At VMworld 2019, we held an expert round table designed to explore some of the salient topics. Half of the round table participants were Tech Field Day community members, and the remaining half were from Dell Technologies, VMware VeloCloud, and Intel. With ten panelists in total, the discussion was lively — and ranged from highly technical to practical.
Here are my top five takeaways from the talk.
1. Ask your cloud providers the hard questions
There’s no magic blueprint for picking the right vendor or vendors, and no solution is one-size-fits all. The consensus was clear: you should focus on your business requirements when evaluating cloud providers. Doing this right means asking tough questions about where and how your data will go.
Essentially, think of the cloud not as a place, but as an operating model. Find technology partners that can deliver not just the technology, but a model that aligns with your business.
There were a few considerations that the panel agreed were important:
- How edge vs. cloud data is handled. What is processed on the edge, versus in the cloud?
- The physical location of cloud servers. It’s important for compliance with local regulations and for reducing latency for real-time decision making.
The data center is an overlooked part of the cloud ecosystem that will make a difference for most organizations. Having a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) that can automate, remove the burden of patching and infrastructure management, makes the on-premises experience more like the cloud by saving IT time and resources.
2. Plan and build across clouds
Our panel agreed that any discussion on the merits of a single cloud vs. multiple cloud deployment misses the point. Like it or not, the hard fact is that most customers find their data and applications split across at least two clouds. For most companies, this was not a conscious choice but rather an accidental outcome driven by rapid organic cloud adoption, acquisition, or various other factors.
The ease of setup with most cloud providers is almost a liability in this case. Departments can bypass IT, implement their own cloud provider for a departmental solution, and before long you have a fractured landscape. Like it or not, the business world often requires many clouds. By adopting a hybrid cloud model that offers consistency of management and easy workload migration across public and private clouds, you unlock the power of your data.
We agreed the solution is for strong ownership by IT, as well as effective communication between leaders across the organization. The role of IT implementers and developers will become more and more important as cloud services proliferate.
For IT to keep that ownership and control, they must pivot to be seen as a deliverer of services, not a roadblock. There have to be enough people with the right knowledge to help support the organization. At Dell Technologies Cloud, we’ve seen that VMware’s training setup and the sheer volume of knowledge they have, make it a strong platform for establishing a digital business.
3. Understand your security posture
Most of the panel agreed that it was on organizations to treat all clouds as a zero-trust environment. Organizations are getting into trouble when it comes to establishing security best practices across so many environments. They must strive to deliver consistent security tools and extend their security best practices across all these clouds.
That makes sense, because every cloud provider has some type of Shared Responsibility Model. Overall, cloud vendors are doing well holding up their end of the bargain, but customers need to be more aware of their responsibilities, and more consistent in implementing them.
The goal should be to establish a standard security operating procedure that can be applied uniformly. Then, you can add additional measures depending on a specific provider.
We’re starting to see, however, that just grafting on security measures isn’t going to be sufficient forever. The next movement is intrinsic security, that’s built into all aspects of a platform. VMware has been moving in that direction, and is enabling Dell Technologies Cloud to create a platform that ensures security across all customers’ cloud providers.
4. Take a long-term approach to containerization
The experts agreed that the shift from virtual machine to container is far trickier than moving from physical hardware to virtual machines. Container architecture requires considerable retrofitting for legacy applications; it’s almost easier to throw everything existing out and design from scratch for containers than it is to adapt existing apps.
That said, we agreed that the business benefits from a move to containers will be worth the effort in the long run, but, existing legacy applications will remain in place for some time. Containers provide the ability to identify bottlenecks in your network or architecture and scale them out, with virtually infinite scalability.
As a panel, we agreed that most businesses aren’t making containers a top priority. We also observed that it’s a tough transition to make without outside help. It’s best to start small and try a few pilot projects first.
VMware and Dell Technologies Cloud are both working on infrastructure that will enable our customers to rapidly onboard containers in a way that is less disruptive, and reduces the amount of time and effort it takes to maintain these environments.
5. Create a simple, consistent hybrid cloud with VMware + Dell Technologies Cloud
A big area of focus for our panel was on how companies could get more from their clouds. The great promise of the cloud was always about providing a simpler way of handling data: centralized and effortless, a virtual, “garden of Eden,” as one panelist put it.
Why have we fallen so short of this ideal? For most companies, cloud deployments have answered some questions, but also created new ones. Getting it all to work together is now the great challenge.
Clouds can offer immense value but only when deployed as part of an effective strategy that spans all environments. Every company comes to the cloud with their own priorities, needs, and context. From our discussion, however, it was clear that the desire for simplicity and consistency is nearly universal.
A consistent hybrid cloud can remove a lot of that complexity and provide a more easily managed, business aligned, and secure cloud experience. That is why Dell is working with VMWare to modernize operations, reduce costs and redefine networking for the multi-cloud world.
What are your top cloud insights or best practices?
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Learn about our key announcements at VMWorld 2019