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Moving On Up: Hierarchy of IT Needs and the Cloud

by Stephanie Wong

IT has come a long way from providing IT infrastructure and application services to being a driver of business change. This evolution has been one of the most widely covered topics by analysts and IT pundits — encouraging IT leadership and staff to take a broader role in business and the market. However, this is only possible if IT were to build on the right foundation, allowing IT to move up their own equivalent of Maslow hierarchy of needs.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that cloud services, ranging from moving existing workloads to managed private cloud to leverage hybrid clouds when modernizing applications to consuming commoditized, but critical services like CRM as SaaS are actively being explored and used to abstract and make lower level IT functions invisible.  A recent data point can be found in the recent Enterprise Cloud Index where over 91% of IT organizations surveyed reported hybrid clouds as their ideal IT platform for business-critical workloads. The findings echo the numerous conversations with attendees at two recent industry events: NRF 2019 and Mobile World Congress 2019.

Attendees from both shows spoke about not wanting to deal with lower level IT infrastructure including daily operations and instead focusing on business initiatives. For example, in retail NRF attendees talked about real-time analysis of sales and stocking, omnichannel and enhancing their customer’s buying experience. At MWC, the SPs talked about focusing on adopting tech like software-defined networking, 5G/Private LTE, etc and delivering value-added services like unified communication and collaboration that they can monetize. None of them were passionate about managing the 1,000’s of servers and storage across their organization — datacenters to remote locations to the edge— with associated services like virtualization and containers.

These conversations inadvertently veered to automation including operational tasks like monitoring and reporting, infrastructure and application provisioning; agile development including CI/CD; creating a hybrid/multicloud strategy for their applications using on-premises and external/hosted cloud services. A lot has been written about these topics including this ebook O’Reilly’s guide on Hybrid Clouds, this blog series on agile development and DevOps (>part 1 | part 2) and this blog on CI/CD.

Here are the options for running/hosting the applications (and the corresponding business function). This was previously covered in the blog titled Back to the Basic: Options for Cloud.

  • On-Prem or hosted private cloud — this is IT’s own i.e. dedicated infrastructure stack. Typical deployment scenario would be for workloads that are predictable in their usage i.e. capacity and require high performance and security. The location of the private cloud is changing as organizations are giving up maintaining their data centers and leverage hosting at DC vendors like Cyxtera and QTS.
  • Managed private cloud—this is a specialized case of private cloud offered by Service Providers where they offload management and operations giving end-users the ability to focus on applications through VMs and containers.
  • Public or shared cloud—most popular scenario for the hyperscalers like AWS where applications in VMs and containers in a shared or even multi-tenant cloud environment.
  • Hybrid cloud—when IT has workloads leveraging two or more clouds in unison, whether is a combination of on-prem and hosted private clouds or public cloud services with managed private cloud.
  • SaaS—According to analysts, SaaS is the ultimate form of cloud. End users consume a service. The ideal scenario for commoditized or standardized functions where there is little value add maintaining / running the application. Numerous vendors have been hugely successful in delivering functions like CRM or HRM as a SaaS. Nutanix delivers our Beam cloud cost optimization and governance functionality as a SaaS.
  • Legacy infrastructure— Traditional infrastructure in end-users environments leveraging specialists for managing their respective functions.

Look at modernizing infrastructure to leverage cloud like functionality as you evaluate choices for running applications. IDC analyst Ritu Jyoti captured a high level checklist in a 2018 report titled Digital Transformation and Cloud Computing Driving IT Transformation: Are You Ready on steps for IT Transformation tied back to the cataloging and IT infrastructure modernization.

What datacenter/transformations initiatives are you and your organization passionate about these days? Where is your organization in your cloud journey? Share your thoughts with your peers in our NEXT community here.

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