Overcoming the assumptions of the hybrid enterprise
Enterprises now, more than ever, need to remain dynamic so they can be prepared for the arrival of the latest trends in the constantly advancing arena of IT. One of the latest trends is the ‘hybrid enterprise’. This can be summarised as a combination of on-premise and cloud/SaaS apps that use MPLS and public Internet connections. The data and applications are located in a mixture of datacentres, branch offices and the cloud.
Why is the hybrid enterprise arriving now?
The reason hybrid enterprises are becoming more widespread and gaining increased traction can be put down to progressions in ‘as-a-service’ solutions that have resulted in organisations taking a different approach when it comes to their storage, application management and networks.
Research demonstrates that 75 per cent of enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments in 2015, a number that is expected to continue increasing. Although this technology is becoming more common, there are some preconceptions held by IT teams that may present obstacles when it comes to the hybrid enterprise. Here are some of the assumptions that can trip them up:
1.The hybrid enterprise has not arrived yet
If you are running any SaaS, IaaS or PaaS solutions, you potentially already have a hybrid enterprise.
The arrival of the hybrid enterprise is supported by the following figures: globally 62 per cent of employees work in multiple locations, 51 per cent of global organisations cite application complexity as their primary challenge, and 52 per cent of organisations have more than 50 per cent of their corporate data outside the datacentre.
Not only do these figures show us that the hybrid enterprise is already here, they also demonstrates how complex IT departments have become and the growing number of challenges faced by the IT department.
2.The responsibility of SaaS performance rests with the vendor
While SaaS solutions provide a lot of benefits straight ‘out-the-box’, they are just a service. The delivery of these services is still the responsibility of the CIO. Difficulties can arise when it comes to delivering an application that is hosted on a third-party datacentre, over which the IT department has no visibility or control.
3.Any solution can function with the hybrid enterprise
Closed solutions designed to work on optimisation, visibility and control in independent siloes will simply not work with the hybrid enterprise. This model only offers a partial view of what is going on with IT and when we are talking about multi-location, multi-platform solutions, it will not offer much valuable insight.
Hybrid enterprises need a single point of reference that shows everything, from an application stack’s current status, through to the database, network and everything in-between. Only by providing a complete picture that shows the true user experience, will the IT department be able to run a successful hybrid enterprise.
4.WAN bandwidth is really cheap so it’s no longer a concern
When the cost of WAN bandwidth began to decrease, some believed that total bandwidth costs would eventually be insignificant. However over time this has proved not to be the case. While it is true the price per Mbps is falling, the amount of bandwidth hybrid enterprises are consuming is increasing at least at the same rate, if not faster.
Latency is therefore an issue as it is based on the speed of light, which is a universal constant. There is only so much that can be done to reduce latency and it will always be a factor in application performance, but it can be managed.
Many organisations are now storing data outside of the main datacentre so data has less distance to travel. But when you have data stored everywhere, such as remote datacentres, branch offices, and even retail locations, new risks such as security and loss due to system failures become more of a threat.
Operating multiple datacentres means data will often be replicated between them, using unnecessary amounts of WAN bandwidth, which in turn adds to latency issues, which again does not solve the problem.
How to alleviate these issues
With the hybrid enterprise everything can be secured in the central data centre because new technologies allow visibility and control from one performance management platform. Consequently, even with multiple locations housing different apps, everything can be stored securely.
Having the disparate data centralised presents benefits as an IT department is able to manage it from one central hub and therefore reduce the cost of on-site IT support. Additionally, IT departments have the ability to deliver business critical information at local speeds, ensure it is delivered securely and identify and repair any problems that may arise with regards to business continuity. What this means for an organisation is greater productivity and a superior end-user experience.
We are indebted to Riverbed, the leader in application performance infrastructure for this article.
 Gartner, 2013 Private Cloud Matures, Hybrid Cloud Is Next,
 Forrester, 2013 Mobile Workforce Adoption Trends, http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/Forrester_2013_Mobile_Workforce_Adoption_Trends_Feb2013.pdf
 Forrester, Think You’ve Mastered Application Performance? Think Again, http://www.riverbed.com/about/document-repository/Forrester-Think-Youve-Mastered-Application-Performance-Think-Again.html
 Forrester, Successfully Consolidating Branch infrastructure, http://www.riverbed.com/about/document-repository/forrester-successfully-consolidating-branch-infrastructure.html
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”