In this issueReflecting on 2017
Is it time to move mission critical applications to the cloud?
Solving API management
Reflecting on 2017
Well, that was the year that was….. An elongated election, and subsequent downturn in business confidence has certainly had an impact on business, and investment strategies. When adding the nearing retail disruption that is Amazon, and digital disruption in general, you could be thinking it's time to retire to a life more simple. But where's the fun in that? Exciting times are just around the corner!
With change comes opportunity, and there is certainly a lot of change underway at present - with much of it driven by the changes in the IT arena. Some of the most significant areas of change and potential disruption are those of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and the ability to access the required compute capability. Add to those disruptive technologies the other emerging technology breakthroughs including robotics, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, IOT, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles, and you have an enormous amount of change on the horizon. The technology available, or becoming available, is making it easier to access complex analytics engines to drive customer engagements. Simple examples of businesses using this capacity include the aforementioned Amazon, where predictive analytics based on big data insights provides an increasing degree of personalisation. So much of this capability is about presenting information or products that are "most" relevant. The ability to link up and integrate “data” is becoming all important.
To focus on that word relevant - it's time to share some of our plans in more detail as we embark on a significant period of investment to ensure that we deliver additional value to our customers in what will be challenging and disruptive times.
In talking to our customers over the last year it has become apparent that more businesses are seeking to disrupt themselves, and are investing in trialing new technologies to understand how best to counter the international businesses seeking to "cut their lunch". To deliver these customer centric initiatives often involves using Cloud based applications - and also involves moving quite a lot of data around these environments which can be expensive, and complex.
Solving this problem is where SASIT is investing….
Our focus, with the recent additional investment in Australia, is to “add” real value with our Hybrid solutions, and high speed, low latency connectivity to the Public Cloud environments – with our job being to deliver that seamless integration between these systems and environments.
This significant investment will be live early in 2018 and involves us implementing large IBM Power Systems, Storage, Intel compute, and Cisco Nexus connectivity, along with high bandwidth, low latency direct connectivity to most of the Public Cloud environments via Cloud Exchange, within the Equinix Data Centres in Sydney and Melbourne. Why invest is compute in Australia I hear some people ask - when there is so much compute available through the Public Cloud providers?
The answer to that question is both simple and quite complex:
- None of the Public Cloud companies are providing IBM Power Systems compute across all operating environments with high speed connectivity to multiple Public Cloud services for commoditised compute, and the services that reside there
- Most applications residing on IBM Power Systems require high speed low latency connectivity to applications running on Intel based machines
- Data has gravity - and whilst most Public Cloud providers don't charge to move data onto their platforms - some charge a huge amount to move data off their platforms
- High end compute is still not "cheap" in the Public Cloud - unless it's used for small time slices - rather than continuously
- Managing infrastructure across Public and Private compute environments can be challenging - and is often a distraction to IT Departments
To solve these challenges SASIT will move workloads from the Vocus Data Centres in Melbourne and Sydney to the Equinix Data Centres where our core offerings will be located.
The outcome that we will be providing will deliver quite a few key benefits, including:
- Significantly more compute available on larger IBM Power Systems - with these systems initially installed in Sydney and Melbourne. They will run a mix of IBM i, AIX and Linux - however additional IBM Power Systems will also be implemented where dedicated operating environments require it. These systems will deliver significantly more compute and scalability than we have available currently
- Tier zero storage with significant elasticity into the Petabytes - providing data storage enabling customers to leave their data on storage outside the Public Cloud providers, and yet providing choice for Public Cloud commodity compute - whichever Public Cloud provider has the best solution and price at any given time. This outcome delivers flexibility and choice based on the unique requirements of any individual customers
- Cisco UCS Intel compute within the SASITPrivate Cloud - for when either virtual or dedicated compute is required outside that available through the Public Cloud providers - offering choice in not only where the data resides - but also where the compute is consumed
- Cisco Nexus switches and direct, high speed, low latency access to Public Cloud providers through the Equinix Cloud Exchange fabric - delivering the data transfer speeds required by many of the applications we currently host. The Equinix Cloud Exchange also allows us to present IBM Power Systems to the community connected to the Equinix Cloud Exchange for on demand processing consumption
- RightScale management offering a single management view across all platforms except IBM Power systems (initially) - whether within the Public or Private Clouds - presenting one view of a customer's compute resources
- SASIT's Customer Portal - will provide access, visibility and transparency across all platforms and services delivered - including call management/service management. The first phase of this platform is in the final stages of testing, and will be available early in the New Year
- Continuous improvement of our automation and orchestration platforms to enhance and speed-up the management and delivery of customers systems
- “Speed to market” is the focus – which provides the delivery of a required outcome quickly across multiple environments – and the flexibility to develop that robust solution at speed
Whilst the above is a stepping stone – the real focus is on our investments in further developing our Cloud skills, and expanding our Services capability and offerings more and more into the Public Cloud arena.
As businesses move more and more to an "agile" form of delivering IT - the requirements for greater flexibility will compound - and it's for this reason that we have invested heavily on building out our systems, and more importantly, our services capability to meet this demand.
In the process of the significant changes that we are putting the business through we are developing our value proposition as a hybrid cloud MSP to ensure that we continue to provide a range of value added services that our customers want to consume. Our business is here to ensure that our customers have all the tools needed to prosper in the fourth industrial revolution.
On that note I wish you all a thoroughly relaxing summer break - and look forward to catching up in the New Year.
Is it time to move your mission critical applications to the cloud? SASIT offers a low risk approach
The forces driving change
There are numerous factors driving organisations to modernise their business systems including:
- Pressure to improve customer experience
- A desire to avoid the high maintenance and support costs associated with legacy infrastructure and software licensing
- The need to respond to greater competition from digital disrupters
- The desire to implement new functionality rapidly across diverse environments
- The drive to optimise productivity through self-service and automation
In response to these factors many organisations have turned to Cloud based solutions. Whilst Cloud adoption has been growing steadily over the last 10 years, Cloud migrations of mission critical systems have proven to be very challenging. Most of the mission critical business applications in use today weren’t built for the Cloud with their architectures based on vertical scaling and infrastructure resiliency. Cloud native applications are typically designed to operate on horizontally scaling environments with micro-service based architectures and complete resiliency.
Migrating mission critical systems based on traditional architectures can often involve expensive rewrites, and/or significant complexity. Compounding the challenge is the fact that expert Cloud skills and expert migration skills are rare, and in high demand.
Hybrid: the most practical way forward
For most organisations the practical solution to the challenge of modernising business systems is to take a step by step approach combining existing mission critical systems with Cloud based systems in a hybrid environment. Cloud provides for scalability, time to value, extensive functionality and flexibility. Existing systems (on premise or Private Cloud) provide stability, familiarity, and greater control. Hybrid computing brings the two environments together to support each other. This functionality allows IT teams to run workloads wherever most appropriate be that; on-premise, in a Private, or Public Cloud.
Increasingly organisations are looking at Hybrid Cloud from a business function perspective. Many functions can be placed in the Cloud without a great deal of complexity; for example HR, payroll, CRM, and marketing. These applications can then be integrated with on-premise or Private Cloud applications such as an ERP and core financials using API’s.
SASIT recognises that for many customers the best approach is to adopt Cloud technologies alongside legacy infrastructure. This approach facilitates low risk digital transformation by protecting and leveraging existing systems and harnessing the power of Cloud.
Some organisations may have concerns about availability, security, systems performance, scalability or some other metric. The hybrid infrastructure options available from SASIT mean that most, if not all, requirements can be met and importantly a tailored Service Level Agreement (SLA) can be established to provide for the specific requirements of every customer.
SASIT facilitates the pathway to your digital future
Today many organisations operate mission critical applications on IBM Power Systems – on premise and/or in a Private Cloud. To facilitate the digital transformation of these customers, early in 2018 SASIT will implement Power Systems and private storage infrastructure within the Equinix Public Data Centre nodes in Sydney and Melbourne. This infrastructure will have high capacity network connectivity to the major Public Cloud providers resulting in low latency between traditional applications running on Power Systems and any associated Cloud based applications.
Physical connectivity is important but only a building block; SASIT has a highly skilled team delivering consulting, project and managed services to ensure an optimised Hybrid Cloud environment. Also supplied by SASIT is a technology roadmap to meet the evolving needs of the organisation, while managing risk, and reducing cost and complexity.
The unique value proposition from SASIT
SASIT has an accumulation of learned experiences acquired over decades and consequently few understand the architectural and technical constraints of more traditional monolithic mission critical systems. SASIT is in the fortunate position of having a unique blend of skills, resources, and experiences ideally suited to assisting organisations transition from large monolithic mission critical systems to modern Cloud based alternatives using Microservices.
We recognise that there is often huge business investment in a well proven mission critical system. A lift and shift approach to Cloud transition would achieve very little and incur great risk (and cost). Similarly a rip and replace approach is also high risk, and costly. The SASIT approach is to leverage the proven mission critical system, to systematically architect it considering all the possibilities of Hybrid Cloud.
A Hybrid Cloud architecture utilising microservices correctly designed and managed will enable the client organisation to continue to operate their mission critical application as if it was a single system whereas it will have been transformed to unleash the power and flexibility made possible through distributed Cloud services.
Solving API Management
Some businesses are adding API based interconnections at a rate of hundreds per month, this growth is huge. This rapid growth of API's is at the same time creating a massive problem to manage. Given the rise of internet security threats, the problem of managing API interconnections is also growing into a high-risk security issue. Until very recently API's, and more to the point connecting them, was a bespoke development function, but in today's high rate of change, connected business environment, that simply won't cut it. To adequately manage all this connectivity requires a dedicated API manager which sits between the outside world and inside business systems.
The requirements for API management fall into three basic categories:
- Providing a means for product managers to optimize value.
API's in the past were costly to produce, and due to their complexity, very slow to implement. Due to the cost and complexity involved, there was a tendency to make API's wide-ranging in the scope of operation, this, in turn, came with the very real risk of providing too much information and potentially to the wrong party. API managers consume all the legacy API's and information sources a business has to offer then allows the fast composition of API's that deliver optimal subsets of that information. Add to this the ability to orchestrate operations and translate information and some very powerful optimisations of business information and service values are possible.
- Managing the relationships between API providers and consumers.
With B2B integration projects one of the most complex aspects to manage is the relationship with the other party requiring many meetings and phone calls. In today's information-centric digital world this is just not practical, instead, the API manager has taken over these aspects. To do this the API manager must perform four basic tasks:
- They must make it easy for API users (Developers) to access the API and understand what it does so that they, in turn, can write applications that consume it
- They need to identify who is using the API, this is typically facilitated by providing an API registration process that results in the issuing of an access key
- They must be able to communicate with users both individually and potentially as a community
- Lastly but not in the least, they must provide good support to solve any issues that arise. A common way of doing this is through discussion forums. Good API managers provide developer communities with prebuilt functionality to support this.
- Enforcing agreements on API use and security.
Providing an API key is usually only the first step in the process of allowing access and tracking usage. Providing the access key usually comes with having agreed how the API is to be used which often involves applying quotas to consumption and rate limits as to how many API calls can be made. Further to this, the API manager provides security through digital encryption of data, all embedded in the solution.
The digital enterprise must be tightly secured from the application right through to the API, all this must be accomplished without compromising the user experience. The API manager must identify and neutralize threats and enforce robust policies through consistent and repeatable security. The key areas being:
- Protection against threats and OWASP vulnerabilities such as SQL injection
- Control access to SSO and identify management while maintaining user convenience
- Provide end-to-end security for apps, mobile and IoT
SASIT to offer Private Storage as a Service by placing NetApp technology near the edge of the cloud.
For organisations who want to utilise a broad portfolio of Cloud services to keep themselves competitive yet at the same time maintain close control of their data by keeping it at the edge of the Cloud, NetApp Private Storage might be the answer. This video provides an overview. For further information please contact SASIT
Christmas period - Change freeze
Reminder SASIT systems will be subject to a change freeze from:
8:00 am Monday 11th December until 8:30 am Monday 8th January
The change freeze is applied to reduce the risk of a disruptive issue related to critical systems at a time when many engineers are on holiday. SASIT does, however, maintain a skeleton staff working 24 x 7 throughout the change freeze period.
Whilst the change freeze will be transparent for most customers it does mean that no modifications or upgrades associated with critical systems (Production and DR) will be undertaken during the change freeze period. In the event that your business requires your own specific freeze period, or the SASIT change freeze could create a problem for your organisation, please discuss the circumstances with your SASIT Account Manager.