Who’s Heads are in the Clouds?
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Well, the short answer is nearly everyone even remotely interested or responsible for anything related to IT!
I speak with clients and partners nearly every week and it’s a very rare occasion that the topic of ‘cloud’ doesn’t come up at some point. I am learning a lot about how they are looking to leverage the opportunity from Cloud in the storage & network domains and I’m starting to see some significant trends:
– The majority of clients I meet with have some type of cloud initiatives. Various stages of maturity, complexity, deployments, and technology domains, but most are doing SOMETHING related to cloud.
– Larger enterprises are hosting some private cloud services while moving other workloads to public clouds. It’s not a simple, private or public implementation.
– Organizations fully expect cloud initiatives to improve service levels and reduce costs at the same time. For the most part, our clients have been successful when they engage their trusted partner for best practices and architectural and implementation services.
The market has seen double digit growth in several cloud markets, including provisioning for cloud applications and runtime compute resources, self-serve storage clouds, and specialized clouds for backup and archiving services. All levels of xaas (something as a service) are gaining traction in IT infrastructures and businesses are becoming more and more comfortable with running their business on these new emerging IT models.
These trends are changing the way organizations think about their storage and networking infrastructures.
– The traditional in-house, 100% owned datacenter to deliver needed IT infrastructures is becoming optional. Not just for ancillary systems either, but for core business applications as well. IT organizations must compete to keep their work.
– Cloud computing helps you think of your IT infrastructure in terms of the services it can provide, which in turn tends to improve business alignment.
– Network and storage infrastructures need to be as flexible as the cloud applications they support. Otherwise, they become the bottleneck and the lines of business will quickly find other sources of IT.
A critical aspect of all cloud environments is the visibility and control of the infrastructure and storage infrastructure is no exception. It's been estimated that over the next few years almost 35% of the total worldwide digital data will be related to cloud services.
To help organizations prepare for this inevitability, offerings like our IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center (VSC), is the software layer that provides the provisioning integration, virtual storage mobility, and data efficiency critical to successful cloud deployments. In a recent EMA survey, respondents pointed to this storage automation as the top integration requirement for their “Release 1” of cloud projects – cited 23% more frequently than any other infrastructure integration point. 58% of respondents said storage provisioning and management was a significant bottleneck in their private cloud deployments. IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center (VSC) is a software-defined storage layer -- independent from your choice in storage hardware -- that is a core technology for private clouds. And now, with our new IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) Operations Center, in beta currently, provides the same graphical look and feel as VSC, providing an efficient, software-defined layer for cloud management of primary application data and the copies of that data required for common use cases like backup, archive, disaster recovery, and dev/test. TSM Operations Center works in concert with VSC.
When we see opportunities for cost reduction and improved efficiency from Cloud deployments, it rarely comes for free. There are challenges that are potentially created for Storage/Networking managers or professionals that they should be mindful of. When there is a big change, such as cloud, one of the toughest challenges for IT leaders is managing complexity.
– Complexity is the enemy. Complexity causes project risks such as cost overruns, schedule slips and errors.
– Complexity can cause automation and efficiency features to remain unimplemented, because nobody has time to manage them.
– Getting storage and networking infrastructures ready for the cloud means automating and simplifying the old, inflexible processes. This process is critical because it reigns in complexity
Storage professionals are faced with challenges around 1) reducing the cost and complexity of backup and recovery, 2) reducing the risk of downtime or data loss, and 3) having to figure out how to simplify access to data throughout its life. Organizations need to reduce IT costs by improving storage efficiency – and are struggling with needing to store data longer and access it differently than before. These folks are faced with old backup SW that has scalability and functionality limitations that cause spikes in cost and complexity, as data grows – and have a low tolerance for downtime or data loss. As cloud capabilities get added to storage infrastructure complexity has to be recognized, understood, and alleviated early.
And what type of question do I get asked most often? What considerations would I recommend that Storage/Networking leaders take into account when they evaluate where and how to apply Cloud?
As with any IT project, user and business requirements should be the biggest drivers of IT infrastructure decisions.
– Workloads that are managed using Service Level Agreements are good candidates for cloud, such as: Hosting for virtualized applications, backups, and test systems
– Clouds may cause you to think differently about user requirements. In a cloud environment, if you don’t ask for it, you don’t get it. Data protection and security requirements need to be clear before corporate data moves to public clouds.
– Infrastructure virtualization provides the required flexibility and administration productivity to support clouds. Virtualized servers, networks and storage are the norm for clouds.
Forrester Research predicted 2013 will be the year we get serious about backup and disaster recovery on the cloud. So, let’s talk about this as an example
– Backup and recovery are well understood IT processes. In most organizations, data owners get backup and recovery ‘as a service’ from the Data Center. So, backup resembles a cloud service already.
– Data owners expect multiple classes of service to be available, so they can choose backup frequency, retention period and restore options.
– Enterprise Strategy Group estimates 25% of the cost of backup is labor, on average. Organizations that can automate backup processes to reduce labor costs can offer a competitively priced backup service on the cloud
– Gartner estimates that 33% of organizations will change backup systems by 2016 due to frustration over cost, complexity and/or capability, so being a cloud backup provider can be a good business.
– Tivoli Storage Manager is popular for cloud backups because most administration processes can be automated, and its storage efficiency features are excellent. TSM protects some 5,300 exabytes of data on an estimated 7 million servers around the world. So, TSM is one of the trusted places you can back up your data.
So… is YOUR head in the clouds? If it isn’t, then the world of IT in which you live is passing you by. Get engaged, understand the values cloud brings, and maps some of those values to your IT problems areas…. You might be surprised how much value they bring with little disruption.
I had the opportunity to talk to Laura DuBois of IDC at the 2013 PULSE conference in Las Vegas about these exact issues. Take a look at what she had to say here and if you’d like to discuss Cloud, Storage, Networking or any other topic related to IT Optimization please join me back in Vegas at Edge 2013 in June.