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Using enterprise cloud solutions to power business transformation

Using enterprise cloud solutions to power business transformation

Paulo Pereira, Director, Systems Engineering, Nutanix

With the growth of cloud in the Middle East being a undoubted factor in the region’s drive towards Digital Transformation, Intelligent CIO speaks to Paulo Pereira. Director, Systems Engineering, Nutanix, to find out more about cloud solutions for enterprises. 

Nutanix, a leader in enterprise cloud computing, offers enterprises Nutanix Enterprise Cloud OS software that makes datacentre infrastructure invisible, elevating IT to focus on the applications and services that power their business.

The solution blends web-scale engineering and consumer-grade design to natively converge server, storage, virtualisation and networking into a resilient, software-defined solution with rich machine intelligence.

Aaron White, regional director Middle East at Nutanix, said: “The enterprise datacentre is evolving- from legacy hardware intensive systems to software defined infrastructure that runs on commodity servers powered by a cloud OS.

“It’s about taking IT to the next level by combining the agility and consumer grade simplicity of the public cloud with the control, security, and predictable economics of a private cloud. And that’s exactly what our market leading Enterprise Cloud OS platform delivers.

“With our company’s promise of the ‘invisible infrastructure’ (just works, without constraints, while eliminating guesswork), we intend to help regional organisations in the Middle East achieve their consolidation goals in a simpler way.”

Intelligent CIO spoke to Paulo Pereira, Director, Systems Engineering, Nutanix, to hear about the latest trends, strategies and innovations in the field of enterprise cloud.

What should a CIO looking to implement a cloud solution for an enterprise be looking for?

As we build infrastructure for enterprises there has been traditionally (a process where) IT departments keep on buying infrastructure for the application they want to install.

And then they do that one time, two times, three times and they end up with a spaghetti data centre. If you want to take an approach of building a cloud you really should look at it as an architecture that can scale.

An architecture that offers not only the virtualisation, because a lot of people try to build a cloud and they stop after they virtualise, but you need to also think about things like automation: How do you automate the cloud and how do you integrate with public clouds as well?

It’s very important because the world is not private cloud versus public cloud. It’s becoming a world where you will have hybrid clouds and you will want a displacement of your workloads on the cloud that makes more sense to you. So these are the kind of things that CIOs should be looking at.

How important is the issue of scalability?

If you think about it scalability is everything. The target of every company is to grow and as they grow their compute needs will grow as well.

So if you pick the right architecture you will be able to grow linearly and not have these steps where you have to make very large investments at the beginning and again after two or three years. You want to avoid this type of situation.

So if you are able to grow your data centre, where your costs grow linearly with the capacity that you need, this is ideal.

Can you tell me how the enterprise data centre has been evolving?

Let’s talk about virtualisation. Virtualisation came and fixed a lot of problems in the data centre. Before virtualisation you had a lot of servers underutilised.

Virtualisation came to build a layer on top of these servers and abstract them to be able to put multiple virtual machines in the physical server and therefore allowing consolidation and a lot better usage of the assets.

But all of the sudden with this you created the need to have a centralised storage because you want to be able to move the virtual machines from one physical hardware to the other.

And therefore these servers still need to connect to the same storage so you need to have a centralised storage. This was how storage area networks became popular. So now we are at this phase where you have a data centre stack that is mostly composed of a virtualisation layer.

Underneath you have servers that can be from many different vendors and then they connect to the ethernet network, they connect to storage arrays and so on.

So, it’s many, many layers and there are many vendors to manage. It’s so complex that actually some vendors came up with this concept of converged platform that is nothing more than the same architecture but they just build it and deliver it for you packaged. What we’re doing is something completely different.

So what we’re doing is completely eliminating the SAN (Storage Area Network) from the solution. We are using just commodity servers and combining compute and storage into the same nodes and using the power of software to offer all the features that you have from an enterprise storage system.

All of the sudden you have a data centre that is composed of a very simple building block which is a server with storage directly attached to it, everything else is defined by software. So if you think about this you build a data centre that is only network and servers. And you scale by adding more of these building blocks which are servers so you scale totally in a linear way with the capacity that you need.

Can you tell me about how you supply the healthcare sector with enterprise cloud platforms?

So in healthcare there are very specific software solutions that are used in that market. They are very specific from a technical requirements point of view as well as compliance because they’re dealing with a very critical type of information.

So what we do is we have validated our solution with the software providers. We have validated the performance, all the technical details, to make sure we are able to offer not only the performance that they need but also to maintain the compliance that is required. 

How would delivering an enterprise cloud platform for a healthcare group differ from doing it for, say, a retail group?

I mean from a high level it might sound the same but as you can imagine the level of compliance that is required around healthcare is much more stringent than anything else because it deals with very critical personal information. 

How do you ensure security?

Security is something that we take very seriously. It’s not an add-on that we add to our solution.

From the design phases any software engineer that is touching code in Nutanix is responsible for writing secure code but also writing use cases that are used to test the security. And also the way we maintain security in the platform is by automating it so we make sure that every security check that needs to be done is audited by the system itself on a regular basis to close down any hole that might be open.

And what I mean by this is, it’s typical in an IT environment that when you’re troubleshooting something you will go and open this port to test this and open that port to test that and that’s how in IT environments a lot of things happen, because people open doors but then they don’t close them behind them and they stay like this.

So the way we deal with this is our system is constantly auditing itself to make sure that all those things are set up.

How do you see the development of enterprise cloud over the next couple of years?

It’s difficult to say where it’s going. I can share a bit of the vision that we have. The vision that we have is one where you will be able to deal with private cloud and public cloud in a homogeneous way. So you basically treat any of this as infrastructure and you place your applications, you place your workloads, wherever it suits you better so you can have criteria of compliance and criteria of costs.

Whatever your criteria is, you will be able to decide where to place each application so it’s no longer a matter of ‘which cloud am I going to partner with?’ it’s more ‘which cloud is better suited to run the specific application?’ and being able to manage all of this in a homogeneous way.