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Optimising Business Processes with Cloud Integration

Leading critical applications on a journey to a silver-lined cloud

If a business wants to grow, it will need to adapt or scale its critical applications along the way. Cloud computing can provide the flexible infrastructure required to power and run apps with the agility to change as required. But there is no one size fits all when it comes to moving workloads to the cloud whether private, public or a hybrid. The perfect home can only be found by taking a detailed view of each application and considering all of its distinct characteristics, behaviours and the regulatory issues it needs to meet.

The Application Journey

The good news is that there is a cloud solution for almost every business application. Even the most complex and highly regulated applications which often are the backbone of an organisation and containing decades of corporate knowledge can be modernised and migrated from on-premise monolithic data centres to a more agile cloud platform.

Launched over 30 years ago, IBM i (then AS/400) is synonymous with innovation and remains the bedrock of many organisations by delivering an exceptional client experience through an integrated system. This longevity often suggests that these large complex applications can’t take advantage of cloud economics.

In some cases, RPG code on unsupported hardware and an unpatched operating system may appear to be a lost cause. It would be impractical to rewrite the application in Java and migrate to a public hyperscale cloud. However it is possible to migrate the workload to a private cloud (such as the CSI PowerCloud), where core systems of record can enjoy similar economics and behaviour of a public cloud, while staying with IBM Power Systems and using IBM i, AIX or Linux in a pay-as-you-go model.

Applications that have certain regulatory or security constraints can run on-premise and co-exist with private and public cloud workloads. Digital transformation will continue to run in a hybrid of on-premise, private and public clouds.

Migration is not the first step in the journey or the last

Contrary to commonly held views, migration is not the first step on an application’s journey to the cloud. The actual migration is the third or fourth step along the journey. There are some important considerations to make first. Critically, an inventory of all applications must be documented together with their need for security, data management, flexibility, capacity and performance. With these conditions in mind, cloud platforms can then be evaluated.

Security policies and governance must be integral to cloud planning and not addressed as an afterthought. For example, how will the business approach data protection and data management? How will it ensure backups once in the cloud and the various compliance issues that go with this?

Much groundwork needs to be completed around a strategy to ensure that every system is compliant, secure and optimised to support the application that the business needs. It’s also important to look at any software licensing issues relating to the application ensuring that licenses can be ported into the cloud to avoid paying twice.

A flexible commercial model

By choosing to run applications in the cloud, an organisation can create value faster while keeping the focus on its business objectives. Consuming infrastructure operated by cloud providers means that it’s possible to use only what is needed, reducing lead times and allowing for an opex investment model.

With cloud platforms, companies can avoid the bottlenecks to scale that depends on how many servers can be managed by an operations engineer and the business is not bound by precise capacity planning to ensure the best return on investment. Cloud is an option that is high on agility and provides much greater flexibility for growth.

Performance and protection

Migrating to the cloud is an opportunity for companies to benefit from newer and more powerful technology. By moving to the CSI PowerCloud, an organisation can effectively upgrade their infrastructure to IBM POWER9 performance while avoiding capex investment. Cloud migration also reduces the high maintenance costs typical of older platforms, without the disruption and operational burden of upgrading on-premise systems.

Cloud computing provides an environment for companies to develop, test, fail, improve and launch applications with lower investment and higher velocity than ever before; however workload environments also need to be increasingly compliant and free from risk. Cloud computing allows large numbers of servers to be set-up, used and shut-down very quickly. However to do this securely with manual processes is slow, prone to errors and standards are difficult to maintain across a server estate.

By treating infrastructure as code and combining configuration templates with IT automation, we can offer a modern approach for organisations to create value quickly, repeatedly and securely. By using these techniques, we provide consistent and compliant workloads delivered with reduced effort and increased speed.

Organisations with regulated workloads are increasingly required to prove compliance with regulations and best practice security design. Automation can cope with the burden of maintaining compliance as a daily imperative rather than as an occasional exception to pass an audit.

Application behaviours differ across clouds

It’s not just a case of migrating your app to the cloud and you’re done. Close monitoring of the behaviour of the workload is needed to ensure smooth customer experience, sustainable cost management, and that the appropriate security and disaster recovery is in place for always-on business continuity.

When an organisation follows the right journey to the cloud, it will realise the value from the cloud that it was hoping for. Working with specialists who understand your business needs and the complexity of your applications will ensure your journey is successful.

WHAT NEXT IN YOUR CLOUD JOURNEY?

Read our case studies to understand more about what we have delivered for clients looking to migrate applications to the cloud – or simply contact us to arrange a face to face meeting with our cloud migration experts.