Branch infrastructure is the foundational support every organization needs in order to run. But too often, branch infrastructure is neglected in the race to innovation. Join our experts John Casebeer and Erik Bilicki as they reveal smarter approaches to driving innovation across branches to propel efficiencies, engagement and revenue.
Published March 20, 2017
Announcer: You're listening to Technomics. Connecting you to insights on digital transformation and the marketplace, with your hosts: Robyn Itule and Jeremy Nelson. The hosts' opinions are their own. Enjoy the show!
Robyn Itule: Welcome to Technomics, I'm Robyn Itule and here with me live, in the flesh, my cohost Jeremy Nelson.
Jeremy Nelson: I know it's hard to believe but I am back and I'm happy.
Robyn Itule: How've you been?
Jeremy Nelson: I'm doing great Robyn its awesome to see you.
Robyn Itule: You too, I've really, really missed you. What have you been doing lately?
Jeremy Nelson: Lots of traveling, talking to lots of customers and really talking a lot around the topic we have today.
Robyn Itule: Well, do share.
Jeremy Nelson: Well, one of the things that's come up a lot in some of the conversations we're having with our clients is how do they embrace change, how do they deal with growth? And a lot of that has really turned into not just public cloud and public cloud consumption, but how do we leverage our existing on-premise investments and turn into a hybrid cloud environment.
Robyn Itule: Are people stressed out about that?
Jeremy Nelson: I don't think its more stressed out as it is excited for an opportunity to help embrace growth while reducing cost and internal IT teams.
Robyn Itule: There's sort of no down side there.
Jeremy Nelson: Not really.
Robyn Itule: Alright, to talk about all of the up sides with hybrid cloud today, we have two of our internal hybrid cloud gurus. And they will help, I was going to go with sherpa us up the hill, but I don't think sherpa is a verb.
Stan Lequin: I think we're too tall to be sherpas.
Jeremy Nelson: Sherpad.
Robyn Itule: Sherpad?
Jeremy Nelson: I think it’s just the tense.
Robyn Itule: Is it a tense? By the way, this is not a grammar podcast. When my mom listens to this one, she's an English professor, she'll know that. So we have David Lewerke and Stand Lequinon from our services team. Gentlemen, welcome to Technomics. We're so delighted that you're here.
Stan Lequin: Thanks for having us.
D2: Yeah I appreciate it.
Robyn Itule: So we are talking about hybrid cloud today. It’s been one of those topics that the powers that be in the technology media have been saying this could be a major, major trend for 2016. Was that something that really panned out in the past year based on what you saw our teams working on and what you're hearing from peers in the industry?
Stan Lequin: Yeah, I'll go first, David you [inaudible] for this. You know I think it is trending definitely. But as far as being a big trend in 2016, I don't necessarily know if it was a big trend. I think it is going to be in 2017. So what we've seen is a lot of customers are stuck trying to make decisions on converge, hyper-converge, private cloud, public cloud. And they're really having a hard time trying to figure out what the best path is to move forward. So, there's a lot of interest in it. I can't say there's not one conversation that we've had around hybrid cloud that the customer wasn't extremely interested talk about it. We just haven't seen that break into actual project-based work outside of assessment and in a couple proof of concepts. What we have seen though over the course of 2016 is we've had a lot of conversations and we've probably had 50 conversations and I think we have maybe ten in-flight project that are on hybrid cloud. A lot of excitement about where hybrid cloud can take them and as we've helped customers realize at the investments they've already made in on-premise can be redirected through concepts like orchestration to create sort of a virtual environmental to a highly automated environment moving towards private cloud. And then we can help them extend that private cloud investment into the hybrid cloud. There's been a lot of excitement around that.
David Lewerke: I was just going to say, it doesn't quite solve world peace. The hype around hybrid cloud was huge and hybrid cloud itself is a very abused term and I think it was meant to solve everything in IT or at least it’s being positioned to. But it doesn't. There's a lot of momentum going forward and Stan is exactly right. I think next year is going to be where people really know how to start putting that to actual projects and then progress.
Robyn Itule: What did they have to do first? If those things didn't really get the tread underneath them this past year, what were organizations busy doing to make this 2017 cycle be the one that really gets things off the ground?
David Lewerke: On the hybrid cloud conversation, there was so much hype around it, but it was a lot of foundations. So like Stan was talking about, every conversation we have with our clients, every one of them is interested in it because they see the need for it. They want to know how to get there. But there's a lot of things you have to do foundationally to get prepped and one of them might be identity. You identities might be a mess frankly.
Robyn Itule: Boy that's existential.
David Lewerke: Yeah with murders acquisitions causing buying devesting [assumed] it can be a big blocker when you're trying to move forward right? Hitting your head against the wall at every turn. So there's a client we've had that conversation with and now we’re helping them solve that first, that's the foundation. And then the next year they're going to get into a lot of the automation.
Robyn Itule: Is that surprising for them when they find out that there’s that many steps to take before activating this stuff?
Stan Lequin: I don’t think its surprising them, I think they’re trying to get that order and get that reassurance that the right order to go trough is get your identity sound, get your roll based access control, let’s work through security, making security a part of every component of hybrid cloud. I think they know that’s all there, its just kind of knowing what steps to walk though and then having a partner who’s done that for the organizations in the past who can bring that confidence to them engage their business with what the right steps are, I think is a really critical component to it.
David Lewerke: Yeah I don’t think they’re surprised or shocked. I think that they’re actually kind of relieved that we’re calling it out because they suspect that these issues are out there. They know that its not that simple as what any vendor will tell you, “Hey just install our product, turn it on, configure it, and it works right?” Its not that simple so they know that there’s other things out there. So when they hear us kind of showing the pitfalls, I think it kind of confirms what they were thinking. And frankly it makes them feel a little bit more comfortable about it moving forward.
Stan Lequin: Yeah, so we talked about identity. So let’s just take a step back and talk about what we’re trying to do through hybrid cloud. So the speed of innovation is quicker than its ever been. So there was a concept of bi-mobile IT [assumed] or Dev Ops. What you want to do is have IT be a service provider to the business. And as they’re serving up those services to the business to consume, they can do it in a very easy and secure way. So in this example, let’s say David’s IT, I’m the cool business, and so let’s say we’re rolling out an application ofr our organization. In the past what would happen is I would reach out to IT and say I want to build out this application and we would do what’s kind of called ticket passing. And so David, as the IT guy, would work with his group and so there would be a storage group and they would take my requirements from what I needed and they would bill out to storage. They pass the ticket and then they go to the network group and then they build the network. They then pass the ticket to go to the compute group, they build and compute and etc.
David Lewerke: Then it would go back to the network because they need an IP address.
Stan Lequin: So it would go back and forth and during that time frame, I get pretty frustrated because its three to four months before I even have the environment for me to start building out my application. What then would happen is, I would just go look for alternatives. An alternative would be that I go to public cloud. I’d be able to provision that very quickly through portals and self-provisioning. And then you lose security around it, you lose control of it from an IT perspective. So that’s kind of what we ran into, where organizations are moving towards this Dev Ops concept. Where rather than connecting to a public cloud, I connect to my internal cloud, David’s built it out to be very friendly. And as a business I can provision those systems. Well when you’re provisioning those systems, its not only just the compute and the actual resources, but its also making sure that its secured and making sure that there is access to it properly. And identity is a massive part of that. And its no different than how we run our day to day lives with a thousand passwords to a thousand different systems. All of the same probably written on a notecard in a desk that no one will ever get access to.
Robyn Itule: I am a great abuser of the forgotten password link.
Stan Lequin: Are you, yes. And so we don’t want to quite do that in the corporate space. So having that clean identity, being able to provision access is a really critical provision to this. And the other side of it too is, if you provision access to systems at every single layer, then you also can control security. So if someone was to breach security, externally, and get into your environment, we’re not able to access those systems because they shouldn’t have access to it has stopped at the network level, then that creates an opportunity around security. So by using automation in these systems. Putting decisions in the business users, who needs to have access to it, and then doing it securely at all aspects of it automatically without user error, then by building out private cloud, we can add a substantial amount of security to it. So there’s such a large component to it, it really touches every aspect of IT from it, to what are your processes, what’s your run book, what are you doing around automation. What are you doing around identity. Provisioning access into and provisioning access outside of, what are you doing around concepts of single sign on. So as we’re building out these applications we can federate with our partners so they can control identity access into the systems, it’s a key component of it and I think people look at it and probably will go back and listen to what I just said and say, “That’s totally confusing.” I think people look at it the same way and go, “ I don’t even know where to get started.” And that’s really what we focus on through our assessments is helping them get a handle on here’s the steps and here’s the logical order you want to go through. And then stay and engage with them through that process.
Robyn Itule: Alright so there was a lot of interesting stuff that you said in there. And one thing that really caught my ear was this concept of being able to federate with our partners. This gets to an interesting and broader topic about the consolidation, merger and acquisition environment in the cloud space specifically. Where you have a lot of these born in the cloud companies that are being absorbed into other areas, better know, longer established IT brands. How is that kind of shape shifting in terms of what we’re doing to help create these hybrid environments?
David Lewerke: To me the identity issue is two sides. So on one side, you’ve got to figure out how to federate all your users or federate to the other applications that your user is consuming. And to Stan’s point, if you’re going to have sticky notes and post-its, that’s a huge security risk. And then its also highly inconvenient to the customers, to your end users. You said you’re a big fan of the forgot password link?
Robyn Itule: I said abuser, I didn’t say I was a fan.
David Lewerke: Abuser, fan, big user how’s that? I hate it because what happens is you’re not supposed to use the same password but trying to remember every single one is very hard so many people do. And so you then choose the reset password and how many of us have done this right? Where the next one, oh wait, they need a capitol letter, they need an exclamation, its just a mess so you have all these iterations and variations. So it’s a bad user experience. So that’s the one part is, how do you provide your end users a consistent, seamless access. And so that’s where the single sign on and the identity provider through an IDP that is pluggable into all the other services, that’s where it makes sense.
Stan Lequin: So I think on the mergers and acquisitions side of it, cloud does provide an opportunity as you’re working through that sort of transformational process to get from A to B, you can use that as kind of a engram stab [assumed]. But along the same line sit creates some complexity and if you’re integrating an organization that is very cloud centric and you aren’t, obviously that creates some challenges as well. Some of the other interesting things we’re seeing around born in the cloud, we have a lot of clients that were born in the cloud and as their application or as their business grew, they didn’t forecast the cost associated with it right? So when we work with an organization, we look at work loads and we really take an application centric view of the world and then help them make decisions based on the applications that they run their business on. Should you retain this application, should you replatform it towards the cloud? Should you rehost it someplace else? Or is it an application that you should consider end of life and work on ramping down? And so what we’ve found is when we’re replatforming those applications, we writing them to be compliant to the concept platform as a service and there’s cost associated with that are lesser than if you’re just typically moving virtual machines from on premise to the cloud. And so we have a lot of born in the cloud companies that grew up in the cloud that are looking to move back. Replatform their application so there’s more cost effectiveness associated with it and then move it up to the cloud at a later date. With people moving up to cloud, moving back to the cloud, and with people replatforming their applications, there’s just a lot of opportunity for us to engage with our clients to go on this journey because there’s no one answer. Its so specific based on the individual organizations. From a merger and acquisition perspective, obviously identity is a big part of it, And so using that ass the catalyst and working to get your identity healthy. Use that as a catalyst and then build out, how are we going to take and ingest here whether it be cloud or on premise, wherever those applications are, and create sort of the best mutual result for both organizations is a tremendous opportunity to engage us around that.
David Lewerke: So the other thing around mergers and acquisitions though is that its not always about identity. Its also about the APIs. And its also about the processes as a team. So if you’re as a team, you’ve got this legacy infrastructure, you’ve probably tailored your processes around that and its probably not a good process. Its maybe been automated some but its clunky. So if you have a private cloud built out and you’re utilizing public cloud, if you’re building it right on the private cloud, you’re building it with APIs. They’re easily accessible. So now, that’s how you tie in your business processes with the technology. You make it more seamless.