Friday, April 28, 2017

36 Shades of Hybrid IT

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Everyone has heard of the 50 Shades of Grey. But do you know the “36 Shades of Hybrid IT”? These shades are a new way of describing the 36 point solutions across a hybrid IT environment. Enterprises looking to transform the way information technology is leveraged should evaluate their options by analyzing a transition across three specific high-level domains and their relevant sub-domains, namely:
  • IT Implementation Model
    • Traditional
    • Managed Service Provider
    • Cloud Service Provider
  • Technology Service Model
    • Infrastructure-as-a-Service
    • Platform-as-a-Service
    • Software-as-a-Service
  • Deployment Model
    • Private
    • Hybrid
    • Community
    • Public

Combinatorically (3 IT Models x 3 Service Models x 4 Deployment Models = 36 options) these components are used to identify the “36 Shades of Hybrid IT”. These domains and sub-domain outline a structured decision process that aims to place the right workload into the most appropriate IT environment.  It is also important to note that this is not a static decision. As business goals, technology options and economic models changes, the relative value of these combinations to your organization may change as well. Another critical truth is that the single point solutions identified by this model are rarely sufficient to meet all enterprise needs so a mix of two, three or as many as 10 variations of these specific point solutions may be required.  This is why hybrid IT and cloud service brokerage are such important skillsets to the modern information technology team.

The IT Implementation domain addresses, at a high level, the three implementation strategy options most companies look at when digital transformation is the goal:
  • Continue a status quo strategy that uses a traditional enterprise data center to address requirements;
  • Select and contract with a managed service provider (MSP) by running a traditional acquisition that dictates requirements and operational processes through the RFP/bid process; or
  • Satisfy requirements through the use of standard offerings from one (or more) cloud service provider (CSP).

The primary drivers in an implementation model selection is enforcement of enterprise IT governance processes (status quo and MSP option) or acceptance of CSP IT governance processes (CSP option). These choices are also strongly influenced by capital investment plans and long-term business model changes. Decisions within the Technology Service Model domain should typically reflect staff skillsets and training targets. IaaS reflects the broadest range of skillsets and training requirements.  It also delivers the greatest amount of flexibility and choice. The other end of the spectrum is represented by SaaS which demands the minimum level of technical staff but may also act as guardrails to your business processes and models. Overall control of data security and technology choices are reflected by deployment model preferences. In the Private model, the organization retains absolute control over all aspects of the information technology platform. Choosing this option, however, would also lead to the highest levels of capital and staffing investments. Public sits at the other extreme, requiring strategic alignment with the cloud service provider in exchange for lower capital and staffing investment requirements. Hybrid and Community deployment options lie between these extremes and usually offer unique operational and economic capabilities.

Your digital transformation team should discuss and debate what these “36 Shades of Hybrid IT” mean for your company’s future. The team should also avoid leaving these important decisions to opinions and guesswork. Comparisons and options should be considered using real data. This is where tools like IBM Cloud Brokerage can be important to your digital transformation efforts. Organizations should carefully consider which business applications should be migrated to which “shade”. While some apps run best on traditional, physical servers, others are cloud-ready, but need the security of private clouds or enterprise-grade public clouds. There are even other applications where lower-priced commodity clouds will prove to be a viable and money-saving option.  In addition to migration plans and cloud choices, the best hybrid IT strategies also take into account provisioning of the necessary migration skills and technology management capabilities. After deciding the target environment for each of your business processes, the team may still need to do some application re-architecting.

If you and your team are dealing with Digital Transformation, a cloud brokerage platform can help by using real data to profile your workloads. It will also enable data-driven decisions on best-fit architectures, technology choices and deployment models. In addition, these platforms aid organizations in designing production solutions and in estimating costs before transformation even begins.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit ITBizAdvisor.

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Digital Transformation Driven by ITaaS

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When executing an effective digital transformation strategy, management is tasked with placing the right workload into the most appropriate IT environment. This represents a shift from buying parts for self-assembly to composing services through self-serve consumption and pay-per-use models.  Quite often this transition also leads to the adoption of software defined environments across the enterprise infrastructure.

Software defined infrastructures do, however, bring with them some very unique challenges. Many of the most prevalent issues are centered around the relatively immature state of the technology itself. The most significant aspect of this challenge is the lack of industry standards for device control. Control software must know the status of all network devices and trunks, no matter what vendor equipment is being used. While OpenFlow stands today as the de facto software defined networking standard, it is a unidirectional forwarding-table update protocol that cannot be used to determine device status. It also doesn’t allow for the programming of port or trunk interfaces. A second critical issue is the lack of business process or enterprise IT policy definition capabilities.  This shortfall often leads to resource over provisioning caused by automation rules that deploy “just in case” instead of “just in time”.

When taken together, the two latter problems heighten the risk of vendor lock-in. This issue was highlighted last year by Major General Sarah Zabel, Vice Director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.  This military organization deals with 2,400 trouble calls, 2,000 tickets, 22,000 changes, and 36 cybersecurity incidents every day. Its global network interfaces with owned and managed networks from other military departments and services providers. When addressing the Open Networking User Group, Major General Zabel stated that the agency suffered from vendor lock-in and too many devices.

“We need an area where vendors accept the fact we need a path away from their solution…We need less dependence on hardware and to be able to work with more software."
Another important but widely ignored challenge is the need to build organizational buy-in, a problem that is often accompanied by business process changes. According to Neal Secher, managing director and head of network architecture at BNY Mellon, "You need to partner with your business and show them the value. There's a snowball [effect] that will add value and allow you to add more automation. You need to prove through evidence that it works and won't hurt the business."

Understanding how to select, configure and operate within this new paradigm requires new technology, new technical skillsets and new management techniques. This trifecta of change cannot be easily assimilated within most large organizations. This is why IBM IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) can often provide critical advice, assistance and technology.

ITaaS is an approach for defining and consuming digital services through a hybrid cloud infrastructure. This approach has often shown itself as the most cost effective path toward workload optimization. When used as part of a holistic strategy, hybrid cloud infrastructures can deliver multiple levels of value by:
  • Delivering programmable, virtualized and application-centric networking capability;
  • Managing the corporate mobile infrastructure and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) initiatives;
  • Modernizing and optimizing the IT security program for identity, application, data, network, and endpoint security in a way that manages risk and achieves compliance; and
  • Enabling a shift of executive focus from infrastructure maintenance towards the creation of innovative products and services.

Hybrid cloud environment alone, however, aren’t able to maximize the value of digital transformation.  To do that you may also need to consider cloud brokerage capability.  This tool can be used to plan, procure, govern and manage all IT services across all cloud models. To avoid vendor lock-in, this service can also be exercised across multiple IT service providers.

Software defined infrastructures can deliver infrastructure optimization and enhanced IT services at a reduced cost. Organizations that opt to take advantage of this new operational model should, however, seriously consider taking the ITaaS route.

This post was brought to you by IBM Global Technology Services. For more content like this, visit ITBizAdvisor.

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2017)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

IBM Interconnect 2017: Cloud, Cognitive and Data!

A couple of weeks ago while attending IBM Interconnect 2017 I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the IBM Interconnect 2017 Podcast Series with Dez Blanchfield. I not only got to pontificate on all things tech, but also had the honor of collaborating with some of the best minds in the business. The series is provided below in it entirety.


This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.

Cloud Musings
( Thank you. If you enjoyed this article, get free updates by email or RSS - © Copyright Kevin L. Jackson 2016)