As our digital landscapes evolve, maintaining vendor neutrality has become a critical business objective for organizations worldwide. We are seeing increased inquiries from enterprises seeking alternatives to VMware due to the Broadcom acquisition.  Unfortunately, your own automation and systems are likely the biggest barrier to building a vendor-neutral infrastructure. 

For leading enterprise organizations, an Infrastructure as Code (IaC) platform provides abstractions that prevent self-inflicted vendor lock-in.  RackN Digital Rebar further protects them by providing a deep, proven catalog of multi-vendor IaC workflows.

Want to discuss this in more detail? Schedule a meeting with us at VMware Explore 2023 in Las Vegas!

Here is a comprehensive five-step guide to help your organization navigate this journey toward vendor neutrality. Along the way, we will demonstrate how RackN Digital Rebar jump starts this transition by leveraging proven multi-vendor automation.

Step 1: Embrace decoupling

The first step towards a vendor-neutral infrastructure neutrality is to break down the tightly knit structures of your technology stack. By keeping your application platform, operating system, and hardware distinct from one another, you allow for the substitution of individual components, ensuring a dynamic, flexible, and adaptable tech stack.

This means using an API-driven approach to interacting with your infrastructure.  Even so, it is preferable to choose APIs that are declarative, rather than imperative, because they better isolate vendors.  The Digital Rebar declarative APIs does  not require up-front vendor specific information to service universal workflows.

Step 2: Advocate for a “bottoms up” approach

Building from the bare metal up allows you to create a technology stack where each layer is designed to be replaceable. This approach enables vendor-neutral infrastructure not just at the server level, but also extends to operating systems, platforms, and virtual infrastructure vendors.

An example of how to do this for VMware Cloud Builder in this post:  “Fully Automated VMware Cloud Builder”.  This example shows how to automate the creation of entire clusters from the bare metal. This gives the operations team control of the entire cluster-building process.  This means operations can accommodate vendor driven changes by injecting them at the most logical place instead of being restricted to just one layer.  That process is what makes it possible to keep the same hardware and networking management even if you change virtualization platforms.

Step 3: Leverage vendor-agnostic automation

Harnessing automation can add tremendous value to your journey towards building a vendor-neutral infrastructure. Unfortunately, automation often ends up overly focused on individual teams and products.  To build more requires additional upfront design and development investments.  Those can be hard to justify.  The inevitable consequence is lots of narrowly useful automation that works for your immediate needs but it  increases vendor lock-in.

What is the antidote? Adopt automation that is designed for collaboration and reusability across multiple companies and products.  Opting for vendor-agnostic automation, allows you to construct technology stacks leveraging proven general purpose workflows.  This neutrality may require upfront learning and a 3rd party tooling investment (like the kind offered by RackN Digital Rebar), but offers a very high return on investment.

Step 4: Avoid “top down” lock-in

A common trap in technology infrastructure development is selecting the platform or application first and then choosing technologies to fit that decision. This typically results in a tightly coupled stack that’s vulnerable to vendor-triggered disruptions. Avoiding this approach encourages a more flexible, resilient tech stack.

This lock-in shows up when selecting converged infrastructure or storage.  While these platforms leverage commodity OEM hardware, they are packaged as integrated appliances with their own automation island.  While this ensures a “single throat to choke” when it comes to  infrastructure, it significantly reduces the ability for vendor-neutral infrastructure.  

RackN  helps customers that use converged solutions operate the underlying infrastructure in a unified way across their entire estate. This gives them a way to retain flexibility on their OEM solutions, even the ability to repurpose the gear as needed.

Step 5: Reuse the automation from successful enterprises

Fortune 1000 companies have mastered vendor neutrality by building their infrastructure from bare metal, layering platforms automatically.  Instead of just observing their strategic approach, it is possible to leverage the exact same proven automation that they use!  It’s time to reject the idea that each enterprise operation team needs to create and maintain unique automation.

At RackN, our infrastructure platform is built on reusable infrastructure as code (IaC) components that are consistent and repeatable across our enterprise customer base.  You get immediate access to our proven libraries of vendor neutral automation.  Even more importantly, you get the benefit of updates, fixes and improvements when you’re leveraging shared code.  When we support a new vendor for one customer, everyone can share in the benefit.

Vendor-neutral infrastructure achieved: putting it all together

Embarking on the journey towards vendor neutrality paves  the way for a more sustainable, adaptable, and efficient IT infrastructure. Tools like RackN Digital Rebar can play a significant role in this transition, empowering you to leverage the benefits of vendor neutrality without compromising on reliability or functionality.

Ready to take your next steps towards vendor neutrality? Reach out to us to learn more about how RackN Digital Rebar can help your organization navigate this transition. Our team of experts is ready to provide a customized solution tailored to your specific needs, using proven, reusable IaC components that deliver results. Don’t let vendor lock-in keep you from achieving the efficiency and flexibility your IT infrastructure deserves.

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