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Building a private cloud in Asia

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Everyone is talking about the public cloud, but hyper converged hardware is boosting private clouds

In a world enamored with the instant provisioning, simplicity and elasticity of the public cloud, it’s possible to forget that there is still a surge of interest in private cloud deployments built using self-owned hardware at on-premises locations.

Among the technologies emerging in on-premises IT, hyper convergence promises to provide some of the convenience of public cloud within the private cloud, by combining pre-configured storage, servers and networking. We asked Nutanix, one of the emerging players in this field, what exactly does hyper convergence offer over traditional on-premises infrastructure and the public cloud? And more pertinently, what is the uptake of hyper convergence like in Asia and the Southeast Asia region, and how is it being used?

Storage cloud

Source: EMC

Building a private cloud

“Frictionless deployment, invisible operation, instant delivery… proximity of data, you get your tailored SLA for every app, those types of things,” said Matt Young, vice president of Nutanix Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ), ticking off the advantages that the private cloud offers. “Think of it that way, when you’re looking at our products, [we are] providing that boundary between the enterprise and the cloud.”

“The obvious things: Less cooling, less electricity, because it is small, more powerful, and more condensed,” added and Paul Serrano, the chief evangelist of Nutanix APJ, on the advantages that hyper convergence offers to data center. He also pointed to the quick return on investments and lower total cost of ownership compared to traditional on-premises infrastructure.

Importantly, Serrano highlighted the inherent complexity of a three-tier architecture deployed on a very large scale. “You have to get away from [three-tier architecture] if you want to support the applications for the next generation,” he said.

A key tenet of traditional virtualization is its use of a central SAN storage appliance, which some in the IT industry sees as a weakness. One way that hyper convergence plugs this gap is by automatically replicating and mirroring data across multiple nodes. According to Serrano, this also does away with the need to license a separate disaster recovery solution.

Ultimately, Nutanix offers capabilities that public cloud platforms cannot easily deliver. “There may be security concerns, [and some] application don’t transfer to the public cloud,” explained Young. “We give them all these benefits [of the public cloud], but kind of in a private data center. That’s what Nutanix does.”

Matt Young, Vice President, Nutanix Asia Pacific and Japan

Matt Young, VP Nutanix APJ

Source: Nutanix

Deployments in the region

So what is the adoption of Nutanix like in the Southeast Asia region, and which vertical markets are rolling out its hyper converged solution? Phang Say Tiong, who is the sales engineering manager of Nutanix ASEAN told us: “We see a lot of success in public sector, in manufacturing, in finance [in countries such as] Indonesia and the Philippines. [In] Indonesia, we have closed a lot of public sector deals.”

While the type of application being deployed varies, Phang noted that there are customers here who run SAP on either Hyper-V and VMware on his company’s platform. In addition, there are also “a lot of” Microsoft Exchange deployments, with the largest such deployment running on Nutanix in the region serving a total of 30,000 users.

“I think we’re seeing a pretty significant uptake. I have to say that the ASEAN market as a whole is really jumping at it,” said Young, who pointed that the data center hub of Singapore is actually conservative when it comes to new technologies. “We see Malaysia, Thailand jumping on [hyper convergence] a couple of years ago. We see Singapore start to jump on it now.”

Asia’s late start may present a golden opportunity for businesses to skip straight to the latest technologies

“We started on VDI [Virtual desktop infrastructure] type of workloads. Now we’ve grown, we’re seeing that 30 percent is VDI, about 60 percent is still virtualization, and 10 percent big data. We are confident that customers in the region are using significant workloads throughout their data centers,” he elaborated.

What about Down Under? As we reported last year, the Australian government has mandated that federal agencies in the country have to adopt a cloud-first approach. Won’t this impact the deployment of private clouds, which at its roots is an on-premises solution?

“I think there is a lot of cloud adoption and push in Australia. It is highly virtualized. I think it is the first step to becoming cloud ready,” said Young. He observed that the key public cloud operators in Australia are “pretty expensive”, alluding to an opportunity for private or hybrid cloud deployments.

Serrano pointed out that Nutanix gives organizations the ability to deploy into the public cloud to accommodate seasonal spikes in demands, and to roll it back during periods of low demand. Hearing it from him, regulations for use in some of the industries such as the finance industry took years to firm up, or were at least initiated at a time prior to the availability of viable private cloud options.

“Now you have the same cloud that is high performing in a private environment. People want to choose the cloud that works for them. With Nutanix you can do that,” said Serrano.

Paul Serrano, Chief Evangelist, Nutanix APJ

Paul Serrano, chief evangelist, Nutanix APJ

Source: Nutanix

The Asia leapfrog

In a twist of irony, the comparatively late start in the region on the technology front may present a golden opportunity for businesses to skip straight to the latest technologies such his company’s hyper converged offering, according to Young.

“The key point is this, Asia as a whole always look at new technology, and leapfrogs,” said Young. “[While] virtualization in Australia, New Zealand is highly implemented, in the rest of Asia, it is still pretty low. Companies are leapfrogging technologies when they see [the benefits of deploying] private cloud, hyper convergence [with] public cloud.”

Young’s comments mirror that of Jon Vestal, president of product architecture at Pacnet – since acquired by Telstra as part of a $700M deal – who told us last year that the rapid rise of OpenStack represents an opportunity for organizations in the region to leapfrog more established competition in other parts of the world.

It is worth noting that hyper converged deployments in the region tend to start off smaller compared to the rest of the world, according to Serrano. Yet the ability to build a private cloud with just three servers means that businesses in the region can start off smaller and with a lower upfront cost.

“I think it really depends on what organizations want. The deployments initially were smaller, then they grow very rapidly. They typically will purchase again in 12 months [and] will typically buy double of what they purchased,” said Serrano.

“I see the technology as the equalizer especially in Asia where it is so expensive to [scale up] three tier architecture deployments. It is easier to implement cloud and cheaper. Most organizations are smaller; this means they can get into hyper convergence at very low cost,” he said.

Whether Nutanix’ proposals work for you or not, the idea of simplicity and scalability is appealing to organizations either flustered by the high operational cost of public cloud platforms, or the complexity of hybrid and traditional on-premises deployments.

“Our hypervisor is not [separately] licensed and is part of the product. [Everything is] managed by a single GUI, single terminology. In this field, it is unprecedented,” summed up Serrano. “All our technology is organically grown; we are not an acquisition of a lot of companies. Having it organically growth, makes manageability, deploy-ability much easier.”

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