Mapping the paths on the cloud journey

This article is sponsored by Lenovo.

As with any other technology, cloud is an evolving organism that has taken on many shapes and sizes, to adapt to the changing demands of enterprises. Conversations surrounding cloud used to centre on public versus private infrastructure, but has since incorporated the topics of agility, scalability, and increased security— thus giving rise to the hybrid cloud.

Most IT experts agree that when it comes to cloud, there is no “one size fits all” approach for enterprises. One company’s data requirements differ from the other, hence cloud solutions are best tailored per customer.

In the latest Cloud Frontiers online conference, organised by Jicara Media, Abhilash GK, Software-Defined Infrastructure Lead for Lenovo ISG, Asia Pacific, discussed the different scenarios involved in the cloud enterprise journey, and how tech firms, like Lenovo, are adapting to the rapidly-changing needs of customers.

GK enumerated three main factors that clients consider on their cloud journey:

  • Security
  • Speed and agility
  • Automation

“What they (clients) effectively want is that the infrastructure they deploy should be secure and reliable, right? So there (is) no compromise for security and reliability of the processes, irrespective of where (they are) deployed— it could be on-premises, (or) it could be on a public cloud infrastructure. The capability around security and reliability is paramount,” GK said.

For speed and agility, GK described them as “an absolute must” for companies, rather than an added option.

Meanwhile, the value of automation to enterprises, GK noted, cannot be overstated.

“They (companies) no longer want to spend the IT resources on daily mundane tasks. They want their resources to focus on something cutting-edge for their organisations, and something that can help in the long-term. So they want the ability to automate a lot of the daily mundane tasks, so that it allows them to focus on their core business objectives,” he explained.

Choosing a path

There are many reasons why a client would go for on-prem, public cloud, multi-cloud, or hybrid cloud. Lenovo’s approach, according to GK, is to be able to customise solutions based on existing business needs.

“If you look at our cloud strategy, and because we all know that Lenovo is not a hyperscaler— we don’t provide public cloud services. So from that perspective, how can we help our customers achieve the cloud agility or the journey that they’re ultimately looking at doing, and how can we help them get there,” GK said.

He further enumerated four ways that enable Lenovo to meet the cloud requirements of its clients:

“The idea is to partner with the leading providers in offering what is right for a specific customer. It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all approach that works anymore, right? We have to sit with customers of all sizes, understand what specific business outcomes that they want to achieve, and help them traverse that,” GK said.

“The second thing, as an infrastructure provider, it is important to create an infrastructure or create an ecosystem, which helps deliver these applications seamlessly. In fact, today, Lenovo supplies to seven of the top-end hyperscalers,” he added.

Thirdly, Lenovo is able to support any path to the cloud.

“We are no longer kind of bound by the fact that everything has to be on-prem. There are workloads which would benefit from being on-prem, we have solutions to address that as well. Now, there are solutions which would benefit from a hybrid approach, wherein the ability to move workloads between both on-prem and off-prem solutions, helps the customer. We have solutions to do that as well,” GK said.

“We are no longer forcing the customers to be on-prem because that’s not the right way to go. Customers would want the flexibility to move and operate their workflows, irrespective of the environment that they are in,” he added.

Last but not the least, Lenovo provides a customer experience rooted in professional service and engineering capabilities, so that customers are not left in the dark post-infrastructure deployment.

“We have to make sure that the life of an IT admin is seamless, and they are not worried about keeping the lights on. And they can focus on important objectives that the organisation wants to,” GK noted.

Cost efficiency

Due to the existence of many vendors in the industry, customers have a lot of options for their cloud requirements. Hence, they want the biggest bang for their buck.

“The other important piece that a lot of our customers ask is, ‘How about the financial (aspect)? Can you offer the same financial flexibility of pay as you use for an on-prem infrastructure or a hybrid infrastructure?’ The answer is yes. Now with TruScale as a service model, we are offering the widest portfolio from an entry-level compute, to become the most complex HCI (hyper-converged infrastructure) solution—we offer all of them. Now, the ability to offer any faster cloud is also an important thing, right? Because with the as-a-service option, customers can choose to pay for what they use and not (for) what they have. And with the metered solution that we have, wherein we are (using a) metering basis (for) the power consumption of the gear that you have in the data centre, a customer has a clearer view of what they are paying for,” GK said.

According to GK, Lenovo is also offering to update customers with new technology as they come in, so enterprises get the best equipment and solutions possible.

“When it comes to hardware obsolescence, which is a reality (because) every three or five years new technology kind of comes in. With the TruScale solution, customers have the ability to refresh that year after their end of contract, or the end of the three or five years that they choose. And we can refresh that entire year with newer technology to support their business objectives and support these new generation applications. So not only (do) we offer the technical flexibility in terms of the product portfolio, but we also offer the financial flexibility,” he said.

This financial flexibility, GK pointed out, is among enterprises’ top considerations for when choosing a cloud provider.

“There are customers who benefit from being on a single cloud, (and) there are customers who benefit from moving to a multi-cloud. And a lot of that time, (during those) discussions, at least from what we have seen, factors are around cost, right? They (customers) don’t want to be locked into a particular cloud solution or a cloud platform. It could be either on-prem or it could be offsite. The other thing that we are seeing is the flexibility of workloads moving across various clouds, and more importantly, the capabilities that either the hyperscaler or their own organisations have in terms of moving that. The use cases and the scenarios differ from customer to customer,” he said.

Eventually, it all boils down to the added features that customers get when they sign up for a particular service. In the event of a disaster like an earthquake or a flood, for example, enterprises would want to rest easy that their data and infrastructure are protected.

“So you could have an on-prem infrastructure, (and) you want disaster recovery capabilities. On our public cloud infrastructure, we do have the capability. You want to do bursting and scaling, we have the ability to move workloads, from an on-prem infrastructure to an off-prem public cloud infrastructure, to cater to additional scaling needs that you have. And the ability to operate in a cloud-native world, all of these applications, or all of the workloads that you deploy on the infrastructure have the ability to work with the native cloud services because of the orchestration that we are able to do,” GK concluded.