Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow s Data Center

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1 White Paper Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow s Data Center By Mark Bowker, Senior Analyst, and Perry Laberis, Senior Research Associate March 2013 This ESG White Paper was commissioned by EMC and is distributed under license from ESG.

2 White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow s Data Center 2 Contents Introduction... 3 Business Priorities Accelerate Infrastructure Integration with Integrated Computing Platforms... 4 Simple by Design... 5 Look for Solutions that Align with Target Use Cases... 6 The Bigger Truth... 7 All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which are subject to change from time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. Any reproduction or redistribution of this publication, in whole or in part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without the express consent of The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and, if applicable, criminal prosecution. Should you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at

3 Introduction White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow s Data Center 3 Prior to server virtualization, IT landscapes were plagued by server sprawl and underutilized capacity, which were brought on by data growth and the one-application, one-server requirement. In order to meet growing capacity demands, organizations added servers until that demand began to outstrip the ability to achieve economies of scale. Server virtualization provided a consolidation and cost-containment solution by fundamentally parsing hardware and software and dynamically allocating resources throughout the environment. The consolidation of physical servers drove massive efficiencies across the IT ecosystem, including improved resource utilization rates for CPU and storage capacity. Initially driven by its ability to deliver on these core use cases, server virtualization continues to guide IT and business strategy. This is the fifth consecutive year in which the increased use of server virtualization has been among the top three most important IT priorities reported by ESG research respondents. 1 Although some continue to augment their server virtualization deployments for these economic drivers, leading-edge companies are bolstering mature server virtualization implementations with an overarching orchestration layer to achieve private cloud capabilities, which can produce operational benefits including: On-demand self service (IT-as-a-Service) Broad network access Resource pooling and automatic VM/resource migration Rapid elasticity Measured service To achieve these benefits, however, IT systems on which orchestration software can be deployed necessitate crossfunctional, virtualization-aware management tools with automation fed by intelligent infrastructure components that execute in harmony. Accordingly, this requires tight integration of hardware and software, specifically compute, storage, networking, virtualization, and support. Though IT professionals have traditionally designed and built these virtual computing environments from the floor up piecing together disparate, siloed components the process is rapidly changing. When it comes to purchasing infrastructure to support virtual and private cloud computing environments, the do-it-yourself (DIY) model is becoming a thing of the past. Instead, the new IT consumption model is moving toward integrated computing platforms (ICPs), which are systems proactively architected for compatibility. By minimizing interaction in terms of the interoperability testing and technology integration, these solutions help ensure that infrastructure implementations aren t an exercise of highly technical configurations posing an impediment to application deployments. ESG has defined ICPs as solutions of tightly integrated packages of servers, networking, and storage glued together by virtualization and intelligent management software designed, tested, and validated to operate as a single unit. ICPs are consumed either as preconfigured/fully-integrated solutions or reference architectures (RAs). Preconfigured solutions are singular systems of components packaged, priced, and delivered in a simplified manner. Hardware integration, software orchestration, and potentially specific engineering of systems are architected and designed to operate harmoniously. RAs are validated and certified designs which consist of IT infrastructure architected to assimilate various hardware components and software from different IT vendors onto a joint computing platform. As seen in Figure 1, nearly half (46%) of organizations currently leverage the do-it-yourself (DIY) method for private cloud infrastructure builds, which makes sense given IT s comfort level and experience with traditional hardware and software implementations. 2 Yet just 28% indicate that this is their preferred method of deployment, possibly 1 Source: ESG Research Report, 2013 IT Spending Intentions Survey, January All ESG research references and charts in this white paper have been taken from this research report, unless otherwise noted. 2 Source: ESG Research Brief, Virtualized Computing Infrastructure Preferences, April 2012.

4 White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow s Data Center 4 due to the time it takes to plan and build infrastructures in this piecemeal fashion, as well as the integration demands of private cloud infrastructures. Accordingly, 64% of respondents indicated that ICPs such as RAs and fully integrated/preconfigured solutions were their organizations preferred model for deploying the back-end infrastructure supporting private cloud deployments. Figure 1. Supporting Infrastructure for Server Virtualization/Private Cloud Environments: Current vs. Preferred Which of the following best describes your organization's current supporting infrastructure for its server virtualization/private cloud environment? Which would be your organization s preferred infrastructure model? (Percent of respondents, N=376) 50% 45% Current virtualization/private cloud infrastructure model 46% Preferred virtualization/private cloud infrastructure model 40% 35% 30% 25% 28% 28% 26% 24% 36% 20% 15% 10% 5% 3% 9% 0% Do-it-yourself solution Reference architecture Fully-integrated solution Don t know Integrated Computing Platforms Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, Business Priorities Accelerate Infrastructure Integration with Integrated Computing Platforms Driven by the success of virtualization technology, user demand for improved IT service levels is changing the way IT leverages its existing investments, procures new infrastructure and services, and architects its data centers. Underscoring this transformation is the need for tighter integration of hardware and software, which is necessary to achieve the private cloud capabilities end-users want and the efficiencies IT needs. Server virtualization and cloud computing are poised to catalyze the shift in how IT consumes infrastructure and provides services internally to users, and are rapidly transitioning the IT conversation away from a technology focus to a business-oriented approach. Today, IT is more concerned with high-value business initiatives such as cost reduction (44%), business process improvement (31%), and security and risk management initiatives (31%) than the speeds and feeds of its infrastructure. Accordingly, consumers of virtual computing infrastructures are purchasing ICPs as a means to improve time to market, IT service levels, and system performance. Procurement of virtual computing infrastructures is going to become more of a business decision than most IT organizations are accustomed to. Those currently leveraging the DIY method for infrastructure builds should consider the benefits of ICPs, which include: Simplified build process Elimination of trial-and-error testing

5 White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow s Data Center 5 Validated solutions certified for production Accelerated time to value A single point of support for problem resolution A shift in focus to VM management IT time reclamation and reallocation towards innovation Technology vendors, having realized the market requirement for integrated systems, have begun to partner in order to create validated, cross-functional solutions. Although some shops will continue to grapple with assimilating legacy applications and systems into their virtual computing infrastructures, ESG believes that organizations will focus future hardware investments on ICPs such as preconfigured solutions and RAs. Simple by Design When it comes to achieving higher value capabilities through private cloud platforms, IT must possess the background knowledge about how independent, best-of-breed components interact cross-functionally and how to engineer cohesive systems. This requires time, specialized expertise, and resources that many small and midmarket organizations with fewer personnel and smaller IT budgets lack. Even large organizations that have been successful deploying DIY builds in the past have struggled with capacity planning, system tuning, orchestration, and achieving the level of integration required by these dynamic systems. As good as IT departments are at DIY, developing these data center solutions piecemeal remains complex and timeconsuming, and requires: High familiarity with the entire stack Multiple, independent points of vendor support Management software development that touches every component Fortunately for IT, vendors such as EMC have developed ICPs, such as VSPEX RAs, that eliminate these challenges by delivering validated, fully-configured solutions that take the guesswork and integration out of the equation. ICPs combine and deliver servers, storage, networking, virtualization, and management (and in terms of VSPEX, backup) as a single system with rapid deployment and time to value. More importantly, these solutions enable IT to reclaim both build and maintenance time (and cost), which can be reallocated towards innovation. This latter point is of particular interest to IT organizations. ESG asked respondents to consider their 2013 IT budgets and assign a percentage breakdown of spending that would apply to maintaining existing infrastructure as opposed to spending on net-new technology projects. Respondents indicated that nearly two-thirds (64%) of their 2013 IT budget would be earmarked for the upkeep of existing infrastructure, while just 36% would be dedicated to budget spend on new technology projects. While the cost of maintaining existing IT environments will always be a factor, in order for technology to become strategic rather than tactical when it comes to business agility and innovation, organizations must strive for a more balanced ratio. ICPs simplify the entire hardware lifecycle by enabling IT to: Procure an entire integrated stack of infrastructure engineered to host business workloads. Shorten time to value through streamlined implementation. EMC VSPEX is a set of reference architectures validated by EMC and packaged and delivered as complete solutions by trusted resellers. Flexible by design, VSPEX solutions are architected with EMC s industry-leading storage and backup and leverage existing IT infrastructure, enabling user choice of hypervisor, server, and networking technology.

6 White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow s Data Center 6 Improve management, monitoring, and visibility of the IT infrastructure. Scale in a modular fashion such that capacity and performance can be independently added based on changing business requirements. Utilize the building-block approach to standardize on infrastructure. Easily retire hardware over time as workloads are redistributed while maintaining performance and uptime. The initial investment in ICPs can be readily justified by these soft cost benefits that lead to a positive return on investment (ROI). Because typical ICPs are operational within a few days of delivery, they enable rapid application and software deployments and speedier time to value. Look for Solutions that Align with Target Use Cases Ripping and replacing IT infrastructure is not an economical means of improving IT efficiency and providing business value. As beneficial as ICPs are, IT organizations must ensure that new implementations assimilate with existing infrastructure and support current and future initiatives. While some ICPs are built for general purpose compute and capacity needs, many RAs are specifically designed for particular use cases. Accordingly, it is a sound measure to identify definitive initiatives prior to investing in a given solution because doing so will improve the value of deployment and safeguard the investment. These initiatives include, but are not limited to: Desktop virtualization Hardware lifecycle refresh Remote and branch offices Application upgrades or new installations Rapid acceleration of virtualization migration IT-as-a-Service and private cloud Disaster recovery/backup

7 The Bigger Truth White Paper: Integrated Computing Platforms: Infrastructure Builds for Tomorrow s Data Center 7 IT professionals pride themselves on building data center environments from the floor up. Accordingly, they tend to be reluctant relinquishing the reins when it comes to infrastructure builds. Nonetheless, increasingly dynamic environments require infrastructure integration that demands a level of expertise and stack familiarity that is nonexistent in many enterprises, let alone small and midmarket businesses (SMBs). ICPs, such as EMC VSPEX RAs, provide a solution by eliminating the time (and cost) of designing, testing, and engineering integrated environments with components built independently of one another. These validated architectures are ready for production environments upon delivery, and offer a single point of support should IT require it. EMC VSPEX is an example of how a leading IT vendor has aligned product innovation with an IT market need to improve efficiency, performance, and time to value for SMBs. VSPEX RAs, which are specifically designed to flexibly provide enterprise capabilities downstream to SMBs, enable customers to streamline deployments and build out dynamic data centers. Interoperability and validated designs are matched to demanding virtualization and cloud strategies and map to existing IT infrastructure knowledge and familiarity. The requirements of tomorrow s data center demand new levels of expertise, familiarity, and resource allocation (both in terms of time and money). While some IT organizations will continue to design their environments from the floor up, those looking to simplify build processes, improve IT efficiency, and rededicate time to innovation will look to ICPs like EMC VSPEX RAs. These solutions offer a quick time to market and end-user productivity, and enable IT to advance business value through next-generation data center solutions.

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