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How do you Manage a Modern Hybrid Estate?

These senior technology leaders discussed how they are managing a modern hybrid estate to please all stakeholders.

The modern hybrid estate refers to the storing of data in a secure, mixed-use or hybrid, environment. Nowadays, cloud-based technologies and estates are used to support organisations in everything, from its day-to-day activities to entire digital transformation. In this debate, technology leaders discuss the tactics they use to control their cloud portfolio and what measures they are putting in place to increase visibility as the hybrid estate grows.


With Trish Lynch moderating, the speakers of this roundtable include:


Controlling your cloud portfolio

Moderator Trish Lynch asked the speakers what tactics they are using to gain more control of their cloud portfolios. 


“I think the key is to find the right partner to help us out”, said Interim CTO at Nimbla, Giles Lindsay. 


Thinking back to over the last decade, Giles considered the time when the cloud was just starting to become popular. He stated that back then, they didn’t have a “propensity of partners”. He argued that to solve this issue, you have to find the right partners to help the business gain better control of their cloud portfolio or hybrid estate.


In contrast, former Digital Transformation Lead for HSBC, Russ Lewis, argued that you cannot control anything unless you can closely monitor it.


“There’s uncertainty and assumptions that are made that the cloud is better and it’s going to be cheaper”, he stated. Russ pointed out that this may not be true. He highlighted that understanding costs is going to be different for storage and transactional work. “That’s why we genuinely prefer hybrid”; this would allow leaders to understand what’s right for that particular use case.

The future is hybrid (estate)

The official message Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s WW Storage Field CTO, Nigel Williams, is putting forward is: “The future is hybrid”. After establishing that HPE has a broad portfolio in storage and on computer, Nigel stated that they aim to unify the control plane. This unification of HPE’s control aspect and control plane is now part of a “long process” Nigel and his team are working on. 


In agreement with Russ, he argued that cost control is a key part of this. 


“It comes down to metricising the various aspects and allowing individuals to monitor or make decisions”, he said. Nigel added that the fact that the organisation is making that journey shows how serious they are about managing their hybrid estate.


Increasing visibility in your hybrid estate

The speakers were asked how their teams can increase visibility and control over their data centres and the wider portfolio. 


Drawing from one of Russ’ previous points, Giles focused on monitoring. He stated that if you built and own the data centres, the teams are assigned ownership and accountability of monitoring. As a result, Giles argued, they would be able to understand what is going on and where the spend is going. 


In an example, he talked about an in-house project they recently undertook. 


“To regain control of some of those costs, we did a large monitoring piece of work to understand what we actually need to monitor in our estate – in our infrastructure”, he said. In giving everyone the access they need, there is no one central DevOps engineer conducting this monitoring. This means there is shared accountability and responsibility in the teams. “Now everybody can take a bit of control and a bit of management”, he explained. 


Proactive measures and the hybrid estate

Building upon an earlier point made by Giles, Russ argued that people from different levels in the organisation are looking at the same metrics. This, in turn, encourages proactivity within teams. He reminded the speakers: “Don’t forget, you’re a capability, you’re not really a business unit and a tech unit”. Russ later added that they are a capability that “satisfies their customers”. 


Coming from a presales background, Nigel made a point of not talking about product. 


Moving on, he stated: “We have got very strong capabilities – customers only care about three of them”. He explained that each customer will have different preferences and only go for the capabilities that apply to them. His advice was to go back to the original question and need to speak to the teams to see what’s important to them. 


Nigel added that technology leaders should allow their development teams to build “cool stuff”. This is because it could lead to the creation of a business outcome that can be applied to something else. “It might apply to a new business outcome down the line”, he explained. Giles commented: “Fail fast succeed faster”, to which Nigel wholeheartedly agreed with. If something new is developed, Nigel argued: “Let’s put some wrappers around it and make it production-ready and then push it out the door whether it be hybrid or whether it be cloud”.

This roundtable was recorded at The Studio and made in partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise.