Navigating the cloud journey amid the rise of the hybrid world

There are times when one cloud just isn’t enough — but how do you figure out the right cloud for the right workload? At the recent Cloud Frontiers conference, Abhilash GK, Software-Defined Infrastructure Lead at Lenovo ISG, Asia Pacific, addressed all the different permutations of cloud models, and what it takes to orchestrate data, resources, speed and security across multiple clouds to maximise performance and efficiency — without drowning in complexity.

Abhilash began his keynote titled “Navigating The Cloud Journey and The Rise of Hybrid World” by saying that there are many parts to navigating to the cloud as many of Lenovo’s customers are still deciding how to go about it, and there are no rights and wrongs. It’s no longer a binary decision anymore in terms of how one would proceed. There are various paths, each with its own pros and cons.

He added that as Lenovo’s customers are navigating their whole cloud journey, is it giving rise to a hybrid world wherein data and navigation can co-exist in multiple models and definitions of what we call the cloud. 

Digital transformation is the backbone

Abhilash said that the fundamental background to the cloud journey has something to do with digital transformation. “I would like to think of it as a cycle wherein organisations plan to do an organisational transformation, but then they realise that the infrastructure they have isn’t ready with the capacity, forcing them to add in a digital infrastructure capacity that is then used for this organisation’s transformation, and all of this capacity is used up and it’s a cycle all over again,” he observed.

He further said that the value and importance of the IT sector was predominantly felt during the pandemic. “A lot of our customers have spoken about organisational and digital transformation, but they are targeting three key things mainly. First, the infrastructure that they deploy should be secure and agile enough. There should be no compromise on security and reliability; they should be paramount,” said Abhilash.

“The other characteristics they need are speed and agility, and they are no longer an option, they are an absolute must, both in terms of addressing the threats that they have, and grabbing opportunities that come their way. Lastly, our customers talk a lot about automation. They no longer want to spend the IT resources on mundane day-to-day tasks. They want their resources to focus on something cutting edge for their organisation and something that can help them in the long term. They want the ability to automate these tasks,” he added.

Parts of a data ecosystem

Abhilash stressed that the market dynamics for digital transformation is centred around data centres, the cloud, and edge (computing). While edge has been around for a while, he noted that it has been in more use during the last 18-20 months, especially with the linkage of Internet of Things and artificial intelligence. While organisations look at these in silos, Abhilash believes that developers see it as a coming together of these three.

“That’s what I’d like to refer to as a data ecosystem,” said Abhilash. “There are certain workloads that’ll never leave the data centre due to regulation or compliance reasons. Similarly, there are things that are very specific to the cloud. The interesting part is the intersection between the three, which is where all the innovation is happening.”

Abhilash added: “The intersection is this hybrid cloud world between the corporate data centre and the public cloud, and this is a hot topic in the market. The cloud is an outcome and not a destination. There are various roads to get to that – like public, private, hybrid, you name it.”

“As long as we are focused on the outcome and not specifically the destination or definitions of ‘cloud,’ I guess that would be better for our customers and our partners too,” he said.

Lenovo’s cloud strategy

Abhilash said that Lenovo’s cloud perspective is built on four areas: 

First, they partner with software providers on the cloud journey. “It’s no longer a one size fits all approach. We have to sit with customers of all sizes, understand what specific business outcomes they want to reap, and help them achieve those,” he said.

Secondly, as an infrastructure provider, it’s important for Lenovo to create a proper infrastructure or ecosystem that helps deliver applications. “Today, Lenovo supplies to 7 of the Top 10 hyperscalers, which means while you probably are using Lenovo devices in your own data centre, there are hyperscalers who are using Lenovo in their public cloud infrastructure. The reason we are able to do this is because of the underlying hardware ecosystem that we have built which is capable of delivering these workloads,” said Abhilash.

The third and most important, according to Abhilash, is that Lenovo can support any customer path to the cloud. 

“Finally, we have the widest portfolio available with us to help our customers, right from a do-it-yourself approach to create a fully customised cloud. We use hyper-converged infrastructure as well. All of this is pitched together with the right solutions, which can help customers in their cloud journey, from assessment to design. Our solutions are built to operate in a hybrid cloud,” said Abhilash.

Lenovo has various reference architectures to help make the entire cloud journey smooth and easy. Lenovo TruScale, for instance, is a subscription-based offering that lets customers use data centre hardware and services. It includes the following elements:

  1. Hardware installation, deployment and removal.
  2. Implementation of best practices deployment.
  3. Ongoing monitoring and incident management.
  4. A customer portal.
  5. A designated customer success manager.
  6. Health checks as per customer schedule.
  7. Quarterly business reviews and support plans.
  8. Utilisation metering, billing on consumption.

Abhilash also shared that Lenovo has the capacity to provide disaster recovery solutions, and the ability to move workloads to a public cloud infrastructure and operate with native cloud services.

“In a multi-cloud world, you would want the cloud to orchestrate workloads across various cloud platforms. If you look at the core theme, the idea is to focus on the outcome and not the deployment model. There are various deployment models available out there; as long as we are able to cater to specific customers, we are good to go and that’s what Lenovo and our partners are striving for,” concluded Abhilash.