Just about everyone in IT has used VMware’s vSphere to build and/or operate an on-premise or colocated cluster at some point or another. vSphere enables you to take a group of hosts, form them into a cluster, and run virtual machines on top. vCenter server provides some great features like the ability to migrate a VM from one host to another without downtime, and the ability to take snapshots of running machines before performing maintenance on them. Most organizations are comfortable and capable of running traditional infrastructure, but that won’t be enough to meet their users and developers demands in the coming years.
To ensure the necessary business agility and infrastructure capacity, an increasing number of organizations are making the switch to turnkey VMware-based infrastructure as a service (IaaS) such as Expedient Enterprise Cloud (EEC). This approach enables corporate IT to focus on projects that drive bottom-line value, while also facilitating agile development and accelerated time-to-market. With turnkey IaaS solutions like EEC available at a competitive price point, the business case for running your own on-premises VMware infrastructure just isn’t there any longer for most businesses. Here’s why:
On-Prem VMware – Operational Considerations
When comparing the benefits and disadvantages of an on-prem VMware model with a turnkey IaaS solution, the following operational aspects must be considered:
- Operating your own VMware infrastructure requires running a data center or contracting for colocation space.
- VMware cluster maintenance and tuning compute resources at scale is not always easy and usually requires dedicated engineers.
- In the on-prem VMware scenario, your team will need to plan for disasters and have robust DR functionality in place, which usually means operating a data center far away from your main office in addition to your production environment.
On-Prem VMware – Where’s the Business Case?
It goes without saying the demands of a business operating in 2019 are completely different than those of a business competing in 2009, which is when virtualizing on-prem environments and managing it yourself was the novel approach to IT infrastructure. To compete in 2019 (and beyond), businesses must be optimized to deliver customer-focused products and services in an agile manner. This means having the internal IT capability to enable rapid time-to-market and support for continuous product improvement and innovative new product development.
Forward-thinking organizations have realized these capabilities through a DevOps approach to product development. The utility and strategic value of DevOps as a catalyst of digital transformation has been proven by leading companies in many industry verticals. While the Fortune 500 companies mentioned in this article may have the resources and personnel to successfully implement DevOps with an on-prem approach to IT infrastructure, the vast majority of organizations don’t.
The demands of DevOps – Modern Dev teams are looking to move quickly and adopt agile practices. To enable this development agility, System Administrators must provide the Dev team with self-service options for getting their apps deployed.
The need for IT oversight – For compliance, security, auditability and general infrastructure management reasons, developers shouldn’t be allowed to just deploy servers on their own. The common solution here is to use something like VRA + VRO to automate deployments… however this requires a whole new skill set on the part of your system administrators, and doesn’t even touch on things like capacity planning and forecasting, which inevitably will become much more difficult in situations where there is no oversight from corporate IT.
Who is going to handle networking? Networking still requires intervention from a separate team to configure routers and switches for newly deployed workloads. This usually means either network requests will create a large bottleneck for dev teams attempting to deploy workloads, or that very flat networks are used, which then makes it difficult to apply appropriate security settings for internal traffic (which are no longer optional after WannaCry and other destructive worms). Also, it’s still possible to run into issues with basic things like managing IP addresses unless an IPAM solution is deployed (or DHCP is used in the data center). VMware NSX provides some wonderful solutions to these problems but is not a simple product to use and will require learning an entirely new skill set to manage effectively.
Storage Concerns – Storage usage must also be coordinated to ensure that no LUN or entire SAN becomes too full to operate efficiently. This usually means that the storage team is another bottleneck that will slow down time-to-market for new applications, which could diminish potential competitive advantage. Moving to a hyper-converged model and utilizing policy-based storage allocations can help with this problem, but again, this is an entirely new skill set that needs to be mastered before those features can be rolled out to users.
The Benefits of EEC
As I stated earlier, leveraging a VMware-based IaaS platform like Expedient Enterprise Cloud (EEC) is a viable alternative to operating your own VMware infrastructure. Not only does this approach enable your IT team to shift its focus to projects with strategic, bottom-line value, it also will provide your organization with access to the latest and greatest cloud infrastructure VMware has to offer. Here’s why:
- EEC is a cloud platform built on the comprehensive software-defined data center (SDDC) infrastructure stack from VMware, which delivers a modern, API-driven front-end for managing compute storage and network infrastructure.
- With EEC, get all the great features of vSphere enhanced with software-defined networking (SDN) and storage.
- EEC Provides new features system administrators need to meet their developers demands without throwing away their existing skill sets.
Expedient Enterprise Cloud – Operational Considerations
With a turnkey IaaS solution like EEC, you won’t have to worry about operating a data center, employing a full-time engineer for cluster management, or maintaining a redundant set of equipment at another location for DR purposes.
- Scale on demand – Compute storage and network capacity are provisioned dynamically on Expedient’s infrastructure. Scaling up is as simple as talking to your Expedient client advisor.
- Public or Private Cloud Infrastructure – EEC provides both public or private cloud options depending on the needs of your business.
- Strategic IT – With EEC (and all other IaaS solutions from Expedient), your engineers won’t have to worry about running the underlying infrastructure, giving them time to develop new processes that ensure each business line in your organization has the IT resources to meet its strategic goals.
- Mitigate Risk while reducing IT workload – Expedient offers fully managed disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) solutions that can be easily bundled with EEC at a predictable monthly cost.
The Business Case for EEC
Streamlined Resource Provisioning – EEC enables you to meet the increasing demands of your development team by allowing your IT team to shift its focus to learning and mastering a small number of new skills that will provide direct value to the business with faster response times from corporate IT. In this regard, EEC also facilitates room for the eventual enablement of self-service resource provisioning, so your developers can spin up VMs when necessary within an approved and controlled environment.
Deployment Automation – VM templates that meet your compliance standards can be easily created and shared with specific team members. Future service offerings from Expedient will help you monitor these machines for configuration drift. Capacity planning is made easier with built-in vROPS, and changes can be made in minutes instead of weeks.
Software-defined Networking – EEC provides software-defined networking via NSX, which enables granular security controls to be applied to any server or group of servers based on security tags. NSX also provides a built-in IPAM solution enabling the use of static IP addresses without the threat of different departments within the business encroaching on the IP space of other teams. New networks can be created in minutes directly in EEC’s HTML-5 interface.
vSAN storage – EEC is backed by all-flash vSAN Storage, which keeps VM’s next to the data they are working on, providing major performance advantages. This feature played a major role in the dominant performance of EEC in a recent independent cloud analysis performed by Cloud Spectator. Learn more by downloading your copy for free.
In conclusion, EEC provides VMware cloud infrastructure in the form factor that is necessary for businesses in the age of digital transformation. With this turnkey operational model, you can leverage the existing VMware skill sets of your IT team while enabling them to focus on strategic projects that drive bottom line value for your business. By streamlining time-consuming yet undifferentiated tasks like IT infrastructure management, you will break down inefficient organizational silos and provide your IT team with the opportunity to apply their valuable skill sets to projects that create new lines of revenue and/or improve the customer experience.
Mike Garuccio is a Product Strategy Engineer at Expedient focused on researching new software and hardware to find ways to productize this technology into new solutions for Expedient clients. As a ‘full stack’ engineer, Mike works with all layers of infrastructure architecture – from the hypervisor all the way up to front-end applications. Mike has played a leading role in the deployment and implementation of Expedient’s next-generation cloud platform, Expedient Enterprise Cloud. His professional interests include automation, containers, Kubernetes, CI/CD, and developer experience optimization. Follow Mike on Twitter.