Which Cloud provider is right for you?

27 May 2014

Kevin Turnbull

Kevin Turnbull

Head of IT

I frequently get asked about my view on Cloud providers. There are so many options out there, all promising the world. Which is why it can feel like sifting through a mine field just to determine which Cloud provider it the right one. 

The status quo – Amazon Web Services

If you ask IT managers which Cloud provider they’d recommend, many of them will likely say Amazon Web services (AWS) as this has become a house hold name for IT professionals. But is this the right solution?

Having built many systems within Amazon Web Services, I know that building the servers is the easy part. However, choosing the correct service is where it becomes challenging. Once it’s been built, good luck trying to bring the system back into your On-premise environment or even moving it to a different region.

Yes, there are tools you can use to convert the systems so that you can import / export them out of your existing environment but they are cumbersome to use! It also takes forever to get right and can, at times, feel like you need to be a brain surgeon just to get it working.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Amazon Web Service offering, and it’s a great one if:

  • You have everything in the cloud
  • You never want to move it into your own environment
  • You need a cost effective solution to deploy a server that you’re going to use for a shot while

However, after struggling just trying to move a system from my VMware environment into to AWS, it got me thinking about how many organisations must be struggling to do the same thing. And just how much time and money is being wasted having to train people just to get everything set up and working.

VMware’s vCloud (vCHS) beta program

In December I was approached by VMware to participate in its vCloud (vCHS) beta program (yes it was going to be a long Christmas!). In it I found a seamless solution that fit’s the requirements I was looking for and the best thing is that it didn’t require a huge amount of time to set up and get working. 

Before I started with the beta program I laid out my requirements. They weren’t anything out of the ordinary, they were simply what Bluefin Solutions needed as an organisation.

  • The ability to migrate systems in and out of my environment with  minimal effort and no complications
  • System performance was key. I/O is always an issue in the Cloud so this is something I was going to be keeping a very close eye on
  • The method of working had to be easy to use with minimal training

I was assured by a sales rep this wouldn’t be a problem however, I was still sceptical (well, he was a sales guy after all!) so I spoke to the VMware technical guys who confirmed the same thing.
After registering my account I was faced with an interface which I was semi familiar with. I say semi because whilst it had the look and feel of a VMware product, there were slight differences.

Despite a few initial hiccups (remember this was a beta product and the documentation needed amending in some areas) I had a VMware environment fully setup and talking with vCHS in just two days.

We then started the testing. Creating an image in the Cloud and migrating it back to our VMware environment was easy.

It took a while however this was mainly down to bandwidth restrictions. Once the VM was migrated we powered it on and hey presto, it worked without a hitch. We then created a VM on my On-premise system and started with the migration to vCHS. Again this took a long time but once it was complete, we powered it on, it worked with no issues. Next step was testing performance to ensure it worked with our requirements for SAP systems. Another tick in the box. So in short:

  • A sales guy had told me the truth…and…
  • VMware has come up with a solution that I’ve spent years searching for

Why do I believe vCHS is a clear winner?

  • vCHS was very easy to set up
  • I didn’t have to invest in new technologies to get my environment to talk to vCHS
  • I can now create a full hybrid model based on a technology I know and trust
  • Like many organisations, Bluefin Solutions had already invested in VMware, meaning that the IT team didn’t need training or re-skilling

They say be careful for what you wish for…

I’ve been pushing Steve from VMware to get SAP HANA working within their vCHS system and VMware have recently announced you can run HANA within vCHS.

I for one can’t wait to put the SAP HANA offering through its paces!

About the author

Kevin Turnbull

Head of IT
Spending a whole career in IT doesn’t happen by accident, there needs to be a love of the work and the people.  This is certainly true for Kevin, who believes that IT is more than just a function, he sees it as a passion!
As a senior business IT leader, he advises and implements change enabling companies to enhance their competitiveness in the marketplace. Over the years, Kevin has been fortunate to be at the forefront of exciting technological developments. As a natural early adopter of emerging technologies he sees these as tools which allow him to better support business growth and innovation.
Kevin’s role goes beyond just technology – it’s a means to an end. With an open mind he consistently proposes and develops new ways for his colleagues to “work smarter.” 

Bringing a unique marriage of technical and management acumen to the job, Kevin has established, managed and grown IT organisations and businesses around the world to become agile and responsive to ever changing market dynamics. 
Insights by this author:

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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