Cloud migration demystified with IBM & Red Hat tech leaders  

By | 4 minute read | January 19, 2021

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders to share their opinions and insights on current technology trends to the IBM Servers & Storage blog. The opinions in these posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM.

While much of the country has yet to recover from the economy’s decline and business shutdowns due to the pandemic, one area that continues to expand at breakneck speed is the digital transformation of businesses and organizations.

I recently had the opportunity to explore these developments, and the key roles IBM and Red Hat play during a virtual sit-down with five of IBM and Red Hat’s senior tech executives, including: Marcel Mitran, CTO, IBM LinuxONE and Red Hat Synergy, IBM Z; Karena Angell, Open Shift Product Manager, Cloud Paks, Red Hat;Joe Cropper, Chief Architect, Hybrid Cloud, IBM Power Systems, and Master Inventor; Sam Werner, VP, Offering Management, IBM Storage; and Kavita Sehgal, Program Director, Hybrid Cloud, IBM Z and LinuxONE Lead.

“Agility, ubiquity and innovation,” were the three words that came to mind for Marcel Mitran when I asked him to summarize IBM’s hybrid cloud approach. Indeed, his sentiments were echoed in some of the same and similar words and phrases by the others I interviewed when describing hybrid cloud and IBM and Red Hat’s most transformational offerings such as OpenShift.

Marcel explained that as the decades-old IT landscape, responsible for running traditional workloads, moves towards a digital transformation, there is still a need—as there always has been—for a reliable, scalable and secure environment.  “We are just changing the consumption model,” he said, “using cloud-native technology.” (Please see full interview here)

And while some organizations balk at the prospect of migrating to a cloud environment in one fell swoop, they needn’t stress about it. Joe Cropper laid out IBM’s blueprint for “incremental modernization,” which allows organizations to continue running their mission-critical applications on their current infrastructure, while adapting and building new cloud-native applications side-by-side simultaneously. (Please see full interview here)

Enter Red Hat OpenShift, the “industry-leading enterprise-ready container platform of the future,” according to Cropper. And just how is OpenShift different from Kubernetes and vanilla containers, which are known quantities? Where other distributors have many packages, OpenShift is singular and all-inclusive, completely tested and integrated with storage, networking, O/S, monitoring and security. Whereas the Kubernetes API, for example, is more of a do-it-yourself platform, OpenShift provides a seamless turnkey solution for the incremental move towards broader digitization. One of the most attractive benefits is that clients can move at their own pace on their journey to the cloud.

In expanding on what else sets OpenShift apart, Karena Angell explained that it is built to run on multiple cloud environments, including IBM Cloud, Google, AWS and Azure, and on multiple platforms, such as IBM Power Systems, IBM Z, and x86. A migration toolkit for applications takes apps and migrates them directly to OpenShift, and its implementation includes support and a learning environment to make it accessible and simple for organizations to adopt. (Please see full interview here)

Citing a well-versed IBM mantra, “you build once and deploy anywhere,” Kavita Sehgal elaborated and extoled its portability and flexibility. Organizations are eager to exploit the unprecedented resilience and consistency of the solution, complimented by its comprehensive features, simplified and made efficient for IT operators and management. (Please see full interview here)

Taking it an exciting step further, Sehgal outlined the value added to the equation by IBM Cloud Paks, which she called “a single pane of glass” to manage workloads across multiple clouds, multiple architectures, containers and virtual machines. Running Cloud Paks on top of OpenShift brings everything together, allowing people to run their cloud-native workloads across the board.

One major challenge cited by Sam Werner as common to businesses as they accelerate towards migration to a hybrid cloud model involves storage. He shared the importance in considering the architecture and storage needs when beginning to build solutions to leverage containers for greater flexibility and agility.

Advising business teams to engage their storage counterparts early in the planning phases, Werner also recommended that storage teams keep abreast of the business side of things so that they may more effectively chart out an appropriate course with adequate storage capacity as transformation occurs. He also shared that even as businesses have yet to be back up and running to pre-COVID capacity, criminal elements are still hard at work with ransomware attacks and the like. It is not enough to ensure enough storage space, it is crucial to secure it.  “It is not a matter of if,” he said, “but when… even backups can be exposed.” (Please see full interview here)

IBM offers all the tools to create an effective plan, and even takes into account “data in motion,” which, unlike “data at rest”, is protected as it is being used. Mitran explained how IBM leads the industry with their Blockchain Platform on IBM Cloud using a set of services called IBM Hyper Protect Virtual Servers that allows users to build end-to-end solutions where data is completely protected— even when in use.  These are industry-leading levels of compliance.

Security. Flexibility. Agility. Profitability. Productivity. Accessibility. Portability. IBM and Red Hat hybrid cloud solutions, OpenShift in particular, give us great cause for excitement. This bold answer to digital transformation takes into account a comprehensive array of factors, including human ones, and offers clients a one-stop-shop opportunity to join the digital bandwagon, when, where and how they’d like. My five recent conversations may have merely scratched the surface, but what they revealed should make every organization stand up and take notice.