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Software-Defined Infrastructure

The (unsurprising) truth behind hybrid cloud assumptions

The power of Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, and Lenovo Cloud Validated Designs for environments running on VMware, SUSE OpenStack Cloud, and Red Hat OpenStack Platform, combined with Lenovo Services, allows IT departments to achieve the benefits they expect from hybrid clouds including higher levels of security, governance, compliance, flexibility, agility, scalability; and lower TCO, risk, and latency.

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Here’s a reality check that’s likely to raise some hackles: IT departments have been indulging in a little bit of self-deception and it concerns the hybrid cloud.

How so?

Almost every IT leader worth their salt will tell you that a hybrid cloud—one that springs from a private cloud strategy—is the most-effective cloud delivery model for enterprises. Hybrid clouds, after all, offer the best of both worlds: Higher levels of security, governance, compliance, flexibility, agility, scalability; as well as lower TCO, risk, and latency, compared to an only-private, or an only-public cloud strategy.

We’ve told ourselves this often that it is almost self-evident.

The truth is that these hybrid cloud benefits are only obtainable given that some criteria are met.

Let’s study some of the assumptions we make about hybrid clouds.

Hybrid Clouds Offer Lower TCO

Private clouds are not as cost-effective as public clouds because businesses have to invest in infrastructure designed for peak loads. Public clouds, on the other hand, aren’t cost-efficient for steady-state workloads. They also pose a problem for applications vulnerable to high latency and need high levels of security. The best option, all in all, is a hybrid cloud.

One study, for example, showed that, on average, IT organizations were able to lower IT costs by 24 percent with a hybrid cloud.

The Truth: Hybrid cloud can effectively lower costs, and meet the other needs of enterprises, but only if enterprise IT teams can effectively address cost challenges around maintenance, time-to-value, management, and workload mobility.

Take time-consuming maintenance and poor time-to-value. Both of these can drive up TCO. All the time and heavy-lifting that goes into building and maintaining an enterprise hybrid cloud can quickly add up costs.

This can be avoided by leveraging Lenovo’s cloud-ready, software-defined infrastructure.

Data centres that run on VMware and prefer VSAN technology to underpin their hybrid cloud strategy, for example, will find that Lenovo pre-validated designs greatly simplify the deployment and maintenance of cloud-optimized data centre infrastructure.

Not only do these pre-validated-for-cloud solutions ensure swifter time-to-value, they also offer lower risk thanks to pre-tested components.

Alternatively, data centres which aim to leverage Azure as their public cloud and seek to replicate the same experience on-prem, will find that the Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack offers a simplified, integrated, turnkey hybrid cloud solution for delivering Azure consistent services from enterprise data centres, which make these advantages even more pronounced.

Plus, combined with Lenovo Services–which offer a comprehensive portfolio to support the full lifecycle of Lenovo assets from planning, fulfilment, deployment and support—enterprises can increase time-to-value significantly.

“Lenovo has worked to optimize the purchase process, streamlining the steps so a business can move from order to fulfilment… up to 2x faster than other competitive stacks,” according to a Moor Insights & Strategy report.

Lenovo performs a complete build top-to-bottom and then completely tests the solution, at its integration factories, before shipping it to the customers, ensuring full functionality for the solution including all the latest builds and updates. The result? When a solution like the Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack arrives, it is fully integrated into a rack cabinet, tested, configured, and ready to be plugged in and turned on. There is no waiting because complete functionality tests ensure everything is included before it is prepared for transport.

This dramatically accelerates time-to-value and cuts infrastructure maintenance costs.

“Once at the integration site,” continues the report, “Lenovo representatives will install the equipment, and then Lenovo Professional Services will deploy the Microsoft Azure Stack software, bringing it online in roughly 4 hours.”

Another source of costs is the skills required to re-engineer virtual machines and applications so that they can be moved between private and public clouds seamlessly. These can increase costs substantially, 3-5x according to one study.

With Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, and Lenovo Cloud Validated Designs for environments running on VMware, SUSE OpenStack Cloud, and Red Hat OpenStack Platform, IT staffers can create single seamless environments of their choosing, which stretch from on-premise to public cloud platforms. This allows workloads to be moved seamlessly, using tools and consoles staffers are already familiar with, both of which save time and money.

In addition, with Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, enterprises can start with as few as four nodes to keep acquisition costs down and scale up to 12 nodes as needs grow.

Hybrid Clouds Offer Greater Security

One of the most attractive aspects of a hybrid cloud strategy for enterprises is that they offer the security of a private cloud, with the agility of a public cloud.

The Truth: Hybrid clouds do offer greater security, but only if enterprises can apply the same network and security policies, in a hybrid environment, as they do in an on-premise environment. Without the ability to easily maintain consistent network and security policies throughout an enterprise private cloud, and associated public clouds, gaps are created which ultimately increase an enterprise’s security risk profile. Today, this is hard for enterprise IT teams to ensure—without solutions such as the Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, and Lenovo’s validated designs for VMware environments.

Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack allows IT teams to enable public cloud-style deployment and consumption in a private cloud environment, behind enterprise firewalls. Both Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack and Lenovo’s pre-validated designs for VMware environments allow enterprise IT to create cohesive, seamless environments that span from private to public clouds, using standard networking and security policies.

With Lenovo Design for VMware vCloud Suite with DS6200, enterprises can access VMware vRealize Suite and NSX, which facilitate both multi-cloud management and network function virtualization.

Hybrid Clouds Increase Agility and Lower Risk

A combination of private and public clouds can ensure high levels of business agility and high uptime. How so? Because hybrid clouds allow businesses to burst from private clouds to public clouds in the face of demand spikes. They also enable organisations to test and push out new services quickly, and more easily adopt risk-shrinking disaster recovery strategies.

The Truth: What happens to workloads on public clouds when they face an outage? Or to steady-state workloads, on enterprise private clouds, when underlying infrastructure fails?

Lenovo cloud solutions diminish these challenges. Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, and Lenovo Cloud Validated Designs for environments running on VMware, SUSE OpenStack Cloud, and Red Hat OpenStack Platform, create a bridge between Azure, and other clouds running on these respective platforms. This ensures workloads on a public platform can be moved seamlessly back on-prem when the former suffers an outage.

Lenovo’s cloud-ready, software-defined, hyperconverged, and scalable approach to infrastructure, allow enterprises to swiftly increase on-prem computing infrastructure when these workloads are rolled-back in-house.

But what about the infrastructure powering enterprise private clouds? All of Lenovo’s cloud solutions run on the most resilient hardware in the world. Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, for instance, is deployed on ultrareliable Lenovo ThinkSystem SR650 nodes in a hyperconverged, clustered configuration engineered for high stability, resilience, scalability, and performance. Year after year, Lenovo servers have ranked number 1 in reliability (99.999% uptime), across all x86 servers worldwide, according to the ITIC Global Server Hardware and OS Reliability Survey. In addition, they leverage the latest generation of Intel processors.

Hybrid Clouds Are More Compliant

The private aspects of a hybrid cloud make it easier to comply with data sovereignty laws by ensuring data is maintained within the right geographies.

The Truth: Without an enterprise private cloud that acts like a public cloud, it’s very difficult to ensure compliance with data residency regulations across multiple zones. This is a challenge that Calligo, a cloud service provider, experienced in the background of the recently implemented GDPR regulations.

“Using cloud services means that very often you don’t know where your data is physically stored, or the details of how it is protected. The GDPR represents a huge challenge for cloud service providers,” says Julian Box, Founder and CEO of Calligo.

To solve this challenge Calligo leveraged Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, becoming one of the first companies in the world to do so.

With Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, all data is kept inside highly secure servers in enterprise data centres, so it’s much simpler to comply with governance laws of different countries, as well as the policies and practices of individual companies.

Hybrid clouds are the future. But to be able to leverage them correctly, and obtain the benefits businesses require, hybrid clouds need to be built with the right infrastructure and the right solutions and services. No technology provider offers enterprises hybrid cloud capabilities, which stem from enterprise private clouds, better than Lenovo.

“By running Microsoft Azure Stack on Lenovo hardware in our own jurisdictions, we can deliver the Azure services that clients want, with the peace of mind of having their data reside within the correct EU zone,” says Box.

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