The Cube, Studio Interview with Mike Gersten, 2017

MultiCloud:
You Can't Manage What You Can't See

3 Technologies Shaping The Digital Transformation

To wrap up AWS re:Invent, SoftwareONE representatives had the pleasure of discussing all things cloud, AWS, and innovation with both Stu Miniman and John Walls of the CUBE.

The interview kicked off at the Sands Expo Hall in Las Vegas as nearly 45,000 attendees walked the expo floor behind the CUBE interview space. The pace of the AWS ecosystem is definitely not slowing down as the excitement and fervor of the show only continues to expand exponentially – with dozens of new providers debuting, and of course, the innovation that AWS itself brings to the show every year.

Multi-cloud (customers using various cloud providers to meet their business needs) has been one of the buzz words coming out of re:Invent. This is not new to SoftwareONE of course, as many – or actually most – of our clients today are multi-cloud.

SoftwareONE Sees Multi-cloud as a Preferred Option Among its Customers

Across our tens of thousands of customers no one is using just one cloud provider. There are many reasons for this including, needing to extend whatever the current on-premises solutions are, the need for redundancy, increased flexibility on contracting, and increased benefits to having a dispersed environment when it comes to data.

The challenge however comes when you try to reconcile multi-cloud environments with on-premises and determine what resources you have, how to map those resources, and manage all of that from a business and financial standpoint. A point solution simply won’t work and that is often where SoftwareONE comes in. We have the unique viewpoint of understanding on-premises and legacy decisions as well as how to merge all of those existing IT decisions with new ones that are being managed in the cloud.

Today, most companies have less than 50% of their resources in the cloud, and the larger the company, the smaller that number gets. If you only have visibility into 20-30% of your environment you don't have a holistic view of what we call entitlements, inventory and consumption – who owns what and how much.

Adding to the complexity is the new influx of shadow IT. Before multi-cloud we hadn't realized how many small departments and other operations were simply taking out a credit card and buying the SaaS application they needed to better run their business processes. IT, procurement and compliance are left in the dark while marketing, HR and various other departments simply buy what they need to get the job done.

Fig. 1: Red Hat provides a number of opportunities to simplify the rollout of application containers in companies. (Source: Red Hat)

Digitization Requires a Cultural Shift

Most of today’s IT organizations are optimized for incremental innovation, obtained from technology providers and communities. These are then integrated within internal solutions to provide reliable support to business needs. This model eliminates technical risks by monitoring change and introducing standardization – across as many platforms, components and services as possible. Sourcing strategies are used to control costs, uniting internal expertise with market products and automating many IT processes.

Inflexible processes and silo mentalities produced by the fragmented IT landscapes get in the way of the agility and the rapid delivery of business innovation. Many companies are already dismantling rigid structures. The increasingly widespread DevOps model is a perfect example of this transformation.

The neologism DevOps is composed of “Dev” for software development and “Ops” for IT operations. The purpose of DevOps is to achieve close cooperation between development and operation through the establishment of interdisciplinary teams, shattering the glass wall between these two areas. The organizational changes brought about by deploying interdisciplinary teams is most commonly associated with a cultural shift in the companies as a whole. Members of the two departments meet regularly, share their knowledge and maintain an open culture of feedback. But above all, they work together on a particular issue.

Fig. 2: Containers can be transferred to development, production and cloud environments without requiring modification. (Source: Red Hat)

For example, our work with LA Metro, the transportation provider in the Los Angeles area. Before using our PyraCloud platform the company was on track to spend up to 2-3x what they had budgeted for cloud, but was able to remedy the situation by having visibility into their entire software estate.

Further stated by the SoftwareONE team, “You want to make sure you’re rightsized for what you’re doing and not just taking a shot in the dark. With SoftwareONE you can have visibility into your entire estate.”

IT goes Bimodal

Besides the necessary cultural shift and the associated organizational changes, digital transformation implementation will of course need to consider new IT models, technologies and solutions as well.

The market researcher Gartner, for instance, predicts that most companies will soon use a hybrid IT architecture based on a blend of traditional and agile models; in this regard, Gartner has coined the term bimodal IT. It focuses on two different methods, i.e. “two-speed IT”, comprising a traditional and secure, operative IT foundation next to a non-linear and agile IT. The operative IT foundation is used to run traditional applications with strategically important data. In contrast, agile IT uses application models that can be deployed to respond quickly to new business requirements or circumstances. An IT model of this kind enables the selection of the most suitable IT environment and platform to accommodate different workloads and operational necessities.

Containers Support Digital Transformation Perfectly

Selecting the platform on which applications will be developed, integrated, delivered and managed is among the key decisions for successfully implementing digital transformation. Container technology above all will become increasingly significant, as it provides a convenient and efficient opportunity to develop and deliver new applications. In a nutshell, containers encapsulate and isolate applications with all necessary components and configuration data in one or several packages. This means that applications can be made available quickly, simply and with complete configurations, significantly speeding up the IT processes. This explains why containers have rapidly become a central application packaging and delivering method within the Linux world.

Containers have stacks of advantages for cloud-native and traditional applications: efficiency and speed through standardization and automation, coupled with agility through autonomy and continuous delivery workflows, as well as flexibility through portability. A comprehensive container platform will define modern IT processes and can structure the operative model, as well as the organizational changes and cultural shift. Unlike classic virtualization solutions, in which changes take place incrementally in longer cycles lasting several months, and in which security and stability are the key factors, container processes are application-centered and developer-friendly. Containers and virtualization are hence ideal partners that build an important technical foundation for Gartner’s dual-speed IT.

Companies will be largely unable to ignore this kind of bimodal methodology, at least in the short term. They will only retain their competitive edge if they are able to market innovative products quickly, flexibly and reliably. The modification and expansion of the IT strategy and infrastructure in response to digital transformation is a basic requirement for this to happen. Only then will IT truly fulfil its new role as a creator of value.

  • Wednesday 29 November 2017

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