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White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms - Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow's Data Center


This Enterprise Strategy Group analyst report highlights the challenges that companies, particularly small and medium-sized, face when deploying private cloud infrastructure. It describes the …

This Enterprise Strategy Group analyst report highlights the challenges that companies, particularly small and medium-sized, face when deploying private cloud infrastructure. It describes the advantages to these SMBs of adopting integrated computing platforms versus building cloud infrastructures on their own.

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  • 1. WhitePaperIntegrated Computing Platforms:Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow’sData CenterBy Mark Bowker, Senior Analyst, and Perry Laberis, Senior Research AssociateMarch 2013This ESG White Paper was commissioned by EMCand is distributed under license from ESG.© 2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 2. White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow’s Data Center 2Contents Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 3 Business Priorities Accelerate Infrastructure Integration with Integrated Computing Platforms ............... 4 Simple by Design .................................................................................................................................................... 5 Look for Solutions that Align with Target Use Cases .............................................................................................. 6 The Bigger Truth ........................................................................................................................................... 7All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources TheEnterprise Strategy Group (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which aresubject to change from time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. Any reproduction or redistribution ofthis publication, in whole or in part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without theexpress consent of The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and,if applicable, criminal prosecution. Should you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at 508.482.0188. © 2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 3. White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow’s Data Center 3IntroductionPrior to server virtualization, IT landscapes were plagued by server sprawl and underutilized capacity, which werebrought on by data growth and the one-application, one-server requirement. In order to meet growing capacitydemands, organizations added servers until that demand began to outstrip the ability to achieve economies ofscale. Server virtualization provided a consolidation and cost-containment solution by fundamentally parsinghardware and software and dynamically allocating resources throughout the environment. The consolidation ofphysical servers drove massive efficiencies across the IT ecosystem, including improved resource utilization ratesfor CPU and storage capacity.Initially driven by its ability to deliver on these core use cases, server virtualization continues to guide IT andbusiness strategy. This is the fifth consecutive year in which the increased use of server virtualization has beenamong the top three most important IT priorities reported by ESG research respondents.1 Although some continueto augment their server virtualization deployments for these economic drivers, leading-edge companies arebolstering mature server virtualization implementations with an overarching orchestration layer to achieve privatecloud capabilities, which can produce operational benefits including:  On-demand self service (IT-as-a-Service)  Broad network access  Resource pooling and automatic VM/resource migration  Rapid elasticity  Measured serviceTo achieve these benefits, however, IT systems on which orchestration software can be deployed necessitate cross-functional, virtualization-aware management tools with automation fed by intelligent infrastructure componentsthat execute in harmony. Accordingly, this requires tight integration of hardware and software, specificallycompute, storage, networking, virtualization, and support.Though IT professionals have traditionally designed and built these virtual computing environments from the floorup—piecing together disparate, siloed components—the process is rapidly changing. When it comes to purchasinginfrastructure to support virtual and private cloud computing environments, the do-it-yourself (DIY) model isbecoming a thing of the past. Instead, the new IT consumption model is moving toward integrated computingplatforms (ICPs), which are systems proactively architected for compatibility. By minimizing interaction in terms ofthe interoperability testing and technology integration, these solutions help ensure that infrastructureimplementations aren’t an exercise of highly technical configurations posing an impediment to applicationdeployments.ESG has defined ICPs as solutions of tightly integrated packages of servers, networking, and storage “gluedtogether” by virtualization and intelligent management software designed, tested, and validated to operate as asingle unit. ICPs are consumed either as preconfigured/fully-integrated solutions or reference architectures (RAs).Preconfigured solutions are singular systems of components packaged, priced, and delivered in a simplifiedmanner. Hardware integration, software orchestration, and potentially specific engineering of systems arearchitected and designed to operate harmoniously. RAs are validated and certified designs which consist of ITinfrastructure architected to assimilate various hardware components and software from different IT vendors ontoa joint computing platform.As seen in Figure 1, nearly half (46%) of organizations currently leverage the do-it-yourself (DIY) method for privatecloud infrastructure builds, which makes sense given IT’s comfort level and experience with traditional hardwareand software implementations.2 Yet just 28% indicate that this is their preferred method of deployment, possibly1 Source: ESG Research Report, 2013 IT Spending Intentions Survey, January 2013. All ESG research references and charts in this white paperhave been taken from this research report, unless otherwise noted.2 Source: ESG Research Brief, Virtualized Computing Infrastructure Preferences, April 2012. © 2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 4. White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow’s Data Center 4due to the time it takes to plan and build infrastructures in this piecemeal fashion, as well as the integrationdemands of private cloud infrastructures. Accordingly, 64% of respondents indicated that ICPs such as RAs and fullyintegrated/preconfigured solutions were their organizations’ preferred model for deploying the back-endinfrastructure supporting private cloud deployments. Figure 1. Supporting Infrastructure for Server Virtualization/Private Cloud Environments: Current vs. Preferred Which of the following best describes your organizations current supporting infrastructure for its server virtualization/private cloud environment? Which would be your organization’s preferred infrastructure model? (Percent of respondents, N=376) Current virtualization/private cloud infrastructure model Preferred virtualization/private cloud infrastructure model 50% 46% 45% 40% 36% 35% 30% 28% 28% 26% 24% 25% 20% 15% 9% 10% 5% 3% 0% “Do-it-yourself” solution Reference architecture Fully-integrated solution Don’t know Integrated Computing Platforms Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, 2013.Business Priorities Accelerate Infrastructure Integration with IntegratedComputing PlatformsDriven by the success of virtualization technology, user demand for improved IT service levels is changing the way ITleverages its existing investments, procures new infrastructure and services, and architects its data centers.Underscoring this transformation is the need for tighter integration of hardware and software, which is necessaryto achieve the private cloud capabilities end-users want and the efficiencies IT needs.Server virtualization and cloud computing are poised to catalyze the shift in how IT consumes infrastructure andprovides services internally to users, and are rapidly transitioning the IT conversation away from a technology focusto a business-oriented approach. Today, IT is more concerned with high-value business initiatives—such as costreduction (44%), business process improvement (31%), and security and risk management initiatives (31%)—thanthe “speeds and feeds” of its infrastructure. Accordingly, consumers of virtual computing infrastructures arepurchasing ICPs as a means to improve time to market, IT service levels, and system performance.Procurement of virtual computing infrastructures is going to become more of a business decision than most ITorganizations are accustomed to. Those currently leveraging the DIY method for infrastructure builds shouldconsider the benefits of ICPs, which include:  Simplified build process  Elimination of trial-and-error testing © 2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 5. White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow’s Data Center 5  Validated solutions certified for production  Accelerated time to value  A single point of support for problem resolution  A shift in focus to VM management  IT time reclamation and reallocation towards innovationTechnology vendors, having realized the market requirement for integrated systems, have begun to partner inorder to create validated, cross-functional solutions. Although some shops will continue to grapple with assimilatinglegacy applications and systems into their virtual computing infrastructures, ESG believes that organizations willfocus future hardware investments on ICPs such as preconfigured solutions and RAs.Simple by DesignWhen it comes to achieving higher value capabilities through private cloud platforms, IT must possess thebackground knowledge about how independent, best-of-breed components interact cross-functionally and how toengineer cohesive systems. This requires time, specialized expertise, and resources that many small and midmarketorganizations with fewer personnel and smaller IT budgets lack. Even large organizations that have been successfuldeploying DIY builds in the past have struggled with capacity planning, system tuning, orchestration, and achievingthe level of integration required by these dynamic systems. As good as IT departments are at DIY, developing thesedata center solutions piecemeal remains complex and time-consuming, and requires:  High familiarity with the entire stack  Multiple, independent points of vendor support EMC VSPEX is a set of reference architectures  Management software development that touches every validated by EMC and component packaged and delivered asFortunately for IT, vendors such as EMC have developed ICPs, complete solutions by trustedsuch as VSPEX RAs, that eliminate these challenges by deliveringvalidated, fully-configured solutions that take the guesswork and resellers. Flexible by design,integration out of the equation. ICPs combine and deliver servers, VSPEX solutions arestorage, networking, virtualization, and management (and in architected with EMC’sterms of VSPEX, backup) as a single system with rapid deployment industry-leading storage andand time to value. More importantly, these solutions enable IT to backup and leverage existingreclaim both build and maintenance time (and cost), which can be IT infrastructure, enablingreallocated towards innovation. This latter point is of particularinterest to IT organizations. user choice of hypervisor, server, and networkingESG asked respondents to consider their 2013 IT budgets andassign a percentage breakdown of spending that would apply to technology.maintaining existing infrastructure as opposed to spending onnet-new technology projects. Respondents indicated that nearlytwo-thirds (64%) of their 2013 IT budget would be earmarked forthe upkeep of existing infrastructure, while just 36% would be dedicated to budget spend on new technologyprojects. While the cost of maintaining existing IT environments will always be a factor, in order for technology tobecome strategic—rather than tactical—when it comes to business agility and innovation, organizations must strivefor a more balanced ratio.ICPs simplify the entire hardware lifecycle by enabling IT to:  Procure an entire integrated stack of infrastructure engineered to host business workloads.  Shorten time to value through streamlined implementation. © 2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 6. White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow’s Data Center 6  Improve management, monitoring, and visibility of the IT infrastructure.  Scale in a modular fashion such that capacity and performance can be independently added based on changing business requirements.  Utilize the building-block approach to standardize on infrastructure.  Easily retire hardware over time as workloads are redistributed while maintaining performance and uptime.The initial investment in ICPs can be readily justified by these soft cost benefits that lead to a positive return oninvestment (ROI). Because typical ICPs are operational within a few days of delivery, they enable rapid applicationand software deployments and speedier time to value.Look for Solutions that Align with Target Use CasesRipping and replacing IT infrastructure is not an economical means of improving IT efficiency and providing businessvalue. As beneficial as ICPs are, IT organizations must ensure that new implementations assimilate with existinginfrastructure and support current and future initiatives. While some ICPs are built for general purpose computeand capacity needs, many RAs are specifically designed for particular use cases. Accordingly, it is a sound measureto identify definitive initiatives prior to investing in a given solution because doing so will improve the value ofdeployment and safeguard the investment. These initiatives include, but are not limited to:  Desktop virtualization  Hardware lifecycle refresh  Remote and branch offices  Application upgrades or new installations  Rapid acceleration of virtualization migration  IT-as-a-Service and private cloud  Disaster recovery/backup © 2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 7. White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow’s Data Center 7The Bigger TruthIT professionals pride themselves on building data center environments from the floor up. Accordingly, they tend tobe reluctant relinquishing the reins when it comes to infrastructure builds. Nonetheless, increasingly dynamicenvironments require infrastructure integration that demands a level of expertise and stack familiarity that isnonexistent in many enterprises, let alone small and midmarket businesses (SMBs). ICPs, such as EMC VSPEX RAs,provide a solution by eliminating the time (and cost) of designing, testing, and engineering integrated environmentswith components built independently of one another. These validated architectures are ready for productionenvironments upon delivery, and offer a single point of support should IT require it.EMC VSPEX is an example of how a leading IT vendor has aligned product innovation with an IT market need toimprove efficiency, performance, and time to value for SMBs. VSPEX RAs, which are specifically designed to flexiblyprovide enterprise capabilities downstream to SMBs, enable customers to streamline deployments and build outdynamic data centers. Interoperability and validated designs are matched to demanding virtualization and cloudstrategies and map to existing IT infrastructure knowledge and familiarity.The requirements of tomorrow’s data center demand new levels of expertise, familiarity, and resource allocation(both in terms of time and money). While some IT organizations will continue to design their environments fromthe floor up, those looking to simplify build processes, improve IT efficiency, and rededicate time to innovation willlook to ICPs like EMC VSPEX RAs. These solutions offer a quick time to market and end-user productivity, and enableIT to advance business value through next-generation data center solutions. © 2013 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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