Australia is settling on a state of hybrid cloud adoption, driven by a customer desire to avoid lock-in, boost flexibility and trigger innovation.
Coupled with requirements specific to security, cost and agility, businesses are drawing up a blueprint for success in the cloud, with the channel front and centre of such change.
Step forward partners, set to capitalise in an Australian market forecast to spend $1.68 billion on managed cloud services, as businesses continue to overhaul legacy infrastructures.
But despite such end-user appetite, technology providers must evolve alongside to take advantage.
“Let’s start with a view of what hybrid cloud is,” outlined Neels du Plooy, head of channels and alliances across Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) at VMware. “You have a hybrid cloud when cloud resources provide an on-demand augmentation to the facilities provided by your on-premises data centre.
“As requests for resources to support new projects arrive you can decide to provision those data centre resources either from your on-premises pools or from the cloud or a mix of both.”
Specific to hybrid-cloud management, du Plooy stressed the importance of visibility across “both environments” to allow for cost management as well as predictive resource management.
“Networks and security policy should be consistent across the two so you can maintain the same security and segmentation policies regardless of where an application is deployed,” du Plooy added. “This necessitates a software-defined network that can be instantiated on-premises, across the WAN or in public clouds.
“Finally we need to think about instrumentation that can run in all environments so you can have a unified way of managing application performance and reduce the time-to-remediation of issues regardless of root cause.”
According to Darrin Iatrou - area partner director of Juniper Networks - the key components of building a hybrid cloud management are varied from “commercial through to technical”.
“Firstly, the customer and/or partner will have to prioritise the need to transform their existing data centre deployment to hybrid cloud so as to allow for a reduced cost to the business,” Iatrou said. “This will result in increased efficiency, productivity and business agility which ultimately leads to a flexible and dynamic network.”
To achieve this, Iatrou said an analysis of workloads and workflows are required for optimisation of traffic, creating a need for simplification and centralisation to "attain operational excellence".
“Security also needs to be considered across the entire enterprise to ensure that valuable data is not compromised,” Iatrou added. “Finally, a DevOps environment is critical to help the customer stay ahead of the developmental curve, increase application delivery and ensure the path forward is clear.”
In a direct address to the channel, Iatrou said understanding “business outcomes” and working towards a "clearly defined scope of work" is key to integrating into a customer’s environment using an as-a-service offering.
“This alignment must be clearly defined with teams on both sides working together for a common goal,” he advised. “It’s important to simplify the environment, automate where necessary and avoid proprietary vendor protocols.
“Standardise on configurations, SLAs, security, compliance policies and harness state-of-the-art cloud application performance using monitoring and analytic platforms.”
On the flip side, du Plooy outlined two areas in which the partner should approach such integration, “from a customer perspective and from a managed service provider [MSP] perspective”.
“From a customer point of view we’re looking to stretch their on-premises data centre into the cloud so it is a single, unified management domain - both in terms of permissions, monitoring and resource allocation,” du Plooy said.
“A well-known example of this is VMware Cloud on AWS where a customer can link their on-premises data centre seamlessly with one in AWS’ facilities.
“That is not the only example as there are about 4,000 MSPs who use VMware software to create single-tenant and multi-tenant offerings that augment or even replace customer data centres.”
Specific to building out hybrid cloud capabilities, du Plooy advised partners to help customers come up with a migration plan for their applications.
“Does it stay on-premise, does it move to cloud, does it get re-factored?” he asked. “This is where partner knowledge of a customer’s current environment and an understanding of capabilities of the cloud provider will allow them to be a valued advisor in this process.”
Meanwhile, Iatrou cautioned that from a partner perspective, “it is critical to not try and be everything to everyone”.
“Time to market is such an important factor for customers that should not be overlooked which will ultimately define if you contract the skills needed or develop in house,” he added.
In short, Iatrou said “fundamental skills” are required across the core technologies of networking, security, server and storage.
“Understanding of workflows, workloads, analytics and network monitoring are key,” he explained. “Insights into automation, orchestration artificial intelligence and machine learning are most helpful.
“Juniper has such a strong pedigree in data centres; our routing, switching and security products are a perfect fit for this market. As we continue to innovate, and develop products that help our partners and customers build state-of-the-art data centres, Juniper’s journey to the multi-cloud has already begun.”
Through leveraging Juniper’s products and services, Iatrou said partners and customers can have a single pane-of-glass view into the multi-cloud environment, backed by the flexibility to transition workloads into the cloud.
“Customers will be able to collect and report usage at both an infrastructure and service level across all cloud environments, giving true end-to-end visibility of the multi-cloud environment,” he said.
In looking ahead, du Plooy said VMware is “firmly committed” to providing the software to run applications in production.
“This will be the case for applications that remain on-premises as well as those that move to cloud in virtual machines or containers,” he added.
“We will provide the bedrock management, networking and storage technologies to allow those to run reliably. This is what you’ll see reflected in our R&D and solution strategies.”
Citing customer and market research, du Plooy observed that hybrid cloud will be the “most common” operating model for data centres going forward.
“This means it’s the perfect time for partners to invest in skills and capabilities to build practices dedicated to deployment and consumption of hybrid cloud,” he advised.
“This could focus on helping customers build new applications, operate them or consume them as a service - depending on where the partner is best suited to help the customer in their application transformation strategy.
“This will allow partners to build a unique set of IP and capabilities which differentiate them from the pack.”
In conclusion, Iatrou insisted that data centres, public and private cloud, hybrid and multi-cloud deployments are “becoming the norm” for customers in Australia, creating channel opportunity as a result.
“At Juniper, we offer our partners the opportunity to join this incredible adoption of cloud to become agents for cloud transformation,” he said.
“Juniper has the products, the building blocks and most importantly, the knowledge to train and enable our partners to achieve desired business outcomes for their customers, while we continue to deliver on service capabilities that ensure all deployments are successful.”
This ARN Exchange was sponsored by Juniper Networks and VMware. Photos by Christine Wong.