Digitally Speaking

Scott Reynolds
May 10, 2018

As the benefits of hybrid IT have become clear, it has evolved from a temporary state to the chosen environment for many organisations looking to thrive.

Every organisation, regardless of size or sector, has a digital strategy. In fact, it’s hard to believe that IT once lingered on the fringes of business operations and decisions when today it is front and centre – a driving force behind both individual projects and overall business objectives.

And for the vast majority of organisations, it’s difficult to speak about digital strategy without mentioning cloud.

In fact, cloud’s ever-growing role and potential benefits are so widely publicised that it can feel almost unavoidable. After all, if your competitors adopt ‘cloud first’ strategies and you chose not to- don’t you risk getting left behind?

But, cloud doesn’t have to be all or nothing…

Enter hybrid IT

With hybrid IT, organisations can bring in cloud-based services that will run in parallel with their existing on-premise hardware. This may not necessarily be a new concept. However, its full potential is rarely realised.

Instead, more often than not, hybrid IT is built into digital strategies as a stepping stone to cloud and, as such, considered the transitional phase on a much bigger journey. It’s useful, but it’s also temporary… Simply a vehicle to get you and your organisation where you need to be by enabling you to join the elite and become a ‘cloud first’ company.

And it’s true, hybrid IT is a very useful tool for organisations looking to make the first small steps into a new cloud-centric world. You can test the waters by investing in new cloud-based technologies, without being all-in.

But hybrid IT can also open up the door to a whole new world of possibilities, enabling businesses to operate in- and therefore reap the benefits associated with- both on-premise and cloud environments.

Many organisations have started to realise this and- as a result- the concept of hybrid IT is transitioning from a temporary phase to a preferred way to do business. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2020 90% of organisations will have adopted a hybrid infrastructure.

But what are the key drivers behind this shift?

The best of both worlds

Traditional IT or cloud technologies… it used to be a one-stop choice that organisations had to make. And once you made it, all your application workloads and databases were assigned to one environment. You were effectively tied into that environment until you actively decided to change and, with significant effort and probably financial cost, you made steps to convert.

But, by using hybrid IT, organisations no longer have to commit to a single environment. They can have the best of both worlds and benefit from aligning specific workloads and applications to specific platforms. hybrid IT grants:

The scalability and cost efficiency of cloud technologies

There’s no doubt about it, scaling a traditional infrastructure can be very expensive. By making the most of hybrid IT- and utilising the public cloud and private cloud environments, businesses can upscale IT operations quickly and at minimal cost – which is particularly useful for shorter-term projects. But, it doesn’t stop there… with hybrid IT, organisations can also downscale their operations. In effect, everything can be driven to reflect the actual demands being placed upon the business, saving both resource and money.

And if organisations are saving resource in those areas, it leaves more room for innovation. The exciting new projects that often have to be pushed aside due to more pressing concerns, such as keeping the lights on, can become a reality.

The security and consistency of traditional IT

IDC recently discovered that the number one barrier to adopting cloud-based technologies continues to be security concerns – with 72% of business leaders agreeing it was a real issue. Whether these fears are well founded or not, the fact remains that- sometimes- public cloud may not meet an organisation’s strict security requirements. Hybrid IT grants peace of mind, enabling organisations to benefit from cloud technologies while keeping their most valuable and sensitive data on premise.

Hybrid IT is also often used in disaster recovery strategies. In our digital world, suffering an IT outage is every organisation’s worst nightmare. Why? Because the downtime that organisations suffer as a result can have a devastating and lasting impact, both financially and in terms of future reputation. By having primary data copied and stored in two different locations, organisations can recover faster while keeping downtime to a minimum.

Above all, hybrid IT gives organisations the freedom to make their own choices. It merges the best of old world technology with new world thinking. And, just as digital is no longer the sole territory of IT departments, it’s set to infiltrate the boardroom and play a key role in all future business decisions.

After all, hybrid IT is an enabler, allowing business leaders to make the right digital decision for their business, whether that is traditional IT, cloud-based technologies or a mixture of the two.

Contact us to find out more about Hybrid IT and how we can help you leverage it

Originally posted on Information Age, 24 April 2018

 

Category: Hybrid IT

Scott Reynolds
July 25, 2017

The amount of data that businesses generate and manage continues to explode. IBM estimates that across the world, 2.3 trillion gigabytes of data are created each day and this will rise to 43 trillion gigabytes by 2020.

From transactions and customer records to email, social media and internal record keeping – today’s businesses create data at rates faster than ever before. And there’s no question that storing and accessing this data presents lots of challenges for business. How to keep up with fast growing storage needs, without fast growing budgets? How to increase storage capacity without increasing complexity? How to access critical data without impacting on the speed of business?

It’s increasingly obvious that traditional storage can’t overcome these challenges. By simply adding more capacity, costs go up for both storage and management. And manually working with data across different systems can become an administrative nightmare – adding complexity, and taking up valuable IT resource.

So, what can you do? It’s likely that you’ve already got an existing infrastructure and for many, scrapping it and starting again, just isn’t an option. This is where flash and software-defined-storage (SDS) could be your saviour. Flash and tape aren’t mutually exclusive, and by separating the software that provides the intelligence from the traditional hardware platform, you gain lots of advantages including flexibility, scalability and improved agility.

So I could add to what I already have?

Yes. Flash and tape aren’t mutually exclusive. Lots of businesses use a mix of the old and the new – what’s important is how you structure it. Think of it like a well-organised wardrobe. You need your everyday staples close at hand, and you store the less frequently worm items, also known in the UK as the summer wardrobe (!), where you can access them if you need them but not in prime position.

Your data could, and should work like this. Use flash for critical workloads that require real-time access and use your older tape storage for lower priority data or lower performance applications.

But won’t it blow my budget?

No, the cost of Flash systems has come down over the last few years and the lower costs to operate make savings over the long term. It’s been proven that the virtualisation of mixed environments can store up to five times more data and that analytics driven hybrid cloud data management reduces costs by up to 73%. In fact, we estimate that with automatic data placement and management across storage systems, media and cloud, it’s possible to reduce costs by up to 90%!

So how do I know what system will work for me?

Well, that’s where we come in. At Logicalis we’ve got over 20 years of experience working with IBM systems. Our experts work with clients to help them scope out a storage solution that meets their needs today, and the needs they’ll have tomorrow.

We start with a Storage Workshop that looks at the existing infrastructure and what you’re hoping to achieve. We’ll look at how your data is currently structured and what changes you could make to improve what you already have – reducing duplication and using the right solution for the right workload. We’ll then work with you to add software and capacity that will protect your business and won’t blow your budget.

If you want to hear more about the solutions on offer, feel free to contact us.

Category: Hybrid IT

Scott Reynolds
July 12, 2017

£170m lost on the London Stock Market just over a week, and untold damage to the “World’s Favourite Airline”. That’s the cost within the UK to the International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways, after BA’s recent ‘Power Outage’ incident.

“It wasn’t an IT failure. It’s not to do with our IT or outsourcing our IT. What happened was in effect a power system failure or loss of electrical power at the data centre. And then that was compounded by an uncontrolled return of power that took out the IT system.” Willie Walsh (IAG Supremo) during a telephone interview with The Times.

Willie has since inferred that the outage was caused by the actions of an engineer who disconnected and then reconnected a power supply to the data centre in “an uncontrolled and un-commanded fashion”. Could this then actually have something to do with the IT outsource after all, and did a staff member go rogue, or was it down to poor training and change control…?

For me what this highlights is the need to place greater emphasis on availability and uptime of those systems that support critical parts of a business or organisations services and offering. Along with robust processes and automation where possible to minimise the impact of an unplanned outage.

All businesses should expect their systems to fail. Sometimes it can be a physical failure of the infrastructure supporting the data centre (Power, UPS’s, Generators, Cooling etc.). It can be the power supply itself. Computing, Storage or the Network equipment can fail. Software and systems can suffer an outage. Plus it can also come down ‘Human Error’ or poor maintenance of core systems or infrastructure.

Coping with a Power Failure

Even if you have two power feeds to your building, and even if they’re from two different power sub-stations, and run through two different street routes, those sub-stations are still part of the same regional and national power grid. If the grid fails, so does your power. No way around it, except to make your own. Power Surge’s are handled by monitoring the power across Cabinet PDU’s, Critical PDU’s, UPS’s, Generators & Transformers, while assigning Maximum Load to all cabinets to make sure that we do not overload our customers systems.

Recovering from a Disaster

Recovering from a disaster is something that all organisation plan for, however not all have a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan as there are some that consider High Availability (HA) to be more than sufficient. However HA only provides a localised system for failover, whereas DR is designed to cope with a site failure.

The challenge with DR for many of our customers is the cost;

  • First you need to prioritise which applications workloads you want to failover in the event of a disaster.
  • Second you need to purchase and manage infrastructure and licensing for these workloads with continuous replication.
  • Third you need a 2nd location.
  • Fourth you need a robust DR plan that allows you to recover your workloads at the 2nd location.
  • Then lastly (which is considered harder) you’ll need to fail back these services once the primary site has been recovered.

This can be an expensive option, but this is also where things like Cloud DR-as-a-Service can help minimise any expenditure, and the pain associated with owning and managing a DR environment.

Reducing the impact of an outage

Minimising the impact of any form of physical failure should be a priority over recovering from an outage. Workflow Automation can help a business maintain uptime of applications and services. This can be defined as a policy where services can be moved to other systems locally, or all services can be re-provisioned to a DR location or a DR platform in the event of outage caused either by a power issue or human error. Helping a business minimise the risk and the impact of outage.

I’ll let you come to your own conclusions as to whether British Airways should adopt a robust change control, automation or DR policy. Logicalis can assist and provide you with a number of options custom to your particular needs so that you are not the next press headliner.

Scott Reynolds
December 12, 2016

In the year of Brexit and Trump, Scott Reynolds, Hybrid IT practice lead, predicts that electronic digital crime will explode, data privacy breaches will claim scalps, automation will be 2017’s buzzword and the open source movement will challenge profit-making business models in his 2017 tech predictions.

It’s the time of year to engage in the oh-so risky game of making predictions for what is going to be hot for our customers in the coming year. Risky, because stunning twists and turns can take us off course at any point.

After the Brexit referendum and US Elections results confounded political and polling pundits, life’s certainties appear far less certain. Suddenly identifying the big winners in 2017 seems a less straight forward affair. But as a person that doesn’t mind living life on the edge – I thought I’d take a punt anyway. Here are my top tech predictions for 2017.

Security Breaches – the worst is yet to come

Based on the number of high profile data breaches, 2016 hasn’t been a great year for digital. The stable door has been left open by companies and government departments around the world. Armies of Terminator 2 Cyborgs in the guise of home CCTV cameras are attacking the very infrastructure of the internet. I fear we’re only at the beginning of an escalation of electronic digital crime.

2017 will test the nerve of governments, businesses, citizens and consumers and challenge the perception of digital as a safe and secure way of doing business, unless there’s a massive investment in Fort Knox equivalent defences and white hat skills.

Data Privacy

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) emanating from Europe is going to hurt businesses who don’t take data privacy seriously. That is a problem, as evidence suggests companies are unaware of their obligations under this new punitive legislative regime and are taking too long to grab hold of the GDPR tail.

It’s highly possible fines of up to 4% of Global Turnover will take some companies out of business in 2017, and beyond.

One Small Change for Mankind, One Giant Leap Forward for Automation

The IT industry is about to enter a time of mass automation…..about time. To our shame, we’ve lagged behind other industries. You can now buy a car that can park itself with the touch of a button, but you need 24 buttons to change the configuration of a router.

Increased levels of automation will manifest itself in robotic decision making, the automation of security systems to guard against, and respond to an avalanche of security threats, and automated provisioning of resource in the data centre and network (Software Defined).

Things Can Only Get Bigger

The Internet of Things is going to get bigger and more impactful. Gartner Group is still predicting that by 2020 there will be 50 billion things connected to the internet – that’s only three years away. In 2017, expect to see mass engagement by businesses in all sectors.

Hopefully we’ll move on from talking about the connected fridge that can order more lettuce when you run out, and recognise that IoT will fundamentally change how industries and organisations operate.

Open Source – Somebody wants to do everything you do for free

Somebody, somewhere, is trying to do what you charge for, at much lower cost, or even for free. Open isn’t a thing, it’s a movement. We’re already seeing Open Source technologies impact our industry; with Open Stack being the new operating system of choice for those companies not wanting to ‘pay’ for mainstream software. Open technologies in automation, such as Puppet and Chef, now have a groundswell of support, and are evangelical about companies who want to delight people rather than turn a profit.

We’ve also witnessed a growing willingness to embrace Open Computing technologies. Now, Open isn’t without its complications and ultimately nothing in life is free – operating an open environment is still a complicated affair. But I think we’ll see a lot more traction, with many of our customers taking Open Source seriously, over the next 12 months.

2017 Tech predictions – a risky game

So, those are my top five tech trends for 2017. Now you’re probably decrying – how could I overlook analytics? I haven’t. I fully acknowledge that analytics and data are core to all the above. They will need to be embedded in the very fabric of a business, to bring my predictions to fruition. Otherwise, you can disregard everything I just said. As I said, making predictions is a risky game.

Scott Reynolds
December 5, 2016

In the third of a nine-part series drawing on the Logicalis Global CIO study, Scott Reynolds explains why apps are central to digital transformation.

The statement ‘Every company is a software company’ has been on repeat over the last few years. When it was first uttered it was more of a future-gazing, stake-in-the-ground pronouncement – and its application to today’s world is probably still a bit premature. Not every business is a software business, yet – but our global CIO survey suggests that we’re getting there, with the help of a few shining lights along the way.

In 2013, Forbes noted that Ford sells computers-on-wheels and FedEx boasts a developer skunkworks (a loosely structured group of people who research and develop a project primarily for the sake of radical innovation.) Both are great examples of the happy union between traditional industries and technology industries – and, today, they are not as isolated as you might think. Over 700 CIOs now tell us that 77% of firms are similarly developing apps, either in-house, with the help of third parties or drawing on a combination of internal and external skills.

In fact, not only is the volume of companies getting up close and personal with application development starting to swell, but app development as a strategic activity is also attracting more attention. Rather than being relegated to the fringes, application development is increasingly taking to the centre ground. Today, less than a quarter of apps (23%) are purely promotional. The majority are being used to build new services and revenue (57%) or streamline business processes (63%).

Developing for digital

We tend to associate apps with the Apple app store or the Android marketplace but they’re so much more than website spin-offs for mobile users. Enterprise-grade applications are replacing ‘big tech’. With the goal of putting automation at their core and providing friction less self-service experiences, companies are bringing workloads up to the application level.

In the past, we’ve emphasised the benefits of instituting a Dev-Ops strategy to develop code with fewer defects and support challenges once they’re released into production. My message to the 64% of businesses developing apps in-house would be to take a digital performance readiness approach and embrace agile from the beginning. Allowing updates to be made quickly and regularly, for constant refinement will create ‘killer apps’ with a punch to disrupt for the better.

Apps = Smart software

As the research attests, all sorts of companies are creating their own luck and doing some sort of app wizardry to get ahead.

Book publishers in the business of printing books are transforming themselves into software companies to offer digital content and branded applications. Airline companies are building equipment-tracking apps to provide engineers with a live view of the locations of each piece of airline maintenance equipment and pharmaceutical companies are creating medication temperature monitoring apps, which use sensors to ensure the best possible delivery of medical supplies.

Overall, apps are making firms a lot smarter. Their ability to gather tremendous amounts of data from sensors and other sources, using machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics makes them the brains behind a company’s transformation and the driving force behind our respondents’ digital transformation journey. Channelling James Carville, Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist, “it’s the apps, stupid”.

Category: SDN / Mobility

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