The cost and plate-spinning skills of managing multi-vendor public cloud services and an on-premises environment are enough to test the nerves of any IT manager. HPE reckons it has hit upon a solution – though it has some obvious limitations.
HPE launched GreenLake a few years back. It's a service delivery mechanism similar to HPE's consumption-based converged infrastructure sales model, except that in addition to servers, storage, networking, hypervisor and OS, it also includes application software and services.
At its Discover event in Munich, Germany, HPE today released GreenLake Central, a self-service portal and operations console that lets a CIO's team monitor a bunch of KPIs including cost, security, compliance and the utilisation of tech resources. It provides a "point-and-click" experience to provision resources, instead of going through a bunch of manual steps.
It has compliance baked into the system to spot areas to "optimise" by using "rule-based insights", includes pre-built analytics and gives techies a snapshot of capacity.
Central also provides admins a view of aggregated usage across on-premises and public cloud services sold by AWS and Microsoft Azure, with Google Cloud Platform to be added soon.
Each different cloud has its own process.
"There is a slowdown today of moving stuff to the cloud," said Flynn Maloy, HPE veep of marketing for GreenkLake. "The easy stuff has moved: web, email, the development environment has all moved to the public cloud, but the traditional workloads that are running across most enterprises and even small businesses have not moved yet."
The "most important reason" for this, he added, is that a lot of the apps were not engineered to be cloud native. There are also compliance rules and "many companies don't want to let their crown jewels go somewhere else".
The public cloud has become the "benchmark experience" because it's "fast, scalable, it's flexible, [and] it's managed for you". Whereas traditional on-premises IT "has not kept up… and so what that leads to is this dichotomy".
"IT ops is not cloud ops and the way things are run differs in terms of tools and processes – and managing clouds requires new skills," said Maloy. "Control and visibility across this multi-cloud and on-premise environment: what are you spending where? Do you really understand that? Do you know what your forecasted capacity is? Are you managing those costs in the best way?"
One area GreenLake Central seems to not cover is intelligent automation on third-party on-prem kit in terms of configuration or run conditions.
Scott Yow, veep and GM of GreenLake hybrid cloud software and services at HPE, said that from an on-premises perspective, Central's portal and console "is designed to run, curate and operate HPE gear… a control plane for Greenlake".
Malloy said he believes HPE tech infrastructure is the "best compute and storage you can get", adding: "That is why we have designed this to basically abstract away the technology and provide the workload you are looking for depending on the criteria you have.
"Having said that, though, we do have large custom GreenLake deals that we've put together that do include competitive technology... and we do work with different partners in order to complete the solution. The bigger-picture GreenLake deals that we work on definitely include some of our competitors' technology. As we move forward into a point-and-click GreenLake Central world, those workloads are really designed for HPE."
Yow then added: "We are integrating fairly deeply with composable fabric and composable rack so that as workloads become deployed, that underlying fabric and that rack of compute and storage can be optimised for the specific workloads. Part of that integration and automation is what allows us to deliver the point and click experience."
Tony Lock, director of engagement and distinguished analyst at Freeform Dynamics, told The Reg that HPE has a "25-year history of managing heterogeneous environments" and said customers will want automation to manage multiple on-premises vendors.
"If you are building a single pane of glass [system], wouldn't it be better to have a single pane of glass system?"
HPE has been granted 16 patents for GreenLake Central and another 39 more have been submitted, the company said. It is moving to a as-a-service model and will sell its entire portfolio as a service from 2022.
Existing GreenLake customers can use Central for free from today and GreenLake and GreenLake Central will be available to all customers from Q1 2020. ®