Yesterday I had the opportunity to present converged cloud to the cloud strategist of one of our large customers. It was a really interesting debate. Like many companies, this one has the business units increasingly using public cloud to perform functions they do not get fast enough from IT. Typical isn’t it?
Recognizing the fact IT cannot address all their customer needs by building everything in-house he put a strategy in place. In his mind there is a need for combining public cloud and in-house private cloud developments. He also recognized that the traditional environment will not go away anytime soon. He built his strategy on those three components in mind.
I described him our managed cloud and explained where it would be interesting to take a look at it in his environment. He was intrigued by 2 elements; first, the guarantee that data would not be leaving a specific geography and second, the possibility to audit the environment from a security/management/compliance perspective. He felt that he could re-assure his compliance and security teams because they were not enthusiastic of putting any production information on the public cloud.
As it turns out, his strategy is very close to what we plan with HP Converged Cloud. Rather than explain it to you in details, why don’t I propose you to listen to an interview taken during HP Discover with Andy McCaskey from SDRNews. In that interview I explain what we are trying to achieve with converged cloud. And by the way, the book I talk about at the beginning of the interview is the one I discussed in my last blogpost.
The idea of converged cloud consists in a common architectural foundation that embraces a model where the service is loosely coupled with the deployment model. The deployment model is only bound to the service at execution time, with no modifications to the required service. The benefit to the user is that a single service can travel across multiple deployment models.
To deliver converged cloud, we really need 4 key components. Let me highlight those in more detail.
Converged Infrastructure as a Service
At the bottom, you want to make sure you can manage multiple heterogeneous resources that combined deliver the converged cloud environment. It provides an abstraction layer for infrastructure- and enterprise-grade tools for infrastructure-level cloud management for resources. This layer supports both HP and third-party server, storage and networking infrastructure as well as most virtualization technologies available today. Integrated infrastructure management provides enterprise capabilities including: chargeback, bursting, disaster recovery, multi-tenancy and security. This is all provided through a single, open interface. This layer is built as an evolution of HP’s Matrix Operating Environment, leveraging open source technologies, including OpenStack™ to ensure portability across hybrid clouds and support for non-HP devices.
Converged Management and Security
When mentioning cloud services, many people still use the provisioning of a small, medium or large Linux or Windows virtual machines. We all know that the services requested by our business users are more complex. NIST talks about intermediation of external services and aggregation of services in a larger one. That is not done at infrastructure level. You need an end-to-end orchestration layer to perform such functionality.
What you’re looking for is a functionality that allows you to deploy such complex services through an open, standards-based approach. It needs to support multiple hypervisors, operating systems, development environments and use a heterogeneous infrastructure. Converged management and security provides exactly that when it is built on top of the converged infrastructure as a service. Services can be created, deployed and operated across physical, virtual and cloud environments through a model driven approach. The deployed applications can call upon specific services such as: auto-scaling and workload management, data services, cloud-compatible message brokering, security, identity management, multi-tenancy, high availability and many others. That’s what you expect from such environment. The basis is in place through our Cloud Service Automation software, and more is to come.
One of the other big rallying topics is big data. But big data is intimately linked with cloud. The continued explosive growth of human information in the form of social media, video, audio, emails, text etc. changes the way enterprises interact with their customers and governments with their citizens. Understanding how the enterprise and its products are perceived by the market, quickly identifying negative sentiments and acting upon them is critical for the survival of many enterprises. Gaining access to that information—most of which is unstructured—then being able to analyze it and act upon the results of the analysis, is what we are after. Most of this information is on the Internet anyway, so cloud is a good place to perform that analysis. Combining Autonomy for unstructured data and Vertica for structured one, we are pulling together this engine that will allow you to gain real-time understanding of how your enterprise or products are perceived.
One portal experience
Starting from the fact multiple services will end-up running on multiple cloud environments, you do not want to force your user to have to remember where what service can be sourced from or used. You want him to have one user experience. This implies a single portal where he can choose from a series of eligible services. Some are as simple as the provisioning of a single VM, while others can be very complex and include service elements based on multiple cloud environments. This portal should be visible on various devices, leading to another rallying topic, BYOD (Bring your own device). And last but not least, this portal should be customizable to mirror the enterprise look and feel.
Converged Cloud in Action
You want to see how this works in reality. Take a look at the video here under. Although it does not yet use our latest portal, the video will show you how to deploy a service across a hybrid environment and what happens at each step in the process. Enjoy.
As the discussion moves away from infrastructure to actual service delivery, the converged cloud addresses the needs of many enterprises. What makes it unique is the fact it’s built with standards and heterogeneity in mind, right from the start.
But that’s not all. It gives users access to essential information across applications and cloud environments. Take a minute and listen or read the transcript of the discussion Paul Muller (@xthestreams) and I had with Dana Gardner at HP Discover on “Where cloud computing takes us: Hybrid services delivery of essential information across all types o...”. In there you’ll find examples of how such capability can help enterprises improve customer relationships.
We still have work to do, but as I present converged cloud to CIO’s, I’m getting very positive feedback. It sounds like the message resonates and corresponds to what they are looking for. Is this in line with your thinking?
Would love your feedback? Leave a comment or contact me on twitter at @christianve.