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    // Podcast

    Connecting Clouds: Introducing Sungard AS' New Private Cloud

    November 4, 2020 | 12 minutes

    While pursuing digital transformation, you can’t overlook the importance of resilience, flexibility and scalability.


    In this two-part episode of IT Availability Now, we take look under the hood of Sungard AS’ new Private Cloud solution to see how it delivers these benefits to customers:

    • Part 1: Shawn Nelson, Senior Director of Cloud Services at Sungard AS shares an overview of the new Private Cloud offering, what differentiates it from the competition, and the business challenges it solves.
    • Part 2: James Valdez, Director of Private Cloud Services at Sungard AS is joined by Dell Technologies’ Tom Willwerth and VMware’s Sean Smith to discuss the underlying technologies that make up Sungard AS’ Private Cloud offering, why those technologies were selected and what benefits they bring to customers.

    Brian Fawcett is a Senior Manager of Global Sales Engagement at Sungard AS. With over 15 years of experience in a range of industries, he specializes in forming enterprise-wide global talent and learning development programs. Brian has enriched corporate learning culture by matching organizational vision and core values to curricula, leading to application and impact.

    Shawn Nelson is Senior Director of Product Management for Private Cloud and Managed Services at Sungard AS. She is responsible for a team of product managers who oversee product development, implementation, launch, lifecycle management and support for services related to private and application cloud offerings plus managed services.

    As Director of Private Cloud Services at Sungard AS, James Valdez is responsible for the continued development and promotion of our Private Cloud solutions. Since moving to the cloud computing world in 2008, James has undertaken roles developing private cloud and grid computing solutions for Qwest Communications, Savvis, and CenturyLink Communications.

    Tom Willwerth has spent his extensive career working with leading technology manufacturers within the storage, networking and information security sectors. Since joining Dell Technologies in 2017, Tom has been focused entirely on driving joint go-to-market solutions with several of Dell’s leading MSP and CSP partners in the U.S., leveraging “best of breed” hardware, software and services from both Dell Technologies and VMware. Ensuring positive outcomes for Dell’s most valued business partners, as they deliver transformational initiatives for their end customers via cloud-based delivery models, is Tom’s principal objective. 

    Sean Smith has had extensive experience in helping providers build out and deploy leading edge solutions in the communications and IT spaces in several countries around the world. He is currently focused on helping VMware Cloud Provider Partners accelerate both their and their customer’s digital transformation journeys. Focusing on the key partners in the program helps him to ensure they are able to take advantage of a more direct hands on approach to the adoption of leading edge solutions.

    The full transcript of this episode is available below.

    BRIAN FAWCETT (BF): Every company pursuing digital transformation is looking for ways to accelerate the process. But it's not just about speed. It's about resilience, flexibility, and scalability. And that's exactly what Sungard AS’ new Private Cloud offering delivers. I'm your host Brian Fawcett, and this is IT Availability Now, the show that tells stories of business resilience from the people who keep the digital world available. Today we're going to look under the hood of our new Private Cloud offering, covering both the business challenges it solves and the underlying technology that makes it possible. We're going to start with a business case, and for that we're talking to Shawn Nelson. She's Senior Director of Cloud Services at Sungard AS. Welcome to the show.

    SHAWN NELSON (SN): Thanks for having me. 

    BF: So Shawn for those who are not familiar with Sungard AS’ Private Cloud, could you give a quick overview of the new offering?

    SN: Sure. So our new Private Cloud offering is a centerpiece of our end-to-end Connected Cloud ecosystem. It is a fully integrated solution, built on Dell’s industry leading hyperconverged infrastructure, tied into their IDPA, their Integrated Data Protection Appliance. And then on top of that layered, the VMware Cloud Verified Software Stack. So we built this solution together with Dell and VMware by aligning Sungard AS’ roadmap and our market goals with where they were going in their roadmaps. So now we're in the market with a best in class solution and have been able to get two new badges from our partners and an award. So let me go over what those are. So we had the Cloud Competency Accreditation from Dell already but now we have the Powered By Dell accreditation, and what this means is that we have integrated and we are showing that we've integrated compute, storage, and backup together. And honestly, we are one of the only two organizations that have received this accreditation at this point from Dell. Also from Dell, just a few weeks ago, we were able to receive a Partner of the Year Award for technical excellence, so just proving again that this is a truly next-gen solution that we have in the market. And then the other badge that I wanted to touch on is the VMware Verified Status. This is from VMware, just proving that we are using a validated software stack on top of our Dell technology.

    BF: Yeah, we're all proud of the badges, the accreditation, the awards. What else differentiates it from other private cloud offerings?

    SN: There's a few things really. So the best in class technology that I've already talked about, and the commercial and the service flexibility, and control. Customers really want control and this is really something that we've honed in on this new offering. We're able to offer a solution that customers can manage, or we can manage from one portal, one user interface and that's all encompassing, and why we've hit on the integration because it's for compute, for storage, for network - not necessarily meaning their internet, but more of their software defined network, such as load balancers and firewalls, and backup and recovery as well. So we're focusing on utilizing out of the box technology. Of course we're tweaking slightly, but what our partners are developing and taking advantage of that so that we can quickly get to market with new solutions and new things that our customers are demanding. Our service models, and this is where the control comes in a bit, our service models range from self-managed where you completely do-it on your own, to fully managed where we will do it all for you, or we can choose something in between which we can mix and match so you can do some things and we can do some things on your behalf, all based on the skills within your organizations. Pay as you use on-demand bursting without any contract changes is super key for us and where we really see the differentiation in flexibility. Allowing customers to consume more resources or consume additional services without having to focus on paperwork. We touched on the portal a bit. That one portal that allows you to manage across all the services within your private cloud and also gives you visibility into the performance of your environment. And then finally, our heritage. We have a fully automated stateful recovery solution that allows you to recover within minutes, and not need to reconstruct your applications after.

    BF: Thanks for going through the tremendous differentiators in the marketplace. What are some of the trends and challenges that you're seeing in the industry that are driving customers to look at this type of solution?

    SN: So, most of the customers right now are embracing multi-cloud. Multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud - those are the key terms being thrown around right now. 87% are taking a hybrid approach, so obviously a combination of both public and private clouds. 76% of enterprises have at least one private, and most enterprises are using a handful of clouds. And when I mean handful, we're talking more than one, two or three clouds, somewhere in the range of three to five clouds. So organizations’ biggest priority of course is getting to the cloud, consuming the cloud, but optimizing their spend. And that's where private cloud can come in with predictability, and also a comfort level in the technology. You'll see a lot of DIYs or others that have VMware environments and moving to a private cloud versus going directly to a public cloud, to provide them more comfort because of the knowledge that they have.

    BF: So we're seeing these trends in the industry, but there's still some concerns, right? So, what are the biggest concerns businesses have about adopting this type of solution and how would you respond to them?

    SN: So as I said, we're typically competing against DIY, for example, or the public cloud. So we really need to make these enterprises and customers aware of how cost effective and practical private cloud can be, and the importance of facing your workloads where they're best suited. For example, maybe your business applications, your financial, your accounting, or your customer experience type applications, may be better suited in a private cloud. And maybe those consumer applications, or what your customers are accessing, may actually be better in a public cloud. From a DIY standpoint, excessive or outdated infrastructure can be inefficient and expensive to maintain. Public cloud, as I touched on, may not be the best location for all workloads and sometimes there's hidden charges that may appear from usage or network bandwidth. The private cloud provides you that predictability and control that you may want to maintain, and, as I touched on before, the knowledge base just may be there and it's an easier step to getting to the cloud. Typically, private cloud is better suited for security and regulatory environments. They also have strong SLAs, contractual protections that meet the regulatory compliances, and even provide a positive experience and maybe a more positive experience from onboarding through operations. So all in all, modernizing or standardizing your infrastructure with a private cloud solution can reduce some operational costs for you, and truly expand efficiency for you. 

    BF: So Shawn you talked about in the differentiators the flexibility of Sungard AS’ Private Cloud and how it runs the gamut from the various service models to the pricing. Can you tell us a little bit more about that flexibility and really why you designed it that way?

    SN: So it's really all about making it easier to do business with Sungard AS, that’s from a service perspective, from a commercial perspective, and from a control perspective. So, I just want to hit on a few key things, and probably one or two in each area. But from the service perspective, giving customers the ability to make changes within their environment at any time without contractual changes is key. The ability to burst resources within their environment. From a commercial standpoint, having customers commit to a baseline and then having a rate car so that they know if they go above that baseline, what their usage rates and what their charges would look like. Also, from a control perspective, giving customers the full flexibility to do full self-service management, or to have Sungard AS somewhat lock them out into full management, or go somewhere in between, and what we're considering co-management. So we can do it for you, or you can go into you portal in your user interface and make changes to your firewall, for example. So the ability for you to pick and choose where you need us to assist so that you can have full control of your environment.

    BF: Wow, tremendous. So to recap, a lot of the takeaways that I heard, were that agility and scalability are vital for IT managers, and organizations are increasingly moving toward a hybrid approach utilizing both public and private cloud. Sungard AS’ Private Cloud gives organizations that flexibility, control, security, and also recoverability, while enabling them to focus on core business functions. Shawn Nelson, she's Senior Director of Cloud Services at Sungard AS. Shawn, I appreciate your time today. 

    SN: Thank you. 

    BF: While it's important to understand what Private Cloud enables a business to achieve, it's also important to know how Private Cloud enables it. With that in mind, we're going to turn our sites to the more technical side of Private Cloud. Here to give us all the details are James Valdez, Director of Private Cloud Services at Sungard AS; Tom Willwerth, Global Alliances Lead - Cloud Service Providers from Dell Technologies; and Sean Smith, Staff Cloud Solutions Architect from VMware. Thank you all for joining us.

    SEAN SMITH (SS): Thank you Brian.

    TOM WILLWERTH (TW): Thank you for having us.

    JAMES VALDEZ (JV): Thanks for having us.

    BF: Private Cloud is a result of the technology partnership between Sungard AS, VMware and Dell Technologies. James, we'll start with you. Tell us a little bit about the process of developing Private Cloud, and the technologies behind it.

    JV: Sure thing, Brian. So, when we started this process, we undertook the effort to do a lot of research into the private cloud market and came to realize that it is alive and well. It is at the heart of just about every enterprise and all indications are that it's going to continue to be for the foreseeable future. One of the things we did notice is that a lot of applications seem to be in some sort of a repatriation mode, and we suspect that arises from the march to cloud over the last few years, which may have resulted in some applications not being in the right place for particular needs. So, with those thoughts in mind, we have a long history with Dell and with VMware, and it's an undisputed fact that VMware is the de facto standard in enterprise virtualization and enterprise cloud solutions. And, Dell is the enterprise standard in enterprise hardware for computing, storage and networking. So for us, it made best sense to turn to our partners at Dell and VMware to look for the best fully integrated infrastructure solution that allowed us to provide a fully integrated offering to our customers, from compute, network storage, recovery, data protection. It allows us to offer strong automation to not only make ourselves more efficient in offering our solutions, but also enabling our customers to be more efficient. And with that, the flexibility in the service model that we wanted to offer our customers, we’re bringing to bear VMware technology and cloud director. Our customers are able to fully manage the extensibility of their environment, but can also turn to us for help, if and when they need it.

    BF: Thanks James. Tom let's talk a little bit about the Dell side first. Behind Private Cloud are Dell EMC VXail and Dell EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance - what makes those the right tools for the solution?

    TW: Sure. Thanks, Brian. I think we all see the trend where enterprises are looking to get out of the data center business and instead focus more on their core business and they're all driving to bring products and solutions to market faster. But private cloud strategy comes with its own set of challenges, as enterprises need to ensure their critical workloads are protected, backed up, secure and available for restore immediately. It defeats the purpose of moving to the cloud if it means that enterprises need to invest in hiring training resources to manage these workloads that are now potentially spread across multiple outsourced and disparate cloud environments. So, when you ask about the underlying infrastructure, I'll speak more to commonality and industry adoption. And what I mean by that is Dell Tech Cloud Platform or VXRail is, as many would suggest, the industry's leading hyper-converged platform and it’s comprised of Dell PowerEdge Servers with industry leading virtual storage from VMware. At the same time, IDPA or the Integrated Data Protection Appliance, is similarly hyperconverged and is comprised of Data Domain hardware and MMR backup software, both from Dell and both on top of the industry in terms of market share and adoption. Then you bring that up one level higher, these two platforms are tightly integrated and managed by Sungard Availability Services with the industry's most widely adopted management stack, which also comes from VMware. So, this provides this end-to-end, cloud-as-a-service, if you will, not just for primary workloads but for secondary, tertiary workloads, and it also includes this out-of-the-box integrated data protection with various levels of self-service enablement for brand new users in a high degree of flexibility. So I know Shawn Nelson mentioned earlier that most enterprises will have more than one cloud - we certainly see that as true. In fact, we see every workload as having a lifecycle, and  those lifecycles will reside in different places. Sometimes with hyperscalers, it might be adequate - maybe for early stage R&D, for instance - but, what we're really seeing is many enterprises repatriating workloads because of the unforeseen costs, data sovereignty concerns, security, etc. So, we're seeing that workloads need to be mobile, and I guess that's the bottom line. Many enterprises have learned the hard way that managing multiple clouds is extremely costly - they're having to adhere to multiple operational policies, management policies, proprietary tools, all of which is driving the need for additional in-house skill sets which brings its own set of costs. So, the Dell Tech Cloud Platform with Sungard Availability Services really enables mobility across multiple clouds. I mean, they're a key component of the Dell Tech Cloud Platform delivery model. And, we do this with the most widely adopted tool sets from Dell and VMware. We rely on Sungard AS and our other partners to deliver workloads for customers to reside where they most appropriately should reside based on their stage of lifecycle. So, Sungard Availability Services is absolutely critical to Dell's hybrid cloud enablement strategy. Sungard AS’ Private Cloud, powered by Dell and VMware, delivers high availability, performance, security, and mobility for customers, while eliminating the enormous management costs associated with trying to manage multiple disparate private and public cloud environments on their own. 

    JV: Yeah Tom, you mentioned the Avamar/IDPA solution - we have a long history with that, and long ago realize the robustness of that offering and offer it as a separate solution today. But for this Private Cloud platform, integrating that via Cloud Director on top of the VXRail technology, it just made sense for a perfectly natural pairing for us. So, having this fully integrated service layer gives us the flexibility and the confidence to offer our customers solutions that leverage that integration to make the customer experience all that much more worthwhile and give them the confidence that through a fully integrated solution, they know that performance and availability have all been assured. So for us it's the best of all worlds - HCI infrastructure with VXRail, on top of the Avamar/IDPA integration with Cloud Director is our sweet spot.

    BF: James, can you share a little bit more about VMware’s Software Defined Technology that the offering is built on?

    JV: Yeah, so we have a little experience with VMware Software Defined Technology in our legacy hosted Private Cloud solution, which we've now replaced with our new Private Cloud platform. We came to really realize the strengths of NSX technology and software defined networking, and when it came to us building this new Private Cloud platform, we basically doubled and tripled down. We went all the way in on vSAN, Virtual Storage Area Network, or Storage-as-a-Service, and of course, ESXi, which has been around for many years now. The culmination of these leading edge virtualization technologies allows us to have great economies of scale in our server software, but also makes it more economically feasible for us to offer this platform at competitive market rates.

    BF: Sean, let's go over to you and talk a little bit about VMware and the Cloud Director.

    SS: Yeah, so as James was mentioning Cloud Director is core to the offering that Sungard AS has put together. It's a core component in the environment and it allows Sungard AS to offer a single pane of glass solution that spans the entire gamut of the offerings the customers will need - whether it be on-prem dedicated environment, Sungard AS Managed Public Cloud, or even into the hyperscalers - it really provides a place for not only your VMs to live, but also containers in a seamlessly integrated way. Customers will be able to see all of their environments, whether they are, as I mentioned VMs or containers, but also their production and DR environments are visible within the single environment, single pane of glass. Cloud Director has a lot of integrations with solutions like Cloud Director Availability, the Data Protection Suite from Dell, as Tom spoke about earlier and it really emphasizes a holistic end-to-end solution around what Sungard AS has built. Again, self-services is one of the key tenants of Cloud Director and whether you're looking to have a fully Sungard AS managed solution that you only look at every now and again, or you want to have a solution that you're going to manage entirely yourself, Cloud Director provides you with the capabilities to do that. As James also mentioned, things like vSAN and NSX are fundamental to the solution and being able to manage, not only the simple networking tasks that you do on a day to day basis, but also looking at microsegmentation, which is allowing you to have a much more secure environment in a much simpler way - all of this is configurable and manageable through Cloud Director. And it really culminates with VMware’s continued investment in solutions around Cloud Director that can augment it - things like Carbon Black or the SD-WAN solution VeloCloud from VMware - all of these things integrate into the Cloud Director environment and ultimately results in the best of breed software defined solution for customers. On top of all of this, as Shawn Nelson had spoken about previously, the cloud verified badge comes along with this environment because you're using the full software defined stack, and that really drives home the ability for Sungard AS to offer a solution that really is best in breed.

    SS: Thanks, Sean, for going into details there. James, why did you choose hyperconverged infrastructure as the heart of the solution?

    JV: So when we looked to move forward with a private cloud solution, we first turned to our partners at Dell and VMware, and we basically spent time in a workshop with them talking about what a next-gen solution would look like and how we could bring to bear the best in technology to put in market, a comprehensive service offering that was a benefit to our customers. So we wanted to focus on making sure that we had managed services solutions that matched a customer-driven need that was available if and when they needed it, and in the amount that they needed it. We also wanted to look to making more efficient lifecycle management of the platform. The underpinning architecture is the basis upon which we build their offers, so lifecycle management ease in the underpinning architecture made lifecycle management of the product that much more straightforward. Because our solution is built on VMware Cloud Verified Designs, along with hyperconverged infrastructure with fully integrated compute, storage and network backup and so forth, meant that interoperability between all of these elements was assured and bolstered our ability to offer comprehensive solutions to our customers. And all of this comes together to help us put in market a cost effective solution, not just for us, but also for our customers. Since cloud solutions are often very cost sensitive solutions, it enables us to put a competitive offer in market for our customers.

    BF: Sungard AS’ Private Cloud is architected for fully redundant, high availability and recovery of applications within minutes. Can you tell us more about how that's achieved and what it means for businesses?

    JV: Sure, Brian. So Sungard Availability Services has been around for over 40 years, and we have a long standing heritage in recovering complex solutions, and the Private Cloud is no different - we're carrying that forward into the present day. Our little bit of secret sauce and the cloud recovery, using Cloud Director and Cloud Availability, brings together some automation that we've put in place to make sure that customers are up and running faster without hidden charges, without onerous failover requirements or failback requirements, all of which is fully automated and fully redundant. And further ensuring that our customers environments stay available, we always operate in HA. There's no single point of failure, and if the event should arise where a customer's environment needs to be moved out of harm's way, a geographical failover at a push button is all a customer needs to do, as well as testing - customers can test as often as they want to. All of this is fully automated. Because of the technology that VMware offers, we can say to our customers that your environment will be protected, it will be consistent between geo-diverse sites, and you'll be up and running in a matter of minutes without any sort of assembly required types of recovery solutions. When we say that we mean it, and because of that, we're able to offer continuous service management of customer solutions no matter where they happen to be, whether they're failed over in a protected environment, or they're operating in a day-to-day production environment.

    BF: Now, as organizations look into a private cloud solution from a technical perspective, what are the most important elements to look for?

    JV: So I would say, first and foremost, seek a service provider with a solution and make sure that they're invested in the needs of your business and your business outcomes. The right provider is going to have the breadth of solutions and experience to make sure that your applications are in the right place, whether it be a private cloud or a public cloud, or maybe it even belongs in the colocation space. From our point of view, the hyperconverged infrastructure of our Private Cloud solution offers the best reliability and efficiency in management and scalability, which gives us the opportunity to offer SLAs that are meaningful. Everything from VM availability to RPO and RTO SLAs for recoverability is built on an environment that is cloud verified. So, we can take risks that maybe some other providers can't if they've built solutions from disparate components. That risk also allows us to offer commercial flexibility that helps the customer when they need help, but also gets us out of the way if they don't need our help. So, that flexibility ranges from a fully self-managed environment for a customer, where we take care of everything from network and storage, recovery, backup, and data protection or we can do it for them, or somewhere in between.

    BF: James, how did you approach future proofing Private Cloud? What aspects position it for growth and evolution?

    JV: So, coming to rest on a hyperconverged solution made perfect sense to us in being able to move into the future with best in class solutions. Hyperconverged solutions are fully tested, fully integrated compute, network, and storage – and in our case, including data protection from backup. So, that allows us to build automation between those environments. It allows that automation to ensure resilience, and it allows that to come together in a service integration layer that lets us put together solutions for customers that are tailored to their specific needs. It's not a one size fits all solution. Having a hyperconverged solution tested from Dell and VMware means that we get to expand our service offer as soon as new solutions and technologies become available, and in doing that, we get best in class operational standards that enable us to have a service delivery focus. We're focused on providing solutions for the customer, and don't necessarily have to invest so heavily in managing separate storage infrastructure and separate network infrastructure, and so forth. This tight integration with the virtualization layer makes us more effective as a partner for our customers in the end.

    BF: So Tom, from a Dell perspective, tell us a little bit more about the future proofing in mind from Dell.

    TW: As Dell, speaking from the perspective of the underlying infrastructure provider, both VXRail and IDPA, or integrated data protection appliance, are designed with future proofing in mind. So gone are the days where any of our customers today with any of our modern platforms - especially with VXRail or IDPA - have to replace one platform in order to move to the next. We have the ability to expand horizontally and vertically with our platforms and to do so non-disruptively with the data in place for both software and hardware upgrades, and we even have the ability to enable our customers to upgrade to the next generation hardware or controllers if something comes out that's bigger, better, and faster, they can do so within their maintenance window, and do it without even having to start a new 36 month term, which was kind of the norm years ago. So we've kind of eliminated the need, and we've really addressed giving our customers the ability to make the most of their investments and not have to throw much away anymore. It's an elegant process to move forward continually.

    BF: Sean from VMware, tell us a little bit about the work that was done with Sungard AS and Dell to design out the solution.

    SS: Yeah, it was important for us, from a VMware perspective, to spend some time with both Sungard AS and Dell to design a solution that would not only meet the needs of Sungard AS’ customers today, but also into the future. We helped design a platform that really uses the state of the art HCR based technologies and ensured that it complied with VMware Validated Designs. So the VMware Validated Designs ensure that the platform is deployed in such a way as to make future upgrades as close to seamless as Sungard AS could possibly get. This really helps them maintain a secure, compliant and leading edge solution. Security compliance is really important in these days in terms of ensuring a solution that meets customer's needs. We've put a lot of focus on making Cloud Director extensible and easy to integrate with other solutions as they evolve. This really allows the platform to easily integrate with new capabilities, provides a faster time to market for the Sungard AS team. And we made sure that from a Dell perspective, working with them to produce, what I like to call a cookie cutter experience, where Sungard AS can seamlessly integrate new pieces into their environment, whether it's to scale up or scale out, that cookie cutter experience really helps them with a faster time to market, and basically enables them to meet customer demand.

    BF: Thanks, Sean. Optimizing spend is once again the number one cloud initiative for IT managers, with more companies opting for a hybrid cloud approach with increased private cloud integration. Sungard AS’ Private Cloud solution offers two new badges from longtime partners Dell, and VMware, and is the centerpiece of the Sungard AS Connected Cloud ecosystem. With hyperconverged infrastructure, platform flexibility and a range of management options, it's built for growth and evolution as companies seek cost predictability and more control during an uncertain business climate. James Valdez is Director of Private Cloud Services at Sungard AS; Tom Woolworth is Global Alliances Lead - Cloud Service Providers at Dell Technologies: and Sean Smith is Staff Cloud Solutions Architect at VMware. Thank you all for being here. 

    SS: Thank you, Brian, it was great. 

    TW: Thank you for having us. 

    BF: You can find the show notes for this episode at Please subscribe to the show on your podcast platform of choice to get new episodes as soon as they're available. IT Availability Now is a production of Sungard Availability Services. I'm your host, Brian Fawcett, and until next time, stay available.