The old model of just being an outsourcer or on-premises service provider is dead for many IT solutions providers. Instead, we’re all now in a hybrid world where we will have some private-cloud solutions and multiple public clouds. The challenge is to have the right level of governance, and to be in a position to move the workloads, and adjust the workloads with the needs.
These words of wisdom come from European IT services provider Steria, which, along with hundreds of its customers, are charting a journey to hybrid cloud while maintaining control, automation, and reporting across all IT infrastructure.
To learn more about how services standardization leads to improved hybrid cloud automation, BriefingsDirect spoke to Eric Fradet, Industrialization Director at Steria in Paris. The discussion, at the recent HP Discover conference in Barcelona, is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Here are some excerpts:
Fradet: Steria is a 40-year-old service provider company, mainly based in Europe, with a huge location in India and also Singapore. We provide all types of services related to IT, starting from infrastructure management to application management. We help to develop and deploy new IT services for all our customers.
Gardner: How are your activities at Steria helping you better deliver the choice of cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) to your customers?
Fradet: That change may be quicker than expected. So, we must be in a position to manage the services wherever they’re from. The old model of saying that we’re an outsourcer or on-premises service provider is dead. Today, we’re in a hybrid world and we must manage that type of world. That must be done in collaboration with partners, and we share the same target, the same ambition, and the same vision.
The cloud must not be seen as disruptive by our customers. Cloud is here to accompany your transformation. It must be a benefit for them, and not a pain.
A private solution should be the best as a starting point for some customers. The full public solution should be a target. We’re here to manage their journey and to define with the customer what is the best solution for the best need.
Gardner: And in order for that transition from private to public or multiple public or sourced-infrastructure support, a degree of standardization is required. Otherwise, it's not possible. Do you have a preferred approach to standardization?
Fradet: The choice of HP as a partner was based on two main criteria. First of all, the quality of the solution, obviously, but there are multiple good solutions on the market. The second one is the capacity with HP to have a smooth transition, and that means getting to the industrialization benefits and the economic benefits while also being open and interconnected with existing IT systems.
That's why the future model is quite simple. Our work is to know we have on-premises and physical remaining infrastructure. We will have some private-cloud solutions and multiple public clouds, as you mentioned. The challenge is to have the right level of governance, and to be in a position to move the workload and adjust the workloads with the needs.
Gardner: Of course, once you've been able to implement across a spectrum of hosting possibilities, then there is the task of managing that over time, being able to govern and have control.
Fradet: With HP, we have a layer approach which is quite simple. First of all, if you want to manage, you must control, as you mentioned. We continue to invest deeply in IT Service Management (ITSM) because ITSM is service governance. In addition, we have some more innovative solutions based on the last version of Cloud Services Automation (CSA). Control, automate, and report remain as key whatever the cloud or non-cloud infrastructure.
Gardner: Of course, another big topic these days is big data. I would think that a part of the management capability would be the ability to track all the data from all the systems, regardless of where they’re physically hosted. Do you have a preference or have you embarked on a big data platform that would allow you to manage and monitor IT systems regardless of the volume, and the location?
Fradet: Yes, we have some very interesting initiatives with HP around HAVEn, which is obviously one of the most mature big data platforms. The challenge for us is to transform a technologically wonderful solution into a business solution. We’re working with our business units to define use-cases that are totally tailored and adjusted for the business, but big data is one of our big challenges.
Gardner: Have you been using a more traditional data warehouse approach, or are you not yet architecting the capability? Are you still in a proof-of-concept stage?
Fradet: Unfortunately, we have hundreds of data-warehouse solutions, which are customer-dedicated, starting from very old-fashioned level to operational key performance indicators (KPI) to advanced business intelligence (BI).
The challenge now is really to design for what will be top requirements for the data warehouse, and you know that there is a mix of needs in terms of data warehouses. Some are pure operational KPIs, some are analytics, and some are really big data needs. To design the right solution for the customer remains a challenge. But, we’re very confident that, with HAVEn, sometime in 2014, we will have the right solution for those issues.
Gardner: Lastly, Eric, the movement toward cloud models for a lot of organizations is still in the planning stages. They are mindful of the vision, but they have also IT housecleaning to do internally. Do you have any suggestions as to how to properly modernize, or move toward a certain architecture that would then give them a better approach to cloud and set them up for less risk and less disruption? What are some observations that you have had for how to prepare for moving toward a cloud model?
Fradet: As with any transformation program, the cloud’s eligibility program remains key. That means we have to define the policy with the customer. What is their expectation—time to market, cost saving, to be more efficient in terms of management?
Cloud can offer many combinations or many benefits, but you have to define as a first step your preferred benefits. Then, when the methodology is clearly defined, the journey to the cloud is not very different than from any other program. It must not be seen as disruptive, keeping in mind that you do it for benefits and not only for technical reasons or whatever.
So don't jump to the cloud without having strong resources below the cloud.