Insight by Nutanix

Hybrid cloud means understanding predictable, unpredictable apps

Chris Howard, the vice president of public sector for the Nutanix, said agencies need help in managing dual cloud environments.

The IT Innovation Insider is a monthly show focused on the emerging technologies and trends that are moving federal agencies toward a more secure and modernized future. In June, we will focus on best practices and stories about customers successfully living in a hybrid cloud world from the .Next conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Over the last seven years, two kinds of agencies emerged when it came to cloud computing—the early adopters and the uphill accelerators.

The early adopters were the ones that hoped for savings from moving to the cloud and moved things like email or collaboration to these off premise service providers.

The uphill accelerators are those who started slowly, unsure of the security of cloud and if the buzz around savings was more than marketing speak, but over time have hastened their move to the cloud.

Chris Howard, the vice president of public sector for the Nutanix, said new data shows those federal IT customers in that early adopter group started to pull back from putting everything in the cloud.

The data also showed the uphill accelerators now, seven years after the cloud first mandate from the Office of Management and Budget, are more forward leaning when it comes to putting data and applications in the cloud.

“They are taking an different approach to the early adopters that we’ve seen before,” Howard said on the IT Innovation Insider, sponsored by Nutanix.

As for the early adopters pulling back, Howard said it’s now about understanding what systems or applications are cloud-ready.

“Based on the study, I don’t think you are seeing a wholesale pull back, but when people first got into the cloud, they tried to put everything into the cloud,” he said. “The way we look at the cloud is 25 percent of your applications are unpredictable or elastic enough to where it makes 100 percent sense to put them into the cloud. It could be a 30-day big data job or some end of month financial run. It doesn’t make any sense to buy infrastructure and run it. It makes more sense to put it into the cloud, use that cloud for that 30 days or 15 days that you need it, and then pull back that data. Where we see the benefit to the on-premise and where people may be pulling back is when they put, what we call, predictable workloads in the cloud, workloads where you know what you are getting and you are running full-time for three or five years.”

Howard said if those predictable workloads are done in the agency’s data center or in the agency’s private cloud, and done efficiently, then those activities will be less or at least equal in cost, and maybe more secure and have better governance.

All of this movement around cloud is leading agencies toward having to manage a dual environment with on-premise and off-premise cloud instances.

The General Services Administration says in its 2017 Hybrid Cloud Almanac that a recent Gartner survey of federal IT managers found 75 percent indicated plans to implement a hybrid cloud solution by the end of 2017. The biggest challenges to managing a hybrid cloud include a lack of resources and the expertise in the workforce. GSA says agencies should consider several factors as they implement hybrid cloud, including integration of different clouds using application programming interfaces (APIs), cloud management and orchestration frameworks, and the organizational impact of hybrid cloud, which is another way to say agencies need to have the right people resources because hybrid cloud is not a typical IT project.

“Any customer out there wants choice and they don’t want to be reliant on one specific technology and it’s the same with cloud. They want to be able to put data into all the big cloud providers out there,” Howard said. “The challenge with that is now you have siloes of cloud. So that’s where multi-cloud management is really coming into play. It’s a hard problem to solve.”

He said the federal data center consolidation and optimization effort as well as the initiatives around IT modernization all area leading the agencies to understanding that need to manage their assorted clouds in a new way.

Howard said two other related trends Nutanix is seeing from its agency customers the adoption of a software-driven IT environment, which is leading to using automation to move away from “low-value” work, and the impact of the Internet of Things devices to give agencies new insights into both data and applications.

“The ability to ability reduce the significantly reduce that foot print of your data centers is through software is one easy way to see modernization and consolidation,” he said. “Software can automate a lot of the environment. The automations good because it requires less human interaction and so therefore your people are modernizing themselves because they are no longer worried so much about the infrastructure and the hardware piece and they are focusing more on the application, the service level agreements to the customers and uptime for the agency.”

Howard said these and other trends are leading the way for agencies to get off legacy systems and provide better services.

“A lot of agencies are at the point where they know they have to make a change and just need to know they can manage all of this change through a single management plane,” he said. “Everyone wants to get rid of siloes. The agencies who are willing to take a leap, even just for a workload or a certain use case, will see the benefits and will expand more quickly into the software world.”

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