues.

Coupled with these risks, the multiple vendors needed to support a traditional infrastructure lead to prolonged resolution times when issues occur. Logging a support call for a traditional infrastructure first needs the identification of who is responsible: this might be the storage vendor, the networking company, the hypervisor or the server manufacturer.

Archie Hendryx is Principal vArchitect at converged infrastructure supplier VCE

Original article taken from Public Technology Magazine.

More Stories By Archie Hendryx

SAN, NAS, Back Up / Recovery & Virtualisation Specialist.

@CloudExpo Stories
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
The 4th International DevOps Summit, co-located with16th International Cloud Expo – being held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY – announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's large...
SYS-CON Media announced today that Skytap blog on "DevOps Journal" exceeded 84,000 story reads. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. DevOps Journal brings valuable information to DevOps professionals who are transforming the way enterprise IT is done. Noel Wurst is the managing content editor at Skytap. Skytap provides SaaS-based dev/test environments to the enterprise. Skytap solution removes the inefficiencies and constraints that comp...
SYS-CON Events announced today Isomorphic Software, the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Isomorphic Software is the global leader in high-end, web-based business applications. We develop, market, and support the SmartClient & Smart GWT HTML5/Ajax platform, combining the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software ...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, a...
Fundamentally, SDN is still mostly about network plumbing. While plumbing may be useful to tinker with, what you can do with your plumbing is far more intriguing. A rigid interpretation of SDN confines it to Layers 2 and 3, and that's reasonable. But SDN opens opportunities for novel constructions in Layers 4 to 7 that solve real operational problems in data centers. "Data center," in fact, might become anachronistic - data is everywhere, constantly on the move, seemingly always overflowing. Net...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
"ElasticBox is an enterprise company that makes it very easy for developers and IT ops to collaborate to develop, build and deploy applications on any cloud - private, public or hybrid," stated Monish Sharma, VP of Customer Success at ElasticBox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and asse...
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
The 3rd International @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to th...
What do a firewall and a fortress have in common? They are no longer strong enough to protect the valuables housed inside. Like the walls of an old fortress, the cracks in the firewall are allowing the bad guys to slip in - unannounced and unnoticed. By the time these thieves get in, the damage is already done and the network is already compromised. Intellectual property is easily slipped out the back door leaving no trace of forced entry. If we want to reign in on these cybercriminals, it's hig...
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from ha...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...