Powering clouds with an open approach
By Mark Micallef August 13, 2014
- ITaaS benefits include reduced costs and greater efficiency, agility and flexibility
- However, the right cloud architecture is essential to enable ITaaS
TODAY, the combination of trends, such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Bring Your Own Apps (BYOA) and consumerisation of IT, has been driving an increasingly mobile workforce.
As the speed of business continues to accelerate, organisations need to relook how they deliver apps, data and services to provide employees with anywhere, anytime, any-device access in a quick, flexible and efficient manner.
A key first step is to redefine one’s cloud strategy to enhance the underlying infrastructure.
The next natural step to take in the evolution of cloud computing towards IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS), where a complete suite of on-demand IT services are provided through a simple self-service portal to end-users.
However, the right cloud architecture is essential to enable ITaaS. In order to do so, organisations need to widen their view of cloud architecture, instead of solely focusing on narrow use cases, which may result in inefficient IT management due to the varying workloads of today’s enterprises.
Here are some key considerations for organisations to shift towards ITaaS and the benefits of doing so.
Understand the requirements of varying workloads
In today’s enterprises, there are two types of workloads that matter most to organisations – cloud-native apps and traditional enterprise apps.
Organisations frequently fumble to balance cloud architectural models to cater to the distinct characteristics and requirements of these two workloads.
Cloud-native workloads, such as social and mobile apps, are designed for an infrastructure layer that is not resilient. The application service is expected to remain functional and deliver the same level of performance even when there are failures on any given node or component.
Hence, this type of workload is essentially larger and distributed across a pool of servers for computation, making data sets massive.
In this case, software development assumes a form of distributed computing in which each node is independent and self-sufficient, allowing no contention across the system as none of the nodes share memory or disk storage.
On the other hand, enterprise app workloads run differently due to varying requirements. When enterprise data centres are virtualised, runtime operations typically remain largely traditional, revolving around service tickets, approval workflows and long lead times to deliver a virtual server.
This type of workload scales up by adding infrastructure of web or database servers. This causes high rework and customer satisfaction lags, leading users to turn to unauthorised, unmanaged relationships with third-party public cloud providers, resulting in shadow IT undermining both security and compliance for organisations.
Typical enterprise data centres house mission-critical applications that power day-to-day business operations. They are designed to avoid failure, relying on largely static racks of fully redundant, specialised hardware designed for almost 100% uptime.
Hence, moving enterprise apps out of this resilient architecture into one designed for cloud-era apps is not advisable due to the lack of scalability.
Furthermore, traditional workloads are also gradually becoming more distributed and less dependent on traditional architecture, becoming more like cloud workloads.
Conversely, it is also difficult to achieve optimal cost and efficiency for cloud-native workloads when catering to enterprise workloads.
The conundrum is how to support separate private clouds for each workload without compromising on efficiency, cost and the ability to modernise traditional workloads.
Unified environment with two-workload architecture
The trick is for organisations to look at managing and delivering these two distinct workloads within a unified environment.
This can be done by taking on a modern, consumer-like approach to provide self-service experience for users and business units. As a result, IT can enable a more effective response to business needs while stemming shadow IT.
Implementing an open and flexible cloud orchestration platform to build, manage and deliver hybrid clouds allows organisations to orchestrate and automate existing workloads and infrastructure.
This gives IT the flexibility to support both workloads on a single orchestration platform. Private clouds can be organised into multiple availability zones, each comprising resources in one or more physical data centres, allowing IT to designate the appropriate combination of hypervisor, storage and networking configurations to support a given workload.
All in all, this builds a flexible foundation for future success.
Irresistible perks of ITaaS
Building and operating enterprise applications are outdated concepts for today’s dynamic and diverse business needs. IT needs to shift focus towards aggregating and delivering a variety of in-house and third-party cloud services: ITaaS.
Organisations that adopt ITaaS can see a wide spectrum of benefits, from reduced overall costs to new levels of efficiency, agility, flexibility and time-to-value.
At the same time, IT is able to empower people and businesses to provision their own apps and services quickly and easily, comprehensively leveraging the innovation of cloud.
Mark Micallef is area vice president of Citrix Asean.
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