How to integrate on-premises datacenters with public clouds

My Post - 2019-11-01T183004.771The integration between on-premises datacenters and one or more public clouds is what we now call a hybrid cloud setup.

As opposed to multicloud, which involves multiple public clouds without any on-premises datacenters infrastructure in the mix, hybrid clouds offer its users the ability to keep sensitive or “high-priority” data on-premises. Hybrid cloud setups are becoming increasingly popular in both the finance and health-care sectors as both these sectors have quite specific regulations around security and privacy, as well as zero tolerance for latency issues. Imagine a lagging computer on a stock market floor or in an emergency room of a hospital. Sounds scary, but it’s never going to happen because there are regulations in place that keep important stuff like that on-premises. That doesn’t mean that banks and hospitals don’t want all that other good stuff that comes from the cloud though, like GPU instances or AI and deep-learning-powered services that recognize speech and images.

Bridging the gap

Cost is also a major factor that drives organizations toward a hybrid setup, especially when variable workloads are involved. A hybrid setup lets you use your regular on-premises datacenters infrastructure to handle normal workloads and switch to public clouds for “cloud bursts.” This is no easy feat, however, and is certainly more complicated than running a multicloud setup. This is because the different cloud and on-premises resources not only use different APIs and management interfaces but are often based on completely different technologies that were never meant to integrate with each other. In fact, according to a research study by DataCenterKnowledge, one of the most common problems with hybrid cloud adoption is getting legacy applications to work alongside modern cloud-native ones. Patching the two together always comes at a performance cost and when we’re talking about business-critical applications, that isn’t really an option for organizations that have thousands of customers depending on them.

While there are a number of advantages to this hybrid model such as flexible usage-based pricing models, almost zero setup cost, and on-demand access to virtually unlimited resources, getting it all to work together is still a work in progress. This means that even though a large number of organizations have adopted this setup and are using it efficiently, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all or “foolproof” solution to the problem yet. Several platforms help you get there, however, and even some new ones that are quite promising with regards to supporting a truly hybrid infrastructure. This means supporting as many integration scenarios as possible since hybrid clouds typically encompass quite an assortment of hardware, operating systems, and APIs. This is where the platforms come in and try to make it all easier to manage, preferably with a single control pane for both your on-premises datacenters and your public clouds.

AWS Outposts

Outposts was released by Amazon Web Services in November 2018 as part of a major push toward making the hybrid cloud feasible. As opposed to making software that’s compatible with your on-premises equipment, AWS goes old-school here and gives you new on-premises equipment that’s compatible with its cloud. These are delivered to your datacenters in the form of preconfigured racks where AWS services can be run just as they would in the cloud. In addition to being fully managed by AWS and able to run legacy apps in a cloud-native manner, Outposts also allows you to keep AWS services like compute and storage on-premises. Though this method works well since you’re effectively swapping out all your hardware and software for AWS compatible stuff, a complete datacenter “lock-in” isn’t a tempting offer for everyone. Since a big part of what the hybrid cloud represents is freedom and options, buying hardware managed by AWS limits both. – Read more

4 Keys Steps to Cloud: From assessment to transformation

My Post - 2019-11-01T182020.051.pngHere, UKCloud explains how businesses can take advantage of Data Centre Modernisation, whilst still focusing on their core business and avoiding key pitfalls of digital transformation

So, you’ve decided you’d like to reap the benefits of Data Centre Modernisation; reducing costs, increasing your operational agility and spending more time focusing on your core business. But you may be left wondering what you need to do, what approaches you can take and some of the key pitfalls to avoid.

You have realised that your organisation needs to adopt multiple cloud services – but that’s a long way from where you are today. You are facing a myriad of existing systems, technologies and contracts that you need to disentangle. But you don’t have the capacity or expertise to properly focus on turning your vision into an executable plan.

Without a coherent plan, your use of cloud is tactical and piecemeal. It’s difficult to keep control of these new cloud services whilst also keeping your existing IT afloat. In effect, things are getting worse – and you need them to get better.

4 Key Steps to Cloud: High-level

Recognising these challenges, we have identified four keys steps that can simplify, de-risk and accelerate your journey to cloud as outlined below in Figure 1:

4 Key Steps to Cloud: Detailed

UKCloud provides a range of services at each step, that supports organisations as they progress their journey to the cloud. Figure 2. shows some examples of the type of work we recommend and progress with our customers.

How can we help?

Our team of multi-cloud experts are at hand to help you with a clear path to cloud, no matter where you are on that journey. UKCloud provide expert, agnostic, multi-cloud advisory through a structured, modular approach. Each stage is supported by a defined, outcome focused workflow that delivers tailored, high value output enabling organisations to adopt cloud with confidence.

Our services are designed to support the specific procurement, assurance, security and connectivity needs of public sector organisations. Our portfolio of products and services are available via G-Cloud and other popular public sector frameworks and support cloud-based transformation programmes end-to-end or via discrete phases dependent on your requirements.

Why UKCloud for Professional Services?

Our methodology is informed by the 220+ digital transformation projects we have successfully completed within public Sector.

Our agnostic, multi-cloud approach and experience ensures appropriate and efficient solutions for business needs: the right workloads, on the right clouds.

Our team of experts provide pragmatic leadership and support that caters for the end-to-end cloud journey, spanning vision, strategy, migration and optimisation.

Our approach supports transformation programmes of varying scale & complexity using flexible tools, templates, reference architectures and methods tailored to individual organisation needs. – Read more

How to cut complexity from multi-cloud management

My Post - 2019-11-01T181144.077.pngThe journey to cloud is a competitive necessity for post modern businesses but it requires an effective environment to be successful, says IBM Services Middle East and Africa’s Hybrid Cloud Services Leader Gustavo Alvarez.

When IT leaders were elevated to the C-suite, the changes went much deeper than a humble title change. Suddenly, the entire team became the epicenter of the organisation, responsible for creating intelligent platforms that transformed the way customers were served and employees operated. But at the same time, all of the traditional responsibilities remained – maintenance, troubleshooting, admin. Today, multi-skilled IT teams must oversee a complex web of workflows, all while protecting data and maintaining regulatory compliance.

Delivering red hot enterprise IT performance without sacrificing security and simplicity is a real challenge in this kind of environment, where success requires the careful management of a web of infrastructure, platform, and operating models.

As they grapple with this challenge, my clients often voice similar concerns:

  • How do I maintain my organisation’s DevOps culture while satisfying the desire to standardise our operating model for multi-cloud?
  • How do I balance the economics of our infrastructure portfolio with our short-term performance goals?

The dilemma is not uncommon.

A recent report from IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that almost every company surveyed was using some form of cloud computing, with 85 percent using one or more cloud environment. Meanwhile, in our region, 70 percent of Dubai startups utilise cloud computing. However, an Ovum study showed that 80 percent of mission-critical workloads and sensitive data are still running on on-premise systems, due to performance and regulatory requirements.

Although such reluctance to go all in multi-cloud is understandable, the pressures of competition means your company can’t afford to be tentative. So, what can you do to enable and manage a broad spectrum of infrastructure, platform and operating model choices – across Private Cloud, public cloud and traditional IT – to maximum effect?

Here are three ways for starters.

1)   Prioritise standardisation and portability

Making an investment in wide-scale standardisation and portability should be a priority if simplifying your environment is the goal. Standardisation creates a system where the processes, tools and management you need to succeed are consistent across all IT environments. Not only does this reduce the time to implement and understand, it also simplifies management while reducing compatibility and cost.

Similarly, portability creates a system whereby data and applications can automatically move from platform to platform – across multiple clouds and on-premise, depending on where the workflow will perform best. Meanwhile, portability enables collaborative workflows to happen more easily, increasing your team’s agility.

2)   Establish a data-driven system

As for performance-based measures, establishing a data-driven system that capitalises on the vast swathes of information and insight derived from your operations has a hugely positive impact. By successfully marrying data insight with business strategy, you’ll help the C-suite, DevOps, and IT operations teams make decisions based upon deeper intelligence.

3)   Commit to IT-as-a-service

Finally, investing in IT-as-a-service (ITaaS) combines all of the above with the expertise of a specialist third-party to integrate and manage it all. Your internal team is freed up to be deployed where they’ll be most effective – as the drivers of transformative innovation and disruption.

Crucially, ITaaS also negates many of the hazards that a multi-cloud environment can bring – loss of insight, increased risk, and greater inefficiency. IBM’s own approach does so by mapping out prescriptive customer journey paths to multi-cloud, getting you to your infrastructure target as painlessly and cost-effectively as possible. All the solutions you need (platform, automation, managed services, and more) are also pre-defined and integrated with each other, nullifying complexity and further simplifying the management process.

And, while end-to-end multi-cloud services are ready for your organisation, you also gain the flexibility that comes with a modular construction. You can quickly add and remove services such as planning, migration, management, and governance to suit your ever-changing priorities. – Read more