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Cloud Revolution
Praveen Akkiraju
Monday, November 23, 2015
So I was at lunch last week in San Francisco when a guy in Blue shirt whizzed past me on his Razor, I thought nothing of it, until I saw the next guy a block over. It was not Deja vu, but a new car parking service called Luxe. No more hunting for Parking spots in the city, just fire up the app on your mobile device, the guy in the Blue shirt comes along, hand your keys off and you pick up your car when you are ready anywhere in the city for a fee. Isn't that the future?

Another example of the power of the Internet economy continuing is its relentless march redefining the foundations of industries from transportation to healthcare, and the power of reshaping the economies of countries from your smartphone. The democratization of computing via the cloud, any time anywhere access of data, and powerful mobile devices in our pockets form the foundation of this new economy. As we well know, this revolution started not in the sophisticated IT environments of Enterprises, but in the humble consumer segment when companies like Google and Facebook redefined the architecture to deliver services at massive scale. In doing so bringing an end to the Client-Server era and starting the era of Cloud computing.

Entrepreneurs have jumped in creating hundreds of companies with one crucial assumption, they are built on the Internet, which like power and water is considered a utility. The role of infrastructure in the Cloud era has evolved significantly from the Client Server era dominated as it were by Windows and PCs and the early Internet era dominated by Networking. While Moore's law continues its relentless march we've seen numerous technology innovations spring up and down the stack like opto-electrical chips, NAND flash, LTE, virtualization, software defined infrastructure, and Cloud-based applications. These applications are foundational to radical business models that are disrupting entire industries, everything from retailing, taxi, travel, and our social interactions.

In enterprise arena, the disruption of the business models is driving IT to fundamentally change from an operations orientation to an engine of innovation for the company. These new generation applications are designed to evolve rapidly with daily or weekly releases, scale up and down according to demand, and leverage data to help companies make rapid business decisions. This dynamic nature of applications and the inability of in house IT infrastructure have resulted in developers moving workloads into the 'Public' Cloud for agility and on demand capacity. IT departments are responding by re-architecting the infrastructure to create an internal Cloud platform with similar characteristics as the Public Cloud, for developers to build, deploy, and scale applications. These 'Private' clouds are built on the same core technologies such as multi-tenanted infrastructure, automation, Big Data analytics, and an application architecture that is infrastructure agnostic and massively scalable.

The Enterprise architecture for the cloud era is designed to support applications running in the Data Center, in the Public Cloud, SaaS instances leveraging data that is stored and accessed per secure policies. The Next Generation of Enterprise IT infrastructure is built on a few basic tenets:
1. Defined by the application workloads

2. Operationally efficient

3. Simplified and standardized

4. Scalable

5. Span from the data center to the public cloud

Enterprises will support a wide range of applications from traditional workloads such as ERP landscapes which are monolithic to Cloud native workloads built around micro services such as analytics and customer engagement apps. Traditional workloads require the infrastructure to be reliable and guarantee performance, while Cloud native workloads are inherently resilient and work across white box infrastructure which is reconfigured based on the application requirements.

In a Public cloud, the application developer is offered a full service environment including all the infrastructure (compute and storage capacity) along with run time environment such as node.js, .Net, PHP, and others. Developers accept standardization of the environment so they might reap the benefits such as agility, best TCO and simplicity. In the data center and enterprise private clouds, this core principle of simplification through standardization is being embraced with the deployment of a new class of platforms known as converged infrastructure. Like a smart phone which combines a phone, email, camera, and GPS, a converged infrastructure platform combines servers, storage, networking, and virtualization into a single platform dramatically simplifies the data center infrastructure.

Converged Infrastructure has transformed the IT architecture by delivering a standardized infrastructure building block, which supports multiple workloads and can be optimized for traditional and cloud native applications. Converged Infrastructure platforms cover the full range of deployments, starting with pre-Engineered Data Center Scale platforms built to deliver stringent performance and availability metrics such as the Vblock family of systems. At the lower end Hyper Converged appliances optimized around branch office, departmental, and SMBs, workloads are gaining traction. For Cloud native workloads requiring Hyper Converged characteristics but at data center scale vendors such as VCE offer a family of pre-engineered data center scale systems that are fully software defined and scalable on demand. The combination of the Converged Infrastructure platforms with management and orchestration software enables a NG data center that is scalable, flexible, and fully automated.

CIOs today are dealing with an unprecedented amount of complexity in technology choices, security threats and business requirements. In response they are focusing the IT organization on delivering applications and tools that drive business competitiveness and end user experience. In the process they are increasing looking for simplified infrastructure solutions and software platforms which can simply deliver them the right tools for the right apps. As we go forward, I expect converged infrastructure to deliver all the tools needed to support an application developer including VMs, containers, management and orchestration stacks, Middleware and application run times in a flexibly configured system. Companies such as VCE and EMC are leading the charge here with a full range of converged solutions delivering everything from platforms to environments such as SAP HANA, virtual desktops, Big Data stacks and Cloud Foundry PaaS.

Our productivity as consumers and knowledge workers has made dramatic progress as we transition into the Cloud era. We stand at the threshold of even more exciting paradigm shifts from autonomous machines, intelligent medicine to virtual reality experiences as the IT architecture undergoes dramatic transformation over the next few years.

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