Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How did that happen – I have hybrid IT?

Hybrid IT is the new normal, according to one HPE blogger, for the NonStop community it may only be a matter of time before the plans of both NonStop and hybrid IT intersect …


Let’s face it. There are many disruptions that can interrupt our routines. Not that long ago I was a regular at the local fitness center but now, having moved, I haven’t found a new place to go exercise. I have always loved to walk and there will be some of you from my time at Tandem Computers who may recall that most mornings I could be seen with fellow walkers striding the sidewalks of Cupertino. Even when I lived in Simi Valley I would devise a routine that had me cirling the shopping center where my Starbucks was located so that I could eke out a 20 minute walk. I don’t know what it is but I am horrible at improvising and unless I have a set time and place to do something, I find ways to duck whatever task or activity I had set out to do.

On the other hand, we only just coming out of winter here, along the Colorado front ranges, and so to some extent, I can blame the weather. More to the point, however, it has become hard to ignore that I have put on a little weight over the winter and almost by accident, I can no longer wear the same clothes I wore last spring. Perhaps accident isn’t the best choice of words as nothing happened overnight and yet, here I am, wondering how I can return to my regular exercise program. Working all day at a keyboard demands a price but I hand’t thought that would include a few extra punds!

Talking of accidents leads me to remark somewhat candidly about a tweet I happened to come across by chance. Gary Mitchell, a fellow HPE independent blogger who I happened to catch up with late last year while at HPE Discover, Madrid, tweeted “A new report from @Forrester finds 2/3 of businesses end up w/a hybrid estate by accident – not design.” The link takes you to the HPE newsroom and to the article,   Survey Says: Composability and Continuous Delivery Accelerate Business Initiatives and Deliver a Competitive Advantage. “We were curious to better understand how IT is dealing with this transition, so we commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a survey to evaluate the current state of Hybrid IT,” said HPE blogger, Gary Thome.

“While Hybrid IT is the new normal,” Thome noted, “two-thirds of businesses ended up with a hybrid estate by accident – not design.” Now, there are all sorts of ways to accidental IT these days. Sorting out IT following a major merger (or breakup), changing the IT leadership and with it, changing the applications and perhaps more commonplace these days, migrating to open platforms. Whatever the cause, IT suddenly wakes up to find it has inherited a completely foreign mish-mash of technologies with the directive to get it all working. And now! On the other hand, clouds and embracing clouds, shouldn’t be among the accidents IT inherits unless, unhappily, IT is deliberately kept in the dark. And there are plenty of instances where change was not only an accident but a deliberate sidestepping of normal IT oversight.

I am often caught up in discussions about what the data center of the future will look like if, at all, it still exists within Global 1000 companies. A very strong case can be made that when your business isn’t centered on IT either as a manufacturer or a vendor, then perhaps you shouldn’t even have an on-premise data center. Today, there are many enterprises rethinking their strategies in this regard and I know of one very large retailer, for instance, that is electing to move it’s IT support for payments to a cloud offering.

And this just makes sense – back in the 1970s when working for a Caterpillar Tractor distributor, the enterprise first consolidated all of its IT within a new organization and then sold it to a New York consulting company where it became a major service bureau, but accidental hybrid IT? It does sound a bit far-fetched even as it might have us looking to the horizon for the imminent arrival of storm clouds!

Time sharing; service bureaus; clouds – they have a familiar ring to them in one sense. It is ultimately just another perspective of relenting control and yes, funding, of the data center to someone else. I can recall all the passion and enthusiasm for embracing best-of-breed solutions freeing enterprises from having to place major bets with select few vendors.

But it “growe'd like Topsy” and even with the best defined infrastructure in place, an awful lot of silo-ed solutions emerged that even today require additional infrastructure to ensure viable participation with the rest of IT. When I look at what is being addressed by hybrid IT, it is starting to look a lot like the big data centers of the past as increasingly, enterprises argue strongly that the applications deemed mission critical really should run on-premise, in a private cloud!

I recently wrote to my clients about an in-depth article published late last year in Virtualization and Cloud Review,
The Composable Datacenter of the Future, where writer James Green starts out on familiar ground:

“IT Infrastructure is always evolving. The next big change will be back toward an old, familiar model, closer to the days of the mainframe than the era of silo-ed servers that has dominated for decades.”

However, possibly of more interest to NonStop vendors is a subsequent observation Green makes:

“What Does It Mean for Infrastructure To Be "Composable"? Software that enables the abstraction of infrastructure resources transformed the modern datacenter—most notably, the abstraction of physical machines into virtual machines (VMs) via a hypervisor. Spurred on by the benefits many organizations realized by abstracting the machine construct, some datacenter thinkers have been working toward building a ‘hypervisor for the datacenter.’”

Accidents? Familiar models? And now, hypervisor for the datacenter? I am not so sure that what is being referenced here can be considered haphazard or even random as there is an underlying plan working itself out among enterprises. For those enterprises that deem oversight of the business logic and data as being crucial to the ongoing success and indeed expansion of their business it is important to stay on top of the technology and the best way to do that continues to be the big boxes in the air conditioned room. Or vault, as it is increasingly becoming given the unease among enterprises executives about security.

There is a lot being written by HPE about composability even as there is a lot of head scratching among the NonStop user community as to what it all means. There is a very solid line connecting composable to virtual machines and that’s one place to start. But for now, you will not read anything from HPE suggesting that future virtualized NonStop workloads will be able to run on any hypervisor for the datacenter supported by infrastructure that is composable and yet, it wouldn’t be an accident if such a situation develops. It is common knowledge that the push to support NonStop on VMs came from the NonStop telco customers and there is every indication that shortly, HPE will take the wraps off a telco up and running with virtualized NonStop so perhaps it’s all about to happen for NonStop.

That is, NonStop being software-defined as HPE would like all of its core products to become – yes, think first up how advantageous that would be in development shops and where QA, testing and PoCs are the order of the day. Think too of the multi-tenancy on offer for NonStop SQL/MX and how this plays into a software-defined world. It’s no accident that HPE has let its own IT group drive requirements for NonStop and it’s no accident either that NonStop was never a consideration for the spin-merge of non-core software products.

Fault tolerance, as it is embodied in NonStop, has enormous value add in the world of hybrid IT and it would be foolish for any enterprise to discount the benefits that come with levels of availability only NonStop can deliver. After all, we may be in hybrid IT by accident but there really isn’t a positive spin that you can put on an outage of any kind these days – accidental or not!

I know that there is work ahead for me to get back into shape after a prolonged absence from our local fitness center. At least, I have a good excuse and can quickly address the situation. Enterprises everywhere know that they are entering the world of hybrid IT and that software-defined everything will rule the day. While I cannot get HPE or the NonStop team to make any statements about future product directions I have to believe, based on recent conversations and email exchanges with those close to HPE, that NonStop isn’t oblivious of HPE’s strategy and is paying a lot of attention to possible future synergies between NonStop and hybrid IT.

Clouds are now all around us and whether you see them as the harbinger of stormy days ahead or not, recent NonStop developments suggest that there are plans afoot for NonStop systems to better leverage cloud computing. From where I sit there is nothing accidental whatsoever with the journey NonStop is on and as someone with longevity in IT, I have to say, I can’t wait to welcome NonStop to hybrid IT!

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