Looking at Refreshing Your Servers or Deploying New Workloads?

Its that time of the cycle, where a flurry of activities happen. Evaluating proposals, deciding on new technologies, budgets and not to mention, vendors knocking on your doors to sell their wares.

I’m in Jakarta, Indonesia this week and it still surprises me when customers are unaware why HCI is the future. This is not unique to Indonesia but the likes of even mature markets like Singapore. On the flip side for those who are aware of HCI, it is equally surprising that do not know that VMware has a HCI solution that is vSAN! Just a recap, in case you didn’t, VMware vSAN have more than 40% of the market share (as per IDC’s report late 2018), and you don’t have to take my word for it, just Google it. Its becoming more apparent that the HCI space is going to be a 2 horse race.

Anyway, the discussion today is not so much about that, but more of the use case in the title.

It is not uncommon to go with what is tried and tested when a new requirement arises. In a typical environment, that is often the 3-tier architecture (compute, network & storage). Pick the best of breed, and move on. Does it work, of course it does! As it did for decades!

So why the need to change?

Like all things in tech, we are often looking at better ways to do stuff, and it is no different when it comes to this. The term “Private Cloud” is often now a sexier reference to “Your Own Datacentre”, I can’t help to think that it is coined as such to satisfy the question, “have you embarked on some form of cloud?” . And the resounding “YES! We have!”, but often times, that so called “cloud” doesn’t resemble the experience or capability you would have of a typical public cloud.

For example, public clouds sells SLA’s to a certain extent. You would rarely question the type of hardware that is used, what would happen if 2 drives fail, how long does it take to rebuild and the list goes on. Its often about service delivery and if you take a step back, it becomes prevalent that all that matters is the application / workload. Having said that, it is no surprise that we are seeing the change in decision making in Enterprises where the application owners have more input into decisions than they ever did, but that’s a discussion for another day.

So to mimic cloud like experience, private clouds should start exploring a similar approaches and fortunately, HCI platforms can provide this. I will not talk about what HCI is because there are ton’s of resources on it but I strongly urge that you consider HCI in your next round of refresh / workload deployment.

If I were to put 3 points down, it will be the following.

  1. Consolidation of compute, network & storage into a software, results in a freedom of hardware choices. VMware supports a hosts of different hardware vendors and allow intermixing based on your requirements. Often time, the cost of hardware accounts for 75% of the TCO for most datacentres, and the ability to pick an affordable platform while maintaining the capabilities thru software makes a lot of sense.

  2. Application / workload focused approach. vSAN storage policies are deployed at the VM & VMDK granularity level. Unlike traditional storage, the RAID & LUN you create defines the characteristics of a particular VM or hundreds of VM. Again, as mention before, this is very much a bottom up approach designed from storage mapped against a VM. Storage policies does the reverse, where VM’s dictate how storage should be laid out.

  3. Future proofing! I haven’t spoken too much about this, but the future where Containers will be taking over the world is very real. We will see a ramp up of such requirements and to the point above (application being key), it is inevitable. Containers dynamic nature and the need to consume storage, puts a strain on the traditional nature of SAN. The set once and forget mantra doesn’t work anymore. vSAN today has built-in support for the new world of containers with the Hatchway API and we are further improving it, working closely with our colleagues from our recent acquisitions (Heptio & Bitnami).

Tying it back, all 3 points above are values that every public cloud provider bring as default today. You now have an opportunity to do it and truly build a “Private Cloud”.