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By Chris Purcell
“What’s measured improves” ― Peter Drucker
Often called, the father of modern management, Peter Drucker is known for his insights on business management. Throughout his writings, he emphasizes the importance of measuring performance. And to measure something properly, it needs to be managed meticulously through tracking and analytics.
Herein lies one of the biggest challenges of hybrid cloud (a combination of public and private clouds, on or off premises). Although a majority of enterprises embrace hybrid cloud due to benefits derived from running workloads where they are best suited, it creates new challenges to manage them effectively. And without a comprehensive set of management tools, businesses struggle to measure and improve their hybrid cloud effectiveness.
During a recent podcast, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, discusses this issue with Erik Vogel, Global Vice President of Hybrid IT and Cloud at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).
Stuck in hybrid cloud complexity
A large majority of today’s enterprises use hybrid systems and services — a combination of on-premises, public cloud, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. “Most are done in an ad hoc fashion because it was so easy to consume non-standard and heterogeneous solutions,” explains Vogel. “Developers go out to multiple hyperscale cloud providers, business units start to consume SaaS solutions, and IT organizations build their own on-premises solutions such as an open private cloud or a Microsoft Azure Stack hybrid cloud environment.”
The challenge for IT Ops is to manage and operate these hybrid solutions in a consistent, common fashion. “All this complexity is causing a problem,” Vogel continues. “We don’t have consistency in APIs, taxonomies, or even the way we look at billing and underlying components for billing. Everything varies greatly between service providers, so clients are struggling.”
Managing the economics of it all
One of the most difficult jobs within IT today, says Vogel, is the financial side of managing a hybrid cloud. “I may be able to see what I’m paying from Amazon Web Services (AWS) or what Azure Stack is costing me. But how do I aggregate that? We have all these different bills coming in from all of these different service providers.”
Vogel goes on to explain how organizations need to get control of these different expenses — to think differently about the procurement models and to determine how they are spending money for these services. They need to set up strategic sourcing procurement models for cloud and hybrid cloud-related services.
Organizations also need to track SLAs to ensure they are getting what they are paying for in terms of services and uptime. Tracking and analyzing this data will help them ensure they are getting the strategic value within their hybrid cloud.
Get help from an experienced partner
A simple way to get a better handle on managing your hybrid cloud environment is to bring in an experienced partner. “I often joke that the cheapest thing you can buy is somebody else’s experience, and that is absolutely the case when it comes to hybrid cloud service providers,” explains Vogel. “The reality is no enterprise has expertise in all three of the hyperscalers, in all of the hundreds of SaaS providers, and in all of the on-premises solutions that are out there. You just can’t do it all.”
That’s why it’s important to look for people who can aggregate this capability and bring the collective experience back to the organization. An expert partner can help reduce overspend, make smarter purchasing decisions, prevent lock-in, and reduce risk. Because many third-party firms have actually gone out and consumed services within the hyperscaler, they can predict what the true cost will be. More importantly, they can ensure optimization moving forward.
Additionally, it’s important to remember it’s not just about going in and purchasing the initial setup and services. Ongoing optimization must incur, including ongoing cost optimization. “Organizations need to continuously evaluate their decisions – and often, the calculus changes over time,” continues Vogel.
For example, it might make a lot of sense to put a workload on premises today. Yet, based on the demand for that application and on pricing changes, it may make more sense to move that same workload off premises tomorrow. And then in the future it may also make sense to bring it back on premises for a variety of reasons. Constant evaluation is necessary, and that’s where expert partners can help.
IT as a service: speed, expertise, and management
Vogel believes that in the future, much of the management complexity of hybrid cloud will be solved by enterprises moving to an IT as a service (ITaaS) model. “Within the next five years, I believe the industry will no longer call things as a service because it will be the norm, the standard.”
According to Vogel, the IT department in every business must accelerate, forcing every company to be a technology company. As a result, the traditional IT model won’t work anymore because it can’t move at the speed the business demands. To be able to provide the fastest response possible, businesses will need to embrace an as-a-service model.
HPE is working with customers to roll out services that help them move faster—services designed to provide operational support and management for hybrid cloud. These types of IT as a service offerings take the management burden away from IT, especially when they don’t have the skillsets needed to provide a seamless operating experience for their business units.
For example, HPE GreenLake hybrid cloud is a consumption-based ITaaS model that lets clients operate faster by providing managed services capabilities across their hybrid estate. “It provides a consistent platform, and then allows the business to innovate on top of it,” continues Vogel. “It takes away the management operation from IT and lets them focus on what matters to the business today, which is innovation.”
Analyze and optimize hybrid cloud for your business
Another example of what can be done right now is a tool called HPE Right Mix Advisor, an industry-first offering that recommends which workloads and applications are ideal to move to public clouds or keep in private clouds. It also advises how to migrate those workloads to achieve the right mix of hybrid cloud according to specific business needs.
“Delivered as a service model, HPE Right Mix Advisor is able to go in and assess a set of applications against certain variables — weighing all of the factors,” concludes Vogel. “A concrete list of recommendations is delivered to the client – prioritizing the 10 or 20 things they should start with immediately that are most impactful to their business.”
Businesses worldwide are embracing hybrid cloud because of the agility it provides. Yet as enterprises add disparate clouds and services, it’s difficult to manage – much less measure its effectiveness. And as Peter Drucker would say, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
Chris Purcell drives analyst relations for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The Software-Defined and Cloud Group organization is responsible for marketing for HPE Synergy, HPE OneView, and HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged solutions. To read more from Chris Purcell, please visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.