Adrian De Luca

Cloud, eat in or take away?

Blog Post created by Adrian De Luca Employee on Nov 4, 2014

Any given Sunday, if you drop by the De Luca household at dinner time you will find us tucking into a freshly made aromatic wood oven pizza.  Being from Melbourne, I openly admit to being a food snob, which means even my take out pizza needs to notch up at least a couple of Michelin stars.  But despite my Italian heritage, I am simply incapable of replicating the authentic southern taste.  For this I entrust Rocco, a Nepalese born pizzaiolo with 20 years in the business.  And with a two-year-old boy unable to stay still for longer than 30 seconds, dining at home is the only way to savour it.


So what has our Sunday night ritual got to do with the business of running IT?


According to Albert Barron, a software architect at IBM, it turns out it’s a great way to explain the different cloud models.  With some minor changes, I thought I would use it explain the different Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) models.



In the context of enterprise application infrastructure, the “Made at Home” model is analogous to rolling up your sleeves to deliver the base of hardware, flavoring it with right software and services for your business and eating it at your own data center.  Yes I realize how weird that sounds, stay with me.


Although the “Made at Home” model has been the mainstay of building infrastructure for the past two decades, in the open systems world much of this is quickly moving to integrated infrastructure and consumed as a private cloud.  The trend is clear: in 2013 while shipments in servers and storage were subdued, IDC estimated over 3,200 integrated infrastructure units were shipped in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) alone, representing a 140% increase over the year before.  You take a vendors ingredients and recipe and cook it your own data center.  In our pizza analogy, it means taking a walk down the frozen food aisle and doing a “Take and Bake”.


To jump start your journey to the cloud, why is this a no brainer?  When it comes to designing and provisioning apps like Exchange, SharePoint and SQL, the ingredients are virtually the same for every environment, only the scale, or in our pizza example the number of slices change. The benefit of vendors assembling, testing and certifying an integrated solution instead of your internal IT department delivers various business benefits including increased agility though accelerating deployment and driving down operational costs from using more software automation.


On the other side, there is no doubt public cloud (the “Dining Out” model) is experiencing greater levels of adoption.  Complete extrication of infrastructure ownership and elastic pay-per-use pricing models makes the CIO look like a magician to the CFO. But while public cloud can make a great choice for certain workloads and data types, savvy CIO’s have come to realise public clouds alone will not meet all their requirements today.


This begs the question, why can’t I get the best of both?  Well the answer is you should, and you can, it’s called a Managed Hosted Private Cloud.


In the scheme of cloud terminology, it’s a mouthful I know, but it takes the agility and outsourcing attributes of public cloud and couples it with privacy, control and configuration customisation benefits of private cloud.  For the business, it allows you to meet sovereignty, governance and compliance requirements with greater surety.  For IT, it places you firmly in a position to outsource your infrastructure operations over time.  Back to our pizza analogy: it’s the “Pizza Delivered” option where the oven (Data Center) and gas/electric(Power/Cooling) and pizzaiolo (Experts) are thrown in.


Here are four reasons why building infrastructure this way makes sense;


It’s all about workload agility

Public clouds have not only helped keep IT budgets in check by moving transient workloads like like UAT and iterative ones like  DevOps onto lower cost resources, but it has enabled applications to be more “fluid” and rapidly evolve due to the relative ease in which instances can be spun up, spun down and destroyed.  Some applications also benefit from the regions and availability zones regions, especially web scale applications which connect thousands of millions of end users around the world.  Regions together with Content Delivery Networks in the cloud paradigm enable cloud providers to have fast response times to all of their customers regardless of their location.  These workloads have made public cloud not only popular, but a more sensible choice to deploy applications.  However, the reality is todays businesses run a patchwork of traditional applications, where releases are much more stable and performance is predictable. Furthermore, in a number of industry sectors, like banking, country based regulations strictly prohibit customer information and processing to leave the institution, relegating many core banking applications to stay on dedicated infrastructure.  This is where private cloud infrastructure cannot only provide the same agility as public cloud, but at a more sustainable cost point too.


Doing “Real” Cloud

If you ever bump into a CFO or procurement officer at a bar, ask them if they know their true cost of running IT?  I’m betting nine out of 10  would have no idea.


It’s not their fault; the fact is there are so many components beyond the procurement of infrastructure that most simply can’t do it.  Things like data center floor space, power, security and manpower are just difficult to account for.  And managing leases, where upgrades and terminus conditions are a financial nightmare.    A managed hosted (off-premises) private cloud not only allows track all of our resource utilisation at a more granular level thanks to the modern orchestration software, but significantly simplifies the commercial model by bundling all these components in a utility or pay-as-you-go schedule.


Addressing the talent deficit

Although IT skills have been accelerating over the past two decades, adapting the curriculum to keep pace with technology changes is a constant challenge for tertiary institutions.  In Asia Pacific, when it comes to cloud skills, according to this recent survey only one third of learners admit to having expert skills.  With such a deficit in skills, businesses employing in house expert skills like Cloud architects and practitioners will need to be prepared that these people won’t come cheap.  Worst case, the people costs could outweigh the savings in infrastructure.


A managed cloud solution has the potential to offer multiple benefits.  By leveraging specially skilled personnel, you not only reduce the training and development budget, but have the opportunity to employ the best practices of solution providers.


Step to the Hybrid Cloud

According to Gartner, nearly half of big companies will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017.  And a recent survey by ESG on private cloud trends found behind elasticity of resources, the second most sought after characteristic of a private cloud was universal access to public cloud resources. Smart IT shops are no longer looking at building application infrastructure on in house silos, going back to workloads they are working out which attributes they need in a business application and placing its components on the right fit cloud platform. For example, although the processing of a core ERP application may best sit on a private cloud, archiving and data protection could go out to public cloud thereby realising huge efficiencies in management and cost.


Last week, Hitachi Data Systems made some important announcements helping customers to realise this increasingly popular mode of IT.


By supporting VMware’s latest vCenter stack to burst to vCloud Air, and Microsoft Windows 2012 Azure pack, we not only leverage the seamless management between private and public clouds, but support deployment of both on the same physical infrastructure.


Understanding organisations have different financial objectives, we introduced three flexible commercial models to consume cloud; traditional capex purchase, pay-per-use IaaS, and FlexBuy which is a blend of both.


And finally we partnered with Equinix, a global data center provider with a presence in 32 major business hubs around the world, to compliment our existing local data centre providers.  Situating your private cloud in a world class facility and wrapping the data center costs not only reduces upfront investment, but leveraging Cloud Exchange to interconnect to other commercial clouds reduces ongoing costs too.  As the preferred data center for some of the biggest public cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft, having a direct, secure link provides a predictable SLA and reduce the transmission costs by avoiding public network costs.  Having all these public providers in your neighborhood not only means you get better economics, but also a way to migrate between them when new services become available.


While moving to managed hosted private cloud involves multiple decisions with various stakeholders in the business, it does help strike a balance between control, cost and agility that businesses need to thrive today.  Hitachi Data Systems, through its intimate understanding of enterprise IT needs and vast ecosystem of partnerships is helping make this decision easier to digest.


So, hungry anyone?