IT infrastructure: DIY, templates or vendor ecosystem?

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11 April 2016 | 0

Enterprise IT infrastructure has become ever more sophisticated and complicated in recent times, with influences such as software defined networking and storage, as well as web-style scalability, vying for attention alongside more monolithic legacy approaches.

In this context, is it better to go your own way, adopt the templates available from Google, Amazon and Facebook, or deploy the building blocks of a vendor cloud?

“There are pros and cons to every approach and when it comes to the idea of open-source server design where you build it yourself, then that is a route only suited to the very largest of organisations. There is a threshold somewhere around 10,000 servers where that begins to make sense just based on the complexity and difficult of management support,” said Art Coughlan, cloud and enterprise business lead with Microsoft.

Art Coughlan, business group lead, cloud and enterprise, Microsoft

I see an awful lot customers assess converged infrastructure solutions; they’re very attractive to many of them. They’re proven, they’re fully integrated, they’re supported, and there’s a lot of those aspects that make them very attractive. But in some cases there is also a cost barrier with your monolithic or converged solutions, whereby the amount of up-front investment that people need to commit is not aligned with their rate of growth in their IT infrastructure or the IT budget, Art Coughlan, Microsoft

“Obviously the build-your-own hardware angle is not suited to the majority of Irish customers, and aside from ourselves and other mega-scale tech providers, I don’t see it being a very prevalent approach. After that you have the approach which is to build-it-yourself from industry standard components.”

Cost prohibitive
Coughlan suggests that companies taking standard servers, networking and storage can relatively easily build out standard converged infrastructure solutions. However, cost can be a prohibitive factor.

“I see an awful lot customers assess converged infrastructure solutions; they’re very attractive to many of them. They’re proven, they’re fully integrated, they’re supported, and there’s a lot of those aspects that make them very attractive. But in some cases there is also a cost barrier with your monolithic or converged solutions, whereby the amount of up-front investment that people need to commit is not aligned with their rate of growth in their IT infrastructure or the IT budget,” he said.

“After assessing the converged infrastructure solutions, in many cases there may be a cost barrier, where the minimum investment you get with converged solution may be prohibitive, based on the customer’s buying cycle or the rate at which their infrastructure or demand for infrastructure is growing.”

That can make this arrangement quite inflexible because it is far from on-demand, and users have to commit to a minimum level to get a certain number of servers and a certain amount of storage.

“That would be the reason why people may elect to build it for themselves from industry standard component versus buying pre-integrated converged infrastructure. And again within the Irish market, it would certainly be the larger organisations such as banks and manufacturing companies, as well as larger government departments, who might see this as the way to go,” Coughlan said.

Fast Track templates
Microsoft offers templates under the technical name Fast Track solutions with HP, Dell, Cisco, Fujitsu and IBM. According to Coughlan, if customers are willing to design and deploy aligned with Fast Track solutions, they will get a very reliable private cloud infrastructure.

“The Microsoft offering is based on having a hybrid cloud which goes beyond the hardware infrastructure and into the software layer. We enable them to use a common platform around the hypervisor, the identity and the database, regardless of whether they wish to deploy in their private data centre infrastructure or in public cloud,” he said.

On the subject of cost, Arkphire’s chief information officer Howard Roberts suggests that the DIY approach can seem cheap at the outset, but that is usually because some of the costs are not as readily apparent as they could be.

Apparent costs
“It’s the total cost of ownership you need to look at — the cost of owning and maintaining the system, and the cost of employing the people who will maintain it for you. Those costs add up. If you have the people already then it can look cheaper at the outset but that doesn’t reflect the overall cost. Those kind of systems also require more feeding and watering over time,” he said.

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