Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Destiny Bertucci, Jignesh Solanki, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Daniel Gordon

Related Topics: @DXWorldExpo, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@DXWorldExpo: Blog Post

Finding the Right On-Ramp to the Cloud By @Dana_Gardner | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Enterprises opting for converged infrastructure as stepping stone to hybrid cloud

In speaking with a lot of IT users, it has become clear to me that a large swath of the enterprise IT market – particularly the mid-market – falls in between two major technology trends.

The trends are server virtualization and hybrid cloud. IT buyers are in between – with one foot firmly into virtualization – but not yet willing to put the other foot down and commit to full cloud adoption.

IT organizations are well enamored of virtualization. They are so into the trend that many have more than 80 percent of their server workloads virtualized. They like hybrid cloud conceptually, but are by no means adopting it enterprise-wide. We’re talking less than 30 percent of all workloads for typical companies, and a lot of that is via shadow IT and software as a service (SaaS).

In effect, virtualization has spoiled IT. They have grown accustomed to what server virtualization can do for them – including reducing IT total costs – and they want more. But they do not necessarily want to wait for the payoffs by having to implement a lengthy and mysterious company-wide cloud strategy.

They want to modernize and simplify how they support existing applications. They want those virtualization benefits to extend to storage, backup and recovery, and be ready to implement and consume some cloud services. They want the benefits of software-defined data centers (SDDC), but they don’t want to invest huge amounts of time, money, and risk in a horizontal, pan-IT modernization approach. And they're not sure how they'll support their new, generation 3 apps. At least not yet.

So while IT and business leaders both like the vision and logic of hybrid cloud, they have a hard time convincing all IT consumers across their enterprise to standardize deployment of existing generation 2 workloads that span private and public cloud offerings.

But they're not sitting on their hands, waiting for an all-encompassing cloud solution miracle covered in pixie dust, being towed into town by a unicorn, either.

Benefits first, strategy second

I've long been an advocate of cloud models, and I fully expect hybrid cloud architectures to become dominant. Practically, however, IT leaders are right now less inclined to wait for the promised benefits of hybrid cloud. They want many of the major attributes of what the cloud models offer – common management, fewer entities to procure IT from, simplicity and speed of deployment, flexibility, automation and increased integration across apps, storage, and networking. They want those, but they're not willing to wait for a pan-enterprise hybrid cloud solution that would involve a commitment to a top-down cloud dictate.

Instead, we’re seeing an organic, bottom-up adoption of modern IT infrastructure in the form of islands of hyper-converged infrastructure appliances (HCIA). By making what amounts to mini-clouds based on the workloads and use cases, IT can quickly deliver the benefits of modern IT architectures without biting off the whole cloud model.

If the hyper-scale data centers that power the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft are the generation 3 apps architectures of the future, the path those organizations took is not the path an enterprise can – or should – take.

Your typical Fortune 2000 enterprise is not going to build a $3 billion state-of-the-art data center, designed from soup to nuts to support their specific existing apps, and then place all their IT eggs into that one data center basket. It just doesn’t work that way.

Your typical Fortune 2000 enterprise is not going to build a $3 billion state-of-the-art data center, designed from soup to nuts to support their specific existing apps, and then place all their IT eggs into that one data center basket.

There are remote offices with unique requirements to support, users that form power blocks around certain applications, bean counters that won’t commit big dollars. In a word, there are “political” issues that favor a stepping-stone approach to IT infrastructure modernization. Few IT organizations can just tell everyone else how they will do IT.

The constraints of such IT buyers must be considered as we try to predict cloud adoption patterns over the next few years. For example, I recently chatted with IT leaders in the public sector, at the California Department of Water Resources. They show that what drives their buying is as much about what they don’t have as what they do.

"Our procurement is much harder. Getting people to hire is much harder. We live within a lot of constraints that the private sector doesn’t realize. We have a hard time adjusting our work levels. Can we get more people now? No. It takes forever to get more people, if you can ever get them,” said Tony Morshed, Chief Technology Officer for the California Resources Data Center.

“We’re constantly doing more with less. Part of this virtualization is survivability. We would never be able to survive or give our business the tools they need to do their business without it. We would just be a sinking ship,” he said. “[Converged infrastructure like VMware’s] EVO:RAIL looks pretty nice. I see it as something that we might be able to use for some of our outlying offices, where we have around 100 to 150 people.

"We can drop something like that in, put virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) on it, and deliver VDI services to them locally, so they don't have to worry about that traffic going over the wide area network (WAN).” [Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of my BriefingsDirect podcasts].

The California Department of Water Resources has deployed VDI for 800 desktops. Not only is it helping them save money, it’s also used as a strategy for a remote access. They're in between virtualization and cloud, but they're heralding the less-noticed trend of tactical modernization through hyper-converged infrastructure appliances.

Indeed, VDI deployments that support as many as 250 desktops on a single VSPEX BLUE appliance at a remote office or agency, for example, allow for ease in administration and deployment on a small footprint while keeping costs clear and predictable. And, if the enterprise wants to scale up and out to hybrid cloud, they can do so with ease and low risk.

Stepping stone to cloud

At Columbia Sportswear, there is a similar mentality, of moving to cloud gradually while seeking the best of agile, on-premises efficiency and agility.

"With our business changing and growing as quickly as it is, and with us doing business and selling directly to consumers in over a hundred countries around the world, our data centers have to be adaptable. Our data and our applications have to be secure and available, no matter where we are in the world, whether you're on network or off-premises,” said Tim Melvin, Director of Global Technology Infrastructure at Columbia Sportswear.

"The software-defined data center has been a game-changer for us. It’s allowed us to take those technologies, host them where we need them, and with whatever cost configuration makes sense, whether it’s in the cloud or on-premises, and deliver the solutions that our business needs,” he said.

Added Melvin: "When you look at infrastructure and the choice between on-premise solutions, hybrid clouds, public and private clouds, I don't think it's a choice necessarily of which answer you choose. There isn't one right answer. What’s important for infrastructure professionals is to understand the whole portfolio and understand where to apply your high-power, on-premises equipment and where to use your lower-cost public cloud, because there are trade-offs in each case."

Columbia strives to present the correct tool for the correct job. For instance, they have completely virtualized their SAP environment to run on on-premises equipment. For .software development, they use a public cloud.

And so the stepping stone to cloud flexibility: To be able to run on-premise workloads like enterprise resource planning (ERP) and VDI with speed, agility, and low-cost. And to do so in such a way that some day those workloads could migrate to a public cloud, when that makes sense.

"The closer we get to a complete software-defined infrastructure, the more flexibility and power we have to remove the manual components, the things that we all do a little differently and we can't do consistently. We have a chance to automate more. We have the chance to provide integrations into other tools, which is actually a big part of why we chose VMware as our platform. They allow such open integration with partners that, as we start to move our workloads more actively into the cloud, we know that we won't get stuck with a particular product or a particular configuration,” said Melvin.

"The openness will allow us to adapt and change, and that’s just something you don't get with hardware. If it's software-defined, it means that you can control it and you can morph your infrastructure in order to meet your needs, rather than needing to re-buy every time something changes with the business,” he said.

SDDC-in-a-box

What we're seeing now are more tactical implementations of the best of what cloud models and hyper-scale data center architectures can provide. And we’re seeing these deployments on a use-case basis, like VDI, rather than a centralized IT mandate across all apps and IT resources. These deployments are so tactical that they consist in many cases of a single “box” – an appliance that provides the best of hyper scale and simplicity of virtualization with the cost benefits and deployment ease of a converged infrastructure appliance.

This tactical approach is working because blocks of users and/or business units (or locations) can be satisfied, IT can gain efficiency and retain control, and these implementations can eventually become part of the pan-IT hybrid cloud strategy. Mid-market companies like this model because it means the hyper-converged appliance box is the data center, it can scale down to their needs affordably – not box them in when the time comes to expand – or to move to a hybrid cloud model later.

What we're seeing now are more tactical implementations of the best of what cloud models and hyper-scale data center architectures can provide.

What newly enables this appealing stepping-stone approach to the hybrid cloud end-game? It’s the principles of SDDC – but without the data center. It’s using virtualization services to augment storage and back-up and disaster recovery (DR) without adopting an entire hybrid cloud model.

The numbers speak to the preferences of IT to adopt these new IT architectures in this fashion. According to IDC, the converged infrastructure segment of the IT market will expand to $17.8 billion in 2016 from $1.4 billion in 2013.

 

VSPEX BLUE is EVO:RAIL
plus EMC’s Management Products

A recent example of these HCIA parts coming together to serve the tactical apps support strategy and segue to the cloud is the EMC VSPEX BLUE appliance, which demonstrates a new degree to which total convergence can be taken.

The Intel x-86 Xeon off-the-shelf hardware went on sale in February, and is powered by VMware EVO:RAIL and EMC’s VSPEX BLUE Manager, an integrated management layer that brings entirely new levels of simplicity and deployment ease.

This bundle of capabilities extends the capabilities of EVO into a much larger market, and provides the stepping stone to hyper convergence across mid-market IT shops, and within departments or remote offices for larger enterprises. The VSPEX BLUE manager integrates seamlessly into EVO:RAIL, leveraging the same design principles and UI characteristics as EMC is known for.

What’s more, because EVO:RAIL does not restrict integrations, it can be easily extended via the native element manager. The notion of hyper-converged becomes particularly powerful when it’s not a closed system, but rather an extremely powerful set of components that adjust to many environments and infrastructure requirements.

VSPEX BLUE is based on VMware's EVO:RAIL platform, a software-only appliance platform that supports VMware vSphere hypervisors. By integrating all the elements, the HCIA offers the simplicity of virtualization with the power of commodity hardware and cloud services. EMC and VMware have apparently done a lot of mutual work to up the value-add to the COTS hardware, however.

The capabilities of VSPEX BLUE bring much more than a best-of-breed model alone; there is total costs predictability, simplicity of deployment and simplified means to expansion. This, for me, is where the software element of hyper-converged infrastructure is so powerful, while the costs are far below proprietary infrastructure systems, and the speed-to-value in actual use is rapid.

For example, VSPEX BLUE can be switched on and begin provisioning virtual machines in less than 15 minutes, says EMC. Plus, EMC integrates its management software to EMC Secure Remote Support, which allows remote system monitoring by EMC to detect and remedy failures before they emerge. So add in the best of cloud services to the infrastructure support mix.

Last but not least, the new VSPEX BLUE Market is akin to an “app store” and is populated with access to products and 24x7 support from a single vendor, EMC. This consumer-like experience of a context-appropriate procurement apparatus for appliances in the cloud is unique at this deep infrastructure level. It forms a responsive and well-populated marketplace for the validated products and services that admins need, and creates a powerful ecosystem for EMC and VMWare partners.

EMC and VMware seem to recognize that the market wants to take proven steps, not blind leaps. The mid-market wants to solve their unique problems. To start, VSPEX BLUE offers just three applications: EMC CloudArray Gateway, which helps turn public cloud storage into an extra tier of capacity; EMC RecoverPoint for Virtual Machines, which protects against application outages; and VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced, which provides disk-based backup and recovery.

Future offerings may include applications such as virus-scanning tools or software for purchasing capacity from public cloud services, and they may come from third parties, but will be validated by EMC.

The way in which these HCIA instances are providing enterprises and mid-market organizations the means to adapt to cloud at their pace, with ease and simplicity, and to begin to exploit public cloud services that support on-premises workloads and reliability and security features, shows that the vendors are waking up. The best of virtualization and the best of hardware integration are creating the preferred on-ramps to the cloud.

Disclosure: VMware is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts that I host and moderate. EMC paid for travel and lodging for a recent trip I made to EMCWorld.

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Dana Gardner

At Interarbor Solutions, we create the analysis and in-depth podcasts on enterprise software and cloud trends that help fuel the social media revolution. As a veteran IT analyst, Dana Gardner moderates discussions and interviews get to the meat of the hottest technology topics. We define and forecast the business productivity effects of enterprise infrastructure, SOA and cloud advances. Our social media vehicles become conversational platforms, powerfully distributed via the BriefingsDirect Network of online media partners like ZDNet and IT-Director.com. As founder and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, Dana Gardner created BriefingsDirect to give online readers and listeners in-depth and direct access to the brightest thought leaders on IT. Our twice-monthly BriefingsDirect Analyst Insights Edition podcasts examine the latest IT news with a panel of analysts and guests. Our sponsored discussions provide a unique, deep-dive focus on specific industry problems and the latest solutions. This podcast equivalent of an analyst briefing session -- made available as a podcast/transcript/blog to any interested viewer and search engine seeker -- breaks the mold on closed knowledge. These informational podcasts jump-start conversational evangelism, drive traffic to lead generation campaigns, and produce strong SEO returns. Interarbor Solutions provides fresh and creative thinking on IT, SOA, cloud and social media strategies based on the power of thoughtful content, made freely and easily available to proactive seekers of insights and information. As a result, marketers and branding professionals can communicate inexpensively with self-qualifiying readers/listeners in discreet market segments. BriefingsDirect podcasts hosted by Dana Gardner: Full turnkey planning, moderatiing, producing, hosting, and distribution via blogs and IT media partners of essential IT knowledge and understanding.

@CloudExpo Stories
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
The cloud era has reached the stage where it is no longer a question of whether a company should migrate, but when. Enterprises have embraced the outsourcing of where their various applications are stored and who manages them, saving significant investment along the way. Plus, the cloud has become a defining competitive edge. Companies that fail to successfully adapt risk failure. The media, of course, continues to extol the virtues of the cloud, including how easy it is to get there. Migrating...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
The use of containers by developers -- and now increasingly IT operators -- has grown from infatuation to deep and abiding love. But as with any long-term affair, the honeymoon soon leads to needing to live well together ... and maybe even getting some relationship help along the way. And so it goes with container orchestration and automation solutions, which are rapidly emerging as the means to maintain the bliss between rapid container adoption and broad container use among multiple cloud host...
Blockchain is a shared, secure record of exchange that establishes trust, accountability and transparency across business networks. Supported by the Linux Foundation's open source, open-standards based Hyperledger Project, Blockchain has the potential to improve regulatory compliance, reduce cost as well as advance trade. Are you curious about how Blockchain is built for business? In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, discussed the b...
Blockchain. A day doesn’t seem to go by without seeing articles and discussions about the technology. According to PwC executive Seamus Cushley, approximately $1.4B has been invested in blockchain just last year. In Gartner’s recent hype cycle for emerging technologies, blockchain is approaching the peak. It is considered by Gartner as one of the ‘Key platform-enabling technologies to track.’ While there is a lot of ‘hype vs reality’ discussions going on, there is no arguing that blockchain is b...
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
As DevOps methodologies expand their reach across the enterprise, organizations face the daunting challenge of adapting related cloud strategies to ensure optimal alignment, from managing complexity to ensuring proper governance. How can culture, automation, legacy apps and even budget be reexamined to enable this ongoing shift within the modern software factory? In her Day 2 Keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Aruna Ravichandran, VP, DevOps Solutions Marketing, CA Technologies, was jo...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
"Since we launched LinuxONE we learned a lot from our customers. More than anything what they responded to were some very unique security capabilities that we have," explained Mark Figley, Director of LinuxONE Offerings at IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Is advanced scheduling in Kubernetes achievable?Yes, however, how do you properly accommodate every real-life scenario that a Kubernetes user might encounter? How do you leverage advanced scheduling techniques to shape and describe each scenario in easy-to-use rules and configurations? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Oleg Chunikhin, CTO at Kublr, answered these questions and demonstrated techniques for implementing advanced scheduling. For example, using spot instances and co...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
The need for greater agility and scalability necessitated the digital transformation in the form of following equation: monolithic to microservices to serverless architecture (FaaS). To keep up with the cut-throat competition, the organisations need to update their technology stack to make software development their differentiating factor. Thus microservices architecture emerged as a potential method to provide development teams with greater flexibility and other advantages, such as the abili...