COVID-19: If Public Cloud isn't the answer, then what is?

Hitachi Vantara

By Tony Whigham, Hitachi Vantara ANZ
Friday, 31 July, 2020



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COVID-19 is on everyone’s minds. It’s undeniable. But we’ve seen amazing resilience in Australia and New Zealand. It’s been far from business as usual, but companies, people and our government have continued working because products and services still had to be delivered and work had to be done. Access to data, information and applications had to keep up.

IT teams have been striving to quickly get everything out of their technology infrastructure that they can, to support a sudden increase in the need for remote work, access and digital service capabilities. People expect the tools they need to “just work” and that’s quite a challenge.

When it comes to “agility”, “digital transformation” and “scalability”, COVID-19 has forced many organisations and agencies into overdrive. As restrictions ease and we can see “getting back to normal” on the horizon, IT departments are going to have to support a new normal. One that will need the agility, flexibility and digital capability to scale, provision and prepare for fluctuations in service and remote work requirements that may still be faced.

“Despite the urgency of the COVID-19 situation and the rapid pace at which organisations and government agencies have had to ramp up capabilities, it’s possible to make decisions that set you up properly for the longer term,” says Adrian Johnson, VP and Managing Director, Hitachi Vantara ANZ.

“As a technology provider, we’ve developed or adapted solutions to help organisations meet the challenges of the moment, like delivering desktop and application experience to a suddenly larger remote workforce. But those solutions wouldn’t be much good if they were only designed to help for now. They have to be foundational, giving companies infrastructure that can be built upon. That’s what infrastructure is supposed to be,” says Johnson.

Use Case: Public Sector Business Continuity Challenges during COVID- 19

Public Cloud is not for Everyone and Everything

Thanks to the cloud and modern collaboration tools, the technology exists for an organisation or government agency’s staff to work from wherever, using whatever device they prefer. But not all workloads, applications or data sets are suitable for the public cloud. Government agencies have regulations in place that mandate the security of on premise solutions. Many organisations have elements of their business best managed on premise.

The current Federal government policy, and that of many organisations, is “cloud first”. A modernised policy of “Hybrid Cloud first” would be a better approach for now and for whatever comes next.

Dealing with Business as Un-usual

Faced with this unprecedented pandemic situation, a number of Federal agencies worked with Hitachi Vantara and VMware to rapidly establish and scale virtual desktop services with a hyperconverged, bundled solution platform offering public cloud-like capabilities, in adherence with on-prem requirements.

“Because Hitachi Vantara has been a very strong partner of VMware for many years now, we’ve been able to partner at an engineering level and come up with creative solutions in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” says Simon Caruso, VMware Chief Technologist and Solution Engineering Manager, Federal Government.

“Crucially, we’ve been able to help our public sector customers quickly ramp up and offer private cloud-based capabilities to support a workforce forced to work from home. That solved the immediate challenge in a way that met their governance and regulatory requirements,” says Caruso, “but it’s not just a short term solution.”

The platform enables a private cloud to be built in an agency or department’s datacentre, or someone else’s, that involves the same technologies and operational stack required to burst to cloud with the likes of AWS or Azure. It’s designed and ready to support apps on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid or multi-cloud configuration, managed in a single platform.

Ticking all the Boxes

Building on existing infrastructure | This was no time for rip and replace, but for a solution that is simple, quick to implement and requires no new training. They needed to maximise performance and efficiency, and get the most out of existing infrastructure to realise the ROI on legacy systems.

That’s the beauty of augmenting your existing environment with a software defined infrastructure, which is designed for buying in small increments and you can pay as you grow.

Integrated | With speed of the essence, no one wanted multiple user interfaces. This solution platform manages other solutions in the environment and works with core VMware solutions. The VMware admin becomes a generalist across all workloads.

Agile | Faced with a rapid increase in the number of employees accessing apps, files and systems remotely, agencies needed their virtual desktop infrastructures established and/or scaled very quickly.

Flexible | The solution needed to manage both on-premise systems and necessary bursts to the cloud, to avoid business disruptions and to ensure interoperability. The platform acts as an extension of the current environment.

Simple & Secure | It needed to be governed, secure and easy to manage, operate and consume.

Disaster Proofed | We had to support modernised disaster recovery plans in case personnel could not access datacentre facilities.

Future Proofed | Dealing with the critical technology needs of the moment were the priority, but the foundation will remain consistent as we move out of the crisis into a new normal. It will support future workloads such as Kubernetes, containers and next generation digital, business critical applications.

Strong Ecosystem

One thing technology vendors can do in a crisis is band together to support organisations and government agencies working hard to keep everything going.

When the COVID-19 crisis really hit, Hitachi Vantara and VMware built on a decade of partnership to very quickly re-architecture and implement an integrated platform and hyperconverged bundle to help federal agencies meet this new challenge.

Integration is great, but when best-in-breed technology vendors align roadmaps and co-engineer solutions to help IT departments in crisis with future-proofed infrastructure, that’s even better.

Tony Whigham is Regional Director–Government for Hitachi Vantara ANZ.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Seventyfour

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