Posts Tagged 'Hybrid Cloud'

August 1, 2016

“Lift and Shift” Existing VMware Workloads to the Public Cloud

Whatever your opinion is of IBM Cloud, the company has made tangible strides to provide a compelling hybrid cloud strategy for the enterprise. Several analysts even recently acknowledged IBM leadership in this area. Based on the recent announcement with VMware, you’ll understand why existing VMware clients are pretty excited about IBM Cloud’s hybrid strategy.

The announcement notes that SoftLayer provides the capability to create secure and flexible VMware environments on top of IBM’s public cloud—now with expanded (and cost-effective) capabilities. These capabilities allow existing VMware customers to:

  • “Lift and shift” (read: extend) existing VMware workloads to the public cloud with the associated benefits (secure, compliant, global, OPEX, and so on)
  • Take advantage of existing VMware skills, assets, and processes (scripts, VMware admins, virtual machine templates, and so on)
  • Transition to the public cloud and flexible hybrid environments with minimal disruption

High-level architectural components

Figure 1: High-level architectural components (new components are in orange)

IBM Cloud encompasses a much larger scope that includes native SoftLayer and open source options, Bluemix/PaaS, as well as extensive cloud solutions and services.

The following are VMware-related FAQs, in addition to the ones you can find on KnowledgeLayer:

Why can’t I do “lift and shift” on other cloud platforms, e.g., AWS or Microsoft Azure?

In simple terms, you’ll need access to the virtualization host in order to “fully” operate your VMware environment (as you’d be used to it from your own data center). Neither AWS nor Azure allows you this level of control; they also run different hypervisors. SoftLayer allows you to deploy and manage physical hosts in addition to standard virtual servers.

Why would I do “lift and shift” on SoftLayer and not on VMware’s own public cloud?

Performing the extension on SoftLayer lets you:

  • Choose from 28 data centers in 14 countries
  • Take advantage of SoftLayer’s unmetered private network
  • Have “full control” beyond what is specifically exposed as a “service” in vCloud (there is no access to the physical ESX hosts).

So what’s new with SoftLayer and VMware?

SoftLayer customers have deployed vSphere and vCenter on the SoftLayer cloud for some time. From personal experience, the most frequently requested additional capabilities are:

  • Ability to deploy “other” VMware components (like SRM for disaster recovery or NSX to take advantage of software-defined networking)
  • Make it cheaper and easier to deploy

VMware products available to order in the SoftLayer customer portal

Figure 2: VMware products available to order in the SoftLayer customer portal

IBM and VMware responded by introducing the following on SoftLayer:

  • New, socket-based licensing for $85 per socket per month for Enterprise Plus (includes subscription and service)
  • Selection from the “full SDDC” portfolio, including:
    • Virtual SAN Standard and Advanced
    • NSX Enterprise (software-defined networking)
    • Site Recovery Manager (DR)
    • vRealize Automation Enterprise (cloud automation)
    • VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO)
    • vSphere E+ and vCenter Server (standard & appliance)
    • Coming soon: Horizon Suite (VDI), which was recently announced

How do I get started?

With the latest portfolio enhancements, several new assets were published (in conjunction with plans to provide automated deployments and additional services going forward). Here’s my top list:

Top Tips:

  • Get familiar with and use the certified reference design (sounds logical, but I can’t stress it enough)
  • Make sure you pick from the documented building blocks (ensures the use of certified components like the appropriate RAID controller for VSAN, and so on)
  • Keep in mind that SoftLayer is a “self-service” IaaS platform—make sure you involve a partner with good VMware skills or secure appropriate services for such a project, especially if it’s complex
  • Evaluate all SoftLayer options, e.g., “standard” virtual servers might be a better option for new, cloud-enabled workloads

     

-Andreas Groth

April 26, 2016

Cloud. Ready-to-Wear.

It’s been five years since I started my journey with SoftLayer. And what a journey it has been—from being one of the first few folks in our Amsterdam office, to becoming part of the mega-family of IBMers; from one data center in Europe to six on this side of the pond and 40+ around the globe; from “Who is SoftLayer?” (or my favorite, “SoftPlayer”), to becoming a cloud environment fundamental for some of the biggest and boldest organizations worldwide.

But the most thrilling difference between 2016 and 2011 that I’ve been observing lately is a shift of the market’s perception of cloud, which matters are important to adopters, and the technology itself becoming mainstream.

Organizations of all sizes—small, medium, and large, while still raising valid questions around the level of control and security—are more often talking about challenges regarding managing the combined on-prem and shared environments, readiness of their legacy applications to migrate to cloud, and their staff competency to orchestrate the new architecture.

At Cloud Expo 2016 (the fifth one for the SoftLayer EMEA team), next to two tremendous keynotes given by Sebastian Krause, General Manager IBM Cloud Europe, and by Rashik Parmar, Lead IBM Cloud Advisor/Europe IBM Distinguished Engineer, we held a roundtable to discuss the connection between hybrid cloud and agile business. Moderated by Rashik Parmar, the discussion confirmed the market’s evolution: from recognizing cloud as technology still proving its value, to technology critical in gaining a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic economy.

Rashik’s guests had deep technology backgrounds and came from organizations of all sizes and flavors—banking, supply chain managements, ISV, publishing, manufacturing, MSP, insurance, and digital entertainment, to name a few. Most of them already have live cloud deployments, or they have one ready to go into production this year.

When it came to the core factors underlying a move into the cloud, they unanimously listed gaining business agility and faster time-to-market. For a few minutes, there was a lively conversation among the panelists about the cost and savings. They raised examples citing  poorly planned cloud implementations that were 20-30 percent more costly than keeping the legacy IT setup. Based on an example of a large Australian bank, Rashik urged companies to start the process of moving into cloud with a vigilant map of their own applications landscape before thinking about remodeling the architecture to accommodate cloud.

The next questions the panelists tackled pertained to the drivers behind building hybrid cloud environments, which included:

  • Starting with some workloads and building a business case based on their success; from there, expanding the solution organization-wide
  • Increasing the speed of market entry for new solutions and products
  • Retiring certain legacy applications on-prem, while deploying new ones on cloud
  • Regulatory requirements that demand some workloads or data to remain on-prem.

When asked to define “hybrid cloud,” Rashik addressed the highly ambiguous term by simply stating that it refers to any combination of software-defined environment and automation with traditional IT.

The delegates discussed the types of cloud—local, dedicated, and shared—and found it difficult to define who controls hybrid cloud, and who is accountable for what component when something goes wrong. There was a general agreement that many organizations still put physical security over the digital one, which is not entirely applicable in the world of cloud.

Rashik explored, from his experience, where most cases of migrating into cloud usually originate. He referred to usage patterns and how organizations become agile with hybrid IT. The delegates agreed that gaining an option of immediate burstability and removing the headache of optimal resource management, from hardware to internal talent, are especially important.

Rashik then addressed the inhibitors of moving into cloud—and here’s the part that inspired me to write this post. While mentions of security (data security and job security) and the control over the environment arose, the focus repeatedly shifted toward the challenges of applications being incompatible with cloud architecture, complicated applications landscape, and scarcity of IT professionals skilled in managing complex (hybrid) cloud environments.

This is a visible trend that demonstrates the market has left the cloud department store’s changing room, and ready not only to make the purchase, but “ready to wear” the new technology with a clear plan where, when, and with an aim to achieve specific outcomes.

The conversation ended with energizing insights about API-driven innovation that enables developers to assemble a wide spectrum of functions, as opposed to being “just a coder.” Other topics included cognitive computing that bridges digital business with digital intelligence, and platforms such as blockchain that are gaining momentum.

To think that not so long ago, I had to explain to the average Cloud Expo delegate what “IaaS” stand for. We’ve come a long way.

 

-Michalina

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