Manage mission-critical workloads in the cloud the smart way

Migrating and managing critical workloads in the cloud can be daunting. Managed cloud services can reduce the risk.

By | 3 minute read | August 11, 2020

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. Hybrid and multicloud environments are a growing reality for most businesses as they seek to reduce costs, optimize workloads and deliver new applications and services to customers, employees and partners. In fact, according to the 2019 IBM Cloud Market View report, 70% of enterprises are pursuing hybrid cloud; however, only 25% have a hybrid cloud strategy in place.

This makes sense. With demanding workloads such as SAP ERP and SAP S/4HANA, on-premise deployment involves huge upfront investments and numerous challenges in 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 organizations, 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. How do you do policy-based governance? How do you place workloads in the right place based on enterprise constraints? How do you monitor workloads that are distributed across multiple environments?”

Developing best practices, working with service providers

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. CIOs have to manage constantly changing datasets, demands around regulatory and security concerns, and performance and availability.

None of these challenges is insurmountable. Best practices are emerging, and IT leaders can smooth the way by designing them 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 that can be a big ask in itself.

There is, though, a better way. By working with managed cloud service providers, CIOs can harness their partners’ expertise in migration, managing and optimizing these workloads in the cloud. Providers can enhance the operational efficiency and security of the platform, not just in terms of deployment and optimization, but delivery, compliance reporting and business continuity as well. 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 3% of IT leaders surveyed believed they would never migrate to managed cloud services. Frost and Sullivan’s program director for cloud computer services research Lynda Stadtmueller put it this way in a recent interview with Thoughts on Cloud: “These workloads are critical but can also be very complex. Eighty-six percent of leaders are either already using managed cloud services or plan to adopt them in the next 18 months. They understand the value of working with specialists who manage these workloads every day.”

This article was adapted from an article that originally appeared in the Cloud Innovators section of CIO.com.