Softsource Q&A: Barry White discusses the drivers towards hybrid cloud

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Hybrid cloud seems to be the infrastructure model of choice, but what is driving its popularity, and is it something NZ organisations can achieve on their own? To find out, we spoke to Softsource CIO Barry White to get his thoughts.

Q. Which applications are driving the considerations for hybrid cloud?

Barry:  Companies are embracing general business transformation which leads them to explore hybrid cloud technologies. Particularly with the advent of tools and applications like Microsoft Teams, some of their data and file sharing needs to reside in the cloud so their teams can take advantage of modern collaboration and project tools.

At the same time, we still see many traditional applications such as ERP remaining on-premise for the time being. As those applications are upgraded over time, they will look at replacing them with cloud solutions, but they make more sense at the moment to be housed on-premise from both a cost and compliance point of view.

Q. When the cloud was first introduced a big sticking point was the cost saving benefits it brought, but are there any unintended costs and consequences associated with the cloud?

Barry:  Well it's a utility model so it's complex. We laugh about the days we used to get our home phone bills from Telcos and how complex they were to pull apart at the end of the month. Take that complexity, multiply it by 100, and you're getting somewhere in the vicinity of what it's like to dissect a cloud bill.

Cloud storage can be quite expensive for some workloads so it’s essential to work with a partner who understands which applications represent a good candidate for cloud versus those that could be too costly.

Just as an example, we have a lot of clients who work with CAD design and large visualisation files. Not only are they moving huge amounts of data around every day, the cost of storage in the cloud can be expensive if it isn’t considered carefully in terms of structure and retention policies.

We've also seen companies that have embraced an exclusive approach of cloud-first, pursuing a strategy of what is commonly referred to as “lift and shift”, effectively mirroring their on-premise footprint in the cloud.

While this does achieve some tangible improvements such as increased redundancy and better security, it can be expensive if they don’t consider egress costs, storage and licencing which can quickly add up. In short, cloud deployment requires a different design to on-premise, embracing SaaS and PaaS over IaaS wherever possible - and in that order.

Q. What are some of the advantages of a Hybrid approach to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)?

Barry: Hybrid enables businesses to configure services to any specific workload requirement, with management of resources on both public cloud and the IaaS infrastructure using the same “pane of glass".

For our Hybrid IaaS clients, they're also getting the advantage of cloud tools through a single identity management layer and a single security layer. This means they’re not having to continuously log in to different systems to get their work done.

Hybrid IaaS also allows businesses to extend traditional data and legacy applications - by augmenting these with cloud only services such A.I. and online visualisation tools, while accessing data sources on public and on-premise environments in a consistent manner.

Data sources can include constructs such as file systems, databases, or data warehouses, essentially allowing the ability to have infrastructure resources on public cloud and on-premise destinations reside on a common logical network.

Q. What is the best model for adopting Hybrid IaaS?

Barry:  At Softsource, we look carefully to what applications can be re envisaged in a cloud scenario. This involves putting each application through a checkpoint to ask “is this a good candidate for cloud? Yes or no?” And with that evaluation comes a variety of criteria that we can apply in order to arrive at the answer.

By going through these checks and balances, invariably we end up with a much smaller footprint when compared to the original on-premise architecture, in terms of the number of Virtual Machines required to deliver the same level of service. Through applying a robust planning exercise, we give our clients the best of both worlds because they now have choices they can manage in a single, secure environment.

Q. For anyone considering Hybrid IaaS, what advice would you give to them?

Barry:  Have a plan. Even if you're not going to do all of it this year, you should still be developing a plan. A property developer doesn’t knock all of the buildings over on the first day they take over a property – hybrid cloud is the same in that you need to start with a clear and defined vision of what the final landscape will look like and start from there.

This enables you to begin making smart investments today, rather than one huge investment down the track. It also gives you time to start shifting the organisational culture towards Hybrid IaaS and Cloud Services.

We use our entrada Hybrid IaaS platform to enable organisations to take baby steps towards a hybrid model, because we know it’s often the potential for operational disruption that holds them back. We de-risk that shift towards hybrid cloud by creating a plan and a platform for that transformation to happen fluidly.

With entrada Hybrid IaaS, Softsource can bring you an integrated hybrid cloud solution that meets the needs of your business today and adapts as your business grows. With an industry-leading portfolio of solutions and more than 20 years’ experience in deploying hybrid cloud, Softsource and HPE have a proven record of reducing overall implementation time by up to 50%. Contact us today to begin your hybrid cloud journey.