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Guest column: Next generation data center technologies on horizon

Jim Livingston, CTO

By Jim Livingston, Chief Technology Officer

It's an exciting time to be in IT. There are so many new and innovative technologies available that are transforming how we deliver and consume IT services. Some of these technologies are critical to our ongoing success and must be part of our IT strategy going forward. 

Three examples of these technologies are Software-Defined Everything (SDE) in the Downtown Data Center, Private and Public Cloud, and Object Storage. 

SDE is the abstraction of the architecture and programmability of infrastructure, including compute, storage, network and data center operations. Cloud refers to hosted services that are delivered over the internet, such as Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (Saas), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Security as a Service (SECaaS), etc. Object Storage is data storage architecture that manages data and files as objects.

There has been a lot of hype about these technologies and many organization have decided to jump on the bandwagon early on, with some being successful and others not so much. For example, some organizations migrated many or all their IT services to the Cloud. Many of the workloads that went to the Cloud have now been brought back on premises due to lack of control and the high cost of Cloud services.

Moving to cloud technologies and services is the right path to follow, depending on the use case, because of the benefits and flexibility it gives us. However, for optimal flexibility, we are taking a Hybrid Cloud approach by implementing our own on-premise Private Cloud integrated with Public Cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Azure, which will give us the capability to place workloads where it makes the most financial and service delivery sense. 

Fortunately, these technologies have greatly matured. We can learn from others who have implemented these technologies and move forward with confidence, avoiding some of the pitfalls that others have experienced. We are well underway with our implementation and are excited with the benefits we are receiving. 

Implementation schedule

  • Object Storage, Hitachi Content Platform (HCP): Implemented
  • Hybrid Cloud (HPE Hybrid Cloud Management Suite), data center automation (HPE Data Center Automation Suite), software-defined operations (HPE Orchestration), software-defined compute and storage (HPE Synergy): 1/31/2018
  • Software-Defined Networking, Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI):
    • Phase I: 2/28/2018 (migration of servers to new ACI data center core)
    • Phase 2: TBD (policy enforcement, micro-segmentation)

Most exciting about these technologies are the benefits that we'll realize as an organization. 

Here are some of the benefits categorized by project:

Hybrid Cloud, Data Center Automation, Software-Defined Compute/Storage, and Software-Defined Operations
  • Automated Provisioning & Configuration
    • Across virtual and physical servers, container hosts, databases, middleware
    • Policy-based configuration
    • Out-of-the-box automation flows
    • Amazon-like experience
  • Compliance & Patching
    • Automated patching and remediation
    • Service-level compliance
    • Out-of-the-box policy content
  • Public/Private Cloud Integration
    • Private Cloud to reduce cost and maintain control
    • Public Cloud integration and provisioning for appropriate workloads
    • End-to-end Hybrid Cloud orchestration
    • Cloud Broker compliant services
  • Advanced Analytics & Reporting
    • Capacity forecast reporting
    • Usage and waste reclamation views
    • Placement functionality to right-size virtual machines
  • Orchestration
    • IT process orchestration for high-ROI processes, e.g., incident remediation and change management
    • Out-of-the-box operations and flows
Software-Defined Networking
  • Replace end-of-life data center network core with Cisco ACI
  • Automation and Agility
    • Automate IT workflows and shorten application deployment
  • Open and Programmable
    • Build programmable Software Defined Networking (SDN) fabrics leveraging open APIs
  • Security and Analytics
    • Secure applications through whitelist model, policy enforcement, and micro-segmentation
  • Workload Mobility at Scale
    • Deploy, scale and migrate applications seamlessly across multiple hybrid data centers
Object Storage
  • HCP is backup-less: All data consolidated into an HCP object store is removed from the backup stream significantly reducing backup infrastructure. HCP is backup-less due to features like data integrity checking, immutability, automatic object repair from replica, and robust replication.
  • Automated lifecycle management of all data in the object store: Using HCP's retention and disposition features, the lifecycle of data can be automated using retention policies and then deleted at the end of its lifecycle through a disposition policy
  • Automated tiering: Using HCP's Storage Service Policies, data within the object store can have specific policies applied that allow for data to automatically move between local storage assets and the cloud. These policies can be changed at any time to accommodate the most economical storage options at any given time.
  • Data enrichment: Once all of your unstructured data in one location you can eventually enrich that data with meta-data and allow for full index and search across the entire repository allowing for data classification, governance, eDiscovery, and analytics
  • WORM storage protection against ransomware: Because HCP is a WORM storage device and does not allow for changes to the original object without leveraging versioning, HCP is protected from ransomware by not allowing any external application or process to encrypt data already stored on HCP
  • Cost: Substantially less expensive than Cloud storage and our other tiers of on-premises storage

I'm very excited about these new technologies and look forward to the benefits we’ll receive as an organization by improved service delivery and capabilities, enhanced flexibility, cost savings and improved security. 

Please feel free to contact me any time if you'd like to learn more about these technologies and the benefits we'll realize as an organization.

UIT Talks: CTO Updates Oct. 24, 1:00 - 1:30 p.m.

Jim will provide updates on next generation data center technologies at his 
UIT Talks town hall event, 1:00 p.m - 1:30 p.m. October 24, 2017.

1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Zion Conference Room 5150, 102 Tower [map]

+ Online Skype meeting,
or join by phone 801-587-1478, Conference ID: 594594

Meeting documents and a recording of the meeting (when available) can be accessed in Box.

Last Updated: 9/27/17