Getting Workload Placement Right – [Infographic]

Placing application workloads in the public cloud comes with a few key benefitsincluding ease of deployment, pay-per-use billing and scalability 

But as we discussed in our previous article, a “cloud-first for all new workloads” approach may be premature.  

Varying performance characteristicssecurity and compliance requirements mean some workloads are better suited to legacy or private cloud infrastructureFurthermore, the cost of modifying workloads for cloud-readiness and the expense involved in repatriating workloads from the public cloud both mean the workload placement decision deserves careful consideration.

In fact, without due consideration, “lifting and shifting” workloads into the public cloud can result in cost, complexity and performance issues that are difficult to predict.  We created this infographic to outline the key steps to getting the workload placement decision right the first time.  

Need help with your workload placement decisions?

The calculations that go into any workload placement decision must weigh technical and business needs. Assessing the performance demands, security and compliance restrictions and long-term business impact are all imperative before determining workload placement. At the same time, a hybrid or multicloud approach mixing public, private and on-premise infrastructure and services makes sense for many organizations. Learn more about the key considerations for multicloud strategy in our guide, Roadmap to Multicloud Success: Why Architecture Matters.  

Just beginning your cloud transition or looking to get more out of your existing cloud deployments? Check out this Forrester report, Top 10 Facts Tech Leaders Should Know About Cloud Migration or explore Softchoice cloud services 

 

 

 

Roadmap to Multicloud Success: 5 Things to Consider

You want to spin up new digital business capabilities. Maybe compliance requirements mean some of your workloads can’t move to the public cloud.  Or you’re a cloud-native business with no plans to build your own data center. 

If any of these describes you, multicloud is an attractive option.  

Combining cloud services and infrastructure from several providers allows you to bolster your portfolio with the best features from each. At the same time, you avoid the contractual, technical and cost burden of shifting from one cloud provider to another in the event something doesn’t work out 

In fact, Gartner estimates 75% of organizations will have deployed multicloud this year.  Nonetheless, adding new cloud services without a solid architecture and governance strategy in place means success in a multicloud environment is far from guaranteed.  

In the article below, we explore 5 key technologies to consider before making the move to multicloud.  

Software-defined Everything

When it comes to building digital business capabilities, the software-defined data center (SDDC) is a big enabler. The SDDC extends virtualization to data center resources, including network, storage, compute and security.

The result is an environment that is much easier to extend to the cloud (or clouds) of your choice. The SDDC also uses the same frameworks thanks to technologies like VMware Cloud on AWS.

In turn, IT gets the benefits of managing it all within software instead of hardware, including:  

  • Virtualized IT infrastructure for compute, network and storage  
  • Flexibility to use the data center as a private or hybrid cloud  
  • Extension to the public cloud through providers partnered with the SDDC vendor 
  • Virtualization efficiencies/economics across all data center services 
  • Protection of legacy hardware investments that can be virtualized  
  • Centralized and policy-driven management for all software-driven workloads 

A virtualized and automated data center allows for more efficient deployment of applications and infrastructure within these types of restrictions. For this reason, the SDDC will be a major growth area going forward as organizations look to acquire cloud capabilities while accommodating security and compliance requirements. 

In fact, Allied Market Research foresees a $139 billion SDDC market by 2022, in which the government, banking, finance and insurance verticals lead the way in deployments.

Unified multicloud management and orchestration

Multicloud delivers considerable benefits. But every cloud service in your environment also adds to the management burden and skills required by IT. 

Each cloud platform comes with its own cost structures and provisioning processes. Moreover, workloads management across multiple environments often calls for technologies like containerization, Kubernetes (for container orchestration), performance monitoring tools and analytics engines to name a few. 

Making all of this work in concert can seem like a daunting prospect. Without a detailed plan for migration, cost, service management, and overall visibility into your environments it can be overwhelming. Tasks like accurate cost forecasting and budgeting, plus rightsizing of cloud services for current requirements, have to be front and center.  

The Flexera State of Tech Spend 2020 report finds 68% of respondents already struggle to understand on-premise versus cloud costs, just one illustration of the extent of this challenge in the multicloud environment.

Better application and workload portability through containers

Today the leading public cloud providers operate on a pay-as-you-go model. But this doesn’t erase the sometimes substantial (and expensive) technical hurdles that impede the transition of applications and workloads between clouds.  

A cloud solution provider (CSP) controls the way applications work on its infrastructure. The specifics of each platform have a considerable impact on the portability of applications between different cloud environments.

Enter containers. Containerization technologies like Docker package an application’s full runtime environment, including files, dependencies, and libraries, and isolates them so that it can be easily ported across cloud domains.  

Beyond enhancing the portability of apps and workloads, containerization insulates developers from an upfront requirement to invest time and resources learning the ins and outs of each public cloud platform. Because they can remove that extra dev effort as they move applications between clouds, the result is lower cost to transition. 

Placing applications in containers also reduces the overhead you would experience in a virtual machine-heavy setup. Containers don’t require a hypervisor to emulate hardware and instead share OS resources, making them more streamlined.

Improved app performance and user experience with SD-WAN

Supporting real-time and TCP applications within a multicloud environment requires a dynamic, cost-effective network. Above all, this network needs to deliver predictable performance. Legacy WANs are not built to meet these requirements.  

The traditional WAN facilitates VPN access to an enterprise application via pricey MPLS links. These backhaul traffic to a data center. But performance for cloud applications degrades to noticeable levels when bandwidth doesn’t meet demand. 

In contrast, a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) provides more flexible transport. It also provides dynamic, intelligent routing and a greater range of modern security features.

To help multicloud adopters, an SD-WAN (depending on the vendor) provides:  

  • Application-aware connectivity between branches and across cloud services, including IaaS and SaaS deployments 
  • Constant measurement of jitter, packet loss and latency to send critical workloads down the best available path
  • Compatibility with broadband, cellular and satellite internet as alternatives or supplements to MPLS
  • Secure direct-to-cloud connections, without the traditional backhaul that degrades Quality of Experience (QoE)
  • Aggregation to colocation sites for more consistent performance for large multi-branch organizations 

Greater business continuity with a secure approach to backup and DevOps

Modern organizations face daily risks to business continuity. These include everything from ransomware and DDoS attacks to downtime resulting from technical issues or even old-fashioned human error. 

To keep your data secure and your business running in a multicloud environment calls for a multi-pronged resilience strategy. Each cloud provider applies its own authorization and authentication models. Keeping security standards consistent when workloads live in different clouds is a big ask for any DevOps organization.

As such, scoping out potential security challenges is an important step in securing your multicloud environment. The task extends to backup and disaster recovery. Identifying the weaknesses and potential points of failure in your architecture is an essential part of determining where and how different cloud technologies will intersect in your environment.

Making multicloud work with strategic partners

Multicloud is fast becoming the main way organizations adopt and consume cloud services. But this approach is still very new. However, recruiting for the right skills is often time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. Working with a strategic partner like Softchoice helps you ensure your multicloud strategy is a success.

We’ve covered five of the key technologies and architecture decisions that lead to successful multicloud adoptions. To learn how the right approach to architecture can make the difference, check out our guide, Roadmap to Multicloud Success: Why Architecture Matters.

Softchoice can help you navigate the difficult decisions and make the best possible choices for your environment. Learn more by contacting our team or explore Softchoice cloud services.

 

 

 

 

Legacy vs. Cloud Environments: How to Determine Workload Placement

Imagine buying a home. Soon after you purchase, you discover that it has a hidden structural flaw – termite damage, black mold or crumbling clay-tile plumbing. This requires a very expensive fix. In that case, it may have been better to have not purchased the home at all, and instead found a place with fewer issues. 

 Similar situations can occur with cloud workload placement. In 2019, IDC noted the continued trend of reverse cloud migrations, which involve organizations moving workloads that had previously been placed in the cloud back into on-premises environments, often at great expense.  

IDC also estimated that by 2020, 75% of enterprises will also use a private cloud. The reasons include security and compliance, anticipated cost savings that failed to materialize and growing interest in hyper-converged infrastructure. Performing due diligence before a workload goes into the cloud is the best way to avoid the technical complications and potentially high costs of making such adjustments after the fact.  

 In this article, we’ll look at what steps to consider when deciding where to place a workload, so that you can make an informed choice that will provide the right combination of cloud performance and cost-effectiveness. Let’s go through them one by one, starting with what you need to discover during an initial hybrid IT assessment. 

What are the performance characteristics of the workloads in question?

By measuring each workload’s usage of CPU, memory, and networks, it’s possible to get a general sense of whether it would be a good candidate for the cloud. 

 For example, a highly variable workload such as an intermittently busy e-commerce site or student enrollment system would be ideal for public cloud placement. Because it doesn’t require a steady stream of IT resources, there’s no real reason to purchase and provide them in-house. You would only invest in copious amounts of memory and numerous CPUs that would occasionally be needed at full capacity. Apps with unpredictable demand area are also good cloud candidates for these same reasons. 

 In contrast, an application that sees constant demand will usually be better suited to legacy/on-prem deployment. Moving it to the cloud could result in major sticker shock, as its level of activity will accrue significant charges for all of the necessary public cloud services, including snapshots and bandwidth. 

Does the workload need any modifications before it’s placed in the cloud?

Most of the time, the answer to this question is “yes.” We estimate that at least 80% of workloads require some adjustments before they’re cloud-ready. Sending a legacy workload as-is into a public cloud is typically a recipe for subpar performance and potentially a reverse migration. 

Porting an on-prem workload into a cloud-optimized version is a multi-step process, often requiring: 

  • Applying relevant patches and security upgrades. 
  • Assessing all of its security contingencies, e.g. with HIPAA, GDPR, etc. 
  • Identifying the workload’s dependencies on specific pieces of infrastructure. 
  • Updating or rewriting it for a different OS or framework. 
  • Placing it into a container for increased portability. 

It’s also possible that after performing deeper analysis using versioning tools, you’ll discover that a workload isn’t suitable for a public cloud environment. This could be because of its performance characteristics. Or, because there is a lack of support for its requirements. For example, the decision to port an application to the cloud may not ensure passage of a regulatory audit. The result would require you to know the exact locations of application data and prevent any unauthorized access. 

 If a workload isn’t cloud-ready or even cloud-suitable, it should be left in place and perhaps revisited later on to see if the situation has changed or if it could be replaced by SaaS.

Would a hybrid cloud that extends the current environment make sense for the workload?

 Using multiple clouds is fast becoming the norm. In 2019, RightScale found that most enterprises had a multicloud strategy in place and that the share of businesses combining public and private cloud deployments rose from 51% in 2018 to 58% 

 A hybrid cloud can sometimes provide the right balance of control and performance for workloads that are being migrated from a legacy environment. Solutions such as VMware on AWS allow current data center processes and tools to be copied over into a cloud environment.  

 Moving to this type of hybrid platform requires no sweeping changes. At the same time, it opens the door to additional services for security and disaster recovery. A hybrid cloud ultimately allows for more streamlined data center operations in support of key workflows such as devtest. 

What is the business impact of migrating this workload to the cloud? 

Without getting into all of the technical details discussed above, a workload’s suitability for the cloud can be evaluated based on how its migration would affect the organization as a whole. For instance, how would it change the day-to-day experience of its end users? 

 Keeping a workload in a single main data center might actually degrade its performance, due to it being centralized in a location that’s physically quite far from some branch sites. Also, single-site deployments are at higher risk from disasters, since all the eggs are in the same technical basket.   

 Consider what it would be like to have the bulk of your employees or customers in Seattle while your data center was in New York City. That distance would materially affect workload performance, plus any failure would immediately put you in a bind. The rise of the Internet of Things and the corresponding need to backhaul more data with less latency shows how difficult it will be to maintain certain data center setups going forward. 

 Shifting more of these sorts of workloads into the cloud might provide some much-needed redundancy and greater geographical distribution. However, there are some different physical limitations that could come into play. A workload that runs on system memory and flash storage in a data center might theoretically be public cloud-able, but it wouldn’t perform exactly the same way once there. 

How to make the best decision about workload placement 

We’ve covered some of the biggest considerations for placing workloads, but there are others that will inevitably enter the picture. Looking to learn more about the challenges of cloud migration? Check out this Forrester report, 10 Facts Tech Leaders Should Know About Cloud Migration.

Softchoice can help you navigate them en route to making the best possible choices for your environment. Learn more by contacting our team or explore Softchoice cloud services.