Digitally transform with VMware’s strategic IT priorities

Jonathan D'Arcy, Asystec

A few recurring themes in digital transformation are what is driving application transformation

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15 March 2019 | 0

Over the past few years we have witnessed many sectors move their services to digital platforms. As consumer’s we can now create, view, edit or cancel anything, from pretty much anywhere, and on any device. We no longer need to travel somewhere and stand in a queue to make these changes. For these service providers they have drastically increased customer loyalty, innovation, revenue and brand.

I read recently that in 2017 alone, consumers downloaded 178.1 billion mobile apps worldwide. This highlights that we really are in a digital world. To address and capture consumers, both business and IT are aligning around applications as the driver for digital transformation. Businesses are realising that the value is in both the software interface and the product itself. Take for example Uber, Google and Nest. Personally, I find their software interfaces are excellent. They provide seamless user experience that differentiates themselves from the competition. Taking things that are complex and masking them to be simplistic, intuitive and innovative. Ultimately this is how most businesses want and need to be perceived in the marketplace.

Generally, when speaking to our customers there are a few recurring themes around digital transformation and how this is actually driving application transformation. Businesses realise that to provide better customer experiences and competitive differentiation, new areas need to be explored. This can include Cloud, DevOps, IoT, Edge and so on. At the same, time value needs to be unlocked from their current investments; ultimately this means IT needs to be more agile while at the same time controlling costs and reducing risk.

To digitally transform, there are key areas needed to provide frictionless acceleration. If the business is to truly implement transformational solutions it requires change of infrastructure and culture. For infrastructure a large proportion of businesses may already have a strong foundation with which to build for the future, that foundation is VMware vSphere.

VMware has four strategic IT priorities that build on the success of vSphere that creates business agility, innovation, exceptional mobile experiences, protection of brand and customer trust.

When modernising the datacentre, you want a platform that is both present and future ready for workloads. One such workload is containers, developers can spin up containers from images to quickly build microservices based application architecture

Modernise datacentres
The first strategic IT priority is to modernise datacentres. With VMware’s SDDC (Software Defined Data centre) the infrastructure is in software, everything is policy based and elastic. We can manage the digital platform’s infrastructure like Lego building blocks — when the platform needs to grow it can be done linearly through policy control. By doing things in software agility, security and efficiency are delivered in a predictable way. Automation reduces inconsistencies and manual effort to further drive down costs while increasing service delivery through ITaaS.

Software allows for new ways to solve legacy problems. One of these is wide area networking and more specifically MPLS networking. With NSX SD-WAN by Velocloud, intelligence sits into hardware appliances that can utilise MPLS or different (less costly broadband, 4G LTE, Cable) links on traffic, all controlled by a centralised cloud control plane and utilising intelligent dynamic multipath optimisation. This is an area where we are seeing real simplification and large cost savings for branch office deployments, edge use cases and direct secure branch breakout to SaaS services.

When modernising the datacentre, you want a platform that is both present and future ready for workloads. One such workload is containers, developers can spin up containers from images to quickly build microservices based application architecture. Workloads are ephemeral, and the environment is very dynamic. VMware’s SDDC provides a platform that is perfect for such workloads due to the “Lego” approach, policy control that being fully API driven. Pivotal Container Services (PKS) is a solution to operationalise enterprise grade Kubernetes at scale whether on premise or in the cloud.

Integrate Public Clouds
The second strategic priority is to integrate public clouds. Many industry experts say cloud is a strategy, not a destination. For agility, global scale and modern applications public cloud offers a great choice. For digital transformation projects having access to CaaS, FaaS or PaaS really accelerates innovation. However, to implement a native public cloud instance is not without its challenges, applications need to be re-architected, there are possible security concerns, cost and new skill requirements to name a few. It appears that “hybrid cloud” is proving to be the preferred approach offering the best of both world’s creating seamless on premise/public cloud platforms with interconnected full duplex highway’s. VMware cloud on AWS is such a service that combines the SDDC on premise with a fully managed VMware SDDC running on AWS hardware. This addresses the problems of re-architecting, re-factoring, re-training and Unexpected/inconsistent costs.

You can use the same known interfaces and tools (vCenter hybrid linked mode) to manage both environments essentially treating the public cloud as just another data centre for workload mobility, DRaaS, VDI or simply as data centre extensions. Albeit that other data centre has links into native cloud services, can scale within minutes based on policies and has global reach. The interesting point is that this service is called VMC on AWS. With a multi-cloud strategy who is to say there won’t be a VMC on (Some other public clouds in the future). It’s a very interesting strategy where arguably there is no public cloud lock-in.

Empower Digital Workspaces
The third strategic priority is to empower digital workspaces. When was the last time users in an organisation were asked how they would like to work? How are the services that are provided, how easy is it to get their job done? This is where we can start with the user and Provide them with seamless user experience for accessing any app on any device across any use case. Same single sign experience to applications while implementing heightened security and data loss prevention mechanisms. An important point is that VMware’s strategy is to be a platform, one that a partner solution ecosystem can leverage. More than likely our customers have already invested in CASB solutions and endpoint security. By federating with existing solutions it heightens the value and investment protection.

All at the same time addressing security through conditional access and adaptive management. Jack Madden (of BrianMadden.com) stated that “conditional access is the most important EUC movement since mobile and cloud”. Workspace One leads this movement through combining device and identity security for the enterprise, seamless experience for the user. It’s a scalable consumer simple/enterprise secure platform.

Transform security
The fourth strategic priority is to transform security. Security spending is increasing year over year with it predicted to be over $124 billion in 2019. VMware is heavily innovating in this area due to the hypervisor being in a very unique position. The hypervisor can observe workloads and apply granular east-west security policies to the network and the components of applications and OS.

Over the last number of years, a new way to provide security has been established through NSX with micro-segmentation, virtual machine and vSAN data at rest encryption and most recently AppDefense with vSphere Platinum. Looking at good instead of constantly chasing bad. We know bad things are going to happen but if the hypervisor can build a picture of what’s “good” and anything deviates from the good state a remediation action can be performed.

There is a very impressive overlap across security and cloud and that is NSX Cloud. If resources are being consumed natively across AWS or Azure, NSX Cloud can provide that same micro-segmentation and network services with VPC’s or VNet’s without access to the hypervisor layer. This is allowing organisations to truly have centralised policy applied whether workloads are on premise or natively in the cloud.

There are many solution’s that branch from these four strategic priorities. if there are areas where you feel we can assist feel free to reach out to us. We would be delighted to prove the IT and business value of these solutions and be part of your digital transformation journey.

Jonathan D’Arcy is lead systems engineer with Asystec

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