Legacy IT Evolves: How Cloud Choices Like Microsoft Azure Can Conquer the VMware Tax
Legacy IT Evolves: How Cloud
Choices Like Microsoft Azure
Can Conquer the VMware Tax
Transcript of a panel discussion exploring how organizations can gain a future-proof path to
hybrid computing that simplifies architecture and makes total economic sense.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Download the transcript.
Sponsor: Sponsor: Navisite.
Dana Gardner:Hello, and welcome to a panel discussion on how enterprises can gain a
future-proof path to hybrid cloud computing. We'll now explore cloud adoption strategies that
seek to simplify IT operations, provide cloud deployment choice -- and that make the most total
I'm Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and I'll be your moderator for this
discussion on how cloud choices can help conquer the “VMware tax” by moving beyond a
Many data center operators face a crossroads now as they consider the strategic implications of
new demands on their IT infrastructure and the new choices that they have when it comes to a
cloud continuum of deployment options. These hybrid choices span not only cloud hosts and
providers, but also platform technology choices such as containers, intelligent network fabrics,
serverless computing, and, yes, even good old bare metal.
The complexity of choice goes further because long-term decisions about technology must also
include implications for long-term recurring costs -- as well as business continuity. As IT
architects and operators seek to best map a future from a VMware hypervisor and traditional
data center architecture, they also need to consider openness and lock-in. They must evaluate
the companies behind the platforms, their paths and motivations and how well they will be
partners, and not just vendors. And we will examine the best metrics for making decisions and
weighing the trade-offs that impact performance, total cost, and risk.
Our panelists will review how cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure are sweetening the deal
to transition to predicable hybrid cloud models. The discussion is designed to help IT leaders to
find the right trade-offs and the best rationale for making the strategic decisions for
their organization's digital transformation.
With that, please join me in welcoming our guests. We are joined by
David Grimes, Vice President of Engineering at Navisite. Welcome,
David Grimes: Good morning, Dana. I’m excited to be here.
Gardner:We're also here with David Linthicum, Chief Cloud
Strategy Officer at Deloitte Consulting. Welcome, Dave.Grimes
David Linthicum: It's great to be here, Dana. Thank you very much.
Gardner:And we're also here with Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic
Advisor at AVOA. Welcome, Tim.
Tim Crawford: Hey, Dana, thanks for having me on the program.
Gardner:Clearly, over the past decade or two, countless virtual
machines have been spun up to redefine data center operations and
economics. And as server and storage virtualization were growing
dominant, VMware was crowned -- and continues to remain -- a
virtualization market leader. The virtualization path broadened over time from hypervisor
adoption to platform management, network virtualization, and private cloud models. There have
been a great many good reasons for people to exploit virtualization and adopt more of a
software-defined data center (SDDC) architecture. And that brings us to where we are today.
Dominance in virtualization, however, has not translated into an automatic path from
virtualization to a public-private cloud continuum. Now, we are at a crossroads, specifically for
the economics of hybrid cloud models. Pay-as-you-go consumption models have forced a
reckoning on examining your virtual machine past, present, and future.
My first question to the panel is ... What are you now seeing as the top drivers for people to
reevaluate their enterprise IT architecture path?
The cloud-migration challenge
Grimes: It's a really good question. As you articulated it, VMware radically transformed the
way we think about deploying and managing IT infrastructure, but cloud has again redefined all
of that. And the things you point out are exactly what many businesses face today, which is
supporting a set of existing applications that run the business. In most cases they run on very
traditional infrastructure models, but they're looking at what cloud now offers them in terms of
being able to reinvent that application portfolio.
But that's going to be a multiyear journey in most cases. One of the things that I think about as
the next wave of transformation takes place is how do we enable development in these
new models, such as containers and serverless, and using all of the platform services of the
hyperscale cloud. How do we bring those to the enterprise in a way that will keep them adjacent
to the workloads? Separating off in the application and the data is very challenging.
Gardner:Dave, organizations would probably have it easier if they're just going to go from
running their on-premises apps to a single public cloud provider. But more and more, we're
quite aware that that's not an easy or even a possible shift. So, when organizations are thinking
about the hybrid cloud model, and moving from traditional virtualization, what are some of
the drivers to consider for making the right hybrid cloud model decision, where they can do both
on-premises private cloud as well as public cloud?
Know what you have, to know what you need
Linthicum: It really comes down to the profiles of the workloads, the databases, and the data
that you're trying to move. And one of the things that I tell clients is that cloud is not necessarily
something that's automatic. Typically, they are going to be doing something that may be even
more complex than they have currently. But let's look at the profiles of the existing workloads
and the data -- including security, governance needs, what you're running, what platforms you
need to move to -- and that really kind of dictates which resources we want to put them on.
As an architect, when I look at the resources out there, I see traditional systems, I see private
clouds, virtualization -- such as VMware -- and then the public cloud providers. And many times,
the choice is going to be all four. And having pragmatic hybrid clouds, which are paired with
traditional systems and private and public clouds -- means multiple clouds at the same time.
And so, this really becomes an analysis in terms of how you're going to look at the existing as-is
state. And the to-be state is really just a functional matter of what the to-be state should
be based on the business requirements that you see. So, it's a little easier than I think most
people think, but I think the outcome is typically going to be more expensive and more complex
than they originally anticipated.
Gardner:Tim Crawford, do people underappreciate the complexity of moving from a highly
virtualized on-premises, traditional data center to hybrid cloud?
Crawford: Yes, absolutely. Dave's right. There're a lot of assumptions
that we take as IT professionals and we bring them to cloud, and then
find that those assumptions kind of fall flat on their face. Many of the
myths and misnomers of cloud start to rear their ugly heads. And that's
not to say that cloud is bad; cloud is great. But we have to be able to
use it in a meaningful way, and that's a very different way than how
we've operated our corporate data centers for the last 20, 30, or 40
years. It's almost better if we forget what we've learned over the last 20-
plus years and just start anew, so we don't bring forward some of
And I want to touch on something else that I think is really important
here, which has nothing to do with technology but has to do
with organization and culture, and some of the other drivers that go into why enterprises are
leveraging cloud today. And that is that the world is changing around us. Our customers are
changing, the speed in which we have to respond to demand and need is changing, and our
traditional corporate data center stacks just aren't designed to be able to make those kinds of
And so that's why it’s going to be a mix of cloud and
corporate data centers. We're going to be spread
across these different modes like peanut butter in
a way. But having the flexibility, as Dave said, to
leverage the right solution for the right application is
really, really important. Cloud presents a new model
because our needs have not been able to be fulfilled in
Gardner:David Grimes, application developers helped drive initial cloud adoption. These were
new apps and workloads of, by, and for the cloud. But when we go to enterprises that have a
It’s going to be a mix of cloud
and corporate data centers.
We’re going to be spread
across these different modes
like peanut butter.
large on-premises virtualization legacy -- and are paying high costs as a result -- how frequently
are we seeing people move existing workloads into a cloud, private or public? Is that gaining
Lift and shift the workload
Grimes: It absolutely is. That's really been a core part of our business for a while now,
certainly the ability to lift and shift out of the enterprise data center. As Dave said, the workload
is the critical factor. You always need to understand the workload to know which platform to put
it on. That's a given. With a lot of that existing legacy application stacks running in traditional
infrastructure models, very often those get lifted and shifted into a like-model -- but in a hosting
provider's data center. That’s because many CIOs have a mandate to close down enterprise
data centers and move to the cloud. But that does, of course, mean a lot of different things.
You mentioned the push by developers to get into the cloud, and really that was what I was
alluding to in my earlier comments. Such a reinventing of the enterprise application portfolio has
often been led by the development that takes place within the organization. Then, of course,
there are all of the new capabilities offered
by the hyperscale clouds -- all of them, but
notably some of the higher-level services
offered by Azure, for example. You're going
to end up in a scenario where you've got
workloads that best fit in the cloud because
they're based on the services that are now
natively embodied and delivered as-a-
service by those cloud platforms.
But you're going to still have that legacy stack that still needs to leave the enterprise data
center. So, the hybrid models are prevailing, and I believe will continue to prevail. And that's
reflected in Microsoft's move with Azure Stack, of making much of the Azure platform
available to hosting providers to deliver private Azure in a way that can engage and interact with
the hyperscale Azure cloud. And with that, you can position the right workloads in the right
Gardner:Now that we're into the era of lift and shift, let's look at some of the top reasons why.
We will ask our audience what their top reasons are for moving off of legacy environments like
VMware. But first let’s learn more about our panelists. David Grimes, tell us about your role at
Navisite and more about Navisite itself.
Grimes: I've been with Navisite for 23 years, really most of my career. As VP of Engineering, I
run our product engineering function. I do a lot of the evangelism for the organization. Navisite's
a part of Spectrum Enterprise, which is the enterprise division of Charter. We deliver voice,
video, and data services to the enterprise client base of Navisite, and also deliver
cloud services to that same base. It's been a very interesting 20-plus years to see the continued
evolution of managed infrastructure delivery models rapidly accelerating to where we are today.
Gardner:Dave Linthicum, tell us a bit about yourself, particularly what you're doing now at
You’re going to end up in a scenario
where you’ve got workloads that best fit
in the cloud because they’re based on
the services that are now natively
embodied and delivered as-a-service by
those cloud platforms.
Linthicum: I've been with Deloitte Consulting for six months. I'm the Chief Cloud Strategy
Officer, the thought leadership guy, trying to figure out where the cloud computing ball is going
to be kicked and what the clients are doing, what's going to be important in the years to come.
Prior to that I was with Cloud Technology Partners. We sold that to Hewlett Packard Enterprise
(HPE) last year. I’ve written 13 books. And I do the cloud blog on InfoWorld, and also do a lot of
radio and TV. And the podcast, Dana.
Gardner:Yes, of course. You've been doing that podcast for quite a while. Tim Crawford, tell us
about yourself and AVOA.
Crawford: After spending 20-odd years within the rank and file of the IT organization, also as a
CIO, I bring a unique perspective to the conversation, especially about transformational
organizations. I work with Fortune 250 companies, many of the Fortune 50 companies, in terms
of their transformation, mostly business transformation. I help them explore how technology fits
into that, but I also help them along their journey in understanding the difference between the
traditional and transformational. Like Dave, I do a lot of speaking, a fair amount of writing and, of
course, with that comes with travel and meeting a lot of great folks through my journeys.
Survey says: It’s economics
Gardner:Let's now look at our first audience survey results. I'd like to add that this is not
scientific. This is really an anecdotal look at where our particular audience is in terms of their
journey. What are their top reasons for moving off of legacy environments like VMware?
The top reason, at 75 percent, is a desire to
move to a pay-as-you-go versus a cyclical
CapEx model. So, the economics here are
driving the move from traditional to cloud.
They're also looking to get off of dated
software and hardware infrastructure. A lot
of people are running old hardware, it's not
that efficient, can be costly to maintain and
in some cases, difficult or impossible, to replace. There is a tie at 50 percent each in concern
about the total cost of ownership, probably trying to get that down, and a desire to consolidate
and integrate more apps and data, so seeking a transformation of their apps and data.
Coming up on the lower end of their motivations are complexity and support difficulties, and the
developer preference for cloud models. So, the economics are driving this shift. That should
come as no surprise, Tim, that a lot of people are under pressure to do more with less and to
modernize at the same time. The proverbial changing of the wings of the airplane while keeping
it flying. Is there any more you would offer in terms of the economic drivers for why people
should consider going from a traditional data center to a hybrid IT environment?
Crawford: It's not surprising, and the reason I say that is this economic upheaval actually
started about 10 years ago when we really felt that economic downturn. It caused a number of
organizations to say, "Look, we don't have the money to be able to upgrade or replace
equipment on our regular cycles."
The top reason, at 75 percent, is a
desire to move to a pay-as-you-go
versus a cyclical CapEx model. So, the
economics here are driving the move
from traditional to cloud.
And so instead of having a four-year cycle for servers, or a five-year cycle for storage, or in
some cases as much as 10-plus cycle for network -- they started kicking that can down the
road. When the economic situation improved, rather than put money back into infrastructure,
people started to ask, "Are there other approaches that we can take?" Now, at the same time,
cloud was really beginning to mature and become a viable solution, especially for mid- to large-
enterprises. And so, the combination of those two opened the door to a different possibility that
didn't have to do with replacing the hardware in corporate data centers.
And then you have the third piece to that trifecta, which are the overall business demands. We
saw a very significant change in customer buying behavior at the same time, which is people
were looking for things now. We saw the uptick of Amazon use and away from traditional retail,
and that trend really kicked into gear around the same time. All of these together lead into this
shift to demand for a different kind of model, looking at OpEx versus CapEx.
Gardner:Dave, you and I have talked about this a lot over the past 10 years, economics being
a driver. But you don't necessarily always save money by going to cloud. To me, what I see in
these results is not just seeking lower total cost -- but simplification, consolidation and
rationalization for what enterprises do spend on IT. Does that make sense and is that reflected
in your practice?
Savings, strategy and speed
Linthicum: Yes, it is, and I think that the primary reason for moving to the cloud has morphed
in the last five years from the CapEx saving money, operational savings model into the need for
strategic value. That means gaining agility, ability to scale your systems up as you need to,
to adjust to the needs of the business in the quickest way -- and be able to keep up with the
speed of change.
A lot of the Global 2,000 companies out there
are having trouble maintaining change within
the organization, to keep up with change in
their markets. I think that's really going to be
the death of a thousand cuts if they don't fix
it. They're seeing cloud as an enabling
technology to do that.
In other words, with cloud they can have the
resources they need, they can get to the storage levels they need, they can manage the data
that they need -- and do so at a price point that typically is going to be lower than the on-
premise systems. That's why they're moving in that direction. But like we said earlier, in doing
so they're moving into more complex models. They're typically going to be spending a bit more
money, but the value of IT -- in its ability to delight the business in terms of new capabilities -- is
going to be there. I think that's the core metric we need to consider.
Gardner:David, at Navisite, when it comes to cost balanced by the business value from IT, how
does that play out in a managed hosting environment? Do you see organizations typically
wanting to stick to what they do best, which is create apps, run business processes, and do
data science, rather than run IT systems in and out of every refresh cycle? How is this shaking
out in the managed services business?
A lot of the Global 2,000 companies are
having trouble maintaining change
within the organization to keep up with
change in their markets. That’s going to
be the death of a thousand cuts if they
don’t fix it. They see cloud as an
enabling technology to do that.
Grimes: That's exactly what I'm seeing. Companies are really moving toward focusing on their
differentiation. Running infrastructure has become almost like having power delivered to your
data center. You need it, it's part of the business, but it's rarely differentiating. So that's what
One of the things in the survey results
that does surprise me is the relatively low
scoring for the operations complexity
and support difficulties. With the pace of
technology innovation happening, and
even within VMware, within the
enterprise context, but certainly within
the context of the cloud platforms, Azure
in particular, the skillsets to use
those platforms, manage them effectively
and take the biggest advantage of them
are in exceedingly high demand. Many organizations are struggling to acquire and retain that
talent. That's certainly been my experience in with dealing with my clients and prospects.
Gardner:Now that we know why people want to move, let's look at what it is that's preventing
them from moving. What are the chief obstacles that are preventing those in our audience from
moving off of a legacy environment like VMware?
There's more than just a technological decision here. Dell Technologies is the major controller
of VMware, even with VMware being a publicly traded company. But Dell Technologies, in order
to go private, had to incur enormous debt, still in the vicinity of $48 billion. There's been reports
recently of a reverse merger, where VMware as a public company will take over Dell as a
private company. The markets didn't necessarily go for that, and it creates a bit of confusion and
concern in the market. So Dave, is this something IT operators and architects should concern
themselves with when they're thinking about which direction to go?
Linthicum: Ultimately, we need to look at the health of the company we're buying hardware and
software from in terms of their ability to be around over the next few years. The reality is that
VMware, Dell, and [earlier Dell merger target] EMC are mega forces in terms of a
legacy footprint in a majority of data centers. I really don't see any need to be concerned about
the viability of that technology. And when I look at viability of companies, I look at the viability of
the technology, which can be bought and sold, and the intellectual property can be traded off to
other companies. I don't think the technology is going to go away, it's just too much of a cash
cow. And the reality is, whoever owns VMware is going to be able to make a lot of money for a
long period of time.
Gardner:Tim, should organizations be concerned in that they want to have independence as
VMware customers and not get locked in to a hardware vendor or a storage vendor at the same
time? Is there concern about VMware becoming too tightly controlled by Dell at some point?
Crawford: You always have to think about who it is that you're partnering with. These days
when you make a purchase as an IT organization, you're really buying into a partnership, so
you're buying into the vision and direction of that given company.
It does surprise me, the relatively low
scoring for the operations complexity and
support difficulties. … The skillsets to use
those platforms, manage them effectively
and take the biggest advantage of them
are in exceedingly high demand. Many
organizations are struggling to acquire and
retain that talent.
And I agree with Dave about Dell, EMC, and VMware in that they're going to be around for a
long period of time. I don't think that's really the factor to be as concerned with. I think you have
to look beyond that.
You have to look at what it is that your business needs, and how does that start to influence
changes that you make organizationally in terms of where you focus your management and
your staff. That means moving up the chain, if you will, and away from the underlying
infrastructure and into applications and things closely tied to business advantage.
As you start to do that, you start to look at other
opportunities beyond just virtualization. You start breaking
down the silos, you start breaking down the components
into smaller and smaller components -- and you look at the
different modes of system delivery. That's really where
cloud starts to play a role.
Gardner:Let's look now to our audience for what they see
as important. What are the chief obstacles preventing you
from moving off of a legacy virtualization environment?
Again, the economics are quite prevalent in their
By a majority, they are not sure that there's sufficient return on investment (ROI) benefits. They
might be wondering why they should move at all. Their fear of a lock-in to a primary cloud model
is also a concern. So, the economics and lock-in risk are high, not just from being stuck on a
virtualization legacy -- but also concern about moving forward. Maybe they're like the deer in the
The third concern, a close tie, are issues around compliance, security, and regulatory
restrictions from moving to the cloud. Complexity and uncertainty that the migration process will
be successful, are also of concern. They're worried about that lift and shift process.
They are less concerned about lack of support for moving from the C-Suite or business
leadership, of not getting buy-in from the top. So … If it's working, don't fix it, I suppose, or at
least don't break it. And the last issue of concern, very low, is that it’s still too soon to
know which cloud choices are best.
So, it's not that they don't understand what's going on with cloud, they're concerned about
risk, and complexity of staying is a concern -- but complexity of moving is nearly as big of a
concern. David, anything in these results that jump out to you?
Feel the fear and migrate anyway
Grimes: Of those not being sure of the ROI benefits, that's been a common thread for quite
some time in terms of looking at these cloud migrations. But in our experience, what I've seen
are clients choosing to move to a VMware cloud hosted by Navisite. They ultimately end up
unlocking the business agility of their cloud, even if they weren't 100 percent sure going into it
that they would be able to.
You start to look at other
opportunities beyond just
virtualization. … You
look at the different
modes of system
delivery. That’s really
where cloud starts to
play a role.
But time and time again, moving away from the enterprise data center, repurposing the spend
on IT resources to become more valuable to the business -- as opposed to the traditional
keeping the lights on function -- has played out on a fairly regular basis.
I agree with the audience and the response here
around the fear of lock-in. And it's not just lock-in
from a basic deployment infrastructure perspective,
it's fear of lock-in if you choose to take advantage of
a cloud’s higher-level services, such as data
analytics or all the different business things that are
now as-a-service. If you buy into them,
you certainly increase your ability to deliver. Your
own pace of innovation can go through the roof --
but you're often then somewhat locked in.
You're buying into a particular service model, a set of APIs, et cetera. It's a form of lock-in. It
is avoidable if you want to build in layers of abstraction, but it's not necessarily the end of the
world either. As with everything, there are trade-offs. You're getting a lot of business value in
your own ability to innovate and deliver quickly, yes, but it comes at the cost of some lock-in to a
Gardner:Dave, what I'm seeing here is people explaining why hybrid is important to them, that
they want to hedge their bets. All or nothing is too risky. Does that make sense to you, that what
these results are telling us is that hybrid is the best model because you can spread that risk
IT in the balance between past and future
Linthicum: Yes, I think it does say that. I live this on a daily basis in terms of ROI benefits and
concern about not having enough, and also the lock-in model. And the reality is that when you
get to an as-is architecture state, it's going to be a variety -- as we mentioned earlier – of
resources that we're going to leverage.
So, this is not all about taking traditional systems – and the application workloads around
traditional systems -- and then moving them into the cloud and shutting down the traditional
systems. That won't work. This is about a balance or modernization of technology. And if you
look at that, all bets are on the table -- including traditional, including private cloud, and public
cloud, and hybrid-based computing. Typically, it's going to be the best path to success at
looking at all of that. But like I said, the solution's really going to be dependent on the
requirements on the business and what we're looking at.
Going forward, these kinds of decisions are falling into a pattern, and I think that we're seeing
that this is not necessarily going to be pure-cloud play. This is not necessarily going to be pure
traditional play, or pure private cloud play. This is going to be a complex architecture that
deals with a private and public cloud paired with traditional systems.
If you buy into [a cloud’s higher-
level services], you certainly
increase your ability to deliver.
Your own pace of innovation
can go through the roof – but
you’re often then somewhat
And so, people who do want to hedge their bets
will do that around making the right decisions that
they leverage the right resources for
the appropriate task at hand. I think that's going
to be the winning end-point. It's not necessarily
moving to the platforms that we think are cool,
or that we think can make us more money -- it's
about localization of the workloads on the
right platforms, to gain the right fit.
Gardner:From the last two survey result sets, it appears incumbent on legacy providers like
VMware to try to get people to stay on their designated platform path. But at the same time,
because of this inertia to shift, because of these many concerns, the hyperscalers like Google
Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services also need to sweeten their deals. What are
these other cloud providers doing, David, when it comes to trying to assuage the enterprise
concerns of moving wholesale to the cloud?
Grimes: There are certainly those hyperscale players, but there are also a number of regional
public cloud players in the form of the VMware partner ecosystem. And I think when we talk
about public versus private, we also need to make a distinction between public hyperscale and
public cloud that still could be VMware-based.
I think one interesting thing that ties back to my earlier comments is when you look at Microsoft
Azure and their Azure Stack hybrid cloud strategy. If you flip that 180 degrees, and consider the
VMware on AWS strategy, I think we'll continue to see that type of thing play out going forward.
Both of those approaches actually reflect the need to be able to deliver the legacy enterprise
workload in a way that is adjacent from an equivalence of technology as well as a latency
perspective. Because one thing that's often overlooked is the need to examine the hybrid cloud
deployment models via the acceptable latency between applications that are inherently
integrated. That can often be a deal-breaker for a successful implementation.
What we'll see is this continued evolution of ensuring that we can solve what I see as a decade-
forward problem. And that is, as organizations continue to reinvent their applications portfolio
they must also evolve the way that they actually build and deliver applications while continuing
to be able to operate their business based on the legacy stack that's driving day-to-day
Gardner:Our final survey question asks What are your current plans for moving apps and
data from a legacy environment like VMware, from a traditional data center?
And two strong answers out of the offerings come out on top. Public clouds such as Microsoft
Azure and Google Cloud, and a hybrid or multi-cloud approach. So again, they're looking at the
public clouds as a way to get off of their traditional -- but they're looking not for just one or
a lock-in, but they're looking at a hybrid or multi-cloud approach.
Coming up zero, surprisingly, is VMware on AWS, which you just mentioned, David.
Private cloud hosted and private cloud on-premises both come up at about 25 percent, along
with no plans to move. So, staying on-premises in a private cloud has traction for some, but for
It’s not necessarily moving to the
platforms that we think are cool, or
that we think can make us more
money – it’s about localization of
the workloads on the right
platforms, to gain the right fit.
those that want to move to the
dominant hyperscalers, a multi-cloud approach is
clearly the favorite.
Linthicum: I thought there would be a few that
would pick VMware on AWS, but it looks like the
audience doesn't necessarily see that that's going
to be the solution. Everything else is not surprising. It's aligned with what we see in the
marketplace right now. Public cloud movement to Azure, Google Cloud and then also the
movement to complex clouds like hybrid and multi-cloud also seem to be the two trends worth
seeing right now in the space, and this is reflective of that.
Gardner:Let's move our discussion on. It's time to define the right trade-offs and rationale
when we think about these taxing choices. We know that people want to improve, they don't
want to be locked in, they want good economics, and they're probably looking for a long-term
Now that we've mentioned it several times, what is it about Azure and Azure Stack that provides
appeal? Microsoft’s cloud model seems to be differentiated in the market, by offering both a
public cloud component as well as an integrated – or adjacent -- private cloud component.
There’s a path for people to come onto those from a variety of different deployment histories
including, of course, a Microsoft environment -- but also a VMware environment. What should
organizations be thinking about, what are the proper trade-offs, and what are the major
concerns when it comes to picking the right hybrid and multi-cloud approach?
Strategic steps on the journey
Grimes: At the end of the day, it's ultimately a journey and that journey requires a lot of
strategy upfront. It requires a lot of planning, and it requires selecting the right partner to help
you through that journey.
Because whether you're planning an all-in on Azure, or an all-in on Google Cloud, or you want
to stay on VMware but get out of the enterprise data center, as Dave has mentioned, the reality
is everything is much more complex than it seems. And to maximize the value of the models
and capabilities that are available today, you're almost necessarily going to end up in a hybrid
deployment model -- and that means you're going to have a mix of technologies in play, a mix of
skillsets required to support them.
And so I think one of the key things that folks should
do is consider carefully how they partner regardless
of where they are in that journey, if they are on step
one or step three, to continue that journey is going to
be critical on selecting the right partner to help them.
Gardner:Dave, when you're looking at risk versus reward, cost versus benefits, when you're
wanting to hedge bets, what is it about Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack in particular that help
solve that? It seems to me that they've gone to great pains to anticipate the state of the market
right now and to try to differentiate themselves. Is there something about the Microsoft approach
that is, in fact, differentiated among the hyperscalers?
Folks should consider carefully
how they partner regardless of
where they are in that journey.
For those that want to move to the
dominant hyperscalers, a multi-
cloud approach is clearly the
A seamless secret
Linthicum: The paired private and public cloud, with similar infrastructures and similar
migration paths, and dynamic migration paths, meaning it could be workloads in between them -
- at least this is the way that it's been described -- is going to be unique in the market. Kind of
the dirty little secret.
It's going to be very difficult to port from a private cloud to a public cloud because most private
clouds are typically not AWS and not Google, and they don't make private clouds. Therefore,
you have to port your code between the two, just like you've had to port systems in the past.
And the normal issues about refactoring and retesting, and all the other things, really come
home to roost.
But Microsoft could have a product that provides a bit more of a seamless capability of doing
that. And the great thing about that is I can really localize on whatever particular platform I'm
looking at. And if I, for example, “mis-localize” or I misfit, then it's a relatively easy thing to move
it from private to public or public to private. And this may be at a time where the market needs
something like that, and I think that's what is unique about it in the space.
Gardner:Tim, what do you see as some of the trade-offs, and what is it about a public, private
hybrid cloud that's architected to be just that -- that seemingly Microsoft has developed? Is that
differentiating, or should people be thinking about this in a different way?
Crawford: I actually think it's significantly differentiating, especially when you consider the
complexity that exists within the mass of the enterprise. You have different needs, and not all of
those needs can be serviced by public cloud, not all of those needs can be serviced by private
There's a model that I use with clients to go through this, and it's something that I used when I
led IT organizations. When you start to pick apart these pieces, you start to realize that some of
your components are well-suited for software as a service (SaaS)-based alternatives, some of
the components and applications and workloads are well-suited for public cloud, some are well-
suited for private cloud.
A good example of that is if you have sovereignty issues, or compliance and regulatory issues.
And then you'll have some applications that just aren't ready for cloud. You've mentioned lift and
shift a number of times, and for those that have been down that path of lift and shift, they've also
gotten burnt by that, too, in a number of ways.
And so, you have to be mindful of what applications
go in what mode, and I think the fact that you have a
product like Azure Stack and Azure being similar,
that actually plays pretty well for an enterprise that's
thinking about skillsets, thinking about your
development cycles, thinking about architectures and
not having to create, as Dave was mentioning, one
for private cloud and a completely different one for
public cloud. And if you get to a point where you
want to move an application or workload, then you're
having to completely redo it over again. So, I think
that Microsoft combination is pretty unique, and will
be really interesting for the average enterprise.
Gardner:From the managed service provider (MSP) perspective, at Navisite you have a large
and established hosted VMware business, and you’re helping people transition and migrate. But
you're also looking at the potential market opportunity for an Azure Stack and a hosted Azure
Stack business. What is it for the managed hosting provider that might make Microsoft's
A full-spectrum solution
Grimes: It comes down to what both Dave and Tim mentioned. Having a light stack and being
able to be deployed in a private capacity, which also -- by the way -- affords the ability to use
bare metal adjacency, is appealing. We haven't talked a lot about bare metal, but it is something
that we see in practice quite often. There are bare metal workloads that need to be very
adjacent, i.e. land adjacent, to the virtualization-friendly workloads.
Being able to have the combination of all three of
those things is what makes Azure Stack attractive to
a hosting provider such as Navisite. With it, we can
solve the full-spectrum of the needs of the client,
covering bare metal, private cloud, and
hyperscale public -- and really in a seamless way --
which is the key point.
Gardner:It's not often you can be as many things to as many people as that given the
heterogeneity of things over the past and the difficult choices of the present.
We have been talking about these many cloud choices in the abstract. Let's now go to a
concrete example. There's an organization called Ceridian. Tell us about how they solved their
Grimes: Ceridian is a global human capital management company, global being a key point.
They are growing like gangbusters and have been with Navisite for quite some time. It's been a
very long journey.
You have to be mindful of what
applications go in what mode, and
I think Azure Stack and Azure
being similar, that actually plays
pretty well for an enterprise that’s
thinking about skillsets, thinking
about development cycles, thinking
about architectures and not having
to create one for private cloud and
a completely different one for
With [Azure Stack], we can solve
the full-spectrum needs of the
client, covering bare metal, private
cloud, and hyperscale public – and
really in a seamless way – which is
the key point.
But one thing about Ceridian is they have had a cloud-first strategy. They embraced the cloud
very early. A lot of those barriers to entry that we saw, and have seen over the years, they
looked at as opportunity, which I find very interesting.
Requirements around security and compliance are critical to them, but they also recognized that
a SaaS provider that does a very small set of IT services -- delivering managed infrastructure
with security and compliance -- is actually likely to be able to do that at least as effectively, if not
more effectively, than doing it in-house, and at a competitive and compelling price point as well.
So some of their challenges really were around all the reasons that we see, that we talked about
here today, and see as the drivers to adopting cloud. It's about enabling business agility. With
the growth that they've experienced, they've needed to be able to react quickly and deploy
quickly, and to leverage all the things that virtualization and now cloud enable for
the enterprises. But again, as I mentioned before, they worked closely with a partner to
maximize the value of the technologies and ensure that we're meeting their security and
compliance needs and delivering everything from a managed infrastructure perspective.
Overcoming geographical barriers
One of the core challenges that they had with that growth was a need to expand into
geographies where we don't currently operate our hosting facilities, so Navisite's hosting
capabilities. In particular, they needed to expand into Australia. And so, what we were able to do
through our partnership with Microsoft was basically deliver to them the managed infrastructure
in a similar way.
This is actually an interesting use case in that
they're running VMware-based cloud in our data
center, but we were able to expand them into a
managed Azure-delivered cloud locally out of
Australia. Of course, one thing we didn't touch on
today -- but is a driver in many of these decisions
for global organizations -- is a lot of the data
sovereignty and locality regulations are becoming increasingly important. Certainly, Microsoft is
expanding the Azure platform. And so their presence in Australia has enabled us to deliver that
As I think about the key takeaways and learnings from this particular example, Ceridian had a
very clear, very well thought out cloud-centric and cloud-first strategy. You, Dana, mentioned it
earlier, that that really enables them to continue to keep their focus on the applications because
that's their bread and butter, that's how they differentiate.
By partnering, they're able to not worry about the keeping the lights on and instead focus on
the application. Second, of course, is they're a global organization and so they have global
delivery needs based on data sovereignty regulations. And third, and I'd say probably most
important, is they selected a partner that was able to bring to bear the expertise and skillsets
that are difficult for enterprises to recruit and retain. As a result, they were able to take
advantage of the different infrastructure models that we're delivering for them to support their
Gardner:We're now going to go to our question and answer portion. Kristen Allen of Navisite is
A driver in many of these decisions
for global organizations is – a lot of
the data sovereignty and locality
regulations are becoming
moderating our Q&A section.
Q&A: Bare metal and beyond
Kristen Allen: We have some very interesting questions. The first one ties into a conversation
you were just having, "What are the ROI benefits to moving to bare metal servers for certain
Grimes: Not all software licensing is yet virtualization-friendly, or at least on a virtualization
platform-agnostic platform, and so there's really two things that play into the selection of bare
metal, at least in my experience. There is kind of a model of bare metal computing,
small cartridge-based computers, that are very specific to certain workloads. But when we talk
in more general terms for a typical enterprise workload, it really revolves around either software
licensing incompatibility with some of the cloud deployment models or a belief that there is a
performance that requires bare metal, though in practice I think that's more of optics than reality.
But those are the two things that typically drive bare metal adoption in my experience.
Linthicum: Ultimately, people want access directly for at the end-of-the-line platforms, and if
there's some performance reason, or some security reason, or some kind of a direct access to
some of the input-output systems, we do see these kinds of one-offs for bare metal. I call them
special needs applications. I don't see it as something that's going to be widely adopted, but
from time to time, it's needed, and the capabilities are there depending on where you want to
Allen: Our next question is, "Should there be different thinking for data workloads versus apps
ones, and how should they be best integrated in a hybrid environment?"
Linthicum: Ultimately, the compute aspect of an application and the data aspect of that
application really should be decoupled. Then, if you want to, you can assemble them on
different platforms. I would typically think that we're going to place them either on all public or all
private, but you can certainly do one on private and one on public, and one on public and one
on private, and link them that way.
As we're migrating forward, the workloads
are getting even more complex. And there's
some application workloads that I've seen, that
I've developed, where the database would be
partitioned against the private cloud and the
public cloud for disaster recovery (DR)
purposes or performance purposes, and things
like that. So, it's really up to you as the
architect as to where you're going to place the
data in adjacent relation to the workload.
Typically, a good idea to place them as close to each other as they can so they have the highest
bandwidth to communicate to each other. However, it's not necessary depending on what the
Gardner:David, maybe organizations need to place their data in a certain jurisdiction but might
want to run their apps out of a data center somewhere else for performance and economics?
Workloads are getting even more
complex. There’s some application
workloads … where the database
would be partitioned against the private
cloud and the public cloud for disaster
recovery purposes or performance
purposes, and things like that.
Grimes: The data sovereignty requirement is something that we touched on and
that's becoming increasingly important and increasingly, that's a driver too, in deciding where to
place the data.
Just following on Dave's comments, I agree 100 percent. If you have the opportunity to architect
a new application, I think there's some really interesting choices that can be made around
data placement, network placement, and decoupling them is absolutely the right strategy.
I think the challenge many organizations face is having that mandate to close down the
enterprise data center and move to the "cloud." Of course, we know that “cloud” means a lot of
different things but, do that in a legacy application environment and that will present some
unique challenges as well, in terms of actually being able to sufficiently decouple data and
Curious, Dave, if you've had any successes in kind of meeting that challenge?
Linthicum: Yes. It depends on the application workload and how flexible the applications are
and how the information is communicating between the systems; also security requirements.
So, it's one of those obnoxious consulting responses, “it depends” as to whether or not we can
make that work. But the thing is the architecture is a legitimate architectural pattern that I've
seen before and we've used it.
Allen: Okay. How do you meet and adapt for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
of 1996 (HIPAA) requirements and still maintain stable connectivity for the small business?
Grimes: HIPAA, like many of the governance
programs, is a very large and co-
owned responsibility. I think from our
perspective at Navisite, part of
Spectrum Enterprise, we have the unique
capability of delivering both the
network services and the cloud services in an
integrated way that can address
the particular question around stable
connectivity. But ultimately, HIPAA is a blended responsibility model where the infrastructure
provider, the network provider, the provider managing up to whatever layer of the application
stack will have certain obligations. But then the partner, the client would also retain some
obligations as well.
Gardner:I'm afraid we'll have to leave it there. You have been an essential part of this panel
discussion on how organizations can gain a future-proof path to hybrid computing that simplifies
IT operations, provides cloud deployment choices, and makes total economic sense. Please join
me in thanking our guests, David Grimes, Vice President of Engineering at Navisite; David
Linthicum, Chief Cloud Strategy Officer at Deloitte Consulting, and Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic
Advisor at AVOA.
And a big thank you as well to our audience. Please feel free to pass this link as well to others
who you think would benefit from this discussion. I'm Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst
at Interarbor Solutions. Thanks again for joining and do come back next time.
HIPAA, like many of the governance
programs, is a very large and co-owned
responsibility. … We have the unique
capability of delivering both the network
services and the cloud services in an
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Download the transcript.
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Transcript of a panel discussion exploring how organizations can gain a future-proof path to
hybrid computing that simplifies architecture and makes total economic sense.
Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2018. All rights reserved.
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