Running a Hybrid Cloud Practice Means “Cloud-Everywhere”

BrandPost By Toby Weiss
Jan 05, 2021
Digital TransformationIT Leadership

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Credit: istock

When I think about the evolution of cloud, I see two questions:

  1. Is “cloud everywhere” real or hype for customers?
  2. What is the nature of cloud services that are sourced on-premises?

The principle of cloud everywhere is real. We live in a world today where compute and data are highly distributed from edge to cloud. In fact, the cloud everywhere notion is a natural evolution from early software-defined data center implementations, open-source community-based evolvement of IaaS, and the rise of the public cloud platforms and container platforms of today.

Cloud Everywhere

“Cloud everywhere” describes a vision that promises innovation, optimization, and modernization outcomes through:

  • A catalog of relevant “cloud services” available from your edge, data center, and co-located facilities, in addition to public cloud

  • A deployment and consumption model of these services at any location that is in your control for security, compliance, and latency requirements

  • An ease of use experience for your developers and IT operators that elevates their focus to more innovative activities

  • A business user experience that enjoys faster and more frequent innovative updates to the applications that speed more innovations to market.

The promise of cloud everywhere is to harness characteristics of public cloud with the benefits of on-premises, mission-critical IT. The journey is an intertwining of IT Infrastructure efficiency, consumption models on/off-premises, distributed compute and data, and developer efficiency that drives innovation.

For years, many of our clients have built private clouds as alternatives to public cloud IaaS. At best these enterprises built highly secured IaaS platforms and at worst, virtual machine vending services that were not well adopted by users. During this private cloud journey, we learned hard lessons about what it takes to become a service provider in our organizations.

HPE Pointnext consultants advocated that to be good at running a private cloud you had to have a very mature IT operating model. The same applies to public cloud-based operations teams, where a new rulebook had to be written. Without good operating models that instill (and oversee) governance, costs, and compliance, these critical elements can get quickly out of control. In contrast, public cloud providers proved they could provide mature operating models, leverage scale, and offer better services while innovating faster than could be achieved on-premises.

Cloud everywhere suggests that the commercial values and benefits of the public cloud service models can now be available in an on-premises environment, harnessing all the security, compliance, and improved latency benefits of on-premises computing. You don’t have to engineer all your own IT services in your own private cloud to get the benefits of cloud. These cloud services come as part of an on-premises solution, engineered to provide innovative capabilities, available in a consumption model, and deployed anywhere from the edge, to your data center, to a colocation facility. This is the essence of cloud everywhere.

A Natural Evolution

Back to the notion of cloud everywhere being a natural evolution. HPE has helped our customers over a span of 20 years to consolidate and optimize data centers, build private clouds, and help develop roadmaps for the adoption of hybrid cloud operating models. In this span of time, the industry has evolved from the early software defined on-premises data center solutions to the off-premises public cloud revolution. Early attempts to achieve some of the characteristics of cloud on-premises included a control plane over existing IT infrastructure for resource pooling, elasticity, on-demand, and self-service.

Next, the industry built hyperconverged infrastructures. This approach provided needed operations control, ending the challenges of the preceding software-defined infrastructure control planes. Hyperconverged infrastructure still has a place in today’s IT and continues to evolve significantly. The next evolution to open-source cloud solutions drove the hope and promise of making on-premises infrastructure more like public cloud IaaS. This has had limited, but not widespread success.

In parallel with hyperconverged and open-source based clouds, developers benefited from platform services (PaaS) that provided easy-to-use-and-consume frameworks to speed application development. This combined the infrastructure and developer tools to simplify the coding and code deployment experience.

Then public cloud began building momentum and showed the speed of innovation by creating a catalog of services beyond IaaS that developers could use to speed the cycle of writing new code, allow faster and more frequent deployments of that code, pool resources for efficiency, allow elasticity when needed, and easily architect and build environments through web interfaces. Additionally, the standardization of these environments fostered more creative development tools that spawned efficiency and creativity and has led us to adopt many of the cloud-native development benefits we enjoy today.

Public cloud vendors became the new de facto standard due to the significant early adoption of these platforms for greenfield environments and modern application development benefits.  They provided positive impacts of speed and agility for new business startups and new projects in large enterprises needing to get to market fast.

In the last phase of this 20-year view of change, containers have emerged front and center to both developers and operations. The open-source community, warehouse-style IT applications, and enterprise adoption of the container approach has fueled the rise of Kubernetes platforms on the mainstage. We now see modern container platforms as engines to enable innovation and application development, and as a vehicle to modernize our legacy applications, step by step, in a safe, on-premises environment, or anywhere we choose – from edge to cloud.

For the last 5 years, HPE Pointnext has delivered solutions that support container adoption and container environments. Today, we see a core set of seven use cases common to our clients.

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Within that same 5-year period, there was also a demonstrated increase in the number of organizations that want to adopt cloud-like consumption models for their on-premises systems. The evolution to cloudlike services on-premises has started and it’s not just the hyperscalers moving their proprietary platforms to your data center. And it benefits both developers and IT operations.

Turning Point

We are now at a turning point. The benefits of cloud are real and proven. The reality of on-premises computing with its compliance, security, and latency requirements are still real and will not go away. The slower pace of change associated with mission-critical apps has proven that the mass move to public cloud is not possible for all enterprises. We need the benefits of cloud everywhere to advance and fuel our digital transformations.

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About Toby Weiss

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Toby has a combined 27+ years at HPE in field service, technology consulting, project management,  practice leadership and WW practice and portfolio leadership roles. Today, Toby is our VP of Hybrid IT Practice Competency Center in Advisory and Professional Services.  He leads a global team to modernize our SAP services portfolio, expand Cloud Native Computing and Container Services,  and incubate Open Source Software and HPE Infrastructure Automation capabilities.  Toby’s ambition is to bring together the strengths of HPE, our partners, Open Source, an HPE Pointnext Services to position HPE for the next generation of market-leading platform-as-a-service capabilities.