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A Software-Defined Future Separates the Brains from the Brawn

man using computer laptop on rootop at night

Instead of purchasing physical items, consumers today increasingly lease, stream, and rent products and services that support and bring value to their lives

Why? Because it helps serve their needs today, while allowing for a change in preference tomorrow.

This need for flexibility spills over into the world of business IT. It’s challenging to plan for the unknown when rigid hardware architectures limit the ability to react and adjust to changing business conditions. That’s why revolutionary enterprise solutions like edge computing, cloud, virtualization, and containers are starting to be powered by software-defined technologies. IT organizations are shying away from hardware commitments and looking for innovations that give them the flexibility to deliver products and services today, while simultaneously adjusting and planning for tomorrow.

Smartening up with software

The move towards a software-defined infrastructure is about abstracting the control plane from the underlying hardware. When the brains of the system are separated from the brawn, the options for underlying hardware increase. It also becomes less expensive and more interchangeable, while the overarching software becomes more capable and faster, evolving as it adapts to the changing environment.

Enterprises that build on-premises clouds with software-defined infrastructures have three basic requirements:  Friction-free agility of physical resources, control systems that maximize physical resource use and provide maximum return on investment, and an integrated infrastructure for automated provisioning and resource management.

While all of these requirements exist across the spectrum of the enterprise infrastructure — compute, storage, and network — the network plays a foundational role because it acts as the glue between compute and storage. That means the agility, control, and integrality of the network (or lack thereof) directly impacts a company’s ability to deliver optimized applications. If the network is continually getting in the way, the business loses its agility.

The case for software-defined networking

According to advisory firm Nemertes Research, more than 30% of organizations have software-defined technologies in place today. The main driver behind that trend is the need to automate and reduce the amount of time required to run the infrastructure. Examples of these cloud-driven IT consumption models include IT-as-a-Service in public cloud and private cloud scenarios.

Software-defined networking can best be described as giving enterprise IT the ability to manage data traffic from a central console instead of having to shape each individual switch manually. In a traditional network, switches send data in the same direction and in the same exact manner, but with software-defined networking, traffic can move in any direction. That flexibility allows IT to update switch rules to optimize performance and adjust to new priorities and requirements.

By using software-defined networking technologies, enterprise IT can solve traditional networking challenges such as latency, performance bottlenecks, and geographical boundaries—resulting in a more responsive network strategy. In addition, they can adjust for future-looking requirements such as scalability and automation.

As companies continue to progress and move closer to an improved digitized state, they seek better business agility by being smarter about compute, storage, and networking choices. The move from traditional “brawny” data centers to software-defined technologies is a critical way to save on time and resources with businesses gaining flexibility to update services based on tomorrow’s preferences.

Learn more about how Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is delivering a software-defined networking fabric purpose-built for workload-driven performance and scale on the HPE Composable Fabric website.


About the Author

A Software-Defined Future Separates the Brains from the Brawn TechNativeMcLeod Glass is Vice President and General Manager of HPE SimpliVity & Composable at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. In this role, he is responsible for all aspects of the product lifecycle across HPE Software-Defined Infrastructure. This includes HPE Composable Infrastructure, Hyperconverged and Cloud Software product lines. McLeod has held positions in engineering and product marketing across multiple HPE business units managing server, storage, and software product line.

To read more articles by McLeod, visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blogsite.

Is Your Network Aware of Your Infrastructure? It Should Be.

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When I was a varsity baseball pitcher in high school, I couldn’t imagine pitching a game without being fully aware of everyone and everything on the field—the score, inning, strike count, outs, and runners at any given moment

Awareness is crucial, because when I threw the pitch, my readiness to react could significantly affect the outcome of the game.

Awareness, by definition, is about understanding one’s environment, dynamics, variables, and current and potential future state. It’s safe to say that a good understanding of what’s going on around you is critical to success in business, as it is in most endeavors.

Situational awareness meets hyperconverged infrastructure

In the data center, the need for situational awareness is critical. Not only is it vital for IT to know what is going on in all aspects of the data center, it is important that they be able to anticipate potential events and know how they will react.

This is especially true for the network. Today’s applications and workloads place enormous demands on IT infrastructure and it is critical to the success of the business that there is real-time visibility, awareness, and management of network performance. The only way the business can achieve this level of situational awareness is with a software-defined network.

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) is a perfect example of technology that could benefit from intelligent software-defined networking. Enterprises are introducing HCI to accelerate the pace of innovation, bring costs down, and streamline operations. Consolidated compute and storage resources go a long way to achieving those goals, but legacy network technology can impact performance. For example, with a traditional networking architecture, setting up the infrastructure to support new applications can take days or even weeks.

Intelligent, workload-aware networks can handle the on-demand services, dynamic workloads, and diverse traffic flows of the contemporary data center. By treating the network as an integral component of a hyperconverged system—with unified administration and automated provisioning—IT organizations can bring cloud agility, scalability, and simplicity to the enterprise data center. This means that the fabric is not just a collection of pipes for transporting data. Instead, it is an intelligent network that is aware of the infrastructure and able to recognize and respond to specific events. This level of awareness includes understanding the criticality of certain workloads, and in turn identifying and isolating that workload to guarantee performance.

HPE Composable Fabric delivers network awareness through tight integrations at the application programming interface (API) level. Because Composable Fabric is under software control, workflow logic can automatically discover information HCI clusters, VMs, and cluster nodes (i.e. awareness), and then automatically provision resources.

Your network, like a baseball team, will perform more effectively if it knows what to do and exactly when to do it without waiting for manual intervention. HPE Composable Fabric delivers awareness of your underlying infrastructure and is the key to automation, simplicity, and reduced costs in the data center.

To learn more, download the free e-book, Hyperconverged for Dummies.


About Thomas Goepel

Is Your Network Aware of Your Infrastructure? It Should Be. TechNativeThomas Goepel is the Director Product Management, Hyperconverged Solutions for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. In this role, he is responsible for driving the strategy of HPE’s Hyperconverged products and solutions spanning from the Infrastructure Components to the Management Software. Thomas has over 26 years of experience working in the electronics industry, the last 25 of which at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where he has held various engineering, marketing and consulting positions in R&D, sales and services.

To read more articles by Thomas Goepel, visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog

Which comes first: Multi-cloud management maturity or IT excellence?

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You’ve heard the popular causality problem, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?”

The dilemma comes from the fact that all chickens hatch from eggs, while all chicken eggs are laid by chickens.

After reading the recent ESG Research Insights Paper, Multi-cloud Management Maturity, Tangible Reasons Management Excellence Is Required in a Hybrid Computing World, I recalled the chicken and the egg conundrum. The survey made me wonder, which comes first–multi-cloud management maturity or IT excellence?

To answer that question, I took a closer look at ESG’s findings. They surveyed 600 IT decision makers (from enterprises with at least 1,000 employees) to determine their multi-cloud management maturity score. In other words, where did each organization fall in terms of how comprehensively they have implemented multi-cloud management? And once that was determined, what correlation did each organization’s maturity score have on their IT excellence?

Hybrid IT is real – and complexity is growing

The first statistic ESG shared was that hybrid IT is real, and it’s a growing problem for many organizations. Combining public cloud services with on-premises IT provides the flexibility and scalability many enterprises need to compete more effectively. Yet hybrid IT also introduces complexity, which can slow innovation and hinder management of global usage and costs.

According to the survey, the respondents use public cloud for nearly a quarter of their workloads – and the majority utilize multiple cloud service providers. They also retain on-premises workloads, with 37% running on traditional physical servers, 36% on VMs managed as traditional servers, and 27% on a private cloud. As you can imagine, running workloads in so many different places can easily create complexity, actually inhibiting business success instead of enabling it.

Do you have what it takes to be transformed?

To determine maturity status, ESG asked questions about IT business processes and outcomes, segmenting the respondents into four different tiers of multi-cloud management maturity. The intent of the research was to identify organizations ESG considered Transformed– those that enjoy a high degree of success in a hybrid environment. ESG also wanted to provide insights and actionable recommendations organizations can use try to achieve similar results.

According to this report, 15% of those surveyed have tamed hybrid IT complexity, achieving a maturity level that ESG calls Transformed cloud managers. They also found that 35% reached the second highest level, Automated. Another 35% achieved a Modernized designation, and rounding out the lowest level were the Unrealized organizations at 15%.

Benefits of multi-cloud management maturity

The report went on to explain the importance of multi-cloud management maturity for the enterprise: “Having the tools, processes, and technologies to effectively navigate this varied landscape should yield many benefits for the organization.”

ESG details four key benefits mature multi-cloud management provides to a transformed organization:

  • Improves IT standing with executive leaders

One of the biggest benefits of being a transformed organization is that business leaders view the IT function with a high level of esteem. This improved IT standing is because business executives believe superior IT agility (gained in the transformation) provides a competitive advantage and a positive impact on the company’s financial success.

  • Enables modern app development

Organizations that operate better in a multi-cloud world are also better able to support a modern development organization. Consequently, improved multi-cloud management correlates positively with better development outcomes.

  • Optimizes on-premises infrastructure operations

One of the clouds that organizations must manage is their on-premises private cloud. Not surprisingly, organizations that score higher in terms of multi-cloud management also operate their on-premises infrastructure more effectively and efficiently.

  • Increases more effective public cloud resourcing

Much like #3 above, it makes sense that transformed cloud managers and organizations also surpass their peers in terms of public cloud utilization. Obviously, more visibility and control provides IT with the data they need to make smarter cloud choices.

Multi-cloud management maturity – is it a cause or effect?

As I read the key benefits of a transformed multi-cloud management organization, I come back to my original question. Is multi-cloud management maturity a cause or an effect of IT excellence? As in the chicken and the egg question, which comes first?

According to ESG, “While correlation does not equate to causation, ESG believes that several dimensions of its multi-cloud management maturity model directly impact an IT organization’s infrastructure management capabilities.” So although multi-cloud management doesn’t necessarily cause IT excellence, it certainly does impact it – in a very positive way.

Organizations need to acknowledge the reality of a hybrid IT, multi-cloud environment – and work toward achieving a transformed maturity model along with IT excellence. And the good news is that it looks like the two complement each other quite nicely.

You can read the full report here: Multi-cloud Management Maturity, Tangible Reasons Management Excellence Is Required in a Hybrid Computing World. Let HPE help you simplify your hybrid cloud experience with modern technologies and software-defined solutions. Additionally, Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), a HPE company, will work with your IT team to enhance learning, conquer cloud and accelerate your successful digital transformation.


About Gary Thome

Gary Thome is the Vice President and Chief Technologist for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He is responsible for the technical and architectural directions of converged datacenter products and technologies.

To read more articles from Gary, check out the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.

The Network Knows. Let It Help You.

Artificial Intelligence Brain

The 1927 film Metropolis was most likely the first movie ever created about a robot taking over the world

This German expressionist film was not sophisticated (in fact, science fiction writer H.G. Wells said the movie was downright “silly”) but it did have some merit. If nothing else, it started an entire genre of films exploring the freakish possibilities of artificial intelligence.

Fast forward ninety-plus years, and we’re living in a world where intelligent systems are more than a sci-fi fantasy – they are becoming a necessity. Take hyperconvergence, for example. In the technology trifecta of hyperconverged compute, storage, and networking, intelligence across the IT environment represents a critical next phase of networking. That line of discussion, as well as my affinity for AI movies, got me thinking about the accelerated pace of change in automation technology, and how the role of networking has changed, particularly in regards to network awareness.

Network awareness is growing exponentially around us. From the Internet of Things, to Machine Learning, to Automated Configuration and Remediation, networks are becoming more essential than ever before in providing critical services to keep IT operations alive.

Today’s modern applications and hyperconverged infrastructure solutions have literally changed the role of the network from pipes that connect clients and servers to a full-fledged, bi-directional blanket of data communications that keeps distributed components and their associated data in sync (hence the term “fabric”). With all the data flowing in and around the network, I suppose it might have been inevitable that networks would learn something. When a network understands the data, it develops an awareness of the applications and infrastructure – an awareness that enables an intelligent network to optimize and automate the infrastructure.

Robots need to be aware of their surroundings to perform tasks effectively and efficiently. An intelligent networking fabric, such as HPE Composable Fabric, understands where hosts, virtual machines, and storage servers are attached and how they communicate. The network knows which physical and virtual NICs are plugged into which virtual and physical switches, and which VLANs are used by which virtual machines on which ports. HPE Composable Fabric monitors the infrastructure and adapts the network as these items evolve over time.

What a composable networking fabric can do for you

In a workload-aware environment, networking “sensors” create and maintain a model of your operational environment, adjusting the internal network fabric bandwidth and network path isolation as needed. You can think of it as a network concierge for applications and infrastructure – helping them moment-to-moment. The network knows what they need and is there to assist, across dozens of switches, hundreds of hosts, and thousands of virtual machines.

The result? Infrastructure operators achieve a simplified network management and optimization experience. DevOps engineers can leverage the power of this awareness through APIs to integrate and automate network operations into existing and new workflows, removing even more friction and further streamlining hyperconverged and enterprise cloud environments. Think of it like HPE Composable Fabric empowering your network with a bunch of helpful robots that can automatically re-cable and reconfigure your switches to match the ever-changing needs of your application infrastructure.

All of this is possible because the intelligent network knows… let it help you.

To learn more about software-defined networking in hyperconverged environments, download the free e-book, Hyperconverged for Dummies. Or, check out HPE SimpliVity with Composable Fabric for hyperconvergence.


About Thomas Goepel

The Network Knows. Let It Help You. TechNativeThomas Goepel is the Director Product Management, Hyperconverged Solutions for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. In this role, he is responsible for driving the strategy of HPE’s Hyperconverged products and solutions spanning from the Infrastructure Components to the Management Software. Thomas has over 26 years of experience working in the electronics industry, the last 25 of which at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where he has held various engineering, marketing and consulting positions in R&D, sales and services. To read more from Thomas Goepel, please visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.

Resolve to Add Cloud Deployment Training to Your List of 2019 Goals

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As companies struggle to deploy and manage workloads across their hybrid cloud environments, employees need better training

It’s the start of 2019, and business leaders are contemplating what new technologies will give them a brighter, more successful New Year. Of course, the typical hot topics come to mind: compliance, security, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and edge computing. Yet one important item should also be on your list of IT goals for the New Year: better training to address today’s widening digital skills gap in enterprise cloud deployment.

As I listened to a recent BriefingsDirect podcast, the idea of cloud training dominated the interview. According to Robert Christiansen, vice president at Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) company, businesses need to concentrate more on their people — instead of their technology — to speed cloud deployment.

Problem: lack of speedy progress on the cloud journey

“Enterprises are on a cloud journey,” explains Christiansen. “They have begun their investment, they recognize agility is a mandate for them, and they want to get those teams rolling. What we are seeing is a lack of progress with regard to the speed and momentum of the adoption of applications running in the public clouds. It’s going a little slower than they’d like.”

For example, many businesses are seeing their public cloud bills increase, yet operating expenses are not falling. IT teams are struggling to move applications from their traditional IT systems to public clouds, which means they are not meeting key performance indicators. These challenges result in lackluster business outcomes, causing many executives to investigate where they can make further refinements.

It’s a people problem

A large part of the problem has to do with outdated behaviors, says Christiansen. “The technology is ubiquitous, meaning everybody in the marketplace now can own pretty much the same technology. So what’s your competitive advantage? The true competitive advantage now for any company is the people and how they consume and use the technology to solve a problem.”

Christiansen believes the central IT team needs more skills. In the past, central IT’s job included providing and monitoring on-site infrastructure, which included implementing certain safeguards. Now, public cloud puts these types of automation controls in the software – and IT doesn’t necessarily have the skill sets needed to manage clouds in the same way they manage physical infrastructure.

Compounding the problem is the concern that if they move to the public cloud, IT will automate themselves out of a job. “That’s the big, 800-pound gorilla sitting in the corner no one wants to talk about,” remarks Christiansen. “How do you deal with that?”

The reality is many classic IT roles will go away with a public cloud implementation, which means the traditional IT folks need to reinvent themselves and transition into new roles. Of course, this type of job transition takes training.

Working in a complex hybrid cloud world

Another challenge is certain legacy applications won’t be moving to the public cloud at all, which creates more training challenges for IT. These database-centric applications are centers of gravity that the business runs on. “Moving them and doing a big lift over to a public cloud platform may not make financial sense. There is no real benefit to make that happen. We are going to be living between an on-premises and a public cloud environment for quite some time,” Christiansen continues.

To navigate this hybrid cloud world, businesses need to create a holistic view and determine how to govern everything under one strategy. IT must establish a governance framework and put automation in place to pull these two worlds together seamlessly. To network between the two environments, IT needs public cloud training and hybrid cloud management tools.

Don’t forget to train business units

Once a business solves the central IT training issues, the next step is proper training for the organization’s business units. “We have found much of an organization’s delay in rolling out public cloud is because the people who are consuming it [the business units] are not ready or knowledgeable enough to maximize this investment.”

Christiansen relayed the story of how CTP recently helped a telecommunications company roll out their common core services. “The central IT team built out about 12 common core services, and they knew almost immediately the rest of the organization was not ready to consume them.”

This meant more than 5,000 people had to be upskilled on how to consume the new cloud services. Without training, this company could easily get a cloud bill that’s out of whack or developers writing code without using the guardrails needed to keep their data secure. To solve this problem, CTP helped this organization build a training program to bring up the skills of almost 5,000 people.

Put this on your wish list: better training for cloud deployment

Christiansen believes every global Fortune 2,000 company should implement some sort of cloud deployment training. “We have a massive training, upskilling, and enablement process that has to happen over the next several years,” he concludes.

What does this mean for the typical business? If better cloud deployment training is not on your list for 2019, maybe you should think about adding it.

To listen to Christiansen’s complete BriefingsDirect podcast, click here. To learn more about managing your multi-cloud environment, check out this link. For more information on a smooth transition to multi-cloud, visit the CTP website.


About Chris Purcell

Resolve to Add Cloud Deployment Training to Your List of 2019 Goals TechNative

Chris Purcell drives analyst relations for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The Software-Defined and Cloud Group organization is responsible for marketing for composable infrastructure, HPE OneView, HPE SimpliVity hyperconverged solutions and Project New Hybrid IT Stack. To read more from Chris Purcell, please visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog

 

IT Operations and Developers – Can’t We All Just Get Along?

HPE helping IT get along

How to successfully mix oil and water and put an end to the blame game

Alexander Graham Bell famously said, “Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the cooperation of many minds.” I agree wholeheartedly with Bell’s declaration, but what if the people you’re trying to bring together mix about as well as oil and water?

That’s the challenge of cloud teams. How can you get IT Operations (IT Ops) to work well with Developers (Dev)? After all, the two groups have had a blame and counter-blame relationship for quite some time. Developers want to release features as quickly and efficiently as possible. IT wants to ensure infrastructure (whether it is on-premises or off-premises) is reliable, secure, and meets corporate policies. And as each group tries to achieve their goals, it’s all too easy to blame one another when things go wrong.

Setting aside the blame game – your business’s survival depends on it

Although old habits die hard, IT Ops and Dev need to realize they will benefit from an improved relationship. The survival of your business could very well depend on it. If your company can’t develop and innovate fast enough, your competition will overtake you.

For example, ten years ago, who would have thought you could buy a mattress in a box and have it shipped to your door? Even more surprising, who imagined a service to have your teeth straightened—without expensive and time-consuming dental visits? Just take some pictures, send in a mold, and you’ll be sent a new set of aligners monthly to achieve your perfect smile.

Your IT Ops team needs to understand and acknowledge the efficiency and productivity gains the Dev team needs through feature releases. Likewise, your Dev team knows they need to partner with IT Ops to ensure they have the resources they need to deliver services faster.

So how do you get these two groups to play together nicely? Below I list 5 proven ways to improve innovation and collaboration.

Infuse cooperation from the start

There’s no better time to turn over a new leaf of cooperation than at the start of a new initiative. All parties are embarking upon a different way of doing things, so now is the time to lay down the ground rules. And the first rule mandates cooperation.

The basis of this newly discovered cooperation is communication, a two-way street between all participants. By encouraging better communication at the very beginning, you ensure everyone’s needs are heard. As you run into obstacles, the two groups will be better armed to deal with the give-and-take compromises that are needed to resolve any conflict.

Teach cooperation

Keep in mind cooperation must be taught, as it is not in the DNA of most IT Ops and Dev teams. This lesson is a difficult one, and it may require several different techniques to accomplish.

For example, when controversy strikes, get both groups in the same room to talk it out. Now is not the time for a virtual conversations. It may take some time, but it is time well-spent as you develop groundwork that will help you work through many difficult situations in the future. At the very core of innovation is fluid communication between team members concerning what is working and what isn’t.

At some point, you may need to call someone out – let them know they are blocking the success of the organization. Remember, the stakes are high; innovation requires cooperation and teamwork. Although this step may be uncomfortable, it is important.

Choose your leaders wisely while you shuffle the deck

Don’t forget – great change demands great leaders. These are the coaches who inspire and motivate teams to venture into the unknown. Selecting strong and insightful leaders will mean the difference between success and failure. They will not only help build new careers for themselves and their team, they will be on the frontlines of the success or failure of your business.

Another suggestion is to shuffle the deck and move leaders to other departments. For example, expose an IT Ops leader to development groups – working with them to see how they operate. A fresh viewpoint on a subject will give them perspective and compassion for their counterparts.

Small, combined teams must self-select their roles

As you assign cloud teams, keep the size small. I like to say they should be a 2-pizza box team, meaning the size of the group should be no bigger than the number of people it takes to consume 2 pizzas. You want to keep the size small and manageable, so they remain nimble and leverage automation whenever and where ever they can.

Also, make sure the team members are self-starters, people who show initiative and are excited to be part of a new, transformative process. And once the team members are chosen, let them self-select their roles. Each person needs to feel as though they can contribute maximum value. By letting them self-select their roles, they have the confidence to provide valuable feedback.

Create safety in the group

No one will go out on a limb and suggest anything innovative if they feel emotionally unsafe. Your teams have to be blame-free. So as your IT Ops and Dev groups come together to create more agile processes and, ultimately, a better business, make sure they feel safe. Each participant must be able to speak up safely, questioning traditional tactics or truths without any retribution.

In order to stay competitive, you must rely on your IT Ops and Dev teams to work together. Only through increased cooperation can businesses hope to compete effectively in today’s software-powered, agile environments. As new competitors disrupt your industry, you probably already have the talent you need to succeed – you just need to bring them together.

This article is the third in a series on how to train your employees for a successful cloud transformation. You can the first two articles here: Admitting you have a problem with your cloud transformation, and 5 proven tactics to break up the cloud deployment logjam. For more information on a smooth transition to multi-cloud, visit the CTP website. To learn more about how to ease your digital transformation, click here.


About Robert Christiansen

IT Operations and Developers – Can’t We All Just Get Along? TechNativeRobert Christiansen is a cloud technology leader, best-selling author, mentor, and speaker. In his role as VP of Global Cloud Delivery at Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, Christiansen oversees the delivery of professional services and innovation for HPE’s public cloud business. His client base includes Fortune 500 and Global 2000 customers, and his team’s leadership model encompasses the entire IT transformation journey, from inception to execution.

To read more from Robert Christiansen, visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.

Five Powerful Ways for Leaders to Unlock Innovation

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Innovation is about disrupting the comfortable for the sake of improvement

No one innovates to decrease a process or reduce the benefit. People innovate to bring life to a higher plane because improvement is a deeply held instinct.

Yet innovation doesn’t just happen – it requires cultivation of forces that will disrupt the comfortable. If you are the leader, your number one job is to provide an environment of innovation that will bring your team or business to the next level. Below are five powerful ways for leaders to unlock innovation within their organization.

#1 – Look For and Enlist Your Innovators

Every team has their innovators. They are the ones who speak out by making suggestions on how to do things better, often challenging the status quo. Innovators have big ideas and want to share them with the teams, which can create friction.

As a leader, your job is to enlist these innovators and turn their energy into actions that cultivate results. For example, a manager of one of our professional services groups presented me with an idea to build a new training program. The idea has merit; however, it needs more vetting beyond the “I have an idea” conversation. I asked him to build out the framework of the plan, and develop a model of how it could work within our business. He left the conversation energized and ready to take on the next phase of this innovation.

As a leader, you must have an open door policy of idea vetting. The key is willingness to listen and encourage innovators so they will be motivated to share their creative thinking.

#2 – Create Safety

Leaders create safe environments. Obviously, physical safety is the highest priority, but emotional safety is also important. Emotional safety gives people the opportunity to challenge and question the status quo without fear of retribution.

Strong leaders know that emotional safety is a key leadership tenet and it is not an accident. I recall a situation when two colleagues worked on an idea that resulted in strong results for the team. But during a company meeting, an executive took credit for their work, naming them only as a creative force behind the win. The team that had worked so hard were hurt. To fix the problem, the executive had to go back and quickly correct the misinformation.

Emotional safety is critical to a successful innovation engine. When team members see that action is taken to protect them and give them their due credit, they feel safe to try again.

#3 – Disrupt the Comfortable

Innovation’s job is to challenge the status quo and disrupt the comfortable, which brings with it complaints and dissatisfaction for those being disrupted. As a leader, your job is to get out in front of disruption through strong communications. No one likes surprises and unless you are clear with your messaging, the teams will revolt and hunker down for a fight.

Look for your allies in this process; you will need support to help move innovation forward. Enlist new recruits who see what the innovators see. Your goal is to get people to recognize that although disruption is painful, it is a necessary part of the innovation you need for a more successful organization.

#4 – Sponsor Initiatives

Leaders bring forth initiatives and sponsor them through funding and emotional support. This means you must have some control or influence over budgets, and you’ll need to allocate funds to promote your initiatives.

However, funding is only half of the equation. You will also need to support your team as they run into obstacles. Innovation is about calling out current processes as weak, flawed, or broken. Of course, the people within the current process may push back. Your job is to support both sides and encourage the change so everyone will have the sense of contributing to the win.

#5 – Stand By Failures

Leaders must support innovations — even when they fail. And they will fail. If your team is not failing, you’re not innovating enough or pushing hard enough.

A couple of years ago, I encountered an epic failure rolling out an automated cloud platform technology. My team spent months investing in an innovation that allowed the client to shorten time to success and increase security of the platform.

Yet when it came time to implement, the whole process fell apart because we had failed to take into account all of the customizations the client wanted. I stood before the client and owned the failure. I explained what happened and how my team would fix it. The client was pleased with my transparency, and let us complete the project.

In the end, the client was happy with our work, and my entire team learned from our failure. But more importantly, I stood by my team and owned the failure, even though it was difficult.

Innovation requires strong leaders with a proven strategy

Innovation doesn’t just happen. It is a mindful, overt act that requires a strong leader with a proven strategy for success.

Unlock innovation in your teams by looking for your innovators and creating a safe environment for them to express their visions. Allocate your time and money to support innovation initiatives and look to disrupt your comfortable teams. And finally, stand by the results. Take ownership when things go wrong and focus credit on the teams when they win.

To learn more about how innovation can help with your digital transformation, click here.


About Robert Christiansen

Five Powerful Ways for Leaders to Unlock Innovation TechNativeRobert Christiansen is a cloud technology leader, best-selling author, mentor, and speaker. In his role as VP of Global Cloud Delivery at Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, Christiansen oversees the delivery of professional services and innovation for HPE’s public cloud business. His client base includes Fortune 500 and Global 2000 customers, and his team’s leadership model encompasses the entire IT transformation journey, from inception to execution.

To read more from Robert Christiansen, visit the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.

Managing the Next Wave of IT disruption

Million Firefly Technological Modern Neon Light Effect Backgroun

“A world with millions of clouds distributed everywhere – that’s the future as we see it.” – HPE CEO Antonio Neri

When cloud computing first began disrupting traditional IT over 10 years ago, who would have imagined millions of clouds would soon follow? According to industry experts, that is exactly where the industry is heading. The next wave of digital disruption will store and analyze data at the edge and in the cloud instantly, compliments of millions of clouds distributed everywhere.

To cope with this tsunami of widely distributed data, businesses will need to go beyond on-premises environments and multi-cloud deployments. They must connect a hybrid system that stretches from the edge to the cloud and everywhere in-between. A recent report from 451 Research, From Edge to Cloud, Managing the Next Wave of IT Disruption, explains this new reality.

8 Essential Steps for Managing Edge-to-Cloud

The report details 8 essentials businesses need to consider as they enter the next wave of IT disruption.

  1. Proactive cloud strategy

Organizations everywhere are pursuing a proactive hybrid cloud and multi-cloud strategy, balancing performance, cost, and compliance. At the same time, they are meeting specific needs of applications and workloads. All of this takes planning, along with time and skills – which are in short supply in today’s fast-paced, competitive environment. Organizations must seek ways to unify access to multiple clouds and simplify management.

  1. Modernize and automate

Traditional, manual-laden IT processes will become outdated, as orchestration and automation tools transform the data center. Hyperconvergence and composability are providing the agility of public cloud through software-defined strategies, which increases automation and saves time.

  1. Take out the complexity

An ideal hybrid IT environment must be simple and quick to deploy and manage — and capable of seamlessly bridging multiple work­loads across traditional, private, and public cloud infrastructure. A hybrid cloud management platform must allow IT administrators or business managers to view all available infrastructure resources without requiring detailed knowledge of the underlying hardware.

  1. Future-proof for emerging technologies

Hybrid IT must support not only OS, virtualization, and popular cloud options that businesses are using, but also fast-growing new alternatives. These include bare-metal and container platforms, along with extensions to the architecture, such as the distributed edge. Unified APIs will help with the integration of existing apps, making everything easier to manage.

  1. Deliver everything as a service

Enterprises that want to optimize resources are moving toward deploying everything as a service. Software-defined and hybrid cloud management help to integrate off-premises services with workloads that need to stay on-premises.

  1. Deal with the data and gains insights faster

As data explodes from the edge to the cloud, software-defined services and hybrid cloud data management will become vital. Organizations will need to decide where to generate data, how to analyze it quickly, and what actions to take based on their analysis.

  1. Control spending and utilization

Public cloud providers are expanding their portfolios to provide more options, which include more pricing models, increased instance sizes, smaller time increments, better reporting, and competitive pricing. Because the price of cloud is falling only marginally, providers differentiate themselves by offering flexibility in procurement and products. Yet, as more choice is offered, complexity also increases, driving the need for hybrid cloud management solutions.

  1. Extend to the edge

Edge computing marks the beginning of a massive increase in a vast infrastructure of endpoints that will be part of tomorrow’s IT. Moving data centers such as cars, airplanes, trains, robots, and drones will increase rapidly. Enterprise customers need to invest now by integrating their private and public cloud resources with an eye toward expanding to a highly distributed infrastructure in the future.

A world with millions of clouds distributed everywhere will soon become commonplace. While the rest of the world is moving toward the cloud, multitudes of smart endpoints are starting to force computing closer to the edge. Analytics, edge processing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are also on the rise. Combining cloud and hybrid IT models with edge computing—all tied together with a multi-cloud management platform—is an important milestone to combat the next wave of IT disruption.

Read the full report from 451 Research, From Edge to Cloud, Managing the Next Wave of IT Disruption. Learn more about hybrid cloud management here.


About Gary Thome

Managing the Next Wave of IT disruption TechNativeGary Thome is the Vice President and Chief Technologist for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He is responsible for the technical and architectural directions of converged datacenter products and technologies which include HPE OneSphere – multi-cloud management, HPE SimpliVity – Hyperconverged Infrastructure, HPE Synergy – Composable Infrastructure and HPE OneView – Integrated Management.

To read more articles from Gary, check out the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog

The IT hero’s journey – Embracing Cloud Change, Challenges, and Discovery

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No doubt about it, it’s an exciting time to be working in the IT industry. I’m not just talking about employees of one of the many tech companies, such as Facebook, Google, or Amazon

IT teams around the world are part of a transformation that is turning entire industries into technology-first businesses.

Do you work in IT at an automotive company? Not anymore. You work at a technology company who sells a driving experience. What about healthcare? You guessed it – your company is a tech company who encourages patient-centered interactions for improved health.

To succeed in today’s digital world, every company must be a technology-first company who also specializes in another industry. Organizations everywhere are enhancing digital capabilities to improve customer experiences and accelerate revenue growth. That’s because businesses realize their long-term success depends on it.

A funny thing happened on the way to public cloud

As organizations travel the digital transformation road, they’ve encountered some unexpected twists and turns along the way. Many industry experts originally believed all applications, data, and infrastructure would end up in the public cloud. Yet that hasn’t happened.

Enterprises are now distributing workloads across a mix of on-premises and public clouds. Compliance, cost, performance, control, complexity of migration – all of these factors are playing a big role in the new trend of multi-cloud deployment.

Today, cloud isn’t a destination; it’s a new operating model. It no longer matters if IT places workloads in public clouds, private clouds, or a mix of the two; everyone expects the same thing: fast service delivery, operational simplicity, and optimization of costs.

Train your IT team to succeed on the frontlines of your digital transformation

Although technology transformations are nothing new, transformation to a cloud operating model has been especially disruptive for those working in IT. This new model is a completely different method of IT consumption, challenging existing roles and responsibilities.

Traditionally, IT provided the services that you now outsource to cloud providers. As your organization looks for new roles to meet this new digital reality, a slew of traditional central IT jobs are changing. To be successful, much of your current IT staff will have to learn new skills, new software, and new ways of doing things. If they embrace this challenge, they can become an IT hero in the digital transformation. IT leaders can help by encouraging learning and providing valuable resources.

Simple solutions enable IT to become a digital transformation hero

The transformation to a cloud operating model presents yet another challenge for IT, as working with and managing a multi-cloud environment can be daunting. However, technology can make the complex simple.

Take the history of the car, for example. The first car built for the masses, the Model-T, must have seemed like a complex machine at the time. Today’s cars contain over 30,000 parts and numerous computing systems and are certainly more complex. Yet technology actually makes current driving simpler than driving that first Model-T.

In the same way, newly available tools now allow IT to manage a multi-cloud environment more simply. In order to achieve a successful cloud transformation, enterprises must adopt software-defined technologies and unify compute, storage, and networking to ensure simple-to-use, cost-effective, multi-cloud operations.

IT leaders can help by choosing technologies built for a simpler hybrid cloud experience

Inside the enterprise is a dedicated group of IT experts who are accepting the digital transformation challenge. As I mentioned above, the heroes of your IT team are the ones that are increasing their skills as they embrace a new cloud reality.

In addition to enabling learning of new skills, IT leaders can help these IT heroes by choosing technologies that make the transition simpler. The right technology will help IT implement a simplified hybrid cloud experience. This type of solution includes the following features:

  • Speed, agility, cost profile, project governance, and control – all provided in a self-service model where IT and developers can compose the services they need in minutes.
  • Template-driven catalogs for workloads, allowing IT to compose and scale private clouds without specialized skills.
  • Open access to any toolset and freedom to innovate with any cloud.
  • A consumption model where customers only pay for what they use – everything as a service.

Helping the enterprise with the IT hero’s journey

In literature, the hero’s journey involves adventure, crisis, learning, and finally victory – allowing the hero to return home transformed and triumphant. In real life, the IT hero’s journey can be equally successful. Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is helping to transform businesses to become technology-first companies by working with IT leaders and IT heroes all over the world.

Let HPE help you simplify your hybrid cloud experience with modern technologies and software-defined solutions such as composable infrastructure, hyperconvergence, infrastructure management, and multi-cloud management. Additionally, Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), a HPE company, will work with your IT team to enhance learning, conquer cloud challenges, and accelerate your successful digital transformation.


About the Author

The IT hero’s journey – Embracing Cloud Change, Challenges, and Discovery TechNativeGary Thome is the Vice President and Chief Technologist for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He is responsible for the technical and architectural directions of converged datacenter products and technologies.

To read more articles from Gary, check out the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog

Transform the Traditional: The Multi-cloud Enterprise

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Companies large and small are changing in order to innovate faster, provide better customer experiences, and achieve greater cost efficiencies

British philosopher Alan Watts has a suggestion for dealing with this type of disruption: “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Sounds simple, right? It is not.

Many businesses are dancing straight into the arms of public cloud because it enables them to meet time-to-market deadlines by scaling quickly and easily. Yet, others find that certain workloads are not appropriate for this type of Tango due to cost, performance, compliance, security, or complexity issues. And a growing number of enterprises are looking for a mix of IT deployments to attain ideal results. In order to adjust quickly to changing business needs, IT wants the flexibility to place some applications in the public cloud and others in a private cloud on-premises – sort of like choosing to enjoy both hip-hop and ballet.

Transforming the traditional

As organizations try to select the best deployment options, they are finding that cloud is no longer a destination; instead, it is new way of doing business that focuses on speed, scalability, simplicity, and economics. This type of business model allows cloud architects to distribute workloads across a mix of on-premises and public clouds. No matter where IT places the workload, everyone in the enterprise expects fast service delivery, operational simplicity, and optimization of costs.

If this scenario sounds too good to be true, it actually is…for the moment.

IT is struggling to achieve this type of cloud transformation due to a number of constraints typically found in data centers. Most people acknowledge that much of today’s data center infrastructure is slow, complex, and manual, which means that IT can’t properly deliver the services needed for a modern, cloud-based deployment model. Yet, the challenge is actually much bigger – it involves legacy thinking, which can be harder to change than technology.

Out with the old way of thinking … in with the new

Many developers in the past routinely used a type of waterfall model for project management, where the project leaders define the project at the start, and then it goes through a number of sequential phases during its lifecycle. This model has its roots in engineering where a physical design was a critical part of the project and any changes to that design were costly. Changes occurred infrequently and all at once. IT operations was comfortable with this process, because the old way of thinking believed that if the frequency of change is reduced, risk is also reduced.

Modern developers have discovered that the opposite can be true. If something goes wrong with a massive change, it could very well bring down the entire company. Therefore, the new way of thinking is to implement small changes much more frequently. That way, if something fails, it is a small failure – and the team can quickly change course without causing major problems.

A transformed data center needs a new mindset that embraces an agile set of principles, similar to how application developers work – delivering and accepting project changes in short duration phases called sprints. During each sprint, continuous change is encouraged, creating a more agile and flexible environment. And failure is allowed, because that is when learning – and adjustment – occurs.

Another big change involves capital spending and total cost of ownership. The old thinking involved inflexible consumption models that forced the organization to pay for everything up front. Again, IT believed that this model was less risky because they knew the costs upfront and could accurately plan accordingly.

Yet this model can be more risky because it is not agile; IT could not increase infrastructure for a short duration during a critical need, and then dial it back down when the need no longer existed. Today’s new way of thinking about IT infrastructure involves a flexible, as-a-service consumption model, where customers only pay for what they use when they use it.

Creating a composable cloud experience across your enterprise

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) is working to solve your legacy thinking challenges in the data center and in the public cloud. Cloud Technology Partners (CTP), a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, will help your team learn the mindset changes your business needs to succeed in a digital transformation and the steps you need to make toward a truly hybrid model.

HPE is also creating a perfectly choreographed series of solutions that will quickly modernize your data center and public cloud infrastructure footprint. With the help of HPE’s industry experts and innovative infrastructure, you can quickly turn your legacy data center into a hybrid cloud experience that combines modern technologies and software-defined infrastructure such as composable infrastructure, hyperconvergence, infrastructure management, and multi-cloud management.

A new hybrid cloud operating model built for speed, agility, and spend optimization is upon us. Make sure you have the right partner to “plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Advisory services at Cloud Technology Partners can help you understand how to take advantage of today’s new, modern multi-cloud technology. To learn more about how composable infrastructure can power your digital transformation, click here. Visit HPE OneView and HPE OneSphere to read how to simplify and automate infrastructure and multi-cloud management.


About Gary Thome

Transform the Traditional: The Multi-cloud Enterprise TechNativeGary Thome is the Vice President and Chief Technologist for the Software-Defined and Cloud Group at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). He is responsible for the technical and architectural directions of converged datacenter products and technologies.

To read more articles from Gary, check out the HPE Shifting to Software-Defined blog.

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