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The future of hyperconverged technology

Where is cloud technology going? What is hyperconverged infrastructure? How should IT decision-makers find the right balance between cloud and on-premises?

Matt Shore gave an interview with Matthew Stibbe, CEO at Articulate Marketing for the HPE UK+I podcast to address exactly these questions. Listen to the podcast or read on to learn more.


future of HC tech transcript3.jpg

Matthew Stibbe:

Hello everybody. It's Matthew Stibbe here for the HPE UK and Ireland podcast. And, I'm talking to Matt Shore who works in the hybrid IT business unit at HPE. And, and you were just telling me a few minutes ago before we started that you started out your career as an apprentice working on HP DL380 servers, and I actually had at HP DL380 server, and I had a sort of twinge of nostalgia. I was hoping you could start by telling us a little bit about yourself and about your it journey and what brings you here to the world of hybrid cloud.

Matt Shore:

I don't know what you mean about ‘had’ a DL380 server. I've currently got an ML38080 in the cupboard. I joined HPE nine months ago. But yeah, my career started 16 years ago as an IT apprentice at 16, and so everybody that is quick at math on the podcast will soon know that I'm 32. I started my career installing servers and progressed.

I was working in education at the time, so it was very much show everything on a shoestring budget to get things working for the establishment at the time. But, I progressed my career there to a senior engineer, which was pretty much my life goal to become a senior engineer, which got pretty boring at 21, so I moved into a managed service provider where I became the technical director of that business.

And, really, the cool part around that was understanding how IT can benefit businesses, and how you can formulate really good IT strategies for the businesses that we supported for over three, five, 10-year periods, just to make sure that IT was functioning to the business goals rather than IT just functioning on its own. So, yeah, that's how I got into the great world of IT.

Matthew Stibbe: Oh fantastic. And, taking this long term view, the strategic view of IT, brings me onto the first thing I wanted to discuss, which is, where are we today with people's perception of the public cloud? My feeling is, perhaps, we need to be talking about whether or not cloud first is still strictly relevant, whether that's the right strategy. Tell me, what's your opinion about that?
Matt Shore:

I think three to five years ago we had the rise of the public cloud. I think public cloud has done a great job at making IT accessible. You look at the millennials, and the people probably my age of 32 that grew up with the internet and thinking that things just spring up and on, and public cloud did a great job at making IT infrastructure just spring on, and it was really easy to consume. You put your credit card details in, you get a brand new virtual server. It made things really simple, made things really quick to deploy.

But, I think then, that gave rise to the rise of shadow IT. So, being able to put your credit card details in and do that really quick just means that costs can tend to snowball and spiral out of control. So, on one hand it’s really great for businesses that want to be agile and flexible to create new projects, to create new resources, but, on the other hand, really hard for the bursars, for the people in charge of the budgets to keep control of those projects and make sure that there's tangible business value out of the end.

So, I think where we are today, the taboo word in IT, I think, is hybrid. But hybrid IT has come a long way since probably 10 years ago where we had silos of infrastructure, that you'd have teams to manage that, and so, you'd have your individual Sun administrator, your individual network administrator, and the individual computer administrator and, hopefully, they all worked together to create a really harmonious IT ecosystem. But, rarely, that happened.

And, I think that's where public clouds gained that momentum and hybrid IT has not had the relevance that it does have today. So, I think where we were five years ago, public cloud, and where we are now, I think, is more relevant around hybrid IT.

Matthew Stibbe: I got the sense from our earlier conversations that there's a slight risk for people that the public cloud is like Hotel California. It's easy to check in, but hard to check out once you've moved your staff over there, it can be quite hard to keep the costs under control, especially if you're just renting server time for monolithic legacy applications. I'm interested in what kinds of applications don't work so well in public cloud or maybe are less unwieldy, or more expensive to do.
Matt Shore:

I think Hotel California with a bouncer at the door that wants to charge you to actually check out, as well. So, I think, yes, it's really easy to get your content, your data, your servers, up there. I think if you look at email and things like that, it makes a lot of sense to have your Office 365 accounts. But, I think the legacy applications that are still in mainstream utilization within businesses today don't function necessarily best, either commercially or technically, in a public cloud hierarchy.

Whereas, if you had the mixture that hybrid IT delivers, so having some on-premises IT mixed in with some public cloud IT, that's where the mix seems to be best at the moment. Obviously, we've got the rise of really cool things around Docker containers, and being able to containerize applications, but we've very much been in the legacy world where these legacy apps were to the legacy three-tiered architecture, and legacy architecture, which doesn't really fit very well in public cloud.

 I think, over the past five years, you look at what software-defined infrastructure has done to the industry, so taking infrastructure as if it was code and being able to deploy that infrastructure really rapidly and not having to have multiple teams to manage that. I think on premises infrastructure has a lot of comparable advantages that public cloud has given, but not necessarily have in that perceived cost perception.

So, I think a public cloud, you know what you're going to pay up front, but the bill is not necessarily reflective at the end of the month. From an on-premises solution, you used to have the upfront CapEx investment, whereas with resources that we have at HPE in terms of GreenLake, we're able to give up OpEx billing for the on-premises solution.

So, I think the world's moving, the world's changing, and hybrid is the destination that our customers are tending to lean towards. I think there's a good saying with an our business that cloud is no longer a destination, it's an experience, and I think that's very much what we can deliver at the moment.

Matthew Stibbe: It seems to me, from what you've just told me, that the on-premises side of hybridization is becoming a lot more cloud-like, in terms of the management and the consumption, and the ability to do, run, Azure, AWS workloads natively, locally, and the pricing model, while public cloud is becoming a little bit more like on-prem and, in a sense, you can pick and choose where you want to put your workloads, based on what's the most appropriate use case. Maybe I'm oversimplifying that, but is that a fair summary of where we've got to now?
Matt Shore:

Yeah, I think IT has not got simpler. I think it's got a lot more complex. The same question still exist. What is the workload, and what is the business risk? So, as a business, what downtime of the application can I afford? And, the challenges still remain, but I think public cloud did a great job at trying to show that IT was really simple, but actually, under the hood, it's not really that simple.

Hybrid IT and the on-premises solutions have become so much more cloud-like, in terms of their ease of management and giving that peace of mind there, so the IT teams can focus on innovation rather than keeping the lights on. That's where on-premises infrastructure has matured over the past seven years. But, public cloud, yeah, as you say, the mechanisms are quite attractive as long as you can keep the reins on it, and it doesn't snowball.

Matthew Stibbe: Let's talk a little bit about that billing, and pricing, and cost management side of it. How does HPE make that easier to do? How has that changed in the last few years?
Matt Shore:

So, from our perspective, HPE being a legacy IT provider, think the traditional way of consuming IT was, every three to five years I purchase my on-premises IT solution, usually a CapEx investment, and I would size that investment, so I'd size it technically to fit my requirements today, and maybe with a 10 or 20% buffer to give me the additional resources in three to five years.

From HPE's perspective, and Antonio our illustrious leader, given our ultimatum, our recent Discover announcement around moving everything to as a service. We want to pivot our business so you can consume IT in a way that suits you. So, if you want to take that traditional three to five year purchase, put that into an OpEx billing mechanism and be charged for the consumption, so, how much of that physical infrastructure are you actually using? We will bill you for that.

So, it's no longer a forklift upgrade, a forklift investment. You can do that on OpEx billing mechanism that suits you best. Or, you know what, if you do actually still like to put some capital in there, and you want a lower OpEx cost, or vice versa, we can do that. So, it's really flexible.

It's based on your business requirement. Your business needs, your cashflow. It's not based on what the IT industry wants you to purchase, and how they want you to purchase it.

Matthew Stibbe:

So, the economics, the ability to operationalize the cost, as it were, and have perfectly pay for consumption and pay as you use it, that that distinction between on-premises and public cloud has largely evaporated.

Matt Shore:

Definitely, from a HPE perspective, I think we are setting the trend for that hybrid IT approach. I know that there's a lot of vendors out there that are positioning a hybrid IT approach, but we've had the past four years to develop our hybrid IT approach, but also the billing mechanisms, and how we want to enhance the user experience by getting the right mix of technical and commercial fit for that business.

Matthew Stibbe:

And, if I was an IT manager, one of the things I might be interested, or concerned about, is managing billing across multiple platforms. And, how has that changed?

Matt Shore:

Yeah, so, from an HPE perspective, within the GreenLake consumption model, we can consume bit of the public cloud and put that into a single billing mechanism with your on-premises. So, if you did have as your AWS, or Google, or any other cloud provider, we could look at creating the mechanisms that's all under one hood.

Matthew Stibbe:

The one bill for both my public and my on-premises, my whole IT infrastructure?

Matt Shore:

Yes. And, a single pane of glass, in terms of that view. So, if you look at the shadow IT that I mentioned earlier, they might be consuming some from a credit card. What you can do is you can bring all that in-house under one single pane of glass interface to see, what project is costing you, are you actually getting any ROI out of that? And, you can give the different teams within your business access to the different functions of that.

So, if you did want your project teams to have access to spin up new apps, et cetera, you can track that within the system and see how much that individual app is costing. So, you can actually get some tangible business benefit out of a real mundane and boring thing like billing.

Matthew Stibbe:

That would be a first in my experience. And, tell me a little bit more about the management side of things, because this seems to be where, I guess, a lot of our listeners would be spending a lot of their time and maybe have a lot of their concerns or curiosity. So, how do you manage this sort of hybrid-converged or hybrid cloud infrastructure?

Matt Shore:

Sure. So, from a HPE perspective, we've got something called OneSphere, which will give you that overview of the end-to-end public and private cloud. But, from a portfolio perspective, we have various solutions, we have various tools in the kit bag. We don't want to say this is our only hammer, and this hammer fits every single need. We have a kit bag of cool stuff.

So, if you look at our software-defined portfolio, our storage portfolio, within that, we have very cool innovative tech that fit different workloads that fits different user requirements. So, for example, we recently announced Primera, so that is guaranteed 100% uptime of your primary storage. We've also acquired SimpliVity two years ago, which is software-defined storage, and also gives you that software-defined approach so you can treat your infrastructure as code, and scale that really easy.

And, it's all about simple management. So, just to really give a product pitch on here, it's probably not the best time. I think, ultimately, we have a lot of cool tools and really it's about your requirement versus what we've got in the kitbag.

Matthew Stibbe:

And, one of the things... I mean, I've started little businesses in the cloud, with the hope of scaling them, and growing them. So, the vision of agility infinite scalability is very compelling, I think, for a lot of businesses.

And, I'm interested in how, actually, this hybrid approach might help a business grow, and scale, and cope with changes over its life cycle. And, I was very interested when you mentioned Dropbox earlier, and I wondered if you could talk a little bit about that, because that is a as a traditional born in the cloud SaaS-type business that's using hybrid, right?

Matt Shore:

Right. Yeah. It was one of the use cases I found in our internal systems, and, as you said, hybrid IT and Dropbox, and the HPE assisted with their journey, and you think natively what that business was created from, it was 100% born in the cloud. It was an idea, it was agility, and people are uploading ridiculous files, no matter what the size into a system.

And, if you think about the predictability of that particular industry, it's quite hard to predict that. But, what they've actually found is a hybrid approach utilizing HPE technology makes the best sense, from a commercial and a technical perspective.

And, just for me, it's really interesting to think that these agile, innovative start-ups are actually finding relevance in a more traditional infrastructure but done in a more agile and innovative way. So, it's not just traditional infrastructure at a CapEx cost, it's traditional infrastructure almost a la carte.

Matthew Stibbe:

I like that idea of ‘a la carte’. It seems to me now that we're moving towards a model where you put the right workload on the most efficient, or economic, or optimum platform, for that workload, at that time, and you have the flexibility to move it if you want to.

I wanted to, as we come to the end of the conversation, I wanted to ask you, if I was a CIO or an IT director or something and I'm thinking, where is all this headed? What does the next two or three years look like? What's on the menu? What ought I to be thinking about?

Matt Shore:

Well, we look over the next three to five years, you look at containers. Very, very big on our agenda. Lots of developments around making these micro-services, and making data and the applications more agile, more flexible, in terms of, you could have it on prem, you can migrate into the cloud, you can migrate it into multiple clouds, and get lots of resilience, and keeping that uptime that, obviously, everybody's focused on.

From my perspective, I think Docker containers are going to become very big in the next three to five years, but I think hybrid IT is going to see a resurgence. I think that is going to be the go-to model. Lots of vendors, AWS, Azure, and Google have all announced hybrid IT offerings within their particular portfolios.

Matthew Stibbe:

On-premising their cloud platforms in a way.

Matt Shore:


Matthew Stibbe

Allowing you to run Azure workloads, or AWS workloads, on your own hardware. Is that what you mean?

Matt Shore:

Yes. Obviously, there's lots of different configurations, but yes, in essence, they're making it easier to do hybrid. I think, obviously, you talk about data sovereignty. You look towards the end of this year, will we be part of the EU? Will we not? Will GDPR be relevant? Lots of uncertainty there, so the easiest thing to do with your data is to make sure that it's as close to you as possible, and you know exactly where it is, which disc it's sat on.

So, you've got that as a concern within businesses and, I think, the likes of these big public cloud providers realize that. And, that's why hybrid IT is now becoming relevant to them. And, I think, from my perspective, one of the main reasons I joined HPE is our vision and the way that we're taking the business. We started four years ago with a hybrid IT methodology and it's now becoming majorly adopted across the industry.

Matthew Stibbe

And, if somebody is listening to this and wants to think about their own next steps, and their own cloud and hybrid journey, what should they do? What's the next step for them?

Matt Shore:

Well, hopefully, they've already got an account manager, and so, my suggestion would be reach out to your account manager and see if you can get a session booked in to discuss your three to five year IT strategy. But, if you don't have an account manager, or you don't know who they are, I'm more than happy for you to contact myself. So, really simple, email me at matthew.shore@hpe.com and you can find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Matt Shore




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