Tuesday, 26th May 2020

Now that you’ve put 20% in….don’t fear putting that extra 80% of your business in the cloud

Matt McCahill, Chief Services Officer, CSI explains how it’s now possible to take even the most complex legacy applications to the cloud.

Most companies can easily see how 20 per cent of their business workload can be in the cloud, but they fear the 80 per cent that they think can’t. The average cloud services provider can fix the easy processes like emails, video streaming, web apps and expense reports or HR apps. But can they put the more complex mission-critical and often regulated services like ERP, manufacturing processes, core banking, insurance pricing or even pension management in the cloud?


All hail the hybrid cloud


The good news is that there is a cloud solution for almost every business application, but it’s only by taking a granular view of each application and looking at its distinct characteristics, behaviours and the regulatory issues they need to meet that a suitable cloud environment can be matched. Public or private, it’s not a case of one-size-fits-all when it comes to taking workloads to the cloud. The majority of companies are likely to have a combination of one to three cloud platforms.


For this reason, never before has the journey of curating, mentoring and guiding an application to the right cloud infrastructure been so important. For example, a firm may have record-management systems that hold sensitive CRM data or research information that they do not want to move to a public cloud. Whereas, their systems of engagement such as online ordering, or loyalty schemes, may be best stored on public cloud services. Taking each application to the most suitable platform and managing them in a multi-cloud – or hybrid cloud – environment is the next chapter in unlocking real business value and driving growth.


Unlocking the other 80 per cent of workloads


When it comes to the issue of moving across complex legacy applications that often are the backbone and core of a company’s business process, they are usually written in old, outdated code that are not compatible with all that the multi-threading public cloud offers. These apps are usually very complicated to update and have lots of add-ons which means that they often get overlooked when it comes to cloud migration. This is no longer the case as these can now be unlocked too. Once deemed ‘uncloudifiable’ these applications are now able to be effectively modernised and can be quickly migrated to the cloud and integrated with existing applications that are already in the cloud.


Rather than put these large complex applications on the public cloud, which do not have the receptacles for big IBM i applications as an example, they can be transferred to a private cloud that acts with similar economics and behaviour of a public cloud. An example of this being the CSI PowerCloud which can host the sensitive and complex applications whilst connecting directly to Microsoft Azure, Salesforce, SAP, Google Enterprise or IBM Cloud if required.


Realising economies of scale


Previously bought and built based on peak flow – IT architecture is now bought or provided based on consumption thanks to the cloud. When the cloud providers came rolling into town, they made it possible to pay for what was actually used for specific services. Moving from a capex (ownership) model to an opex (usage) model has created the kind of economies of scale that free businesses up to innovate in other areas. But not for all operating systems like IBM System i or even IBM AIX. This is all changed, however, with CSI’s PowerCloud.

This means that for businesses that have a desire to move their large legacy applications to the cloud, it’s now possible to buy AIX and IBM i on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis. For example, using Amazon or Azure to host a complex ERP system is very expensive, but with a private hybrid cloud it becomes much less so when you can PAYG. The result is a consumption-based commercial model which avoids over-investment or under-provisioning.


These legacy apps are not only enjoying the economics of the public cloud in their private environment, but are also directly connected to the world’s public cloud with near zero latency. Never before could legacy apps access the cloud at such speed to transact or to be recompiled and migrated or repatriated back to a private cloud all at the same time.


Once applications are in the cloud, they are then agile enough to be moved from one cloud platform to another to take advantage of improved pricing, providing even greater cost efficiencies.


The journey to the cloud


A hybrid cloud environment may contain a mix of multiple cloud providers and clouds – whether that’s private, public, or software-as-a-service and at the centre of this hybrid approach is a business’ designated private cloud. The private cloud provides the advantages of ownership, control, security and economics allowing for greater economies of scale.


There are many aspects that a cloud management provider would analyse before migrating an application to the cloud. The first step is to look at any strategy issues such as regulation and compliance considerations that need to be made. Next is to look commercially at the licensing requirements of the application to avoid unnecessarily paying twice if it is moved to the cloud. Other considerations include how to back up the application when it no longer requires a person on-premise to manage it, and how to ensure that the cloud platforms maintain compliance and automatically deliver regulatory reports.


The final step is migrating the application. Moving hundreds of servers manually is a long process, open to human error. With multi-cloud migration, it’s essential that this process is automated and handled securely with enterprise-grade cyber security wrapped around it and risks mitigated along the way.


Soletrader, the high street shoe retailer, needed a more resilient, scalable infrastructure to ensure customer satisfaction at every visit. On average, outages for an ecommerce site cost £578,000 for every hour it’s down. In their real-time reality, not only do systems need to be near-instant, they must also be reliable.


To help them do this and move from the limitations of their on-premise servers, CSI created a robust and agile infrastructure through our own private cloud solution. Harnessing IBM i in the cloud created burstable, high performance computing that delivered 24/7/365 performance and reliability. This allows Soletrader’s core applications to run 50 times faster than before - boosting internal productivity and inventory efficiencies, and ensuring customers can access the styles they want in store and online.


To the cloud and beyond


The journey to the cloud is one of the most fundamental concerns of businesses today, but successful migration and management of even the most complex applications will give a business the ability to excel. Offering all of the security, efficiency and scalability to drive significant value, the cloud provides greater computing power and access to innovative services such as analytics, machine learning, IoT and blockchain. 


Reaching a state of equilibrium where uptime and analysis is managed, businesses are left to focus on driving revenue, giving them an edge for sustainable business growth. What’s more, there’s no longer the worry of what they are paying for in the basement, ensuring the business is operating at peak performance without ever paying for unused compute again.




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