Authors: Marc O’Regan, Dell compute specialist, and Simon Sparrow, Dell domain specialist – server and cloud The world is changing. Some of the changes are obvious. Cities are booming; populations are rising. But at the same time, the world is becoming a smaller place. Everyone is connected to almost anyone else in the world at any given time. Everything is getting faster, too. From the beginning of the world until 2003, about five exabytes of information were created. Now, we create that much information in just two days.  When we think about that level of speed, it is mindboggling. The world is also getting older. By 2020, some 25% of the world will be over 50 and they will have more wealth than any previous generation. By 2020, the digital universe will be 44 times as big as it was in 2009, reaching 35 zettabytes. Between 2009 and 2020, the information in the digital universe will grow by a factor of 44; the number of ‘files’ in it to be managed will grow by a factor of 67, and storage capacity will grow by a factor of 30. For chief information officers (CIOs), a premium is being placed not on efficiency per se, but on leveraging efficiencies gained on innovation to deliver business value, agility and revenue.  Within the data centre, there has been a drive to consolidate both facilities and servers. [login type="readmore"] Virtualisation has been the enabling technology to do that – and for many, the evolutionary path is now to the cloud. The cloud promises to deliver the economic requirements that business demands through IT-on-demand, web 2.0 and social media technologies to support today’s mobile global workforce. The consumerisation of IT has also changed the way employees view their IT resources at work.  The younger portion of the workforce today is now comprised of the ‘millennials’, who entered the workforce at the turn of the century. They do not want to be constrained in how they use their IT, which for a CIO brings in many layers of complexity with regard to network security, device management, IP and data security. THE CLOUD The point is that change is here and the business agenda of today is being redefined by IT efficiency and unlocking innovation and agility to support business growth – and part of this is being addressed by the cloud. No longer are the archaic, data-driven results of yesterday enough. More important now are the business results CIOs are looking to achieve for the business. These are the new success metrics and cloud computing is here to deliver. When asked to define Dell’s vision for cloud computing, Dell CEO Michael Dell said: “Cloud is not a destination or singular path, but a transformation that places IT squarely at the centre of the enterprise as both a leader and enabler of value-creation.” In this instance, the CEO was writing the foreword for the story of cloud, literally from Dell’s point of view. So what is cloud computing? Ultimately, cloud computing delivers IT as a service. This service may be delivered from one’s own private cloud, accessible only within one’s organisation, or through business applications in the public cloud domain of an external provider – or even through a hybrid cloud model that spans both. The end result is an agile and flexible platform, based on delivery models and delivery modes that execute modern business IT delivery through utility, on-demand computing. POTENTIAL BENEFITS And the benefit? It offers consumers of cloud a way to enable and address business demands while creating real and tangible value for users, customers and stakeholders alike. Today, Dell is delivers a variety of cloud-computing products and services for customers all around the world, from the small to medium market business to the largest data centres in the world – some of whom are located in Dublin. Customers can build success into their business by using next-generation technologies to deliver a model for IT delivery that enhances process and solves critical business problems. Some of the features expected of an enterprise-class cloud include:

  • The ability to scale resources up or down based on immediate business needs, using on-demand, self-service provisioning
  • Consumption-based billing (not inclusive of private clouds)
  • Rapid deployment of resources
  • Limitless capacity and scalability
  • Abstracted pooled resources
  • Elasticity (the ability to scale up or down easily)
  • High level of automation in a multi-tenancy environment

The Dell vision of cloud computing can be articulated through four key attributes: enterprise security; cloud infrastructure and hybrid integration; cloud application aggregation and integration; and cloud service integration. Let us examine each attribute individually.

  •  Enterprise security. Security in the cloud is an absolute, number-one priority for all enterprise customers. Where it makes sense, we are building multiple layers of security into our clouds while also embedding security into our hardware. For instance, as part of the Dell vCloud service, we use our Dell SecureWorks solution for enterprise level security. We have also forged a close partnership with TrendMicro for advanced data encryption on the Dell vCloud service and bring our recent acquisition of AppAssure to the service offering for enterprise-class data protection.
  • Cloud infrastructure and hybrid integration. Cloud gives customers the ability to extend their data centre capacity, while making the most out of legacy investments in hardware and software. Most customers have already begun the journey to cloud through virtualisation and the management of that virtualisation estate. The next natural step on the journey is to move to a private cloud infrastructure. The end state for most of these customers will be hybrid or the ability to move workloads between private and public clouds for optimal flexibility.
  • Cloud application aggregation and integration. This requirement is seen more and more frequently these days. As business and business units merge, there is a requirement for application and even cloud integration. Dell Boomi Integration Cloud allows customers to connect any combination of cloud, SaaS (software as a service) and on-premise applications and data sources, integrating across all cloud platforms: public to private, public to public and private to private.
  • Cloud service integration. This means extending cloud to the rest of IT. There are customers today that operate their cloud separate from the rest of IT. Failure to integrate cloud across the organisation may lead to security and governance issues for IT. Through cloud integration, customers leverage Information Technology Infrastructure Library processes, eliminate cloud silos, eliminate overprovisioning, improve governance and reduce risks, as well as identify and eliminate the threat of rogue users.

PUBLIC AND PRIVATE CLOUD When Dell talks about Dell Public Cloud offerings today, this refers to its first public cloud offering, Dell vCloud. Dell vCloud is an enterprise-class infrastructure as-a-service (IaaS) hosted in secure Dell data centres, and is based on Dell cloud services delivered from a VMware vCloud Director platform. This service provides access to vCPUs, memory, storage networks, IP addresses, firewalls, catalogue capabilities, and additional services. The pooling of servers, networks and storage increases agility, while reducing the time and CAPEX needed to stand-up and maintain traditional physical environments. This type of service can provide our customers with on-demand capacity. On-demand capacity allows one to quickly respond to new business opportunities, seasonal/cyclical trends and other fluctuations in the need for compute capacity in an agile and flexible way. Should one wish to perform a ‘cloud burst’ from on-premise to off-premise resources, this can easily be achieved using the vCloud Connector to efficiently manage a hybrid environment from within a single, familiar administrator interface. When Dell talks about Dell Private Cloud offerings today, it talks about custom and integrated platforms based on best practice engineering and reference architectures.  These solutions include converged infrastructure systems that combine compute, storage, networking, and infrastructure management into an integrated system stack that provides general purpose virtualised resource pools for applications, virtual desktop infrastructure and private clouds, as well as custom-designed solutions based on VMware and Microsoft architecture for private cloud. Strength comes from how the products complement each other.  CONCLUSION With regard to cloud computing, customers want the agility and choice of technologies to meet their desired business needs. Secure, enterprise-class cloud solutions help customers to meet and exceed their business objectives. End users want to embrace self-service and mobile solutions, while enterprise customers are looking for a higher degree of security and application integration than provided by most commodity clouds today. Understanding and implementing cloud can be daunting. Demystifying cloud computing can help to simplify this process, along with this provision of the software, hardware and services to provide complete cloud solutions from the desktop to the data centre.