Softsource Q&A: David Small Discusses the Transition To Hybrid Cloud
Hybrid cloud is growing in popularity, but how should organisations actually approach the transition to this new model? To find out, we spoke to Softsource CTO David Small about entrada Hybrid Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).
Q: Why are some customers reluctant to begin the transition to hybrid cloud?
David: There is a lot of misleading information being passed around the market and some businesses perceive a change as big as this to be complicated, disruptive and expensive. They’re unsure where to start and with what workloads.
In fact, this is not the case. It comes down to the actual applications that the business uses and understanding where each application is best placed whether on-premise, hosted locally, public cloud or SaaS (O365, Salesforce). Each platform has its benefits but identifying where your particular applications best fit is the key to hybrid solutions.
We start that journey by looking at an application and saying, “has it got a SaaS (Software as a Service) equivalent out there in the marketplace that works?” Does it need faster access times? Does it need scalable resources? Does it require high availability? All these answers help in positioning where in a hybrid cloud approach the application is best suited.
If you look at an application such as your CRM or ERP, high availability is paramount as it always needs to be accessible. You don’t want any downtime and you want to be fairly close to your community, so you need it to be on-premise and hosted locally.
It’s more about going through those steps, assessing where applications best reside, which in turn helps you build your hybrid approach.
Q: Time is always a resource that we can never seem to find enough of. Are there tasks that IT managers can free themselves from with Hybrid Infrastructure as a Service?
David: We know that IT teams are currently dealing with many hours a week of hardware maintenance, firmware updates, equipment monitoring, backups of virtual workloads, power and cooling, the list goes on. Basically, all the infrastructure management that goes into making their on-premise IT environment work.
These tasks equate to considerable technical resource time being consumed and distracting the IT team from completing more innovative initiatives that help drive business outcomes.
Softsource takes a large majority of those tasks off their plate with Hybrid IaaS. This in turn sees their planning become simplified, as their decision making isn’t driven by constant hardware or software maintenance and upgrades.
Q: Commencing a significant transformation can be a daunting prospect, so how do you begin the process of switching to Hybrid IaaS?
David: It starts with understanding the organisation’s application environment and key business drivers. What's the business trying to achieve? Where are they going from a big picture perspective? How can IT help the business achieve those goals?
Then it’s about working through their applications to decide the best delivery mechanism for each application or service. Building a solid plan for the transformation. From there, it's a simple process of putting some networking infrastructure in place for either a lift and shift of what's already there, or in some cases the customer takes the opportunity to do a rebuild and software refresh.
Q: What does Hybrid IaaS look like for your clients on day one?
David: Firstly, we train key personnel on how to use a new set of tools to manage their actual workloads. The applications, be they on premise, hosted locally or in a public cloud, will still perform the same administrative functions as the business previously experienced.
What is different, is the IT team no longer runs those time-consuming tasks in the background that were slowing them down.
For example, did the backups work last time? Have we got any errors coming from the infrastructure? Have we got to do any upgrades or maintenance coming up in the future? Is our virtual infrastructure big enough or capable of holding what we're doing and performing to the levels we need?
All those tasks no longer exist on their to do list, so they can now focus on the business goals.
Q. What sort of long-term outcomes does Hybrid IaaS create?
David: It gives organisations flexibility to adapt because it’s an OPEX month by month model. It means they no longer purchase hardware in a five-year lifespan just to inevitably sweat the assets and have depreciation their books.
It gives them the agility to adjust their infrastructure as technology and their requirements change and develop over time, which they’re likely to do. For example, some organisations have recently had to create infrastructure for a remote workforce. With entrada Hybrid IaaS, people can log in, deploy a server within a few minutes and they're off and going, it’s that easy.
Q: What are some of the common mistakes you see when deploying Hybrid IaaS?
David: We often encounter situations where another technology provider has convinced a client that every workload needs to go to a public cloud platform for example. The client then finds out that the environment maybe wasn’t the best place for one or more of their applications, and it’s a costly affair to transition back.
I think that's the big takeaway for clients; that it’s never usually a case of all out or all in with technology. And this is the beauty of hybrid cloud – it’s a mix and match approach across the board. What they see from Hybrid IaaS is that they can spend less time managing hardware, and more time driving business outcomes.
Ultimately, organisations want agile capabilities to be flexible in how they're delivering a service or product to market, so if necessary, they can change it tomorrow - not in three more years when they have the budget to invest in more capacity.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you can offer for organisations considering the switch to hybrid cloud?
David: The best advice is to select a partner who has experience in the NZ business market in cloud provisioning. One that has all cloud platform services on offer – public, locally hosted and on-premise capabilities. Not one that has public cloud only for example, who then offer an “all or nothing” solution. It's about changing from a singular model of IT control to being able to adapt and deliver what the business needs today. It means being flexible and agile tomorrow when the business’ needs inevitably change.