Q&A Series – How to have a cloud-like experience on premise – Kevin Koelmeyer

Kevin is a passionate technologist with a proven track record in getting an organisation’s IT services operating at peak efficiency. Kevin is a catalyst for change with skills spanning management of IT operations, strategic planning and successful leadership of high performing teams.

With most companies well on their way to adopting cloud technologies, it is worth understanding what options organisations have today. There are perceptions that cloud is good, and that on-premise is bad. There are also concerns that retaining on-premise infrastructure still leaves IT teams with onerous management and maintenance burdens. There are however, other options, as this interview with Kevin Koelmeyer reveals.

Q: Kevin, Somerville has a great deal of experience in all aspects of cloud, from public to private, colo and hybrid cloud. Many Somerville customers may not realise that a managed cloud experience can be delivered on-premise. Could you explain what this is?

Kevin: Yes, of course. Essentially, an on-premise cloud is a private cloud, provided and managed by Somerville, but installed in your own data centre.

Q: So why would customers choose to have an on-premise cloud as opposed to a public cloud or an off-premise private cloud?

Kevin: Well, there are a number of reasons why organisations choose on-premise infrastructure. Off-premise environments have many variables outside of the control of the organisation. Regulation, particularly around data sovereignty, is evolving on different paths in different regions around the world, creating a fluid, multi-faceted compliance requirement. There is also a desire to have control over the user experience, so the ability to manage the performance delivered to customers and users is a strong motivator. All of these factors point to creating  an on-premise environment, enabling maximum controls, security and compliance.

Q: What’s the Somerville story around an on-premise cloud experience?

Kevin: It’s actually a great story! Somerville works with the customer to help define the amount of workload that needs to be accommodated within the on-premise cloud. We then use that information to define a configuration suitable for that workload. That configuration – servers, storage and networking – is then delivered to the customer’s own data centre and installed. From the time that the applications are commissioned, Somerville monitors and manages the environment up to the hypervisors. That leaves the customer really only responsible for the virtualised OS, security, the applications and the data. And even then, we can help with establishing and executing a backup regime, and have recently started also provided firewalling services. It’s really up to the customer to determine the scope.

Q: Can you give me an example of Somerville performing such a project?

Kevin: Sure. We recently worked with a college in Mackay, Queensland. We installed 2 HPE servers and a 3PAR SAN on their site. The customer pays monthly recurring costs, but avoids a CapEx charge. You have no idea how difficult it is for many organisations to get approval for capital expense, so the ability to pay for an on-premise cloud out of operating expense makes it so much easier. This college has the ability to scale up or down depending on requirements. They can request more RAM for their servers and can add storage to their 3PAR SAN. In fact, they went through a project that required further scaling, but after 3 months it was no longer needed, so they then shrank their infrastructure back to a suitable model. Customers only pay for what they actually use.

Q: What impact does a project like this have on the existing IT staff? Do they typically reduce headcount?

Kevin: That’s a really interesting dimension to this scenario. In short, the answer is no, they do not reduce headcount. Instead, their resources are repurposed to more strategic projects that help their organisation grow and transform. To illustrate this point and outline how this achieved, I like to refer to Gartner’s Run-Grow-Transform model.

Gartner developed this model to support IT portfolio planning and investment in IT products and services. The “Run” part of the model indicates how much of the IT resources are focused on the everyday operations of the organisation. This is sometimes called the “keeping the lights on” or “sustaining IT” spending. This is Important, even vital, but it doesn’t contribute to increasing revenue or growing the organisation.

The “Grow” part of the model refers to how much of the IT resources are focused on developing and enhancing IT systems in support of organisational growth – to extend existing capabilities, deliver differentiation and provide competitiveness.

The “Transform” part of the model refers to what is commonly called digital transformation, or implementing IT systems that enable the organisation to enter new markets, address new customer segments, create new value propositions and enact new business models. Using HPE Gen10 servers and a VMware virtualised environment, the on-premise cloud is very conducive to agile-style rapid development, with an ability to spin test environments up and down very quickly.

Our customers’ on-premise cloud environments are “run” by Somerville, helping our customers’ IT teams to add true strategic value to the organisation because they now have time to do the growing and transforming. We have seen some of our customers actually grow their IT teams following  an on-premise cloud implementation, to accelerate the grow and transform opportunities for their organisation.

Q: So, an on-premise cloud is really a private cloud but with the hardware onsite and being able to scale up and down with monthly OpEx charges and everything managed by Somerville?

Kevin: I couldn’t have put it better myself! I don’t see on-premise clouds going away any time soon. I do forecast increasing numbers of organisations moving from public cloud to private cloud, whether on-premise or off-premise. This is really because of the factors I mentioned earlier, such as controls, security and compliance, and of course, because you want to keep your most valuable asset, your data, as close to you as possible.

Q: So, what would you recommend to someone interested in achieving a cloud experience on-premise?

Kevin: We’d be delighted to discuss these concepts in greater depth, and specific to a customer’s environment. Send us an email at info@somerville.com.au

The TCO of Keeping IT Infrastructure On-premise

There are two main considerations to make when assessing whether IT infrastructure should be purchased and installed in on-premise server rooms, or whether it should be set up “in the cloud” by partnering with a managed IT services provider.

  1. What is the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of each approach?
  2. How will each IT investment approach impact my organisation over the long term?

In other words, rather than simply looking at cost on its own, it’s also critical to consider which is the best investment approach for your organisation in terms of long-term efficiency and suitability.

The TCO of on-premise IT infrastructure

There are a number of significant costs associated with installing and operating IT infrastructure in-house:

  • Real estate costs – you have to allocate climate-controlled, secure space to accommodate servers, storage, network infrastructure, air-conditioning units, raised floor and cabling.
  • Infrastructure costs – this includes the upfront costs of purchasing servers, storage, network infrastructure, air-conditioning and cabling.
  • Hardware maintenance –maintenance coverage for the first three years i.e. the warranty, is typically pre-paid at the time of purchase. At the end of the warranty, maintenance has to be paid again and usually at a higher rate (as the hardware is now older).
  • Setup costs – costs of IT staff to establish the environment and set up networking – including for remote users.
  • Hardware and software currency – IT resources required to support servers, storage, networks, and to perform updates, patches and fixes.
  • Security & DR – IT resources are responsible for data breaches and server failures, and IT bears the direct costs of backups and redundancy.

The TCO of managed IT services in a hosted private cloud

Let’s contrast the costs above with their hosted (managed service) alternative.

With cloud-based managed IT services, costs associated with real estate, infrastructure, hardware maintenance, hardware and software currency, security and DR are all replaced with a single monthly charge that matches with your ongoing resource consumption.

Additionally, a hosted private cloud provider offers economies of scale that no on-premise alternative can come close to matching. These economies of scale include:

  • Large data centres with space allocated to many private cloud tenants
  • Security capabilities and costs amortised over many tenants
  • Wide use of virtualisation – especially on servers – ensuring optimal resource utilisation
  • Much greater buying power, leading to lower costs
  • Many processes are automated and standardised, leading to greater efficiencies

Most importantly, with managed IT services, internal teams aren’t tied down to managing the on-premise environment, which means they can focus their attention on innovation and technologies to help grow the organisation.

So, rather than facing lumpy and unpredictable capital expenditures, an organisation only pays for the IT services it needs when it needs them, and can scale up and down as needed. Effectively, the volatile CapEx cost model is replaced by a predictable OpEx-based subscription fee.

Shifting IT investment from CapEx to OpEx

IT infrastructure needs are becoming less and less predictable. CapEx-based on-premise IT infrastructure that is fit for purpose today could well be archaic just a couple of years down the line.

Additionally, the purchase cost of installing on-premise IT infrastructure is just the beginning. In addition to the IT resources needed to operate, support and maintain the environment, end-of-warranty and the end-of-life events require more cash investments. Maintenance payments begin where there weren’t any before, replacement for end-of-life assets become necessary, and migration costs are incurred to move from the old to the new.

Conversely, the operating expenses (OpEx) associated with cloud-based managed IT services are used purely for day-to-day running costs – and while subscription costs can go up if resource usage increases, they can also go down when workloads reduce. The CapEx alternative to increased resource usage is making potentially significant cash investments into an environment that could soon be outdated, and for what may simply be a temporary increase in usage.

Weighing up managed cloud services vs. on-premise IT infrastructure

By viewing the purchasing and running of your IT infrastructure from the perspective of Capital Expenditure vs. Operational Expenditure, it strengthens the argument for the private cloud option over owning the infrastructure and keeping it on premise.

Technology developments are occurring faster than companies can digest them, which is why forward-thinking CFOs are shifting from a reliance on capital expenditure to operational spending.

Perhaps the most important outcome of this shift is the freeing up of internal IT resources to develop key technologies and applications that can help grow the organisation. With time to focus on business-critical innovation, the possibilities for growth are virtually endless.

Somerville  is  a market-leading private and multi-cloud solutions provider in Australia, Somerville’s service offerings are underpinned by HPE’s technologies and backed by a team of experts qualified with over 50 technical certifications.

With a data centre footprint in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and New Zealand, Somerville provides private cloud infrastructure with enterprise-class uptime, reliability and security. Customers get an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform, with the cost benefits of shared resources and access to expertise, all with SLAs around redundancy and uptime.

Regardless of where you are on your cloud journey, Somerville is here to help find the right solution to fit your organisation’s needs. Start your private cloud conversation today.

Is Hosted Hybrid IT the Key to Solving Your Aging Infrastructure Problem?

IT can be something of a Sydney Harbour Bridge project. Like the painters who daily scale towers of the iconic construction, reaching up to 134 metres above sea level to deal with the never-ending challenge of aging paintwork, the work of the IT team is never done. As one part of the underlying system is updated, so another piece of infrastructure reaches its end-of-life. With this constant cycle of replacement, though, when is the IT team to focus on the digital transformation that every organisation faces?

Digital Preparedness

Most organisations are accustomed to a three-year cycle of infrastructure upgrades, but the pace of technology is now much faster. Given how fast new competition emerges, and how quickly new opportunities must be grasped, missing out on the latest technology represents significant risk.

The solution to this challenge can vary, depending on the level of IT investment the size of the IT team, and organisational culture. In order to keep pace with organisational demands, the necessary focus must be on delivering strategic IT outcomes in support of the growth of the organisation. This can mean implementing new services, introducing greater efficiencies and improving customer and user experiences – activities that are near impossible to manage at the same time as wrangling infrastructure that is in a constant replacement cycle.

From finance, automotive and insurance industries to schools, colleges and universities, the battle to attract and retain customers is incredibly brutal. Few weeks pass without another big name disappearing from the business landscape, outdone by a brand-new competitor or by an existing name that has mastered reinvention. The pressure on the IT team to keep up and to innovate is immense.

Infrastructure as Utility

Instead of the constant patching, updating, and replacing of infrastructure, many organisations are capitalising on cloud to acquire IT infrastructure as a utility, much like electricity or water. Unlike traditional utilities, though, there is far greater choice of provider, and both quality and service levels can vary.

The potential is tremendous. Almost any organisation, of any size, can access the latest enterprise level technology via hosted hybrid cloud solutions. They can opt to have someone else apply security patches the moment they are available, and provision additional capacity the moment it is needed. Thanks to some big leaps in hybrid infrastructure design, they can also have their cloud services and still keep chosen workloads on premise seamlessly.

Hosted Hybrid IT

While adding cloud to your in-house IT arsenal brings exceptional scalability and flexibility, it can also add complexity. One vital element of the transition is to plan carefully so that the productivity of the IT team and the availability of services and applications to the organisation are unaffected, so for customers and users it can be business as usual. The new generation hybrid IT products developed by the likes of HPE make enormous strides in ease of management, but for many organisations, it makes sense to focus every possible resource on winning the digital transition race. That means letting go of some or all elements of infrastructure management.

There are plenty of options available, and the Somerville hosted hybrid IT specialists report that a tailored and flexible approach tops requirements for most customers. That means a shared responsibility for IT operations, giving freedom where it is needed without sacrificing control. Organisations access an extended team of experts on a pay-as-you-go basis. Simplified budgeting may not be the initial motivator for every customer, but it is certainly a highlight for most.

The focus in this new hybrid IT world is on an organisation’s needs and opportunities. When the marketing team needs a fast turnaround or manufacturing must ramp up quickly to meet increased demand, the IT team becomes the enabler that makes it all possible. Behind that ready agreement lies software-enabled automation and seamless hybrid cloud management. The resulting cloud-like experience frees the IT team from the Harbour Bridge-style treadmill and creates a streamlined, efficient and highly responsive environment where innovation is welcome.

Got higher priorities than day-to-day infrastructure management? Contact our friendly hybrid IT experts today.

Moving to a Private Cloud is Easy

There are many reasons to consider moving applications to hosted private cloud. Most businesses today have become all too aware that they should expect disruptions in their industry, and competitive threats from unexpected directions. Trying to leverage IT to introduce agility and enable innovation and growth is difficult when IT is already consumed by the overheads of keeping legacy systems ticking over and healthy.

CIOs are forced to question their fundamental role in the business. Should they continue to be a builder and manager of data centre functions, or become a trusted partner in the journey to a reinvented digital business. The former puts the CIO at risk of obsolescence as the business learns to survive without IT through the use of shadow IT options and other partnerships. The latter leads to collaboration with the leadership team via shared goals.

One of the options available to CIOs to take immediate pressure off the IT team is to move a number of applications to a hosted private cloud. This immediately provides significant benefits for IT:

  • Immediate enterprise-class data centre reliability and availability for business-critical workloads.
  • Instant scalability without large injections of CapEx.
  • Reduced expensive raised floorspace requirements.
  • IT resources freed up to focus on innovation and the growth of the organisation.

So, just how easy is it to move to a private cloud?

Private cloud technical considerations

While the move to a cloud-based model doesn’t exclude physical servers, the more virtualized your existing infrastructure, the easier the transition to a cloud will be. If you haven’t done so already, adopt a “VM-first policy,” in which new services and applications are virtualized by default. Then, only when it’s demonstrated that these services cannot perform well virtualized, deploy them on dedicated physical servers.

Moving your virtual servers to the Somerville private cloud does not normally involve a change in IP address. This kind of transparency even extends to end-users not even being aware that they are accessing their virtual servers over a WAN link rather than locally. That is not to suggest that users should not be aware of a change to a hosted cloud environment – in fact, when Somerville helps facilitate migration, they works with both IT staff as well as users to ensure a smooth transition.

Moving to a private cloud is not a “big bang” approach. IT organisations and the organisation’s leadership team will make decisions on which applications to migrate based on a number of criteria. The good news is that private cloud is more amenable to application migrations than public cloud.

Private cloud is a good choice when security, control and performance are your top priority. The dedicated resources that Private Cloud gives you makes it ideal for:

  • Workloads and data with demanding security requirements 
  • Mission-critical business applications
  • Addressing compliance regulations 
  • Disaster recovery
  • Test and dev resources

Note too that migrating virtual servers to Somerville’s private cloud doesn’t preclude you from deciding to run your own file, print, or DHCP servers on-premise. You will probably be pleased to find that the physical – or virtualised – servers you choose to run on-premise could be part of the same pay-as-you-go private cloud arrangement with Somerville.

Setting up DHCP failover and DFS replication from an on-premise file server to a server in the hosted private cloud data centre achieves minimum disruption to end users. DHCP failover is a mechanism whereby two DHCP servers are configured to manage the same pool of addresses and can provide backup for each other in the case of network outages. DFS replication is an effective way to replicate data between servers that are located on-premise and in the Somerville data centre.

We mentioned earlier that moving applications to hosted private cloud creates opportunities to redirect IT and capital resources to business transformation. The kinds of tasks that are no longer part of IT’s daily grind include; physical security; logical security; software, firmware and hypervisor updates and patching; and even pay-as-you-grow Microsoft licensing for both on-premise and cloud infrastructure.

Conclusion

There are compelling reasons to seek a partnership with a private cloud provider. There are no technical challenges involved in the migration and implementation. Somerville’s Private Cloud offering is a true enterprise-class service. with infrastructure is based on enterprise-class HPE compute and solid state disk (SSD) fibre channel attached storage. All our private cloud platforms are monitored 24X7 and the team at Somerville rectifies issues before the customer even realises there was a problem. We deploy servers with rack redundancy and can also offer data centre redundancy for customers seeking that additional peace of mind.

For a discussion on how we can help you take advantage of our private cloud offering, please contact us here.

Somerville’s Private Cloud – Transform Your Organisation

5 signs you’re ready for the private cloud

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The digital transformation journey that many organisations are beginning, often start with establishing a partnership with a private cloud provider, and the migration of a substantial set of workloads to the provider’s facility. This is a first step that begins to relieve the IT organisation from the resource-intensive, day-to-day care and maintenance of legacy applications running on internal, on-premise infrastructure.

The CIOs role begins to evolve from a builder and manager of data centre functions, and becomes one of collaboration with the C-level leadership team to transform the organisation into a growth engine far beyond its legacy beginnings. There are direct benefits derived from a migration to private cloud infrastructure.

  • The provider’s hosted private cloud servers are physically located in the same enterprise-class data centres as public cloud providers, with all their stringent requirements around physical and logical security, redundant power, redundant networks, bullet-proof ITIL service management processes, and so on.
  • Having your private cloud in highly resilient locations allows your organisation and users anytime, anywhere remote access connectivity into your organisation applications at 10Gbit speeds.
  • Your DR and Organisation Continuity plans can be made more streamlined, and would be easier to implement and test regularly.

Another perspective is that moving to a private cloud exposes you to additional opportunities to further reduce dependence on IT as a support organisation.

Hybrid IT

We have mentioned in other articles that the physical – or virtualised – servers you may choose to retain on-premise for file, print or DHCP functions, could be part of the same pay-as-you-go private cloud arrangement. Here we have the beginnings of a Hybrid IT environment where all care and maintenance is in the hands of a partner like Somerville and our trusted partner HPE.

In addition, the Somerville private cloud hosted in the data centre, opens up many new services to your organisation via private links into the public cloud (Azure Express Route or AWS Direct Connect). So if you should choose to augment your private cloud and on-premise infrastructure with infrastructure in Azure or AWS, then your servers in the partner’s ecosystem will have high-bandwidth links into the public cloud infrastructure.

This opens up a world where even more of your on-premise applications can be migrated to private cloud as well as public cloud offerings. For example, public cloud is often selected for:

  • One-time big data projects – e.g. spin up 10,000 servers, crunch away and then spin them down at the end of the project.
  • Read-only, public information websites.
  • Customer relationship management apps.
  • Mission-support apps such as project management, expense reporting and time management.
  • Email.
  • HR systems.

Somerville’s Private Cloud offerings in conjunction with HPE have low-latency, high-bandwidth direct peering with many of the public cloud providers and PaaS providers in Australia, enabling your organisation to move large amounts of data in either direction. Note too that many private cloud customers have found that the move to Office 365 is faster and easier. A number of Somerville private cloud customers have discovered that the private cloud service has an easy on-ramp to Somerville’s Backup as a Service (BaaS) offering with HPE infrastructure.

For those private cloud customers serious about agility, and embracing the world of DevOps, the ability to spin up VM instances and file and database copies for development and testing has been vital to their rapid development programs.

Conclusion

Gartner Group, in its “CIO Futures: The IT Organisation in 2030,” predicts that by 2025, “IT has shifted almost all physical assets to service providers, concentrating on being a design and enablement resource for enterprises.” And that by 2030, “the CEO-CIO relationship is level and inextricably synergistic, like the CEO-CFO or CEO-COO back in 2016, because technology underpins the vast majority of activity and interactions within and outside the enterprise.” This prediction was originally developed in October 2016 and refreshed in March 2018.

Private cloud can be your first step into digital transformation, and it’s a step that can develop quickly into Hybrid IT with significant payoffs as far as enabling IT to take a lead in the transformation of the organisation. For an expert discussion about your private cloud options – and beyond – please contact us here.