By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc. May 8, 2019
At Dell Technologies World 2019 last week, Virtustream—Dell Technologies’ enterprise-class cloud business—announced a pair of new initiatives worthy of consideration. The first was an expanded collaboration between Virtustream and Equinix, a provider of private networking solutions for directly connecting enterprise customers with cloud computing platforms.
The second was a major update of the Virtustream Healthcare Cloud designed to greatly simplify the planning, deployment and migration of electronic healthcare records (EHR) systems hosted in the cloud. However, both announcements reflect more substantial issues: what constitutes “enterprise-class” cloud computing and how does it differ from commonplace cloud services? Moreover, why or when do organizations need these services?
Let’s consider how Virtustream’s announcements reflect on these larger points.
The case for enterprise-class cloud
So exactly what does “enterprise-class” mean in terms of cloud? In large part, it concerns the ability of a platform or vendor to support mission-critical workloads and information. That is, the applications and data without which large enterprises would be dead in the water.
Numerous internal issues can negatively impact mission-critical performance, ranging from simple operator errors or inexperience to system errors and network glitches to faulty or postponed patches. Then toss in external factors, including weather events, seasonal or unusual network traffic, natural and manmade disasters, criminal and governmental cyber-attacks and Murphy’s Law events that are impossible to anticipate.
Plus, let’s not forget that applications and data in highly-regulated industries, like healthcare and finance and some global markets need to follow compliance rules that load further complexities onto already-strained mission-critical processes.
Enterprise system vendors know how to build solutions with the resiliency, availability and scalability (RAS) and security features necessary to assure the five 9s (99.999%) or more of system availability that enterprises typically demand in quality of service (QoS) agreements. If they didn’t, they would have gone out of business long ago.
Cloud platforms and providers are in a somewhat similar, somewhat different position. Though most work with specific work groups or organizations within enterprises and some claim to be able to support enterprise-class functionality, their customers aren’t exactly rushing to deploy mission-critical workloads on those public cloud platforms. In fact, it’s arguable that the evolution of hybrid- and multi-cloud is, at least, partly due to businesses’ distrust of public clouds and their preference for limiting the data and applications they employ cloud platforms to support.
That said, a handful of cloud vendors do develop and deliver enterprise-class, mission-critical services and solutions and have the history and experience to prove it. Virtustream is one of those select vendors and numerous enterprises have entrusted the company with their mission-critical applications.
Those include NIBCO which wanted to modernize its IT infrastructure and redirect resources to projects that added value to the business. That was a challenging proposition given the time and resources allocated to data center operations and SAP support. After collaborating with SAP experts at Virtustream, NIBCO chose Virtustream Enterprise Cloud as its solution. By turning over responsibility for day-to-day SAP operations to Virtustream, NIBCO was able to achieve greater flexibility, agility and speed of execution.
Virtustream and Equinix
So, what’s new about Virtustream and Equinix? While the companies have worked together in the past, their new expanded collaboration enables Virtustream nodes in the U.S. and Europe to directly connect to the Equinix Cloud Exchange (ECX) Fabric thus increasing functionality, automation, speed-to-deployment and other service options for Virtustream customers. The new enhancements cover all workloads, including mission-critical applications supporting sensitive data, such as financial details, and personal information, like healthcare records.
The expanded collaboration includes additional private connectivity options building on existing IPSEC VPN, MPLS, and AT&T NetBond (in selected markets) solutions, reducing complexity, simplifying direct connectivity and supporting vendor management enhancements. The portfolio supports secure, scalable and reliable connections, allowing Virtustream and Equinix to offer 99.999% availability-based QoS controls and low latency. The companies also say most customers’ time-to-connect can be dramatically reduced. Finally, ECX Fabric provides private and secure connectivity to all major public cloud providers for customers with multi-cloud requirements.
Virtustream’s major update to its enterprise-class Healthcare Cloud features advanced architecture components that improve the platform’s flexibility and scale. Customers can employ improved automation tools to simplify the deployment and migration of EHR systems hosted in the Virtustream Healthcare Cloud. Virtustream also now supports the use of VMware Horizon for secure and flexible application access. Overall, the update should improve healthcare customers’ business agility and will also enable them to consider and adopt new solutions and services from Dell Technologies.
Like most technology products and processes, enterprise-class computing didn’t arrive in the market fully-formed and functional. Instead, what we now consider to be enterprise-class or mission-critical computing evolved in stages as large-scale organizations adopted computational tools and adapted them to their discrete business requirements. As a result, enterprise-class isn’t so much a product or service as it is a statement of a vendor’s capabilities—assuring large customers that the vendor has their back and can support their needs however sizable and complex, whatever their requirements and wherever they do business.
Similarly, since enterprises and their businesses are always evolving, there is little rest for the vendors that supply such services, including cloud platform providers. In order to thrive themselves, vendors need to ensure that their customers have access to the technologies, tools and services that best suit their requirements. That’s the central message behind Virtustream’s expanded collaboration with Equinix and the major update to its Healthcare Cloud.
Both will enable Virtustream’s cloud customers to achieve measurably better results than they did before. Both will enable enterprises to become measurably better businesses. Those are the central tenants and values of enterprise-class solutions, including those provided by Virtustream.
© 2019 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.