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Q&A Series – How to have a cloud-like experience on premise – Kevin Koelmeyer

Kevin is a passionate technologist with a proven track record in getting an organisation’s IT services operating at peak efficiency. Kevin is a catalyst for change with skills spanning management of IT operations, strategic planning and successful leadership of high performing teams.

With most companies well on their way to adopting cloud technologies, it is worth understanding what options organisations have today. There are perceptions that cloud is good, and that on-premise is bad. There are also concerns that retaining on-premise infrastructure still leaves IT teams with onerous management and maintenance burdens. There are however, other options, as this interview with Kevin Koelmeyer reveals.

Q: Kevin, Somerville has a great deal of experience in all aspects of cloud, from public to private, colo and hybrid cloud. Many Somerville customers may not realise that a managed cloud experience can be delivered on-premise. Could you explain what this is?

Kevin: Yes, of course. Essentially, an on-premise cloud is a private cloud, provided and managed by Somerville, but installed in your own data centre.

Q: So why would customers choose to have an on-premise cloud as opposed to a public cloud or an off-premise private cloud?

Kevin: Well, there are a number of reasons why organisations choose on-premise infrastructure. Off-premise environments have many variables outside of the control of the organisation. Regulation, particularly around data sovereignty, is evolving on different paths in different regions around the world, creating a fluid, multi-faceted compliance requirement. There is also a desire to have control over the user experience, so the ability to manage the performance delivered to customers and users is a strong motivator. All of these factors point to creating  an on-premise environment, enabling maximum controls, security and compliance.

Q: What’s the Somerville story around an on-premise cloud experience?

Kevin: It’s actually a great story! Somerville works with the customer to help define the amount of workload that needs to be accommodated within the on-premise cloud. We then use that information to define a configuration suitable for that workload. That configuration – servers, storage and networking – is then delivered to the customer’s own data centre and installed. From the time that the applications are commissioned, Somerville monitors and manages the environment up to the hypervisors. That leaves the customer really only responsible for the virtualised OS, security, the applications and the data. And even then, we can help with establishing and executing a backup regime, and have recently started also provided firewalling services. It’s really up to the customer to determine the scope.

Q: Can you give me an example of Somerville performing such a project?

Kevin: Sure. We recently worked with a college in Mackay, Queensland. We installed 2 HPE servers and a 3PAR SAN on their site. The customer pays monthly recurring costs, but avoids a CapEx charge. You have no idea how difficult it is for many organisations to get approval for capital expense, so the ability to pay for an on-premise cloud out of operating expense makes it so much easier. This college has the ability to scale up or down depending on requirements. They can request more RAM for their servers and can add storage to their 3PAR SAN. In fact, they went through a project that required further scaling, but after 3 months it was no longer needed, so they then shrank their infrastructure back to a suitable model. Customers only pay for what they actually use.

Q: What impact does a project like this have on the existing IT staff? Do they typically reduce headcount?

Kevin: That’s a really interesting dimension to this scenario. In short, the answer is no, they do not reduce headcount. Instead, their resources are repurposed to more strategic projects that help their organisation grow and transform. To illustrate this point and outline how this achieved, I like to refer to Gartner’s Run-Grow-Transform model.

Gartner developed this model to support IT portfolio planning and investment in IT products and services. The “Run” part of the model indicates how much of the IT resources are focused on the everyday operations of the organisation. This is sometimes called the “keeping the lights on” or “sustaining IT” spending. This is Important, even vital, but it doesn’t contribute to increasing revenue or growing the organisation.

The “Grow” part of the model refers to how much of the IT resources are focused on developing and enhancing IT systems in support of organisational growth – to extend existing capabilities, deliver differentiation and provide competitiveness.

The “Transform” part of the model refers to what is commonly called digital transformation, or implementing IT systems that enable the organisation to enter new markets, address new customer segments, create new value propositions and enact new business models. Using HPE Gen10 servers and a VMware virtualised environment, the on-premise cloud is very conducive to agile-style rapid development, with an ability to spin test environments up and down very quickly.

Our customers’ on-premise cloud environments are “run” by Somerville, helping our customers’ IT teams to add true strategic value to the organisation because they now have time to do the growing and transforming. We have seen some of our customers actually grow their IT teams following  an on-premise cloud implementation, to accelerate the grow and transform opportunities for their organisation.

Q: So, an on-premise cloud is really a private cloud but with the hardware onsite and being able to scale up and down with monthly OpEx charges and everything managed by Somerville?

Kevin: I couldn’t have put it better myself! I don’t see on-premise clouds going away any time soon. I do forecast increasing numbers of organisations moving from public cloud to private cloud, whether on-premise or off-premise. This is really because of the factors I mentioned earlier, such as controls, security and compliance, and of course, because you want to keep your most valuable asset, your data, as close to you as possible.

Q: So, what would you recommend to someone interested in achieving a cloud experience on-premise?

Kevin: We’d be delighted to discuss these concepts in greater depth, and specific to a customer’s environment. Send us an email at info@somerville.com.au

Essentially, an on-premise cloud is a private cloud, provided and managed by Somerville, but installed in your own data centre.

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