Microsoft Azure Stack: Migrate to the cloud without giving up control

Think Progress Team

Monday 2 October 2017

For organisations concerned about putting all their eggs in the public cloud basket, hybrid deployments can offer a great compromise. The Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack brings the power of Microsoft’s popular public cloud directly into the heart of the data centre.

Public cloud adoption is soaring. McAfee estimates claim Australia (33 per cent) and Canada (32 per cent) are leading the way, with Japanese (25 per cent) and French organisations (23 per cent) not far behind in using only public cloud installations. Gartner predicts the market for public cloud services will grow by 18 per cent this year to reach $246.8 billion.

Firms are attracted by the increased agility and flexibility this new computing paradigm offers. The ability to scale up and down at will according to demand has great efficiency benefits and enables businesses to react quickly to new opportunities, while a move away from a CAPEX to an OPEX model can significantly improve the bottom line.

But it’s not right for every organisation. “Because of all the varied workload needs, IT will have to support a breadth of deployment solutions from legacy applications running on bare metal or VMs through cloud solutions serving up containers and micro-services for consumption,” says a new report from Moor Insights & Strategy.

For many, the alternative is the private cloud, which on paper offers the security, control and increased capability that may be lacking for some in the public cloud. But while many critical workloads demand this kind of infrastructure, private cloud deployments are often expensive, time-consuming and technically challenging, and fail to deliver the same kind of agility for the business.

As Moor Insights & Strategy explains, the decision to go public or private depends on several key factors:

  • Cost
  • Criticality of data
  • Government regulation
  • Latency
  • User experience
  • Privacy/confidentiality of data
  • Data scalability needs

The case for hybrid cloud

Sweeping new privacy laws in Europe are impossible to ignore. They will place strict new requirements on organisations of all sizes to know where any data on EU citizens is stored, and could restrict transfers to countries outside the block unless they maintain equivalent data protection standards. Given the maximum fines for non-compliance are 4 per cent of global annual turnover, the new regulation could persuade many organisations to take any such data out of the public cloud and keep it closer at hand, on-premises.

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in May 2018, adding extra urgency to such efforts. Even aside from these considerations, hybrid cloud is increasingly favoured by organisations as an ideal compromise between public and private deployments: simplicity with control, agility with security. That could explain why some estimates claim hybrid is now the preferred strategy across Europe, in Germany (69 per cent), France (61 per cent), and the UK (58 per cent).

Azure plus Lenovo

However, not all hybrid cloud deployments are created equal. IT leaders want consistency across their hybrid cloud set-up. They want the flexibility offered by public cloud with the control of an on-premises set-up. That’s exactly what they get with Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, which brings all the capability and toolsets of public cloud Azure to the data centre. It’s sold as-a-service, allowing IT to keep the attractive OPEX spending model, and supports the following workloads:

  • New cloud-native apps to handle Internet of Things (IoT) and edge compute
  • Cloud-native apps providing horizontal micro-services across existing data centre applications
  • Test/developer environments seamlessly integrated into public cloud environment
  • Vertical enterprise applications that create or access confidential data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) on EU citizens governed by the GDPR

Lenovo has been quick to the game, with one of the first solutions commercially available that offers a public cloud experience behind the corporate firewall. Built on a software-defined architecture, the Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack has been designed with an emphasis on the user experience. It leverages the economies of scale, taking out the complexity and cost typically associated to hybrid clouds. In return, it can help to generate ROI.

Here are just some of the benefits of that solution:

  • Time to value – it’s quick to order, deploy and run, and once installed can be online in just four hours.
  • Offers up to 33 per cent TCO cost savings versus competitive offerings.
  • Quick to scale up or down thanks to flexible provisioning of resources.
  • Highly resilient, hyper-converged compute and storage nodes, built on System x3650 servers.
  • Safeguards data thanks to Lenovo Trusted Platform Assurance and an option to use key managers to help manage authentication, encryption and security.
  • TruDDR4 Memory adds extra protection through authenticated and verified memory.
  • The Lenovo XClarity Administrator monitors faults in real-time.
  • Reduces management complexity and cost of support through a common user interface.

According to Moor Insights & Strategy, Lenovo ThinkAgile SX provides “resiliency, security, performance, energy efficiency, ease of manageability, and rapid deployment”. That’s a compelling proposition, whether you’re an enterprise or a cloud provider/carrier. Jersey-based Calligo is the latter, and has already invested in the solution to offer high-performance, highly flexible cloud services to its customers that have to stay compliant with forthcoming EU data protection laws.

To find out more on how Lenovo and Microsoft Azure can help drive your digital transformation efforts while staying GDPR compliant, read the full report here.

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