Heading For The Clouds: Logicalis Shares Its Strategy

Virtualization, Clouds And The Future Of The Data Center

Logicalis, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based solution provider that's No. 76 on the 2010 VAR500, last week held customer presentations in Cincinnati, Ohio and Irvine, Calif., where, with the help of some industry experts and support from Hewlett-Packard, it introduced to potential customers the latest data center trends and how virtualization and cloud computing fit into their futures.

CRN visited the Irvine, Calif. event for an inside look at how Logicalis views the trends.

Warming Up The Crowd

Kirk Zaranti, senior vice president of sales at Logicalis, opened the event and served as the emcee for the morning.

Zaranti also discussed the three primary goals for the event:

The Future Is Now

Someone with a bow tie like that can only be a futurist or a university professor or, in the case of Thornton May, both.

May called virtualization and cloud computing "the New World." "It is here now," he said. "But it's not evenly distributed."

May cited examples from history to illustrate the difficulty of understanding future trends based on current circumstances.

For instance, he told the audience to think about people in the Middle Ages.

"Did they know they were living in the Middle Ages?" he said. "They probably woke up, and said, 'Today sucks.' If they had a sense of time, they probably thought, 'Yesterday sucked.' And if they thought about it more, they might have said, 'If I live through today, tomorrow will probably suck.'"

Businesses are usually busy enough trying to find the best way to run their IT environments today without thinking too much about the future, May said. "IT teams have to lead enterprises out of the Middle Ages," he said.

Management The Key To The Future Data Center

Tom Baylark, principal at Tech Eloquent, an Atlanta-based firm specializing in turning complex IT into an easy-to-understand presentations, told the IT administrators in the audience that virtualization has become an essential practice in the enterprise, and that cloud computing will help a company leverage services.

But that is only part of the picture. "It's important for IT people to know their company's goals and needs, and not just about the IT requirements," Baylark said.

The data center of the future will be characterized mainly by management, Baylark said. That includes management of virtualization and cloud computing in such a way that an enterprise can adopt any technology as needed as long as it meets the goals of the business.

Businesses will have to manage their clients, applications, networks, servers and storage in a unified fashion. "In the future, you will need a single management solution," Baylark said. "A manager of managers. If there's a problem, you don't need to send five different people to fix a problem if you have an intelligent tool managing everything."

Interesting Data Center Facts

No good end-user program would be complete without an endless stream of PowerPoint slides, and Logicalis was not one to upset that maxim.

Kevin Gruneisen, vice president of data center solutions at Logicalis, started his introduction of Logicalis and its services by first tying a list of data center facts to enterprise requirements (One prediction? That 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets by 2012).

The issues resulting from those trends will be solved by virtualization and a move to adopt cloud computing, Gruneisen said. "But who's going to be there to help you?" he said.

As expected, his answer to his question was Logicalis. Gruneisen said the solution provider has a very specific data center methodology which includes assess, plan, design, implement, validate, and support phases.

That methodology leaves no room for exceptions. "Everything we do includes all of these," he said. "This method works. If we argue with you, or push back, I hope you understand where we are coming from."

Logicalis Enterprise Cloud

Solutions from Logicalis include data center planning, virtualization, storage, and, starting this past May, the Logicalis Enterprise Cloud, Gruneisen said.

Logicalis invested $2 million to build a cloud infrastructure which it could offer to customers based on the company's experience as a systems integrator, managed services provider and managed hosting provider.

"We decided to build our own instead of partnering with others because we wanted to offer customers public cloud, private cloud or hybrid options," he said.

Logicalis works with customers to understand which applications should be moved to the cloud and which applications, especially mission-critical applications, should not be run in the cloud, Gruneisen said.

He also said the Logicalis Enterprise Cloud is not competing with offerings from Amazon and Google. "When you put apps in the Logical Enterprise Cloud, you can trust they will be managed, protected, and backed up," he said. "You have control of your applications."

Exploring the Options

Dean Hitchens, systems administrator for information systems at the Children's Hospital of Orange County, Orange, Calif., said he was at the event to explore disaster recovery options as his company contemplates a possible data center migration next Spring.

At the same time, CHOC will be upgrading its Oracle, VMware and GroupWise technology, and looking to decide the next step as a business continuity contract with HP expires, Hitchens said.

"We want to see how this cloud technology will work in our environment," he said.

Gruneisen's presentation on the Logicalis Enterprise Cloud struck home with Hitchens, who said he looks forward to talking to his local Logicalis rep about the technology.

"My key focus was being able to see how cloud computing can be the answer to our requirements," he said.