(This is a continuation of a previous blog)
In the movie Back to the Future II, the only clouds we see are the white fluffy ones that exist up in the sky as the flying Delorean descends onto Hill Valley rather than computing variety. However the old Apple Macintosh Marty see's in the shop window of the antique store implies the world of computing has moved on in 2015 from the humble desktop personal computer.
Cloud computing and the shift to consumption based IT is not only changing the entire economics upon which IT infrastructure is procured and capitalized, but revolutionizing the way in which applications are being built and deployed. According to Gartner's Hype Cycle for emerging technologies, cloud is in the tail end of the trough of disillusionment and pre-eminently in the slope of enlightenment. Regardless whether you agree with where it sits, cloud is all grown up and here to stay, prompting my next prediction;
#3 - Hybrid Cloud will emerge as the preferred way to deploy Enterprise Applications
Savvy CIO’s have been steadily marching many of their enterprise and mission critical workloads onto private clouds, especially apps like relational databases, email, ERP and VDI. On premise converged or integrated systems have made it easier to re-platform applications which require high availability whilst introducing some much needed efficiencies in provisioning, automation and management. The trend is clear with IDC estimating over 3,200 integrated infrastructure units shipped in Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) last year, this was a 140% increase over the year before.
At the same time, we've also seen a number of large enterprises experimenting in public clouds. Employing the elastic compute and storage capabilities together with PaaS services make it ideal for transient workloads and web scale applications where its difficult to predict scale. Qantas, the Australian Airline recently talked about their experience of testing its engineering support applications in public clouds and seeing a 10-fold step change in the pace at which the business can deploy new services.
Although cloud delivery of IT is helping increase agility and reduce operational costs, the ease in which instances can now be spun up is also propagating “cloud sprawl”, leading the business to ask a number of pressing questions; Are workloads being adequately placed to meet governance, security and economic requirements? With some cloud services (especially compute and storage) prices dropping and providers consolidating, how can I avoid vendor lock-in and easily transport workloads to another provider? With cloud skills in short supply, how can I avoid maintain expertise on every cloud platform?
With these considerations in mind, as well as the fact that cloud platforms have reached a level of maturity, the stage is set for organizations to evolve their enterprise applications on a mix of Private and Public clouds. Both cloud delivery models offer value, but bring a different set of attributes to the party. Shifting everything to just one type of doesn't make a lot of sense but examining how your applications can optimize the use of both does. Services which integrate both flavours to deliver a seamless Hybrid Cloud experience will not only help businesses realize greater agility and cost alignment, but also ensure you meet governance requirements.
So what does a Hybrid cloud actually look like?
Managing public and private cloud instances has been disjointed to say the least, inconsistent programability and incompatible functionality between them has made the job tough. However recent enhancements to hypervisor management tools as well as Cloud Management Platforms like Citrix, ServiceMesh, Flexiant and others can help normalise the service experince. Vendors like Microsoft with Windows Azure Pack and VMware with their rebirthed vRealize and vCloud Air (previously vCHS) now allow you to seamlessly provision, manage, monitor and move instances between on premise private and their public clouds not only with a degree of simplicity, but elegance too.
Back in October, Hitachi Data Systems announced new versions of the Unified Compute Platform for VMWare’s vCenter as well as Microsoft’s System Centre, enabling greater automated of both with UCP Director software. Organisations looking for a fully managed service can now get Compute-as-a-Service to complement our Storage, Archive and Backup as a Service. Going further, we also announced a strategic worldwide partnership with Equinix, offering our managed private cloud services off-premesis in their International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers. Co-locating in the same facilities as the public cloud providers allows you to leverage cross connect services like AWS Direct Connect and Azure's ExpressRoute to get performance assurance and reduce telco costs.
Hot on their heels is OpenStack, the open source alternative which is now in it’s 10th release (Juno) as a number of large companies rolling it into their enterprises. Its interesting to see China not only boasts the largest user group community with over 2,000 members, second only to the United States, but a number of local service providers like StackLab.org and FusionCloud are already in commercial operation with the platform. In Australia, the Government is funding a cloud that is making it easy for 55,000 researchers across disciplines to access IT resources, collaborate, and share their findings. The NeCTAR Research Cloud, has over 20,000 cores running with OpenStack.
Hitachi Data Systems is not only a gold member of the OpenStack foundation delivering drivers for the various projects, but actively contributes to the open source community with development in the Linux Kernel Virtual Machine (KVM) helping make it enterprise grade, a sponsor of the Open Source Development Laboratory (OSDL) and sharing projects like the Custom Meta-Information Object Enhancement Tool (COMET).
There is still work to do in realizing full portability of application instances in the cloud. The next battleground shaping up is lightweight containerization to help with application deployment, versioning and maintenance. Contested by technologies like Docker, Kubernetes and now Rocket, it will be an interesting space to watch this year.
Moving application instances between clouds is one thing, but transporting data, especially large sets, seamlessly and non-disruptively across them is another. Whether you are looking to move cold data like protection copies or active content from remote sites with limited bandwidth into the cloud, automating operations through data management policies reduces effort as well as helps maintain control and flexibility.
Last year, Hitachi Data Systems released new enhancements in the Hitachi NAS (HNAS) and Hitachi Content Platform (HCP), enabling not only the the tiering of content to your public cloud provider of choice through support for S3 and REST. This not only allows you to migrate between them to avoid vendor lock in, but keep things like encryption and meta data control within your private cloud as part of your enterprise security regime.
This coming year you will see us accelerate our enhancements across the portfolio with some new products working natively in the cloud, flexible deployment options for existing products and new consumable services.