Marcus Rameke, as Head of Information Technology at Nikko Asset Management New Zealand, embarked on a transformational journey with a clear vision” to transition the business from a traditional IT setup to a modern, flexible, and scalable environment that caters to increased mobility and meet global and local business requirements”. This transformation is well underway, supported by senior management and the board of directors.
In pursuing this vision, they have achieved an incredible feat, reducing on-premises devices by a remarkable 80%. Marcus has been instrumental in guiding them away from simply lifting and shifting, instead encouraging them to adopt solutions that provide long-term benefits.
The journey starts with reviewing your on-premises solutions to cater for a migration to a hybrid multi-cloud environment for long-term benefits. Depending on your maturity on the journey to the cloud, you might be on a different stage. In their case, they first created a private cloud, and they took the opportunity to review and upgrade their servers; if you migrate servers or solutions with issues to the cloud solution, you might end up with even more issues in the cloud, and that is not the experience you would like to achieve. Looking at and migrating each workload separately for its purpose mitigates risks and allows the team to adjust to the change (and gain knowledge) and give end users time to adopt new tools to provide a better outcome.
Remember that the specific implementation and details of these aspects will depend on each organisation’s unique requirements and circumstances. A thorough assessment and planning process is crucial to ensuring a successful transition to a hybrid multi-cloud environment that effectively meets business needs.
When building the cloud architecture is a journey in itself. When defining a hybrid framework that supports your business should involve most of these steps:
- Assess Business Requirements: Understand your business goals, objectives, and specific requirements. Identify the applications, data, and workloads that need to be deployed in different environments (public cloud, private cloud, on-premises) based on compliance, security, performance, and scalability factors.
- Evaluate Cloud Service Providers: Assess various providers to determine which ones align with your business needs and can meet your performance, cost, and integration requirements.
- Integration Strategy: Plan how your on-premises Infrastructure will integrate with public and private cloud environments. Consider factors like data migration, networking, and security aspects.
- Security and Compliance: Ensure your hybrid framework addresses security and compliance concerns. Implement proper access controls, encryption, and other security measures to protect sensitive data.
- Define Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and Responsibilities between teams and vendors and establish communication channels.
- Data Management: Establish a data management strategy to handle data across different cloud environments while maintaining consistency, security, and compliance.
- Performance Optimisation: Optimise the hybrid framework for performance by leveraging the strengths of each environment. For example, use public clouds for web-friendly data and private clouds for sensitive or critical applications until you have reached a certain maturity.
- Networking: Design a reliable and secure network infrastructure to connect various components of your cloud architecture; this can add some complexity in New Zealand.
- Cost Management: Evaluate the costs associated with each cloud environment and design the framework to optimise cost efficiency.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Design the framework to be scalable and flexible, allowing you to adapt to changing business needs.
- Monitoring and Governance: Implement robust monitoring and governance mechanisms to maintain visibility and control over the hybrid environment.
- Training and Skill Development: Ensure your IT team has the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively manage and maintain the hybrid framework.
- Disaster Recovery and Backup: Implement disaster recovery and data backup strategies to ensure business continuity.
Nikko AM NZ was running a traditional three-tier architecture data centre that was no longer meeting today’s requirements. The first major project was to transform that into hyper-converged Infrastructure – or HCI – (Private Cloud) and introduce on-site high availability and an off-site disaster recovery solution, with a vision to later move the workload to SaaS or PaaS in the long term to make sure the business benefits of the long-term investments in a healthy and mature approach to the cloud.
These accomplishments streamlined their operations and exemplified their commitment to embracing technology and optimising their Infrastructure, resulting in substantial cost savings, improved efficiency, scalability, and flexibility, and achieving fabulous Environmental Sustainability Results.
In this article, Marcus will explain why he has chosen HCI over traditional three-tier architecture data centres and IaaS and why his vision is to move the workload to SaaS or PaaS is preferable.
Let’s explain what Public, On-Prem, Private, or Hybrid Cloud is to ensure we are on the same page.
- Public Cloud: Third-party providers provide cloud services over the Internet in a public cloud model. These services are accessible to multiple organisations or individuals, and resources are shared among various users.
- On-Premises (Private Cloud): On-premises cloud refers to a cloud infrastructure built and managed within an organisation’s data centre. It offers more control over data and security but requires significant upfront investment and ongoing maintenance.
- Managed Private Cloud: A private cloud is similar to an on-premises cloud but is operated and maintained by a third-party cloud service provider exclusively for a single organisation. It offers increased control and customisation while leveraging some cloud benefits.
- Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid cloud combines two or more cloud deployment models (public, private, or on-premises) that remain distinct entities but are connected through technology, allowing data and applications to be shared between them.
A hybrid, multi-cloud approach combines cloud services and providers (public, private, or on-premises) to meet specific business needs. This strategy aims to leverage each cloud model’s strengths while mitigating its weaknesses. It provides organisations greater flexibility, scalability, redundancy, and the ability to avoid vendor lock-in.
Advantages of HCI Hyper-Converged Infrastructure On-Premises over traditional three-tier architecture data centre and IaaS
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) is preferable and offers several advantages over traditional three-tier architecture data centres due to its simplified management, performance, reliance, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. HCI integrates computing, storage, and networking into a single platform, reducing complexity and operational overhead. It offers seamless scalability by adding modular nodes, allowing organisations to adapt to changing demands while minimising hardware costs quickly.
While HCI offers numerous benefits, organisations must assess their specific needs, workloads, and budget before adopting this infrastructure model. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses, and the right choice depends on the unique requirements and goals of the organisation.
Moreover, while Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in the cloud offers numerous benefits, some organisations prefer to adopt HCI solutions on-premises. We will explore the advantages of HCI over IaaS for businesses seeking localised control, improved performance, and enhanced security.
One of the primary advantages of deploying HCI on-premises is the ability to retain localised control over the Infrastructure. Unlike IaaS, which relies on third-party cloud providers to manage data centres and hardware, on-premises HCI allows businesses full ownership and management of their Infrastructure. This level of control enables IT teams to tailor the Infrastructure to meet specific requirements, optimise workloads, and quickly address any issues that may arise.
With localised control, businesses can ensure compliance with industry regulations and internal security policies. It allows customising security measures according to individual needs, reducing the risk of unauthorised access to sensitive data. For organisations operating in heavily regulated industries such as finance or healthcare, on-premises HCI becomes a compelling choice until a straightforward approach to the cloud has been established.
Performance is critical to any IT infrastructure and on-premises HCI shines compared to IaaS. Having all resources localised within the organisation’s data centre minimises data movement between different services, leading to reduced latency and improved application response times. This enhanced performance results in better user experiences, increased productivity, and reduced downtime.
On-premises HCI also offers predictable performance, as businesses clearly understand the underlying hardware and can scale resources accordingly. IaaS, on the other hand, may suffer from shared resources in multi-tenant environments, leading to potential performance variations during peak times.
Latency is crucial, especially for applications that demand real-time processing or require instantaneous responses. With on-premises HCI, businesses can minimise latency as data communication occurs within the confines of the local network. IaaS, while convenient, introduces a level of latency inherent in the data transfer between the organisation’s data centre and the cloud provider’s servers. Despite high-speed internet connections, external factors can affect the speed and reliability of data transmission, making on-premises HCI the preferred choice for low-latency applications.
Not having big cloud providers’ data centres in New Zealand yet, can have several negative impacts and latency issues when adapting to the cloud. The physical distance between New Zealand and the nearest data centres of major cloud providers can lead to higher latency. When data needs to travel long distances, it introduces delays in data transmission, leading to slower application response times. This latency can significantly impact user experiences and hinder the seamless operation of real-time applications, such as video conferencing, online gaming, and other interactive services.
The higher latency and dependency on international connectivity may necessitate more significant network optimisation and infrastructure investments in New Zealand. These additional costs can be burdensome for businesses, tiny and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which may find it challenging to compete on a global scale without the cost efficiencies provided by local cloud data centres.
For some businesses, the cost of running applications in the cloud can quickly add up, especially when workloads require high-performance computing or significant storage capacity. On-premises HCI offers cost efficiency by eliminating the recurring expenses associated with IaaS subscriptions and usage-based billing.
While the initial capital investment for deploying HCI may be higher, the long-term operational expenses are relatively lower, especially when considering depreciation and ROI over time. Additionally, businesses can repurpose existing Infrastructure or gradually upgrade hardware, reducing costs.
Data sovereignty is crucial, particularly for businesses operating in countries with strict data regulations. Storing sensitive data within the organisation’s premises ensures compliance with local data protection laws and safeguards against potential legal complications arising from cross-border data transfers, as might be the case with IaaS.
In conclusion, HCI hyper-converged infrastructure on-premises offers numerous advantages over traditional three-tier architecture data centres and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for businesses seeking localised control, improved performance, and enhanced security. By retaining control over the Infrastructure, organisations can optimise security measures, ensure compliance, and tailor the system to meet specific requirements.
The enhanced performance, lower latency, and cost efficiency make on-premises HCI a compelling choice for businesses with resource-intensive workloads and stringent data sovereignty concerns. While IaaS remains a viable option for some use cases, embracing the power of localised control and performance through HCI represents a forward-looking approach to data centre management.
Embracing SaaS or PaaS in the Cloud
As organisations seek to capitalise on the potential of cloud computing, choosing the suitable cloud model becomes crucial. Cloud computing offers three primary service models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). While each has advantages, we will investigate why opting for SaaS or PaaS over IaaS is a more sensible decision for most businesses.
Before diving into the reasons for choosing SaaS or PaaS over IaaS, it’s essential to understand the differences between these cloud service models:
- SaaS: Software as a Service is a cloud computing model where software applications are provided over the Internet. Users can access these applications through web browsers without needing installation or maintenance.
- PaaS: Platform as a Service provides developers with a platform to build, deploy and manage applications without worrying about the underlying Infrastructure. It provides the necessary tools, development frameworks, and services to streamline the application development process. Infrastructure as code and containers, mainly when managed through Kubernetes, play crucial roles in PaaS by automating the management of Infrastructure and enabling consistent, portable application deployments. This combination allows developers to focus on writing code and delivering value without being burdened with the complexities of infrastructure management.
- IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service delivers virtualised computing resources over the Internet. It offers virtual machines, storage, and networking, allowing users to build and manage their Infrastructure.
Advantages of SaaS and PaaS over IaaS
- Simplified Management and Maintenance: One of the key benefits of opting for SaaS or PaaS is the reduced burden of management and maintenance. With IaaS, businesses must manage the entire Infrastructure, including updates, security patches, and scaling. In contrast, SaaS and PaaS providers handle these responsibilities, freeing up resources for other critical tasks.
- Cost Efficiency: SaaS and PaaS are generally more cost-effective than IaaS in the long run. By leveraging the shared Infrastructure and services of the cloud provider, organisations can avoid significant upfront hardware costs and ongoing infrastructure maintenance expenses.
- Faster Time-to-Market: SaaS and PaaS accelerate application development and deployment. With pre-configured environments and development tools readily available, developers can focus on building innovative features, reducing the time to market for new products and services.
- Scalability and Flexibility: Cloud-based SaaS and PaaS solutions offer effortless scalability. As business requirements change, organisations can easily adjust their resource allocation and scale their applications up or down to meet demand. IaaS also provides scalability but involves more hands-on management and potential complexities.
- Security and Compliance: SaaS and PaaS providers invest heavily in security measures to protect their client’s data and applications. This level of expertise is often beyond the capabilities of individual organisations, making cloud services a safer option. Additionally, reputable cloud providers adhere to industry standards and certifications, ensuring compliance with regulations.
- Enhanced Collaboration: SaaS applications often facilitate real-time team collaboration, regardless of physical location. PaaS, however, fosters collaboration between development teams and enables seamless integration with various development tools.
Why Cloud solutions such as SaaS and PaaS are preferred over On-Premises HCI
Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) combines computing, storage, and networking resources into an integrated system. While HCI has its merits, cloud computing, such as SaaS and PaaS, offers several advantages that make it a better choice for many businesses:
- Scalability and Elasticity: Cloud services offer unmatched scalability and elasticity, allowing organisations to adjust their resources to accommodate changing workloads quickly. On-premises HCI may have limitations in terms of expansion, requiring additional investments in hardware and Infrastructure.
- Cost Efficiency: Cloud computing eliminates the need for upfront capital expenses associated with hardware purchases. Additionally, businesses can pay only for the resources they consume, making it a more cost-efficient model than on-premises HCI, which often requires over-provisioning to handle peak loads.
- Geographic Reach: Cloud services enable businesses to reach customers and users globally without needing physical Infrastructure in different regions. This geographic reach is crucial for businesses targeting an international audience.
- Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: Cloud providers often have data centres spread across multiple regions, ensuring redundancy and disaster recovery capabilities. This level of resilience is challenging and expensive to replicate with on-premises solutions.
- Focus on Core Competencies: By shifting the responsibility of infrastructure management to cloud providers, organisations can focus on their core competencies and strategic initiatives rather than dealing with infrastructure maintenance.
Achieving Environmental Sustainability
Sustainability is part of everything they do. Ageing hardware and software consume unnecessary power and resources, ultimately increasing carbon footprints. By decommissioning and recycling obsolete systems responsibly, organisations can align their cybersecurity efforts with sustainable practices, minimising their environmental impact.
They have achieved great sustainability results by using a combination of cloud and, for example, hyper-converged Infrastructure that provides huge electricity savings due to several factors such as intelligent storage efficiency storage – savings of up to 98% – that equal fewer storage units required and with flash-based solid-state drives – or SSDs – that use less than 50% of the power consumption of traditional storage hard drives.
Hyper-converged Infrastructure collapses the stack by removing silos. It uses less hardware to support the workloads on HCI vs Traditional, Three-Tier Architecture, e.g., using 3 units instead of 16 units to achieve the same results because less hardware and less cooling is required, reducing power consumption.
The cloud is a remarkable tool that champions environmental sustainability. Replacing traditional on-premises servers and solutions reduces energy consumption and carbon emissions. Cloud service providers can optimise resource allocation, maximising the utilisation of hardware and minimising energy waste. This streamlined approach significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with data storage and processing.
Furthermore, the cloud enables scalability and elasticity, allowing organisations to scale their computing resources up or down as needed. This flexibility eliminates the need for organisations to maintain excess hardware capacity that often remains underutilised. As a result, less energy waste is generated and contributes to a more sustainable way to operate your business. Cloud-based collaboration and communication solutions also minimise the need for extensive travel, reducing our carbon footprint.
Cloud solutions offer many environmental benefits, from energy conservation and reduced energy waste to fostering remote work and, in some ways supporting renewable energy. Embracing the cloud enhances operational efficiency and demonstrates a commitment to preserving our planet for future generations. By harnessing the power of the cloud, we can pave the way towards a more sustainable and greener future.
In conclusion, organisations should carefully evaluate their specific needs and goals when considering cloud adoption. This article is a simplified view of a cloud journey. While IaaS can be a suitable choice for some use cases, SaaS and PaaS generally offer more benefits in terms of simplified management, cost efficiency, scalability, and enhanced security. Moreover, cloud computing, such as SaaS and PaaS, outshines on-premises HCI with its superior scalability, global reach, and disaster recovery capabilities. However, investing in HCI can be the right path until achieving the proper maturity to migrate to the cloud; as such, you have seen arguments in this article that could feel like a contradiction as it all depends on your specific requirements and maturity on your journey to the cloud.
As technology evolves, the cloud computing landscape will undoubtedly transform, offering even more compelling reasons for businesses to embrace cloud-based SaaS and PaaS solutions while leaving the complexities of infrastructure management in the hands of expert cloud service providers and providing great sustainability benefits.