Manage mission-critical workloads in the cloud the smart way

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Migrating and managing critical workloads in the cloud can be daunting, even with modern platforms and optimisation. Could using managed cloud services be the best way to reduce the risks?

Enterprises are entering a new phase in their cloud migration; having moved their non-critical applications and built up both confidence and expertise, they’re preparing to take their engagement with cloud to another level. According to IDG research conducted last year, only 4% of EMEA-based enterprises had no plans to move any applications to the cloud, while just 14% felt their migration plans were over. Most significantly, 14% of businesses were now looking to start moving mission-critical applications.

Take them to the cloud however, and you have applications with the potential to flex and scale

This makes sense. With demanding workloads like SAP ERP or SAP S/4HANA, on-premise deployment involves huge upfront investments and numerous challenges in both implementation and management. Take them to the cloud however, and you have applications with the potential to flex and scale, deployable without that initial cost. Being able to consume resources as and when you need them makes the applications more cost-efficient and helps accelerate speed to ROI. Running on a cloud-based platform also makes these heavyweight applications more accessible to organisations, without requiring the budget or technical resources to run them in-house.

Yet there’s more to this than a simple ‘lift and shift’ approach. In the words of IBM Fellow, Bala Rajaraman , ‘the biggest challenge when you move more and more critical workloads into the cloud is the question of management. It’s how do you do policy-based governance? It’s how do you place workloads in the right place based on enterprise constraints? It’s how do you monitor workloads that are distributed across multiple environments?’

Developing best practice and working with MCSPs

Migrating and managing these workloads is a complex task. There are always potential showstopper issues that can halt applications in their tracks, along with risks of business disruption and issues around security and compliance. Component and application dependencies can throw up unforeseen problems, while matching requirements to the strengths and weaknesses of cloud platforms takes careful thought and planning. On the one hand, the CIO has to manage demands around bandwidth or data formats. On the other, they have to balance regulatory and security concerns. Even scaling up can be more challenging where large, constantly changing datasets are the norm.

None of these challenges are insurmountable. Best practices are emerging and IT leaders can smooth the way by designing these with security, performance and resilience in mind. By making the most of ready-made components and automation, you can cut both the time and the risks. With the best cloud platforms, starting tools, automation and ready-made templates come baked in, though CIOs will still need in-house talent with the right training and expertise – something which can be a big ask in itself.

By working with managed cloud service providers, CIOs can harness their partner’s expertise in taking and managing these workloads in the cloud

There is, though, a better way. By working with managed cloud service providers, CIOs can harness their partner’s expertise in taking and managing these workloads in the cloud. Providers can enhance the operational efficiency and security of the platform, not just in terms of deployment and optimisation, but in terms of delivery, compliance reporting and business continuity. They can shoulder much of the burden of management and security with dedicated teams equipped specifically to do the job. They can also provide advice on harnessing the full set of features and functions to meet business goals.

Perhaps this is why a recent report by Frost and Sullivan found that only three percent of IT leaders surveyed believed they would never migrate to managed cloud services. As program director for Cloud Computer Services research, Lynda Stadtmueller, put it in an interview with Thoughts on Cloud. ‘These workloads are critical, but can also be very complex. 86 percent of leaders are either already using managed cloud services or plan to adopt it in the next 18 months. They understand the value of working with specialists who manage these workloads every day.’

Transform SAP deployment in the managed cloud

IBM is one such specialist, with years of experience as a public cloud provider, system integrator and in offering multi-cloud services, as well as best practice based on thousands of successful deployments. As you’d expect, IBM has global reach, but also a choice of management levels and cost structures to meet different enterprise requirements – not to mention the expertise to help businesses innovate with Watson A.I.

Click here to find out more about how IBM helps transform SAP deployment in the managed cloud

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