This year, CIO Magazine proclaimed 10 trends in IT outsourcing for 2015. The common theme seems to be that outsourcing – once viewed as a financially-motivated move – will suddenly become business-focused.
That is to say: It’s time for “the rubber to meet the road.”
It’s no surprise that the move to the cloud – computing, storage, network and other “as-a-service” offerings – has a big impact on how companies approach outsourcing. And the rapid acceptance of the cloud will surely hasten CIO’s 2015 Trend #3.
What do they mean customers will at last embrace “IT standardization”? And what has it got to do with outsourcing?
Standardizing storage platforms
Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive…The list of public cloud storage offerings goes on and on. Cloud storage providers like these let employees collaborate and share files, and know their data is always backed-up.
But it isn’t always wise to use these services. For sensitive corporate documents and data, it’s often better to consider services like SimpleSync – Paranet’s private cloud-based solution.
But even private cloud solutions provide connections to and from the public cloudallowing them to interoperate with each other. They now offer APIs – application programming interfaces – because their customers want to share data between the public clouds, their private clouds and traditional in-house storage.
Vendors with standardized offerings make this process easier and more seamless. Thus, all these storage platforms start to look and act the same, regardless of which vendor is hosting the “disks.”
Standardizing computing platforms
Almost gone are the days when an IT shop maintains a zillion physical servers. Instead, they purchase a small number of machines with 32 cores and 100 terabytes of storage. Then, using virtualization software, such as VMware, they can create and deploy as many individual virtual server environments as they need.
Because most servers aren’t fully loaded throughout the day, computing resources can be allocated dynamically across an entire set of virtual servers. This lessens the need for sizing dedicated physical servers for each application, only to have them sit idle most of the time.
When outsourcing comes into the picture, a third party takes over the purchasing and maintenance of these mega-machines. The outsourced company doesn’t worry about the underlying equipment manufacturer. The customer is buying a service – a virtual Windows server or a Linux machine – not a specific hardware vendor.
This allows the cloud provider to standardize the equipment in their server farms, which then reduces the cost per physical machine and simplifies overall maintenance.
How hyper-convergence furthers standardization
2015 is also the year when hyper-convergent infrastructure (HCI) gained broad acceptance. With HCI, computing, storage and networking devices are not just pooled resources, but are baked into one, specialized appliance.
This means that HCI resources are not only centralized from a management perspective, they are also highly integrated. This integration yields extreme performance, because each component is purpose-made, instead of whatever off-the-shelf disk, CPU or switch a technician decided to use.
Further, because HCI appliances are a complete infrastructure-in-a-box, datacenters can replace whole racks of individual servers, storage arrays and network hardware with a single, slide-in box. Need more capacity? Just plug in additional HCI units. The more advanced HCI solutions allow pooling of resources across multiple appliances, making for simplified management.
IT standardization, is it here?
The benefits of using standardized IT hardware, software, and platforms have been touted for years. Sadly, though, those benefits have been rather vendor-specific.
Cloud computing and outsourcing of IT – all of it, computing, storage and networking – makes the road to standardization smoother. Companies outsourcing their infrastructure will be a mile closer to realizing those benefits – but only if their MSP move towards standards.
Does your MSP take advantage of newer, standardized technologies – such as HCI – in their datacenters? Tell us about it in the Comments section.