The Right Mix

By Jim Leedham, Enterprise Architect (Western Canada), Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Turn disruption into a competitive advantage

To retain customers, expand market share, and drive business growth, organizations need to respond faster to changing market conditions and employ new business models to deliver greater value. Lines of business are demanding access to IT services that accelerate innovation and service delivery to match the new speed of business. To meet these demands, IT is turning to the cloud with its promise of increased agility, reduced costs, and accelerated innovation through the reallocation of funds from maintaining systems to enhancing IT. The downside of Public Cloud is that those same Lines of business are going to the Public Cloud if or when IT is not responsive enough.

Turn disruption into a competitive advantage

No two businesses are the same, and no two workloads have the same characteristics. Requirements for delivery, performance, scalability, and security vary significantly, but each must be catered for to meet business service-level agreements (SLAs) and ensure ever evolving regulatory compliance.

To achieve the flexibility that businesses require, IT organizations need to deploy hybrid infrastructure with the Right Mix. The Right Mix optimizes performance, security, compliance, and cost by enabling fast, convenient access to IT services within a public cloud, the delivery of secure, compliant services in a private cloud, and easy access to traditional IT for legacy applications. The Right Mix means selecting from all the styles of IT shown below, but it also means being able to do this in a manner that is not disruptive to the business.

How does one find the Right Mix?

Some companies are adopting a “cloud first strategy”. This doesn’t mean put every new application in the cloud and hope that it all works out. It means that when a new application requirement comes up one goes through a step wise approach to determining the Right Mix.

  • Is the application requirement addressed by an existing Cloud Application e.g. Office 365, WorkDay,
  • If so, is it economically viable? There are many costs to cloud based applications, getting data into the cloud, getting SLA’s that meet the business needs (availability, backup etc.), getting data out of the cloud.
  • There are cloud based services available to help understand all of these in the current market. One in particular, Cloud Genera, is a service that will help IT and the business understand the real costs, and any trade-off in SLA’s that public cloud use will require.
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise offers one as well based on HPE Helion and 451 Research;
  • Is the risk of changed SLA’s acceptable to the Line of Business? Not to say that significant compromise needs to be made, but standard SLA’s may not address the Line of Business’ needs.
  • How far along the continuum is IT in the company? Most IT groups are virtualized to over 50% many much higher. Less are automated and very few are automated to the point that they can offer a private cloud experience.

Thinking about this last point, one should examine the NIST definition of Cloud computing:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling; ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

To truly offer a Private Cloud, one needs to be able to provision resources quickly, but more important claim them back once the resources are no longer needed. If one makes rapid provisioning available without the ability to reclaim, then all that is happening is the rate of infrastructure purchasing increases to the point of ridiculous.

There is obviously some investment that needs to be made to move along the continuum. To Build On-Premises, one needs to invest in automation tools, and also increase infrastructure to provide that pool of resources that can be consumed and released as needed. To Consume Off-Premises one really needs to understand not only the costs, but any trade-off in SLA that may be required.

When looking at moving current applications to the cloud, similar thought processes must happen.

How to get there?

Hewlett Packard Enterprise offers many products (hardware, software, and services) to assist with this.

One thing to note is that this group of products is very open, in recognition of the fact that public cloud offerings are many and varied from OpenStack, to Azure, Google, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), to name a few. Products like HPE Helion Eucalyptus allow for example, applications that currently reside in AWS to be moved back into a company’s private cloud infrastructure.

If one goes back to the NIST definition of Cloud Computing, the concept of releasing resources MUST extend to moving back and forth between private and public cloud.

For a more in-depth look at HPE and the Right Mix, there is a whitepaper titled How to transform to the right mix of hybrid infrastructure that can be downloaded using the link below.

Microsoft Azure; Pack, Stack and Public Cloud

For those businesses that are, or want to focus primarily on Microsoft, Azure Pack, Azure Stack, and the Azure public cloud are the direction they will go.

Microsoft built Windows Azure Pack using a common Service Management API based on the Azure Service Management (ASM) API which is how the “Classic” Azure platform was managed. Azure Pack delivers a Self-Service portal based on System Centre Service Provider Foundation (a subset of Orchestrator features) that utilises templates and other library resources from System Centre to provision virtual networks, virtual machines, web apps and other IaaS and PaaS resources on-premises.

The rapid rate of change in Azure and the introduction of a new management API (Azure Resource Manager – ARM) meant Azure Pack features fell behind what is possible in Azure Public Cloud today. With the release of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft will provide, as an option, Azure Stack, which is the next iteration of hybrid cloud integration, looking to address Azure Pack’s shortcomings by providing an Azure-consistent API (using ARM) for managing resources (compute, network and storage) across public and private clouds.

Azure Stack is still in Technical Preview, (TP2) at the moment, and planned release is for mid 2017. Once it is fully released, Azure Stack users will be able to;

  • Deploy resources across public and private clouds from the same JSON templates and PowerShell Cmdlets
  • Reduce reliance on System Centre to manage underlying resources (ARM does not use System Centre on-premises, though System Centre may still be used to manage infrastructure), and most importantly,
  • Utilise the same resource management model over public and private clouds.

Why is the Right Mix Critical?

Many companies in the Financial sector have invested heavily in infrastructure and more importantly security infrastructure and services to protect their data, and more importantly their client’s information. Standards like BASEL and BASELII plus growing privacy concerns exacerbated ty Target and more recently YAHOO! Security breaches make this investment extremely important.

Jumping to the Cloud is not always the answer, so having options for providing a cloud-like experience, in your own facilities, or the option of utilizing a trusted partner to host a private cloud is often the best way to move forward.