Hybrid cloud opportunity to reassess IT
In the era of hybrid cloud, connectivity fabrics are essential in metropolitan areas, as well as in connecting data centres, to allow organisations to plug into clouds.
This was a point made by Luke Harrison, global solutions architect with Equinix, at the recent TechFire on hybrid cloud computing.
Such fabrics, said Harrison, provide “help for those with a hybrid cloud target”.
Private interconnections, combined with automation and orchestration controls, allow programmatically controlled access to the public cloud world, he said.
Hybrid cloud is facilitating digital transformation, both internally and outward facing to customers, said Joe Brady, CIO, Evros Technology Group.
The ecosystem of services available in the cloud, said Brady, was allowing providers and technology partners to ask clients if they wanted to “port or pivot” when it comes to moving to the cloud.
Brady said hybrid cloud was allowing new conversations with a more transformative scope than was previously possible.
The panel discussion opened with the common pitfalls and oversights that organisations typically bring to the hybrid cloud environment.
In assessing this, the audience was asked for a show of hands to establish who regarded their organisation as already being hybrid cloud users. Around two thirds of those present said they were, with a further 10% saying they were in the assessment phase.
Pat Brennan, head of IT, Kingspan Insulation, in relating his organisation’s journey, said that due diligence was key.
“Know what you have and why you have it before you even consider looking at moving anything to cloud,” Brennan warned. “Think about the needs of the business and then the needs of the workloads and go from there. Know what is on offer and whether taking full advantage means that you are tied to that provider. Some people fear vendor lock in but that’s not necessarily a bad thing if it suits your needs.”
Brennan said that when his company was looking at cloud services, they were not found wanting, which prompted the question as to whether organisations should just jump in, as it were, and experiment to see what works for them.
Harrison was an advocate of this approach, assuring that, from the solution architect’s perspective, all the elements were there to do pretty much anything desired.
Brennan sounded a note of caution, reiterating the need for rigorous assessment of needs before going anywhere, while Brady struck a middle ground, adding that organisations should not overcommit, and consequently should be able to pull back if necessary, with Brennan in agreement.
When put to the audience, for a reaction, one attendee commented that their organisation had experienced unexpectedly high costs when scaling to the upper end of capabilities.
Brennan said he was somewhat surprised by this, as in his experience, costs were generally predictable based on usage.
“It depends on what problem you are trying to address,” said Brennan, “whether it is just offloading your infrastructure management or trying to move to an OpEx model. There are lots of options out there to address all those of those problems.”
A further show of hands from the audience confirmed that cost was not a determining factor when assessing, or choosing to continue the usage of hybrid cloud services.
One attendee added that what appealed for their organisation was the storage capability available from the cloud. He said a hardware refresh cycle made them look to cloud for low level storage capacity.
Brady said for high performance, low-latency, high access storage is still very expensive. But the equivalent of the lower tiers of storage is cheap on the cloud.
A question from the floor to Kinspan’s Brennan asked about the biggest thing that was left behind on premises and not taken to the cloud.
Brennan confirmed that at the group level, the default position had been to move everything, but that for his division, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which were referred to as the “keys of the kingdom” was not moved, nor would it be envisaged currently.
The broader question was then asked, are there things typically, that organisations hold onto that they should not?
Brennan commented that he was sure there was, but that organisations should look on hybrid cloud and its potential as an opportunity to re-examine their estate and reaffirm why they have what they have.
Harrison added that it is important to understand the core business, even as an IT department, and then work from there.
“Whatever is not absolutely necessary for the core could probably be sent to the cloud, or at least consumed as a managed service,” said Harrison.
Brady added that security is an area that is very conservative, and, as a result, often misses out on capabilities they could get from cloud, especially as things change from a ‘castle walls’ approach to the more identity-based controls and protections.
A general question was put to the audience first and then the panel, about multi-cloud.
Few in the audience said they had heard to the term in any practical context.
Brady said it had come up on conversations with customers, but that it was a nebulous term, and one that is just a step along the way. From hybrid to multi-cloud is about control and orchestration, and also integration between workloads and services, he argued, and as such, the definition between a mature hybrid cloud usage model and a multi-cloud model is probably fairly narrow, if apparent at all.