As companies undergo digital transformation, it’s becoming clear that cloud infrastructure is playing a significant role, and most companies will eventually employ multiple cloud platforms, if they’re not already. The question from an infrastructure perspective becomes how to ensure the investments you make today will be compatible with the new normal of hybrid cloud and the reality of limited budgets.
Whether hybrid cloud is in your organization’s immediate or distant future, a solid infrastructure foundation will enable I&O leaders to maximize existing IT budgets for long-term business impact. Moreover, solidifying your hybrid cloud strategy today will ensure you can maximize investments in your current premises-based infrastructure while planning your cloud environment of tomorrow. You need infrastructure that fits your existing applications, positions you to take advantage of cloud efficiencies, and ultimately gives you the freedom to use the most appropriate infrastructure for each application—premises-based or cloud (any cloud).
For most companies, digital transformation will require modernization of data center infrastructure. The goal is to adopt a hardware and software technology stack that works across private data centers, hybrid cloud, and edge facilities. But it shouldn’t require you to jettison existing on-premises infrastructure. Rather, the idea is to build on those investments in a consistent fashion, to future-proof your infrastructure environments.
By ensuring consistency, modernization also helps increase operational efficiency and agility. You’ll realize a lower total cost of ownership by optimizing resource utilization, taking advantage of automated management tools, and reducing mean time to repair when issues arise. You can also accelerate time to market for new applications and services, including modern, cloud-native applications.
An effective strategy is one that also enables you to leverage existing investments in areas such as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), which promises to play an outsized role in modernization efforts. Consistency across the infrastructure stacks will also help you reduce risk while implementing applications and services to increase competitiveness.
The modernization effort can be a gradual migration; it doesn’t have to be a sprint. What’s important is to follow a well-defined strategy with consistency in mind. VMware provides all the required components, focusing on an HCI stack that can grow with you as the migration progresses. In this e-guide, we’ll walk you through the progression from “core” HCI that includes VMware vSphere® and VMware vSAN™ to a full HCI stack that employs the VMware Cloud Foundation™, which extends the same HCI implementation to a variety of cloud platforms – setting you up with a future-proof infrastructure foundation.
It’s clear enterprises are on board with the idea that a common approach to on-premises and hybrid cloud deployments is imperative. In a survey of some 1,300 VMware enterprise customers, 92 percent said the consistency of architecture between private and public clouds is important.
Environments must be aligned with respect to computing, storage, networking, and management tools making them simple to operate and compatible across on-premises and cloud environments.
They also need to align with application requirements, which are increasingly focused on speed and agility. That means the ability to not only rapidly spin up new virtual machines as demand warrants, but to support modern application development environments including containers, especially those built on the Kubernetes orchestration platform. Hybrid cloud strategies are a natural fit with containers. Just as containers allow developers to mix and match pieces of applications, hybrid cloud gives companies the freedom to match those applications to the most appropriate computing environment.
Modern infrastructure: The next step in data center evolution
Realizing consistency in data center architecture requires taking some logical “next steps” with respect to infrastructure.
Traditional data center infrastructure is characterized by separate compute, storage, and networking systems. In most cases, this means separate teams each with their own tools to manage their bit of the infrastructure – meaning multiple silos.
All those disparate tools and teams introduce complexity and additional cost, both in terms of personnel and infrastructure. It also increases the risk that something goes wrong, such as during routine maintenance, simply because so many components are involved.
Perhaps worst of all, this traditional infrastructure can’t easily support cloud-based and other modern applications, including Kubernetes containerized applications. These applications are written to work in highly virtual environments, with a high degree of portability among environments.
Virtualization separates compute, storage, and networking capabilities from underlying physical infrastructure, instead of implementing each in software. It enables software-defined capabilities, including storage and networking, that makes it far easier to spin up new resources as necessary, move existing resources (such as for disaster recovery), and garner far greater hardware utilization.
HCI takes the concept a step further, by enabling compute, storage, and networking components that work in concert with one another, with a single management interface.
The ultimate goal of data center modernization is to deploy the same HCI stack across private data centers and hybrid cloud environments, bringing consistency across the board.
It doesn’t take a “rip and replace” strategy to attain this goal. Following is a three-phase approach to getting the job done at your own pace. While some may find it beneficial to follow the phases in order, it’s not a requirement: if you want to jump right from wherever you are to Phase 3, that’s your prerogative.
Phase 1: Core HCI
The first step in the modernization effort is implementing core HCI, which consists of hyper-converged compute and storage implemented on-premises. One example is VMware vSphere server virtualization software along with vSAN storage virtualization software.
Core HCI puts you on the road to greater operational agility as compared to the traditional silo approach. Now you have server and storage infrastructure managed as a single entity because vSAN is integrated with the vSphere hypervisor.