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Gartner Data Center Conference: Success in the Cloud & Software Defined Technologies

I just returned from the Gartner Data Center conference in Vegas and wanted to convey some of the highlights of the event.  This was my first time attending a Gartner conference, and I found it pretty refreshing as they do take an agnostic approach to all of their sessions unlike a typical vendor sponsored event like VMWorld, EMC World, Cisco Live, etc.  Most of the sessions I attended were around cloud and software defined technologies.  Below, I’ll bullet out what I consider to be highlights from a few of the sessions.

Building Successful Private/Hybrid Clouds –


  • Gartner sees the majority of private cloud deployments being unsuccessful. Here are some common reasons for that…
    • Focusing on the wrong benefits. It’s not all about cost in $$. In cloud, true ROI is measured in agility vs dollars and cents
    • Doing too little. A virtualized environment does not equal a private cloud. You must have automation, self-service, monitoring/management, and metering in place at a minimum.
    • Doing too much. Putting applications/workloads in the private cloud that don’t make sense to live there. Not everything is a fit nor can take full advantage of what cloud offers.
    • Failure to change operational models. It’s like being trained to drive an 18 wheeler then getting behind the wheel of a Ferrari and wondering why you ran into that tree.
    • Failure to change funding model. You must, at a minimum, have a show back mechanism so the business will understand the costs, otherwise they’ll just throw the kitchen sink into the cloud.
    • Using the wrong technologies. Make sure you understand the requirements of your cloud and choose the proper vendors/technologies. Incumbents may not necessarily be the right choice in all situations.
  • Three common use cases for building out a private cloud include outsourcing commodity functions, renovating infrastructure and operations, and innovation/experimentation…but you have to have a good understanding of each of these to be successful (see above).
  • There is a big difference between doing cloud to drive bottom line (cost) savings vs top line (innovation) revenue expansion. Know ‘why’ you are doing cloud!
  • On the hybrid front, it is very rare today to see fully automated environments that span private and public as the technology still has some catching up to do. That said, it will be reality within 24 months without a doubt.
  • In most situations, only 20-50% of all applications/workloads will (or should) live in the cloud infrastructure (private or public) with the remaining living in traditional frameworks. Again, not everything can benefit from the goodness that cloud can bring.

Open Source Management Tools (Free or Flee) –


  • Organizations with fewer than 2500 employees typically look at open source tools to save on cost while larger organizations are interested in competitive advantage and improved security.
  • Largest adoption is in the areas of monitoring and server configuration while cloud management platforms (i.e. openstack), networking (i.e. open daylight), and containers (i.e. docker) are gaining momentum.
  • When considering one of these tools, very important to look at how active the community is to ensure relevancy of the tool
  • Where is open source being used in the enterprise today? Almost half (46%) of deployments are departmental while only about 12% of deployments are considered strategic to the overall organization.
  • Best slide I saw at the event which pretty much sums up open source….

Gartner Data Center Conference

If this makes you excited, then maybe open source is for you.  If not, then perhaps you should run away!

3 Questions to Ask Your SDN Vendor –

  • First, a statistic…organization which fail to properly integrate their virtualization and networking teams will see a 3x longer MTR (mean time to resolution) of issues vs those who do properly integrate the teams
  • There are approximately 500 true production SDN deployments in the world today
  • The questions to ask…
    • How to prevent network congestion caused by dynamic workload placement
    • How to connect to bare metal (non-virtualized) servers
    • How to integrate management and visibility between the underlay/overlay
  • There are numerous vendors in this space, it’s not just VMware and Cisco.
  • Like private cloud, you really have to do SDN for the right reasons to be successful.
  • Last year at this conference, there were 0 attendees who indicated they had investigated or deployed SDN. This year, 14% of attendees responded positively.

If you’re interested in a deeper discussion around what I heard at the conference, let me know and I’ll be happy to continue to dialogue.

By Chris Ward, CTO. Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisWardTech . You can also download his latest whitepaper on data center transformation.