My intent of writing this is not to convince people of the value and benefit of converged infrastructure.  There is tremendous value and benefit in buying a solution that has been designed, architected and built to work together seamlessly, as opposed to building a solution from scratch by integrating different products.  The market is already showing a significant shift towards organizations adopting and implementing converged infrastructures.  Instead, my intent is to help an organization understand how to evaluate their environment to ensure that they adopt the right solution.  The solution that meets their unique needs today, and into the future.  For that reason, I do believe that selecting a manufacturer with a line of products to meet varying needs is important.   

 

Benefits / Differentiators of EMC Converged & Hyper-Converged Product Line

There are many competitors in the Converged & Hyper-Converged landscape.  Solutions include software-based solutions that leverage commodity hardware.  Turn-key appliances that include the software and hardware allowing for easy setup and deployment.  Hybrid solutions that leverage software with other manufactures hardware, mashed together to bring a solution to market. 

 

Some of these solutions do well solving for a specific need in the IT stack.  Maybe an appliance for a branch location.  Perhaps a solution that is designed with DR in mind that has clustering built into it to span multiple data centers.  Or a “science project” for a development team to deploy a hybrid solution because they like tinkering.  The problem with most of these solutions though is that each of them is designed for a specific need.  The problem is that the companies that create and sell these products cannot live on that specific niche alone.  The market is too small.  So what do they do…… They force fit their solution to any need that smells of converged or hyper-converged.  The proverbial “if the only thing you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

 

This is where I believe EMC differentiates itself from the competition.  They have custom built solutions that are designed to the specific needs of the IT stack, not requiring the solution to do something it was never intended to do.

 

Solutions Designed To Satisfy Different Needs

Converged (vBlock) – Think Core Data Center

-  Tier 1 Workloads

-  Rich Data Services

-  Low TCO – When including ongoing operational costs

 

Hyper-Converged (VxRail) – Think Branch Locations/Disaster Recovery

-  Easy to Use

-  Software Defined

-  Start Small & Grow

 

Hyper-Converged at Rack-Scale (VxRack) --  Multiple Use Cases Start Small – Scale Out

-  Scale Small to Big

-  Flexible

-  Lowest TCO at Scale

 

Match the Need to the Solution

EMC is the only player that has a range of converged and hyper-converged products to meet the unique and changing needs of an organization or a quickly changing application.  That’s important to understand.  Not only do they have different products to meet the unique needs of an application or organization, but with a product like VxRack, it can meet the changing needs of an application with its scale-out architecture.  An organization may be “toying” with a new idea or application that quickly grabs hold in the market, and the IT department needs to scale out that infrastructure to meet the demand quickly, without a rip and replace. 

 

So, EMC provides the market with a nice range of tools to use.  What that means, though, is that it’s important that you do the appropriate analysis and design to select the right tool for the job.  That’s why selecting the right integration partner is critical.  This is where ROVE’s Application Assessment Methodology is vital to matching the right solution to the unique needs of the problem. 

 

ROVE’s Application Assessment Methodology                                                 

ROVE takes the time and has the experience in working with key stakeholders in assessing the right solution and applying it to the challenge the organization is trying to solve.  The assessment methodology is designed to be lightweight in nature and is not meant to be an “all-encompassing” application portfolio review.  It is focused on an organization’s key applications and top IT challenges then developing a solution architecture with a financial TCO that builds a cost justifiable solution to meet the organization’s challenge(s).  ROVE’s Application Assessment Methodology consists of 5 key steps;

1.      Key Application Review

2.      Top 5 IT Challenges Assessment

3.      Application Blueprint

4.      Solution Architecture

5.      Financial Review (TCO Model)

 

Key Application Review

ROVE conducts interviews with stakeholders for the key applications driving a customer’s business.  The intent of these interviews is to get a better feel for how this application fits into a customer’s overall portfolio and the impacts the application has on the business.  Areas of focus include;

-  Overall strategic vision for the application – with a focus on growth projections

-  Financial metrics regarding business the application drives.

-  Impact of downtime on the application

-  Business continuity requirements

-  Application ownership and key stakeholders

-  Current challenges in meeting the needs of the business

 

Top 5 IT Challenges

ROVE assesses a customer’s infrastructure organization to better understand the challenges the organization may be experiencing in supporting a company’s portfolio of products.  By better understanding an IT organization’s top challenges, ROVE may use several products to architect a solution designed to meet specific application challenges while solving top IT challenges.  Areas of focus include;

-  Overview of organization structure (Focused on understanding number of staff required for day to day operations)

-  Business continuity / disaster recovery maturity

-  Capacity planning and performance challenges

-  Technology roadmap review (if available)

-  IT Vision and Strategy Review

 

Application Blueprint

Leveraging tools and proven expertise in application mapping ROVE can provide a blueprint for a customer’s top applications.  While this is not a full-scale application mapping exercise, it is focused on understanding the key infrastructure components touching critical applications.  Areas of focus include;

-  Reviewing current application documentation

-  Leverage tools to map infrastructure components supporting applications

-  Interview key stakeholders to validate findings

-  Develop groupings of infrastructure supporting key applications

 

Solution Architecture

With a solid understanding of a company’s key applications, top IT challenges and with a blueprint of the applications, ROVE can now develop a solution architecture from our partner’s set of products to meet current and future needs.  The solution architecture consists of the following;

-  High-level solution architecture diagram

-  Key assumptions regarding current and future capacity and performance requirements

-  Detailed bill of materials

-  High-level implementation plans including key milestones

 

Financial Review

ROVE understands that foundational to every IT initiative is a financial justification for the program.  ROVE works closely with the customer’s financial team to understand the current budgets and financial constraints and develop a TCO model that demonstrate a multi-year financial impact of the solution that is being recommended.  The financial model includes the following;

-  Current lease costs

-  Current maintenance costs

-  Current operational support costs

-  Future lease costs

-  Future estimated maintenance costs

-  Optimized operational support costs

-  3 and 5 Year Total Cost of Ownership

-  Cost justification for initiative

 

Financial & Business Justification Communication

After a solution has been reviewed and approved with the key IT stakeholders, ROVE understands that may only be the beginning of final approval to get an initiative off the ground.  ROVE has experience working with IT Leaders in developing a communication strategy to gain commitment from senior executives who will be key to green-lighting the project.  Additionally, ROVE has experience working with customers in developing communication strategies to foster better communications across the organization.  We feel this piece is critical as new technologies have an impact beyond the IT organization. 

 

--Have a question, interested in a converged infrastructure assessment of your environment or just want more info?  CLICK HERE to send us your question, request info or find out about how our assessment can help you decide on the best solution for your needs.-- 

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