Best of All Clouds: Enterprise Transformation With the Hybrid Cloud

This article is sponsored by Lenovo.

As more companies explore cloud solutions to digitalise and transform their business, the choices and possibilities can be overwhelming. To learn more about the various cloud options and things to consider, we interview Kumar Mitra, GM and MD, Central Asia Pacific, Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group.

When it comes to selecting a particular cloud model, what should an enterprise consider when making the decision?

Discussions on cloud (e.g. what, how, and when) have been around for some time, and initially many people did not comprehend why should we think about it. Certain perceptions see cloud as destination or somebody else’s data centre.

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From my perspective, cloud is an operating model, and the operating model might have multiple clouds. Cloud that is on-prem or off-prem; and with off-prem – it could be multiple clouds. Our customers are also in different stages of adoption towards a multi-cloud/hybrid cloud architecture. So, how should we go about doing this?

There are a few things to consider:

Firstly, we need to define the intended outcome. Are we trying to drive efficiency around costs? Are we trying to drive efficiency around application productivity, because that is where all our business runs, and where is our data is stored and managed? Or are we trying to drive people productivity which can help them to drive business outcomes?

Secondly, We need to look at the application landscape. The applications that are core to our business likely stays on-prem. They are core to the business with a stable usage/adoption pattern, security/privacy, and governance which are critical for this apps. Usually, these applications are not born in the cloud, or cloud-first.

Then, there are the new applications. These might be those which we do not know the usage of, or how well they will be adopted by our internal or external users. It might also be customer-facing apps. These can probably go off-prem, because it gives you the flexibility to scale up or down depending on your requirements.

The third and most important question is how you harmonise the experience between multiple data centres. How do you ensure app and data mobility across all POP (points of presence)? Can we move our apps seamlessly from one site to another? What is our security framework? How are we managing and monitoring the visibility and performance of these applications? Different applications can have different workload persona in terms of infrastructure usage, and we need to be able to see these differences through a single dashboard.

Running the entire application set with the right framework around security, governance, performance SLA (service-level agreement), data availability, and cost economics are few of the metrics to look at when considering your IT operating model.

You mentioned the different applications and the possibility of tracking usage and performance through a single dashboard. Are we looking at greater complexity coming into the entire IT infrastructure landscape?

Traditional data centers are complex with multiple siloed application islands, where applications and data are not transportable across the organisation. They lack consistency in security, provisioning, or orchestration. How do we guarantee performance, uptime, and data availability as per business needs? How can we take that state and deliver an elegant, responsive, resilient, and always-on IT which our customers (both internal and external) are expecting today? That is the question that we have to ask as a technology decision maker.

One thing the pandemic has taught us is that technology is the biggest enabler for us to stay relevant, resilient, and competitive. Is our traditional IT Infrastructure good enough to deliver today’s and future business requirements?

What you get is an end state where any user within the enterprise, or part of the external ecosystem, can seamlessly and securely access applications to stay productive based on their usage profile and security policies, whereas IT teams leverage a state-of-the-art application deployment setup with multiple sites (whether on- or off-prem), and benefit from flexible cost operating models and scalability options without compromising security, data privacy, and control.

The next big evolution will be edge computing. If you look at the distributed workforce now, we have distributed sites and machines that are intelligent enough to communicate with each other. As an example, we have intelligent home appliances, and smart cities deploying smart infrastructure to monitor and optimise the movement of people and automobiles. If you extrapolate this into the immediate future, the common denominator is the amount of data that is being generated. How do we store, analyse data into information, and execute insights which lead to the next shift in computing?

As CIOs prepare the digital blueprints for their organisations, they need to be cognisant of:

  • The application landscape.
  • Prioritisation based on business requirements.
  • Deployment based on cost, security, and availability.
  • An authentication/orchestration framework for seamless infrastructure management.
  • Disaster recovery frameworks.
  • Application and data mobility across sites.
  • Data analytics to deliver business insights.
  • Machine-to-machine technology, the Internet of Things, and edge readiness.

Technology adaptability and adoption would be key to any organisation staying relevant, resilient, and profitable into next decade.

What do you think differentiates Lenovo from other players in the sector?

We the only ones who provide solutions from pocket to data centre. Our vision is to be the best infrastructure platform partner for our customers in their digital transformation journey.

We, as an organisation, are an ecosystem builder of technology alliances and global system integrators, enabling us to provide end-to-end solutions.

Obsession for customer outcomes and customer service are key metrics for Lenovo. In my region, we have customers who have engaged with Lenovo for over a decade, and they keep coming back. The reason they do so boils down to the entire experience of engaging with Lenovo, where we focus on customers to ensure they have a delightful experience.

There is one last bit that is critical for us: we are a partner-first organisation, focusing on partner experience as they engage with Lenovo. We educate, enable, and excite partners as they embark on a profitable, relevant, and sustainable growth journey with us.

TruScale is something that you have been talking about over the past few years. Could you share more about what TruScale is, and what was the impetus behind its release?

I spoke earlier about the different operating models for cloud deployments. The top reasons for customers choosing to go for a public cloud is usually the ability to scale up and scale down, as well as the cost flexibility. It is like subscribing to a utility, akin to a cable TV subscription or gas connection in our homes – that is the thought process behind TruScale. If customers want to adopt a Lenovo-led solution, can they use a utility model which operates on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) model?

We wanted to make it flexible and customisable depending on the customer’s needs and environment. We also work with technology alliance partners to provide a complete solution wrapped with the TruScale operating model, so for customers it is a plug-and-play and PAYG experience.

With TruScale, we can take any Lenovo solution and convert it into a consumption- or utility-based model, giving customers the power to choose for themselves.

Is this IT-as-a-service model something that we are heading towards in the future?

Absolutely. We have seen infrastructure-as-a-service, or software-as-a-service companies, and I think the time is ripe for IT as a service. It is about customers focusing on their core business and serving their own customers while leveraging the benefits of IT as a utility.

The pandemic has driven home the following:

  • Leveraging technology as a key tenant for our work and personal lives.
  • As a consumer/customer, we have the power to choose of how we want to be served.
  • The benefits of a shared economy.
  • Lastly, the power of subscription. This is why we are so bullish on Lenovo and the benefits of TruScale.
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