Industry Voice: HCI - The challenges and benefits of consolidating your on-prem infrastructure

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Industry Voice: HCI - The challenges and benefits of consolidating your on-prem infrastructure

Today's public sector organisations are under pressure to offer their users services that are innovative, accessible and get more out of their data, technology, architectures and ecosystems. Many are now looking to the cloud to deliver these outcomes, especially if they do not have the necessary infrastructure on-premises. However, the need to preserve data sovereignty and comply with regulations may mean that full cloud migration is not appropriate.

Ageing infrastructure that does not keep pace with the latest technological advances and a lack of resources may mean that the public sector, and the increasingly tech-savvy citizens they serve, risk missing out if infrastructure is not optimised, consolidated and kept up-to-date.

So how can the public sector ensure it is getting the most from its infrastructure?

Best of both worlds

Richard Seddon, technical architect at Lenovo Infrastructure Solutions Group, explains that for many public sector organisations, migrating to the cloud may appear to be the solution. However, this is not always a simple process:

"There's a definite interest in hybrid technologies. A lot of organisations have moved into the cloud but a lot of them are now moving back away from the cloud.  

"This seems to be driven by government and senior decision-makers who maybe aren't aware of how to get the most out of the technology.  We've had customers who have moved into the cloud, have signed agreements, done everything they need to do and then realised a year down the line that they're still nowhere near migrating their workload into that cloud environment.

"It's easy to say let's just put it in the cloud but it's actually quite complex when you have to work out how it's going to connect to your environment and how it's going to connect to your users."

In this context, hybrid is the best route for many:

"There's now a growing realisation amongst all of our customers that they want to move towards a cloud-based strategy and anything they do has to be with that in mind, but they recognise that they will still need a data centre locally and still need to keep some of what they're doing on-premises but have that cloud capability and interoperability."

Consolidation is key

Organisations must ensure that their infrastructure is up to the task and does not become outdated. Seddon explains that organisations may hold onto older technologies beyond their traditional shelf life:

"Clearly technology is moving forward in terms of its capacity and capability. Process technologies today will easily do a lot more than they could five years ago when customers originally bought them… I've found a lot of councils and public sector customers are now keeping IT for six to seven years rather than five years and just buying new and starting again.

"In terms of consolidation and newer technologies, thanks to hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), we're able to do a lot more with less and therefore we can offer that consolidation message, we can really talk about how it's going to help save customers in terms of their environment and also often the ability to run more workload, more capability, and continue to grow that on-premises environment."

HCI help

Rutland County Council found that its ageing architecture had created performance issues and was no longer fit-for-purpose. Replacing its three-tier infrastructure with a HCI generated business outcomes such as improved flexibility and scalability.

"Rutland came to us with a 3-tiering infrastructure that could benefit from being updated," said Seddon. "They needed to bring in a new platform to grow into. They wanted the ability to have a hybrid environment, not all cloud and not all on-prem. They wanted that flexibility of keeping their options open."

"We proposed a ThinkAgile HCI solution based on Azure Stack HCI. And because of that Azure link, it made sense to have that interoperability. In terms of the solution, it had to be hybrid, it had to have that doorway into the cloud in the future. They shared with us that they were an Azure customer and they wanted to open more Azure virtual machines as well."  

HCI allows organisations to virtualise all of the elements of a traditional data centre. It offers the opportunity to update infrastructure while reducing cost and complexity, enables flexible purchasing and makes it simpler to manage, maintain and monitor environments.

When multiple technology solutions are deployed for different purposes within an organisation, this can create a patchwork infrastructure that is difficult to manage and maintain. HCI helps remedy this:

"It collapses the complexity because you're bringing the technologies together and you're managing it all from one interface. You're using the intelligence that's built into the system to automate some of the more boring but time-consuming tasks which can potentially get quite complex such as monitoring and keeping things fed and watered, making sure that the firmware is at the right level and it's got all the right patches."

This in turn can help organisations make up for a lack of resources, as well as paving the way for future technological developments:

"[HCI] means that an IT generalist can now step in and do the monitoring and maintaining of that infrastructure and still deliver to the business what it needs. Plus HCI is evolving in terms of being able to support things like Kubernetes and containers, which makes hypermobility around new applications very easy. So suddenly within my container I can go anywhere. I can go to the cloud and I can go on-premises."  

The evolution of technology creates important opportunities for those in the public sector to improve efficiency and decision making, and many organisations are already looking at ways to modernise their architectures.  

However, a lack of resources can mean that ambitions are hampered by ageing technology or an infrastructure that has not been optimised.

Partnering with the right third-party that recognises your organisation's needs and how they can be met through consolidation, HCI, and a combination of on-prem and cloud is a vital step.

Learn more at Computing's upcoming dinner and roundtable covering the challenges and benefits of consolidating data storage with hyperconverged infrastructure. For details, please contact Oliver Brunetti at [email protected]

This post was funded by Lenovo.

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