Know Your Options for Workload Placement

October 17, 2023
Backup, Retail, Storage

When it comes to workload placement, you have choices:

But that doesn’t mean every application can be in any IT environment — or that moving an app best serves your organization’s business needs.

So, how do you determine which application goes where so you can optimize things like performance? The following are some of the criteria to consider.

1. IT Strategy and Business Needs

    How does your IT strategy serve your organization’s overall strategic direction and its current and future business needs? Will maintaining (and continually upgrading) an on-premises data center work best from both a fiscal and functional perspective? Or is a colocation, wholesale move to the cloud, or implementation of a hybrid IT strategy better suited to your company’s short- and long-term needs?

    2. Legacy Status

      As you look at specific apps, was the app in question developed in-house (and requires in-house support)? Is it tied to legacy equipment or other dependent legacy apps? For example, an app designed to run on proprietary hardware or a unique operating system may need to be hosted in the same location as those assets. While legacy hardware may be able to be migrated to a more efficient colocation environment, it may be worth considering whether dependent apps could be rearchitected to operate within a hybrid environment to ensure future flexibility.

      You may also want to determine if the app is something that can be replaced with an off-the-shelf product. Or is it something that could be rewritten, refactored or otherwise changed to be able to perform in a cloud environment? Is it needed at all?

      3. Latency Issues

        Latency refers to the delay that can result when a data packet physically travels from one endpoint of a network to another. That delay can be a problem for end users. For example, if a workload is processed in an IT environment that’s geographically distant from end users, the app is more likely to be slow and unresponsive. Placing workloads closer to end users (like in a nearby colocation facility) helps ensure that latency doesn’t slow an app down and create unhappy end users.

        4. Resource Needs

          It takes a certain amount of CPU, memory, network, and storage to optimally run an app, and these resources come with costs. Some IT environments, like the cloud, make it easier to access the resources — and in a more cost-effective way based on usage.

          If an app’s resource needs fluctuate due to seasonality, demand, traffic, or other reasons, a cloud environment will serve you better because resources can be scaled up or down as needed. There’s no need to overprovision resources and let resources linger when they aren’t in use.

          In addition, hosting apps in a capital-intensive environment like an on-premises data center can make it extremely costly to expand capacity as business increases. The cloud’s scalability enables it to accommodate growing or changing resource needs. As such, hosting workloads in the cloud or connecting to cloud services through a hybrid environment may be a good way to ensure future flexibility.

          5. Availability

            Few if any companies in any industry can last long (or at all) if their apps go down and their data isn’t available. Just a few moments of downtime can cost millions due to lost opportunities and productivity, as well as put companies at risk for penalties and other negative impacts. Both colocation facilities and cloud services typically offer SLAs for uptime (and have the support, services, and infrastructure to ensure that uptime) to maintain high-level availability.

            6. Security

              High-level security is a must but not all organizations have the in-house security expertise and most advanced security technologies to pull it off. Hiring IT security professionals is competitive and can be costly. Staying on top of rapidly changing security threats is challenging.

              For some organizations, going with a colocation facility may make sense because of the physical security they typically offer (not to mention the cost benefits associated with not having the capital and operational expenses associated with on-site power, cooling, and other needs).

              Others may be better off working with a cloud service provider (CSP) that ensures a highly secure IT infrastructure to power its cloud services and security professionals to stay on top of the latest security challenges and technologies. If the CSP maintains compliance with various regulatory requirements and industry standards like HIPAA and PCI, all the better as high-level security is critical for meeting compliance criteria.

              7. Compliance

                On the subject of compliance, compliance with specific information security or data privacy standards is critical to the operations of many companies in certain industries. It’s not cheap or easy to build out the necessary infrastructure to meet compliance requirements or to regularly conduct the necessary compliance audits.

                Although companies are responsible for meeting their specific compliance requirements, using the colocation and/or cloud services of CSPs and colocation operators can ease much of the burden. These third-party companies often undergo regular audits to ensure they are maintaining the secure infrastructure their customers require in order to meet specific requirements.

                8. Cost

                  All workload environments come with a cost. If you’re maintaining an on-premise data center, you already know the expenses related to supplying power, cooling, security, etc., as well as maintaining and continually training the necessary workforce and purchasing and maintaining hardware and software. Keep in mind, too, that any staffing requirements for maintaining an onsite data center take away from other activities such as those related to innovation and core business capabilities.

                  Public and managed private cloud environments can offer significant cost benefits, including enabling you to switch capital expenses to more predictable operating expenses. They also can enable you to “pay as you go,” using cloud services as needed and scaling up or down as required. However, cloud services can rapidly rise if they’re not managed and monitored properly.

                  Colocation also offers flexibility in terms of cost because you lease out the space (and racks and cabinets) you currently need but decrease or increase that space if your business needs change.

                  9. Cost Part 2

                    While there are numerous benefits to moving to the cloud, as noted in #8, cloud services can rapidly rise if you’re not careful. And those costs are just associated with usage.

                    Cloud migration entails costs, too. Some apps weren’t built for the cloud — or at least for optimal performance in the cloud — so they may require some work prior to making the move. That work may include refactoring and rearchitecting the apps, which will require someone to do the work.

                    Migration also takes time away from other revenue-generating activities for IT professionals, especially if it has to be done by an in-house team. Things work better, in most cases, by outsourcing migration but there will still be costs. Plus, there’s always the potential for business disruption and downtime, especially if enough attention is given to migration planning and testing.

                    10. Flexibility

                      Sometimes, companies think their only option is to go with all apps on-premises or in the cloud. However, the more cost-effective — and all-around-effective and flexible solution — is to go with a mix of IT environments.

                      No one IT environment is optimal for all workloads. A hybrid IT strategy enables companies to place their workloads in any of the various IT environments based on whatever criteria is most critical to these organizations’ business needs and strategies. Hybrid IT also offers the flexibility to accommodate changing needs and enable future capabilities and opportunities.

                      For example, some workloads can remain on-premises if there are strong reasons for keeping them there. But companies can also start shrinking their onsite data center footprint (and associated costs) by moving some equipment to a colocation facility.

                      If a company wants to try out a public cloud service, it can also pick a few to try out on the cloud while keeping everything else as is. Usually, workloads that are stateless, scalable, and have minimal dependencies on on-premises resources are considered easier to migrate to the cloud. Examples include web applications, mobile apps, content delivery systems, batch processing jobs, and backups.

                      Assess Your Workload Needs Now

                      To determine where your workloads should be located to best meet your business needs, start by inventorying and assessing your workloads. You’ll find good information to help you do that in this blog: Cloud Migration: What Goes First.

                      For more information or assistance in determining your workload placement options, contact us. Call toll-free: 866.2. SIGNAL, or email: 616.988.0414.