To cloud or not to cloud . . . that shouldn’t be the question

24 February, 2020
Deepa N. Krishnan

In my discussions with clients about their journey to cloud, it’s becoming evident that many of them are viewing cloud as a goal, instead of looking at cloud deployments as a capability. In some cases, line-of-business owners are under corporate pressures to “adopt” a cloud-first strategy.

A recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by IBM, “The Key To Enterprise Hybrid Multicloud Strategy[1] suggests that “75% [of 350 surveyed global decision makers] have received pushback while advocating for strategies outside of cloud environments.”  The result of this, unfortunately, is the lack of continued investment on their on-premises (“on-prem”) environments.

From my experience, this type of deployment focus may not yield the expected results. We shouldn’t think about problem solving as “To cloud or not to cloud?” Instead, we should ask ourselves, “What is the problem I’m trying to solve?” and “Are cloud deployments (public or private) going to optimize my solution?”

One of the key recommendations in the Forrester Consulting study is to “invest in cloud using a strategy that aligns to your context.” I couldn’t agree with this more. So, let me offer an example of context:

Problem: My mission-critical workloads need a disaster-recovery solution to ensure I can get access to my data in a reliable manner, should the need arise. Proverbially, I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket. I also don’t have the capacity to keep a second copy of all this data on premises.

Solution: Disaster recovery is one use-case that could warrant a good use for public cloud. In such a scenario, data residing primarily on premises could be tiered to the cloud for backup storage, with near real-time mirroring to the on-premises environment to help provide data consistency.

Hybrid workflow: To design and optimize such a solution, you need software which has been designed for a hybrid use case. Designed for means the software provides the same, consistent management interface you’re used to running in your existing on-premises environment and in the public cloud.  Furthermore, this allows you to have a cohesive view of your solution, regardless of the deployment model.

Defining chapter 2 in the journey to cloud

Forrester’s research clearly determines that “organizations that can bring together on-premises with public cloud strategically will be best positioned for operational excellence.” At IBM, we refer to this more complex combination of on premises and cloud as Chapter 2. In order to understand this better, let’s look at the components of the journey:

Born on the cloud – These are cloud-natively built applications and services that use cloud infrastructure tools and microservices to run the application.

Lift and shift – Applications which were originally designed and written to run on premises are now ported to run on cloud infrastructure. In many situations, while this may get the “ticky box” of cloud deployment, you may not see the true operational and scale value of this approach.

Refactored (modernized)– Applications which were originally designed for on-premises consumption and rewritten using cloud microservices architectures or were perhaps located in a containerized environment. Your app may not be born on the cloud, but it’ll act like it was!

Regardless of where you are on your journey to cloud, I’d encourage keeping an eye on your on-premises infrastructure. And by journey, I mean crawl (lift and shift), walk (modernize), and run (hybrid workflows).

Be prudent in your on-premises investment, with an eye towards hybrid!

Nurturing your on-premises environment is critical for long-term sustainable strategy, but it also protects your prior investments. The smarter way to think about cloud is to focus optimization of your environment aligned with your specific use cases. Future-proof your on-premises investments by ensuring they are designed with a hybrid workflow in mind. Does that mean all workflows are hybrid? Not at all. Remember, context (also known as use case) is key!

Here at IBM Storage, we recognize the challenges you face and have equipped the IBM FlashSystem family with software that provides you with an onramp to the cloud. A great example of this is IBM Spectrum Virtualize, an award-winning software foundation that provides simplified storage across heterogeneous environments. With Spectrum Virtualize on premises and IBM Spectrum Virtualize for Public Cloud, you can have a single cloud solution for your storage needs, rather than a siloed approach with different solutions for different vendors.

Furthermore, the beauty of it is that you can further optimize your hybrid workflow by leveraging software like AI-infused IBM Storage Insights, to monitor your data, regardless of where your data resides, on premises or in the cloud! You can learn more about how IBM Storage helps you to manage your hybrid multicloud deployment here.

[1] The Key To Enterprise Hybrid Multicloud Strategy: The Importance of On-Premises in an Increasingly Cloud-Forward World, January 2020

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