The days of talking about cloud computing are over: in 2021, the world has seen a concerted move to public cloud as companies look to conserve their cash.
Abdul Moosa, chief technology officer of CoCre8 Technology Solutions, explains that the last 18 months have increased the pressure on organisations to move away from capital expenditure (capex) and on to an operating expenditure (opex) model.
“From a business point of view, companies are strapped for cash,” he says. “By moving to opex, they have an opportunity to generate revenue before they have to spend too much cash.”
This consumption model is quickly changing the IT landscape. “Just a few years ago, companies were happy to spend hundreds of thousands on infrastructure purchases. But now they are saying that IT is not their core business, and they would rather focus on digital transformation and driving their business KPIs (key performance indicators).
“By doing that, they are changing how they look at IT. Now they want to separate the infrastructure, or plumbing, from the digital business solutions. Things like big data and analytics are among the applications that organisations are looking to implement. It’s becoming clear that data, and the monetisation of data, is driving a lot of the changes we see in the IT market.”
The move to a consumption model has driven many organisations to adopt a public cloud-first approach, because they believed it will solve all their challenges, Moosa says.
“For many companies, their decision about the cloud was informed by paper-based exercises. Too often we see that a consultant with no practical experience in terms of running these systems offers advisory services that organisations base their IT decisions on.
“And we’ve seen a lot of companies getting burnt when they threw everything into a hyperscaler, thinking that at the stroke of a pen they could convert their IT systems from capex to opex, while gaining access to a wealth of digital tools.
“But they forgot that they are still sitting with legacy systems that need to be transitioned and modernised before they can be ready for transformation.”
One of the first hurdles that many companies face with this approach is the issue of cost. This sounds counter-intuitive, says Moosa, since one of the main reasons they moved into the public cloud was to switch to an opex model and save on big investments.
“However, if your workloads can’t run efficiently on the hyperscaler’s infrastructure, you could find yourself with variable bills every month – and we all know that chief financial officers don’t like ad hoc billing. IT usually works within the confines of a set budget and getting unpredictable bills at the end of each month doesn’t mesh with this.”
Another issue that could raise the cost of public cloud is the fact that traditional workloads are open to ransomware attacks. “Imagine if your systems are hit by ransomware while running on the public cloud,” Moosa says. “Your billing is usage-based so imagine if your bill suddenly increases 1 000-fold.
“These are among the things that companies don’t think about when they move to the public cloud – but they aren’t the only ones.”
There is a growing realisation that system availability in the cloud is outside of an organisation’s control. “Just look at what happened when Facebook went offline for six hours,” Moosa points out. “This is a cloud-based service and there are many businesses that use it as a platform to trade – so there are major implications for their businesses when it’s down.
“This concept applies to the broader public cloud as well: what happens when you can’t bring up your mission-critical systems because there is a global outage? It could cripple your business, and there is nothing you can do about it.
“It is a misconception that if you run your systems in the cloud you won’t have any issues,” Moosa adds. “But the issues are real: there are global outages and cyber attacks that can affect your business. And companies are starting to think about these things.”
What we are seeing now, Moosa says, is that organisations are tackling their transformation more intelligently and going back to the drawing board. “They are realising that perhaps putting everything in the public cloud is not the best way; that there is a need to analyse the benefits of the hyperscale cloud, but also the options that multi-cloud offers.
“They are also looking to what some of the local solutions are that will help them to manage their costs, and the local flavour of the public cloud is becoming more relevant.”
CoCre8 and Fujitsu have strengthened its relationship with VMware to help its channel and customers craft agile and resilient multi-cloud solutions.
“We can offer flexible options: you can run workloads with the hyperscalers; or you can have the same capabilities in your own data centre, because organisations looking to move off the massive cloud ecosystems still want the flexibility of a consumption-based model,” Moosa says. “And, if they don’t want to own the infrastructure, they can work with an ecosystems partner in the VMware Verified Cloud Partner Programme (VCPP).
“Regardless of the architecture you choose, VMware has the tools to enable it. And, regardless of which cloud you run in, the platform offers seamless integration. There is a single page of glass to manage the whole cloud ecosystem.”
The VMware solutions also allow organisations to migrate workloads to other clouds. “So you get flexibility without risk,” Moosa says.
“In fact, it is a true hybrid cloud multi-cloud ecosystem.”
The fundamentals of app modernisation today are built around containerisation, Moosa explains.
“Kubernetes and containers have become the next big thing, and are the next wave in how we run applications.
“With VMware’s Tanzu, the processes around app development are seamless, managing ecosystems, DevOps and containerisation.
“Essentially, with Tanzu, we are moving from traditional compute to virtual containers.”
The last two years have seen organisations around the world falling victim to a range of new and creative cyber attacks.
From ransomware to supply chain infiltration, IT systems have proven themselves vulnerable.
The increasing range of threats and vulnerabilities was top of mind when VMware bought Carbon Black.
“The thought process behind the Carbon Black purchase is that everything you purchase from VMware is secure by design,” Moosa explains. “Security can now be embedded as part of the hybrid cloud strategy and not bolted on as an afterthought.”
New ways of working
Arguably the most disruptive change that’s come about in the last 18 months has been the rapid and dramatic shift in the way people work.
“We now have a lot of remote workers,” says Moosa. “And the work from home model has changed the way we deliver applications to end users.”
With so many remote workers, IT has had to rethink its ideas about edge computing, he adds.
“The VMware philosophy in this space is about securely delivering any app to any user on any device with their Workspace One offerings.
“This has to be done is an efficient and effective way, because home-based workers usually don’t have the luxury of the same massive pipes and bandwidth they enjoy in the workplace. So it’s important to have an intelligent network that delivers these applications in a way that doesn’t disrupt the productivity of end users.”
Fujitsu is a VMware global OEM integration partner, so it can integrate, validate and run VMware reference architectures on its hardware.
“We are VMware’s second-largest OEM in the world,” says Moosa. The Fujitsu and VMware partnership offers bundled solutions for servers, storage and networks, enabling speedy implementation of proven, easy-to-use systems with fast return on investment.
In South Africa, CoCre8 leverages that global relationship. “We also have a local relationship that ensures we address the market from a local cultural perspective. We bridge any gaps, so we are relevant in the market we are operating in.”
Customers in South Africa have been quick to make the move to subscription services and a consumption model. “And it is progressing quite quickly,” Moosa adds.
“Through our partnership with VMware, we are offering a true consumption-based model. Some providers will tell you they have a consumption model, but if you peel the onion you may find it’s not true. A true consumption model is when you consume IT as a utility service, and you only pay for what you use. If you switch it off, you no longer pay for the service.
“That’s what we are offering: a true consumption-based model. And what makes that possible is our VCPP partnership with VMware.”
With the VCPP model, customers buy points, and the number of features on the platform that they consumer deducts points.
Importantly, the VMware VCPP is channel-led, so CoCre8’s reseller partners can become a valued part of their customers’ multi-cloud environment.
“A good example of how the VCPP programme helps partners and customers see value is the disaster recovery (DR) scenario,” Moosa says.
“DR is almost always a grudge investment. Companies really don’t like spending money to set up systems that they’ll only use if things go wrong. So they are always on the lookout for more creative ways to manage their DR.
“Now you can run your primary systems wherever it makes sense – on your own infrastructure, with a hyperscaler or with a local cloud provider – and replicate it to a consumption-based platform that you only pay for when you switch it on.
“So you would obviously pay for the data, but you would only pay for compute when there is a disaster of when you test the system.
“This saves huge amounts of money and drastically reduces the system’s total cost of ownership (TCO).”