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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Next Generation Cloud Computing with Gravitant

October 23, 2013 No Comments

In this interview, Praveen Asthana from Gravitant outlines key challenges that organizations may encounter as they transition to cloud based systems, and offers expert advice for overcoming these roadblocks.

  • Q. In your opinion, how has the evolution of cloud computing and big data changed the nature of data management today?

A. Data management has become much more complex with the advent of the cloud and big data.  On the plus side, cloud computing and big data provide better opportunities to extract information from data, leveraging the elastic and low cost computing power in the cloud.  But issues such as security, data location, user access, cost management become critical considerations.

  • Q. When looking towards a next generation cloud-enabled IT model, what do you see as the key benefits of bridging the gap between business and IT?

A. Traditionally, IT and business units have struggled to gain alignment.  Part of that is because of a difference in philosophy:

- When it comes to IT needs, business units place an emphasis on speed.

- IT, on the other hand, places an emphasis on governance (because they are accountable) and cost (because of limited budgets)

The result is that the business units think of the IT department as a bottleneck and sometimes go around it and acquire their own IT resources—a phenomenon known as Shadow IT.

The rise of cloud computing has actually made Shadow IT worse because it is so easy to go directly to cloud providers like Amazon Web Services or Google—a recent report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers showed that 15-25% of enterprise expenditures in IT were not sanctioned by the IT department.

However, by using a cloud service broker (CSB), the desires of the business units for agility and for IT for control, cost effectiveness, and governance can simultaneously be met.  The importance of a CSB has been recognized by many analysts as a way to align IT with the business.

  • Q. As organizations move from on premise to hybrid or cloud based systems, what challenges can they expect to encounter, and what solutions are Gravitant currently offering to help make this an easy transition?

A. While cloud computing has a lot of promise, it also has a lot of complications.  Some of the challenges we have heard from customers as they move to cloud based systems include:

- I need a way to figure out which apps for which cloud.  Incorrectly, moving an app is painful.

- How do I even source cloud computing in an optimal way?  Current procurement processes aren’t set up to handle this new resource with rapidly changing prices.

- How do I deal with “phone book” size API cloud guides and do IT solution design across private and public cloud?

- How do I prevent make sense of the billing from all the services and all the cloud providers and prevent unnoticed “sprawl” in the cloud?

- How do I ensure tight governance over this evolving way of doing IT across multiple users and vendors without slowing everything down?

Gravitant provides a cloud brokerage and management platform called cloudMatrix that effectively addresses the above issues.   The platform presents a single unified user interface that allows enterprises to design, order, provision and control public, private and hybrid cloud services in an end-to-end process that can be dynamically recalibrated at any time.   Enterprises use cloudMatrix to determine best-fit cloud services, aggregate into a service catalog and enable their teams to collaboratively compose solutions.  The platform has a customizable approval workflow and governance tools and out-of-the-box reports to monitor and manage cloud utilization and spend.

  • Q. You mentioned that in some ways, you view Gravitant as an “Expedia for Cloud Computing”. Can you please explain a little about this concept?

A. IT has never been easy to source, deploy and consume.  Months of planning are typically required, most processes are manual, and there is a lot of back and forth between the various stakeholders.  If a developer or business unit needs IT resources, they typically have to use a service request, or trouble-ticket, model in which they request storage, servers, networking, software and support resources from IT.  This is a time-consuming (months) and error prone process.  Instead what if you could get your IT resources from an ‘Expedia-like’ tool for IT?  That is what Gravitant provides—a unified interface which you can put in your resource requirements, choose the best set of services for your needs (just like you use Expedia to chose the best airline/hotel/car combination for your trip) and automatically provision the resources without needing back-and-forth with IT.   This allows enterprises to move from the slow service-request model to an agile, design-order-fulfill model.

  • Q. Over the last month, Gravitant has put out new and enhanced security offerings. How do these offerings work to help organizations find a Cloud Security option that is the right fit for their business?

A. Gravitant’s Enterprise Cloud Broker and Management Platform has been reducing cloud risk for enterprise customers for the last two years.  Below are some examples of recent enhancements:

Customers have benefitted from Gravitant’s discover and sync feature to gain visibility and control over non-IT cloud accounts. This has been effective in governing shadow IT and bringing it within a central security umbrella.

Manual processes to manage security keys across multiple and disparate private and public clouds can be avoided by using the expanded capabilities of cloudMatrix that include centralized SSH key management. Users can directly generate SSH keys, upload public keys, assign specific SSH keys at the time of initial virtual machine provisioning, and perform SSH key removal across many cloud providers.

Manual management of public IP addresses and firewall rules increases the risk that security holes in cloud access may be inadvertently created. Using cloudMatrix, IT admins can manage both items at the individual virtual machine, network, and overall virtual data center level in self-service manner via a simplified user interface. The automation and standardization of cloud network management is a key requirement to maximizing the potential of cloud while minimizing the risks.

  • Q. What are your thoughts on the concept of “IT as a service broker”, and how will Gravitant approach this new paradigm?

A. IT as a service broker is an increasingly important topic amongst CIOs.  Gartner recently put it as #4 on their list of the top Indeed, Gartner has listed IT as a Service Broker as one of their top 10 IT trends for 2014.  And, in an IDG survey in the summer of this year of 500 CIOs, 76% of them said they wanted to implement IT as a Service.  But the problem is they have no good tools or processes to enable this to happen.  A cloud services brokerage has been recognized (by Gartner and Forrester) as the most effective tool for implementing IT as a service.

Gravitant agrees with this finding and believes it has the most advanced brokerage platform for IT as a Service because our platform not only handles multiple cloud resources (private and public) but also handles managed services (such as security, backup etc) and virtualized infrastructure.  This is a mix that will exist in data centers and by being able to handle all of them through a unified portal and brokerage solution, Gravitant is best positioned to enable IT as a Service in a practical manner.

Praveen Asthana crop IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Next Generation Cloud Computing with Gravitant

Praveen Asthana is Chief Marketing Officer of Gravitant, a cloud services brokerage and management company. Prior to joining Gravitant, Praveen was Vice President of Marketing and Strategy for Dell’s $13B Enterprise Solutions Division.

CLOUD COMPUTING, Fresh Ink

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