Virtualization has happened in businesses in every industry in every market around the world.
The benefits of transforming physical IT into virtual environments are well known at this point. They include enabling more productive, efficient systems and driving cost savings for the company – all well and good and very important goals for the business.
But where do we go from here? Where does the next round of innovation and savings come from?
From my perspective, it’s in the better management of that virtualization.
There are two ways I see this working:
One is in the further reduction of the physical server footprint, which can be achieved by replacing older servers with new, faster, cheaper models with more storage. You can literally cut the physical IT estate in half today, resulting in half the number of servers to manage AND half the number of licenses needed to run on that physical estate. That can result in major costs savings, resulting in a much lower Total Cost of Ownership.
The other is in using software-defined networks and modern platforms to have complete oversight and control over the provisioning of applications, computer and storage and the latest analytics tools. Storage has now gone from a standalone asset to an integrated one that can be bought and managed on a discreet basis. That can result in huge efficiencies for the company.
1 Hyper-converged infrastructure. Converged infrastructure brings together compute, storage and networking as physical pieces. A hyper-converged infrastructure makes use of software-defined storage and networking. There’s no dedicated storage array. We tap storage within the physical environment of the compute and turn that into a storage capability that, via software, fits across all the different nodes.
2 Partner-engineered systems. The modern platform gets designed, assembled tested and to a certain extent supported by hardware partners. Our main partners for this are DellEMC, Lenovo and HPE.
The vendors start with an empty rack and fill it with a minimum of four servers. They then plug in two Layer 2 top-of-rack switches and install the VMware components, including the vSAN. Customers also have the option of deploying an NSX networking overlay.
The basic configuration comes with Avamar and Data Domain for data protection and disaster recovery. Then all of that technology gets run through the vendor’s documented test plan before being shipped, so when it arrives to the client it’s ready to go.
Customers can plug it in, add it to the network, turn the power on, and about 15 minutes later, should have the vCenter APIs available and the Web-based user interface up and running so they can manage the virtualized environment.
3 Entry-level scalability. We’ve targeted an entry-level scale of 100 virtual machines for our modern platform offering. We did this because of feedback that larger systems don’t offer the right entry point for many organizations that would otherwise consider this approach. The 100 VMs give customers a good starting place from which to expand and grow, and virtualization makes that process easier than ever.
4 Value-driven architecture. This approach enables a license-optimized architecture. We can achieve high value for the cost by optimizing both the hardware and the software licensing.
In my view, the Modern Platform approach really does present a strong business case. You can spin up and wind down applications and test environments easily. You have the control and security that your organization requires, and you can do it all at a much lower cost.
I truly see this as the next step in virtualization – and you can bet forward-thinking businesses are already making that connection.
Chris Swan is CTO for Global Infrastructure Services at CSC, where he directs the vision, strategy and architecture for CSC’s infrastructure and managed services portfolios including cloud, workplace, data center, platform and service management. Chris also leads CSC’s shift towards infrastructure as code and being a data-driven delivery organization. Connect with him on LinkedIn.