Know your data

Even with the rise of cloud, the datacentre has never been more relevant.
Matthew Burbidge
By Matthew Burbidge
Johannesburg, 01 Jun 2023
Tony Bartlett, Dell Technologies.
Tony Bartlett, Dell Technologies.

The enterprise datacentre is not what it used to be. For one thing, there are now new architectures, such as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), but the passage of time has seen the migration of data to other places, such as the cloud, the colo, and the edge. More than anything else, the cloud has changed how datacentres are set up, what kind of data is in there, and migration patterns. But this doesn’t mean the datacentre has lost any relevance; data is now being produced in ever greater volumes, and in some instances, the cloud may not be the best place to keep it.

Joe Baguley, vice president and chief technology officer, EMEA, VMware, says customers often tell him they’re moving everything into a hyperscaler, but many run into problems, such as difficulties in moving some apps.

“We have trained ourselves in enterprise IT to be a migration machine. Go into any IT organisation and ask them what they doing; they’re migrating stuff,” he says.

Bits left behind

“For the last 30 or 40 years, since computers have been around, it’s all been about migrating my stuff from the old mainframe to the new mainframe. The problem is we never migrate everything, there’s always a little bit left behind.

“Then cloud came along, and people said that’s obviously the next thing we’re migrating to.”

This time, however, it was a little different, because they had to pick a platform. And with this has come the dawning realisation that not everything is going to run optimally on a single platform. What’s more, it’s unlikely that a single cloud platform is going to do everything you want to do.

We have trained ourselves in enterprise IT to be a migration machine.

Joe Baguley, VMware

Migration is not just a simple click, and often presents a number of challenges for customers, says Tony Bartlett, director: datacentre compute, SADC, Dell Technologies. He adds that while there are massive amounts of workloads moving to the public cloud, there’s a case for it staying in a customer’s datacentre. With cloud, customers will be well served by asking some questions around what kind of latency levels are expected, as well as the costs of moving data to and from the cloud.

“You have to know what makes up that data and how it’s being used, how it’s being secured and analysed or processed, and that will determine the best location for it.”

Like many, Bartlett believes the future will be a multicloud one.

“There’s a place for public cloud and a place for on-prem and a place for colo and edge. All those physical locations can be configured and set up as a cloud. Don’t look at the cloud as a location, but, rather, as a way of being able to simplify how you’re managing your infrastructure and applications.”

Advantage HCI

With regards to HCI, Bartlett says it’s one of the technologies that can simplify the deployment, management, maintenance and updates and allows customers to scale out as they grow.

“HCI can provide cloud-like infrastructure in a simplified approach. There are many reason why HCI is better than going with a server and storage and building it yourself,” he says, adding that his role at Dell was based exclusively on traditional servers, and that it was moving ‘truckloads’ of servers.

The company also believes there to be huge opportunities at edge locations, such as shopping centres, factories, mines, and hospitals.

Edge locations

Bartlett says IDC is predicting that by 2024, the number of new operational processes deployed on edge infrastructure will grow from about 20% today, to over 90%. In the same timeframe, it also predicts that more than half of all new IT infrastructure will be deployed at edge locations.

You have to know what makes up that data and how it’s being used, how it’s being secured and analysed or processed, and that will determine the best location for it.

Tony Bartlett, Dell Technologies

He uses the example of a mine using drones for facial recognition, and here it won’t be optimal to send the data to a public cloud datacentre, due to latency.

“You need an immediate response. If you have to send it your local network, then to the cloud, and then back, by this time, whoever they were trying to catch will be long gone.”

Bartlett says while he sees many of his customers move to the cloud, he also sees many repatriating some workloads back to their datacentre.

“It’s like a pendulum; you move everything there and then realise there are deficiencies and challenges, and you bring those workloads back on-prem.”