Dell IT

What Do You Want Your Smart IT People Doing: Adding Business Value (Dell IT Cloud Journey Series)

Kevin Herrin By Kevin Herrin Vice President, IT Infrastructure Platform & Engineering, Dell Technologies May 6, 2020

In my past two blogs, I described how Dell Digital is building a new multi-cloud environment based on our application and workload strategy, enabled by hyper-converged infrastructure and leveraging an array of Dell Technologies solutions.

Our cloud journey and yours are filled with plenty of choices: hyper-converged and converged infrastructure, public and private cloud, cloud native, APIs, platforms…

Increasingly, there is a very different strategy question you may not have thought of: What do you want your smart people in IT doing?

Do you want your smart people shepherding workloads to different environments, doing detailed systems integration work, or focusing on integrating the plumbing for your cloud platform? Or do you want them spending their energy adding more direct value to the business?

I ask because since we started our data center transformation, technologies have been evolving that promise to handle much of the basic infrastructure and system tasks that we have done ourselves up until this point. There are a growing number of capabilities offered in IT infrastructure management tools aimed at providing a seamless link between private and public clouds.

Just as we are, you can choose to standardize the foundation and automate management of your multi-cloud environment and let your IT innovators focus on solving bigger, more relevant challenges higher in the technology stack.

Or, as one of my seasoned Dell colleagues likes to say, stop spending time breaking rocks with hammers (for cloud management) and buy a rock crusher.

Using Our Own Technology

Since VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF), from Dell-owned VMware, offers the most proven and most widely deployed cloud infrastructure in the world[1], that is what we are using to take our multi-cloud strategy to the next level.

VCF enables consistent operation of workloads and security principles across the private and public cloud landscapes, provides consistent infrastructure regardless of the environment and will make it easy for us to move workloads wherever we want across multiple cloud infrastructures.

We have built our cloud platform using VMware and Dell Technologies, including VxRail. VCF is an integration of all the great platform capabilities of the VMware stack, so you don’t have to spend time integrating the individual components. In our case, this is a very big step in terms of winning back the time of our most valuable experts.

Gaining Flexibility with VCF

We are in the process of building VCF clusters in our data center. As we do, our virtual machines, containers, cloud native instances—all our workloads— will run on the same platform. This abstracts a lot of the variability across infrastructure types. As a result, we will gain extensive flexibility in moving workloads where we need to in order to make sure we are using the right tool for the right job regardless of changing demands.

We can deploy a capability in a public cloud and easily move it to our internal cloud when we are ready to take advantage of cost and performance benefits of doing so.

Overall, VCF provides a complete set of software-defined services for compute, storage, network and security, along with cloud management capabilities. It delivers simple, secure and agile cloud infrastructure that can be deployed on premise and consumed as a service from public cloud.

A Unified View and Standard Security

Besides seamless mobility of workloads, VCF provides a common set of tools to manage workloads across the multi-cloud landscape regardless of what cloud you are in. You can get a unified view of what’s happening on prem and in each of your public cloud infrastructures. It is a single vantage point through which you can manage your cloud foundation environment across the cloud landscape.

For example, if you decided to shift a workload from on-prem to the public cloud, unified monitoring tools under VCF will let you know exactly how it is performing after the move compared with before the move. You know that any challenges you detect are real since you are using the exact same measuring tape regardless of the infrastructure differences under the virtualization layer.

VCF’s common platform across public and private clouds also enables consistent security with improved capabilities such as micro-segmentation. Micro-segmentation lets IT set granular restrictions on who has access to what content. It divides the data center into security segments down to the individual workload for which IT sets security policies to minimize risk. Basically, it makes virtual islands that can’t talk to each other without permission.

We are now doing micro-segmentation on prem using NSX. Without VCF, we would have to set security policies off prem with the native tools that vary from public cloud to public cloud. Since VCF includes NSX, it will allow us to set micro-segmentation policies across public and private clouds.

If you are considering making the jump to VCF, VMware does a good job of making it easy to upgrade from previous versions on VMware solutions.

Summary

Whichever tool you choose, the flexibility and accessibility you gain with cloud management will let your IT organization do a lot more with your existing workforce and that means better choices on what you want your smart people in IT spending their time doing.

Will your IT organization be making the considerable transition to VCF in the near term?

In my next blog, I will look at the changing culture and skill requirements our cloud journey is driving.

[1] The most proven and most widely deployed cloud infrastructure in the world.

Kevin Herrin

About Kevin Herrin


Vice President, IT Infrastructure Platform & Engineering, Dell Technologies

As Vice President of Dell Digital’s (Dell’s IT organization) Infrastructure Platform & Engineering organization, Kevin Herrin is responsible for global data center, platform, database, public and private cloud, network, voice, and call center telephony infrastructures. He is also responsible for the financial management of those infrastructure platforms.

Kevin is a strategic, multi-dimensional technology executive, with a proven track record of delivering profitable growth and organizational impact through large-scale, disruptive technology and its business applications. He is an energetic change agent and visionary respected for his skills in structuring and growing complex teams, operating in chaotic environments, and developing relationships with colleagues, clients and executives.

Prior to joining Dell, Kevin was founder and CEO of Technology Pathfinders Consulting, a consulting firm offering client organizations DevOps, Cloud Engineering and Transformation, and Operational Optimization. He has also held a variety of engineering and leadership roles at Virtustream, EMC, VMWare and AT&T.

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