The Workload Factor in Hybrid IT

April 9, 2017
Cloud, Data Migration, Hybrid IT

If there’s one primary reason why hybrid IT has increasingly become the preferred IT strategy for organizations, it’s this: application workloads. Workloads are typically considered platform agnostic, but not all perform equally well in every environment. In fact, some don’t perform at all in specific environments.

The benefit of a hybrid IT strategy is that it enables you to match application workloads to where they will achieve the best performance and efficiency, as well as meet compliance requirements. Not surprisingly, developing a hybrid IT strategy starts with understanding your workloads.

Inventory Your Workloads

To determine the appropriate environment for a workload —particularly if you expect the cloud to be among your mix of IT environments, inventory your company’s applications. Once you’ve documented those you know about, you’ll need to account for any that have slipped in due to shadow IT. 

Meet with representatives from each department to go over the applications they use, how and why they use them, and what business needs or problems they are trying to meet with them. Ask about regulatory or other requirements that they may be required to meet as well. Make sure they know they don’t have to give up their applications. The goal of the exercise is to determine how to make sure they are in the right environment so they can perform optimally.

Throughout the inventory process, make note of legacy applications that perform poorly or have become cumbersome. They may be candidates for redesign that includes refactoring so they will not only be cloud-eligible but will also perform optimally in the cloud. Applications that current run within the firewall may also need to be redesigned. This will allow some functions to continue to run on-premises if required, while others can be refactored to run in the cloud.  

Know Your Workload Requirements

Next up, assess the characteristics and requirements of your workloads. Ask these questions for each:

  • How often is it used, who uses it and what business requirement does it meet?
  • Is it mission-critical?
  • Are there any application dependencies?
  • Are their specific performance requirements?
  • Is it up for a refresh or approaching retirement?
  • Can it be redesigned or undergo a technology refresh for cloud computing?
  • Will there be efficiency gained by moving to a cloud environment?
  • In what language is it written?
  • How difficult or expensive is it to refactor it for new environment?
  • Is it web-based, or built with a service-oriented architecture (SOA)?
  • Is it monolithic, two-tier, three-tier or n-tier?
  • Is the data bound by regulatory compliance, and/or are there data sensitivity, privacy or integrity issues?
  • What quantity of CPU, memory, network and storage are needed?
  • Are specific monitoring or security agents required?
  • Does it experience periodic or unpredictable traffic spikes?  
  • Does it need to scale?

Once understand your applications, you can map them to your organization’s business requirements and priorities such as time to market, cost of capital, latency, and risk mitigation.

Identify Cloud-ready Workloads

On-premise and colocation environments work for most workloads. In terms of the cloud, however, some are better suited to move there than others. Note those that are cloud ready, including:

  • Service-oriented architecture (SOA) applications
  • Cloud-native applications
  • Applications used by mobile employees to manage their time and activity, and that contribute only limited information to the company’s broad management information databases
  • Applications that run infrequently but require significant computing resources  
  • Applications that run in a time zone different from that where your IT personnel are

The cloud may also be appropriate for developing, testing, and prototyping application changes, even if the final applications will run on your own infrastructure.

The Business Case for Migration

Once you know where your workloads belong, develop a business case for migrating them. Include the following components.

  • Cost Analysis. Start with baseline costs for the current environment and then calculate:
    • On-going costs such as service provider fees
    • License management
    • Application re-designs, deployment, testing, maintenance and administration
    • Application integration
    • Costs for hiring staff with specialized skills or training current staff
  • Service Levels. Provide evidence that the service level in the new environment will be comparable to or better than what exists.  
  • Business Impact. Include answers to questions such as these:
    • If the application is used to generate revenue, will the move increase revenue generation?
    • For customer-facing applications, will the move increase the number of customers accessing them?
    • Will improvements in availability or response time result in increased user satisfaction?
    • Will the move shorten the time it takes to deliver functional enhancements to end users?

Obtaining executive support is critical. Getting buy-in early in the process will help alleviate potential issues down the line.

All IT environments are not the same; nor are workloads. It’s good business to make sure you get your workloads in the environments where they’ll perform best and generate the most meaningful business value. US Signal can help by working with you to develop a hybrid IT strategy. To learn how, call 866.2.SIGNAL or email [email protected]