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Agencies Benefit from Flexible IT Environments

Brian Falvey, Director of Pointnext Services, U.S. Public Sector at HPE

May 24, 2018  |  Cloud  •  Data Center  •  IT Modernization

An unquestionably difficult task: keeping the government online and functional while simultaneously modernizing legacy applications and infrastructure.  And the complexity of this task is exacerbated by the urgency of mandates such as the Data Center Optimization Initiative (DCOI) that the OMB issued pursuant to FITARA.

With all deliberate speed, and much like their industry counterparts, federal IT managers must create a flexible IT infrastructure that can support a spectrum of workloads and applications—often ranging from sluggish mainframe workloads to fast and agile born-in-cloud applications.

This is challenging for several reasons, not the least of which is that public cloud proponents like AWS and their disciples blindly tout the public cloud as the perfect IT solution. In actuality, there is no silver bullet and the solution will typically require a unique mix of on-premise, private cloud, public cloud and SaaS solutions optimized for the particular agency or mission.

Migration to the public cloud makes sense for certain workloads that benefit from scalable capacity and consumption-based pricing. In fact, it’s likely that up to 50% of an agency’s workloads are suitable for migration to public cloud or SaaS platforms like Office 365 without any problems.

But some federal workloads need to live in traditional data centers or stay on-premise in private clouds, so moving to the public cloud isn’t even an option. Security, compliance, application functionality, latency and other migration challenges mean that some workloads are simply best left on-premise.

So what do you do when leaders who “manage by magazine” say you should go all-in on cloud, while others want mission-critical applications to stay within the agency’s private purview? Find an effective way to deploy hybrid IT.

This isn’t a new concept. The General Services Administration has been pushing hybrid IT as the most flexible option for federal agencies, going so far as developing a list of compelling reasons to implement a hybrid IT solution.

GSA points out that hybrid IT affords the ability to choose from public or private cloud, “allowing for the best available technologies for each application and agency-specific use.” The GSA suggests that, “Federal agencies can use existing on-premise solutions for mission-critical workloads while moving non-critical items to a public cloud.” The challenge, however, is in deciding which workloads go where and when.

An April 2017 IDC report says that federal spending on hybrid cloud services will grow by 11 percent over the next five years. That’s the second largest growth category in federal IT behind public cloud services.

Notwithstanding all the benefits of hybrid IT, agencies are still burdened with the time-consuming task of determining where each application or workload should reside, and how to migrate back and forth from public and on-premise infrastructure to optimize cost, performance, speed and security at any given time.

The ideal situation would arm IT staff with the data to balance these interests and proactively manage on-premise private cloud resources with public cloud agility as efficiently as possible.

The GreenLake solution from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) does just that.

The objective is to give agencies the benefits they seek in public cloud, but with on-premise control and security. IT managers can reap the benefits of the public cloud—speed, managed services and scalability—with their applications that live in their data centers.

GreenLake employs a consumption-based IT model, meaning agencies pay for on-premise IT resources only when they utilize them.  This is in sharp contrast to the typical procurement cycle where infrastructure is over-provisioned based on worst-case-scenario capacity forecasts often looking three to five years down the road.

With Greenlake, you deploy what you need today, plus an infrastructure buffer to accommodate spikes or moderate growth.  As capacity requirements grow, additional infrastructure is added to accommodate the increased requirement.  The result is that at any time you only pay for what you need today, versus what you might need in a few years.  For any agency with growth in compute and storage requirements, this presents a tremendous savings—the precise savings mandated by the DCOI under FITARA.

The reason Greenlake works is that HPE owns, deploys and maintains the physical equipment.  HPE takes care of all the day-to-day support, meeting agreed-upon SLAs. Importantly, HPE provides the software management stack that puts control where it belongs: in the hands of Federal IT managers.  And, by maintaining the infrastructure for you, your staff is freed up to focus on higher-value, mission-specific tasks.

By deploying a mix of public cloud and on-premises private cloud infrastructure that both utilize the same utility billing model, agencies can increase efficiency and reduces costs, without compromising scalability, availability or security.  The key is in assessing which workloads belong where and why.  And, by containerizing certain applications, you can also add “when” to your list of questions as you can easily and inexpensively port applications between your public and private clouds at the most optimal times.  In the end, multi-cloud management is something IT managers need to make happen, instead of watching it happen to them.

While today’s push to the cloud is a strong one, HPE, partnered with Iron Bow, urges federal customers to take a step back and approach migration on a workload-by-workload basis for optimal success.  Let us help put the decision-making power back in your hands.

Hybrid cloud is likely the answer, but IT managers must answer the fundamental question: what is the right mix for my agency?

Find out by visiting the new Iron Bow website.

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