Digitally Speaking

Neil Thurston
April 25, 2017

Hybrid IT is often referred to as bimodal, a term coined by Gartner some four years ago to reflect the (then) new need for the simultaneous management of two distinct strands of work in a Hybrid IT environment – the traditional server-based elements on the one hand, and the Cloud elements on the other.

Since then, the two strands of the bimodal world have blended in various different ways. As they have engaged and experimented with new technologies, organisations have found that certain workload types are particularly suited to certain environments.

For example, DevOps work, with its strong focus on user experience elements such as web front ends, is typically well suited to cloud-native environments. Meanwhile, back end applications processing data tend to reside most comfortably in the traditional data centre environment.

The result is a multi-modal situation even within any given application, with its various tiers sitting in different technologies, or even different clouds or data centres.

The obvious question for IT management is this: how on earth do you manage an application which is split across multiple distinct technologies? Relying on technology to provide the management visibility you need drives you to traditional tools for the elements of the application based on traditional server technology, and DevOps tools for the cloud native side. Both sets of tools need to be continuously monitored. For every application, and every environment.

A new breed of tools is emerging, allowing you to play in both worlds at once . VMware vRealize Automation cloud automation software is a good example. Over the last three years, VMware has developed its long-standing traditional platform, adding Docker container capabilities, so that today vRealize is a wholly integrated platform allowing for the creation of fully hybrid applications, in the form of ‘cut-out’ blueprints containing both traditional VM images and Docker images.

This multi-modal Hybrid IT world is where every enterprise will end up. IT management needs clear visibility, for every application, of multiple tiers across multiple technologies – for security, scaling, cost management and risk management, to name just a few issues. Platforms with the capability to manage this hybrid application state will be essential.

This area of enterprise IT is moving rapidly: Logicalis is well versed, and experienced, in these emerging technologies both in terms of solution and service delivery, and in terms of support for these technologies in our own cloud. Contact us to find out more about multi-modal Hybrid IT and how we can help you leverage it.

Category: Hybrid IT

Neil Thurston
February 13, 2017

The explosive growth of Cloud computing in recent years has opened up diverse opportunities for both new and established businesses. However, it has also driven the rise of a multitude of ‘islands of innovation’. With each island needing its own service management, data protection and other specialists, IT departments find themselves wrestling with increased – and increasing – management complexity and cost.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and with cost and complexity becoming increasingly problematic, attitudes to Cloud are changing. Organisations are moving selected tools, resources and services back to on-premises deployment models: we’re seeing the rise of the Hybrid Cloud environment.

The trend towards Hybrid Cloud is driven by an absolute need for operational and service consistency, regardless of the on-premises/Cloud deployment mix – a single set of automation platforms, a single set of operational tools and a single set of policies. We’re looking at a change in ethos, away from multiple islands of innovation, each with its own policies, processes and tools, to a single tool kit – a single way of working – that we can apply to all our workloads and data, regardless of where they actually reside.

Disparate islands in the Cloud have also increasingly put CIOs in the unenviable position of carrying the responsibility for managing and controlling IT but without the capability and authority to do so. Many organisations have experimented (some might say dabbled) with cherry-picked service management frameworks such as ITIL.

With focus shifting to Hybrid Cloud, we’re now seeing greater interest in more pragmatic ITSM frameworks, such as IT4IT, pushing responsibility up the stack and facilitating the move to something more akin to supply chain management than pure hardware, software and IT services management.

There are two key pieces to the Hybrid IT puzzle. On the one hand, there’s the workload: the actual applications and services. On the other, there’s the data. The data is where the value is – the critical component, to be exploited and protected. Workloads, however, can be approached in a more brokered manner.

Properly planned and executed, Hybrid Cloud allows the enterprise to benefit from the best of both the on-premises world and the Cloud world. The ability to select the best environment for each tool, service and resource – a mix which will be different in different industries, and even in different businesses within the same industry – delivers significant benefits in terms of cost, agility, flexibility and scalability.

Key to this is a comprehensive understanding of where you are and where you want to be, before you start putting policies or technology in place. The Logicalis Hybrid IT Workshop can help enormously with this, constructing a clear view of where you are now, and where you want to be.

In the workshop we assess your top applications and services, where they reside and how they’re used in your business. We then look at where you want to get to. Do you want to own your assets, or not? Do you want to take a CAPEX route or an OPEX route? Do you have an inherent Cloud First strategy? What are your licensing issues?

We then use our own analysis tools, developed from our real world experience with customers, to create visualisations showing where you are today, where you want to eventually be and our recommended plan to bridge the gap, in terms of people, processes, technology and phases.

Hybrid Cloud offers significant benefits, but needs to be carefully planned and executed. To find out more about how Logicalis can help, see our website or call us on +44 (0)1753 77720.

Category: Hybrid IT

Neil Thurston
December 8, 2016

Nature has a balance, yin and yang, where apparent opposite forces complement each other. This is the goal of hybrid IT to blend the apparent opposites of in-house IT and public clouds and deliver seamless services to end users. This can be achieved by delivering the right mix of on premise and cloud services, 2 with consistent operational management, automation, security and service management across them.

Sitting in-between on premise and cloud infrastructures and the delivered services is a software layer – the hybrid IT operating system. This ‘operating system’ includes the software-defined data centre, the policy-based and self-service automation platform and the telemetry for analytics, security and service management platforms. What hybrid IT operating system you choose depends on your ideology.

The first ideology is ‘push’. Push says that you take the technologies, skills, processes and tools that you operate on premise and you try and replicate those in the cloud. This enables a hybrid IT transition, rather than transformation. If you use VMware virtualisation on premise this would mean using a VMware-based public clouds (such as Logicalis Optimal Cloud, IBM Bluemix or VMware on AWS in 2017) and VMware cross-cloud services across these environments (such as cross-cloud vMotion).

The second ideology is ‘pull’. Pull says that you take the technologies that the cloud operates and you replicate those on premise and refresh your skills, processes and tools accordingly. This requires a transformation, which itself presents an opportunity to review and modernise your processes and tools. If you invest heavily in Microsoft this could mean using Azure cloud and platform services and then implementing Azure Stack and Hyper-V on premise and using Azure Portal to manage everything.

There’s no right or wrong ideology – each has its own benefits and drawbacks. The reasons for choosing one way over the other include cost and risk but also the expected mix of on premise and cloud based services – for example, if you expect to have >50% on premise infrastructure then push is potentially more advantageous – and vice versa.

What’s clear is that hybrid IT is the future state of IT. Regulations, security, bespoke workloads, etc will always err towards on premise services, whilst digital users and lines of business will gravitate towards the on-demand, elastic, pay-as-you-go cloud. Hybrid IT is required to blend these services together, delivering these in a consistent approach will drive operational, service and cost efficiencies. All you need to ask yourself is ‘push’ or ‘pull’?

Category: Hybrid IT

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