Building a modern data platform – what have we learned?

As I reach the end of this series, it raises the question “what have we learned?”. If you’ve read through it all, you’ve learned you are patient and I’ve learned that writing a series of posts actually takes quite a bit of time. But I digress!

Let’s start at the beginning – what is a modern data platform?

I’ve used the term throughout, but what does it mean? In the introductory post I stated “In today’s modern world however, storing our data is no longer enough, we need to consider much more” and that’s true as organisations now want their data to provide modern data platformcompetitive edge and insights, we also need to ensure we are “developing an appropriate data strategy and building a data platform that is fit for today’s business needs”. In essence those two areas neatly define a modern data platform, storing data is no longer enough and our platform needs to fit today’s rapidly changing demands, integrate with new technologies and give the scale and flexibility we need to turn our data into an asset, all of this while ensuring our data maintains its privacy, security and we maintain governance and control

It’s not storage

While storage plays an important part in any data strategy (our data has to live somewhere) it’s important to realise when we talk about a data platform, it’s not about storage, while the right storage partner plays a crucial part, the choice isn’t driven by media types, IOPS, or colour of bezel, it’s about a wider strategy and ensuring our technology choice enables us to provide the scale, flexibility and security a modern platform demands.

Break down walls

We have also learned that data cannot be stored in silo’s, be that an on-prem storage repository or its modern equivalent the “cloud silo” placing our data somewhere without consideration of how we move it so we can do what we need to with it quickly and easily, is not designing a modern data platform.

Data Insight is crucial

Where our data is held and on what, while important, pales when compared to the managing the futureimportance of insight into how our data is used. Our modern data platform must provide visibility into the who’s, where’s, when’s, what’s and why’s of data usage, who’s accessing it, where is it and when, if ever, are they accessing it, what are they accessing and why. Knowing this, is critical for a modern data platform, it allows us to build retention, security and compliance policies, it allows us to start to build effective data leak protections and be more efficient with our storage and control the costs and challenges that comes with our ever increasing reliance on data.

Without this insight you don’t have a modern data platform.

Data is everywhere

We have also learned that our data is everywhere, it no longer resides in the protected walls of our data centers, it’s living on a range of devices both sat inside and outside of those walls. That’s not just the data we have, it’s also the increasing range of devices creating data for us, our platform needs to be able to ingest, process and control all of it. Protecting data on the very edges of our network to the same degree that we protect, secure and govern that which sits inside our data centers is crucial.

Cloud, cloud and more cloud

Just a few years ago the prognosis for the data industry was that cloud was going to swallow it all and those who looked to use “traditional” thinking around data would be swept away by the cloud driven tide.

080118_0950_Optimisingt1.jpgNow while cloud is unlikely to wipe out all data life as we know it, cloud should certainly play a part in your data strategy, it has many of the attributes that make it an ideal repository, its flexibility, scale, even commercial models make it an attractive proposition.

But it has limits, however ensuring our data platform can integrate cloud where appropriate and maintain all of the enterprise control we need is a core part of a modern platform, you can’t design a modern platform without considering cloud.

It’s a platform

The reason I used the word platform, is because that is what it is, it’s not one component, it is built up of multiple components, as I’ve shown here, it’s storage, data management, governance, control, be it in the datacentre, on the edges of your network or utilising the cloud.

The days of our data just been about one element are gone, we need a strategy that looks at how we use data in its entirety.

Building a modern data platform

The point of this series has been to provide some practical examples of the tools and technologies I’ve used building modern data platforms. Not every platform uses all of these technologies all of the time and it doesn’t have to be these specific ones to build your platform. What is more important is the concept of a data platform and hopefully this series has introduced you to some areas you may not have considered previously and will help you design a platform to get the very best from your data assets.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment on the site, or contact me on twitter @techstringy or LinkedIn

If you’ve missed any of the series head back to the introduction where you’ll find links to all of the parts of the series.

Thanks for reading.

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Taking a grown-up look at cloud – Matt Watts – Ep77

Cloud is not new, I don’t think that’s news to anyone, many of us have deployed a cloud solution, be it a SaaS platform, some public cloud infrastructure or some VM’s for test and dev, cloud continues to play a major part in IT strategy for an ever-increasing amount of businesses.

However, this move to cloud has not come without us learning an awful lot on the way. We’ve probably all heard of, or maybe even been involved with, cloud deployments that have not gone as we expected, the technology hasn’t given us what we want, the commercials didn’t stand up to our calculations, or it just wouldn’t work in the way our on-premises platform did. Many of the issues that have led to those poor cloud experiences have been driven by an “immaturity” to our approach, often too quick to dictate a cloud first strategy, regardless of whether cloud is, in reality, the way to go.

Is our approach to cloud beginning to change? have we got, or do we need to consider our cloud strategy a little differently?

That’s the question we ask on this weeks podcast, an episode inspired by a fantastic article written by my guest Matt Watts, Director of Technology and Strategy, EMEA at NetApp. In the article Matt posed the question Are you Cloud First! or Cloud First? And the difference a bit of punctuation can make, you can read the article here.

I thought the topic he covered in the article and the question he raised were worthy of further investigation and that’s what we do on this weeks show.

During the show we discuss the article in depth, we start out looking at what drove Matt to write the article and the importance of understanding the difference between a strategy and a mandate. We also look at examples of mistakes that people originally made that have meant we’ve needed to start to change our approach.

We talk about the issues that are created by taking on-prem solutions and “dumping” them “as is” into the cloud without asking the question “is there any value in doing this?” and how this drives bad practice in cloud adoption. We also coin the phrase “there is no zealot like a technology zealot!”.

We also explore the idea that cloud adoption isn’t about cost savings, so if it’s not that, why do we want to adopt cloud?

We wrap up looking at examples of building a more mature cloud strategy and how this has worked well, Matt shares some examples of how NetApp’s own internal cloud maturity has driven their own internal decision making. Matt’s final thought is how, without an appropriate and mature cloud strategy, you run the risk building yourself a whole new set of silo’s and limitations.

Matt, as always, shares some fascinating insight into cloud strategy. To find out more from Matt you can check out his other blogs on his watts-innovating site. You can also follow Matt on twitter @mtjwatts.

Next week we get an update on the innovations and developments in VMware Cloud on AWS, until then, thanks for listening.

What happens in Vegas, heads to Barcelona – Pete Flecha – Ep76

We’re at that time of year when the tech conference season, after a bit of a summer break, swings back into full gear, some we’ve already had, such as MSIgnite and some we have to come, over the next couple of months there’s a range of shows big and small dotted across the globe on a range of topics.

As part of my day job, I find tech conferences a hugely valuable resource, the technology partners we choose to work with and the strategic value I look to share with businesses, much of it comes from what I get to learn attending some of these big shows, whether in person or via live streaming of key sessions. These conferences are still the best showcase many vendors have for presenting their strategic direction and the latest technical innovations. In my opinion if you are in a role where you are delivering technology or building technology strategy, paying attention to the shows of your key vendors and partners should be part of your role and I believe is a key part in ensuring you get the very best from your technology investment.

One of the biggest and still one of the most influential tech shows of the year is VMworld, VMware’s showcase event, a long time cornerstone of the technology community for IT pro’s and vendors alike. Mainly because VMware find themselves in an almost unique position (probably alongside Microsoft) of having their technology present in the vast majority of technology deployments. Because of this VMworld attracts IT Pro’s and vendors from many disciplines’ server and storage vendors, through to automation and analytics companies all working closely with VMware’s platforms to deliver services across enterprise and organisations of all types.

With that said, what can you expect to learn from a show like VMware? What’s the benefit for you? Well as we sit handily between VMworld US and Europe, I thought it would be a useful to explore VMworld a little more and get not only a round up of the big announcements from the US show and what to look out for in Barcelona, but also take a look at what is VMworld and if you’ve never attended (and full disclosure I’ve only ever attended remotely) why you may want to add it to your calendar next year.

Joining me to discuss this, is the co-host of the fantastic Virtually Speaking podcast Pete Flecha, a veteran of a number of VMworld’s as customer, partner and now as employee, he’s in a great position to provide some background to the show, how it’s changed and some of the key announcements from Vegas and what to look out for in Barcelona.

We start with exploring what VMworld is, discuss both its size and community angle and also why the show is about so much more than virtualisation. We also look at the part shows like VMworld and as we recorded MSIgnite, play in shaping the industry and why the messages of these influential technology companies are important to understand as they continue to play such a large part in the direction of the technology industry.

We get Pete’s list of favourite announcements from VMworld, including some big announcements around his own technology areas VVOLS and vSAN, as well as the very interesting “Project Dimension”. We wrap up by looking ahead to Barcelona and next year to VMworld in San Francisco and chat about why you may want to go and check out the event for yourself.

If you do have an interest in VMware technology as well as tech in general then I can’t recommend enough you get the excellent Virtually Speaking podcast on your weekly podcast schedule, you can also follow the show on twitter @virtspeaking and if you’d like to stalk Pete on line you can find him @vPedroArrow

For more info on VMworld and the main announcements then check out the resources Pete mentioned in the show;

VMworld 2018 recap podcast

http://www.vspeakingpodcast.com/episodes/89

What’s New in vSAN 6.7 Update 1

https://storagehub.vmware.com/t/vmware-vsan/vsan-6-7-update-1-technical-overview/

Introducing Project Dimension

https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2018/08/introducing-project-dimension.html

VVols and SRM: Better Together

https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2018/08/23/better-together-site-recovery-manager-srm-and-virtual-volumes-vvol/

Next week we ask Cloud First! Or Cloud First? Until then, thanks for listening.

Don’t get caught out by the unexpected – Steve Lambert – Ep 75

In the last couple of weeks the world has shown how the only predictable thing for many of us who deliver technology is the unpredictability of what we have to deal with, from the massive data breach at British Airways to the catastrophic impacts of hurricanes on both the western and eastern sides of the globe, these are incidents that we should be prepared for, the question is, are we?

If your organisation was impacted by something like a hurricane, causing flooding and power outages how would you react? If you’d suffered a data breach, what would you do? Who would you turn to? What’s the plan?

Planning for these incidents is a crucial part of modern business practice, in some cases it is mandated while in others we appreciate the value of planning and develop continuity and incident response plans. However, for some of us, we don’t have one, or if we do, we are not sure where it is, or whether it works!

So, what if you don’t have a plan, or not sure if your plan has value? Then this episode of the podcast is for you as we look at business continuity planning, with my guest continuity planning consultant Steve Lambert of Biscon Planning.

Steve has many years’ experience in the industry at both Biscon and previous to that working in local government emergency planning. In this episode Steve shares his business planning experience to outline some of the steps that you should be taking to ensure, that in the event of an “incident”, you have a plan to overcome it and not get caught out.

I chat with Steve on a range of topics, why do we need a plan at all? And how continuity planning goes beyond IT. We discuss the types of incidents you need to plan for and compare the differences between operational and enterprise risks.

We look at the evolving incident landscape and how data breach is now a key part of continuity planning. Steve then takes us through some of the steps you need to consider when building a plan, from understanding risk appetite, to impact assessment. We also look at the importance of testing plans and crucially how it’s not only your plans, but those of your suppliers, if they have a critical failure do you know how it impacts you?

We wrap up by looking at some practical steps, including how Biscon can help you with a free review and ways you can highlight the importance of planning across your business.

The importance of incident planning cannot be underestimated, and Steve provides some great tips on how to build and test your plans.

To find out more about Biscon and their services you can visit them at https://www.biscon.co.uk/ and follow them on twitter @bisconplanning

If you’d like to test how you would respond to an incident, you may like to follow this scenario shared recently on the BBC’s website.

Until next time – thanks for listening

Logging and learning your public cloud – Colin Fernandes – Ep 74

In the last of our series looking at the shift to public cloud, we discuss getting the best from your cloud and the value of understanding the behaviour of your cloud infrastructure.

Initially the move to cloud was seen as a way of delivering lower cost infrastructure or test and dev environments. However this is beginning to change, today more than ever this move is driven by agility, flexibility and reducing time to delivery, a focus on outcomes rather than cost and technology. This shift is a positive, technology investments should always be about the outcome and a broader end goal and not technology adoption for technologies sake.

When attempting to achieve these outcomes it’s important that our platforms are performing and delivering in the way we need them too, the ability therefore to log, analyse and gain useful insight into the performance of our estate is a crucial part of making sure our public cloud investment is successful.

On this show I’m joined by Sumo Logic’s Colin Fernandes as we look at public cloud, the value of what it delivers and how an understanding of its performance is crucial to not only help achieve desired outcomes, but to do so while still meeting those ever-critical security and governance requirements.

Colin is a self-proclaimed IT veteran with 32 years’ experience in the industry, starting out at ICL and arriving at Sumo Logic via the likes of IBM and VMware and that longevity in the industry puts Colin in a great position to comment on what he sees in today’s market and how cloud has and is disrupting our use of technology.

We start by looking at the similarities Colin sees in today’s shift to cloud to those early days with VMware. We also discuss how organisations are starting to look at cloud as a way to drive new applications and innovation and how this is as much about a cultural shift as it is technology.

We chat about big shifts in focus, with the adoption of serverless and modern design architectures such as containers and the increasingly pervasive ability to utilise machine learning and analytics. We also explore the problems that come with cloud, particularly those “day one” problems of monitoring, security and compliance and why it’s critical that security be part of the cloud delivery cycle and not an afterthought.

We finish up talking about Sumo Logic and what they bring to the market and how their ability to analyse and use data from their customers can provide them with the valuable insight needed to achieve value from their cloud investment.

This is a great time to find out more about Sumo Logic as this week (Starting 12th September 2018) it’s their annual user conference Illuminate, you can track the event via their live keynote stream and you can find that on www.sumologic.com where you can also find more info about what they do.

If you want to follow up with Colin you can find him on LinkedIn as well as via email cfernandez@sumologic.com

I really enjoyed this chat, with Colin’s experience in the market he provided valuable insight into public cloud and how to get real value from it.

Next time we are looking at the world of incident management, how to plan for it and how to ensure a technology disaster or data breach doesn’t catch you out.

Until then, thanks for listening.