Hybrid Cloud

Infrastructure? Don’t forget the software!

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In the broad movement to the cloud, we ultimately see two streams. On the one hand, a shift from infrastructure to the cloud, which means that many organizations will invest less in their own hardware. On the other hand, driven in part by demand from the business, software in the cloud is playing an ever increasing role. I have already discussed the first stream in a previous blog. This time I will zoom in on the software.

To begin with, there is something I would like to get off my chest. Traditional applications and IT environments tend to be referred to using the term ‘legacy’, which carries the rather negative connotation of ‘old’ or ‘dated’.  However, anyone who develops an application in the cloud, and fails to further develop it for three years, has also created a legacy application! It is sometimes suggested that we would be better off replacing the concept ‘legacy systems’ with the term ‘base systems’. You can then connect this basic environment, including the applications, with new developments in the market. This can then be altered in the future, provided you, as an organization, are sufficiently nimble.

Development
Increasingly, companies are questioning whether it makes sense to develop new functionality based on the existing on-premises core applications. I have said this before: it is perhaps smarter to develop this on a cloud infrastructure, and then link it to the existing IT landscape. This is particularly interesting for smaller customers who no longer purchase an infrastructure for just a handful of ERP users, and then manage this, which requires both considerable time and the requisite knowledge. It is preferable to have such an infrastructure run by a managed service provider or software supplier. The customer can then focus his attention on the business and the applications.

“This way you lower the threshold for being able to take this step.”

The image is becoming more complete, since in addition to the infrastructure (IaaS) and the software (SaaS), the platform (PaaS) also comes into play.  IBM Bluemix plays an important role in this. We already serve various parties who develop everything in this environment, and then, upon deployment, connect the business to the existing infrastructure via APIs. Changes are also required in the storage approach, given the shift to software-defined storage.

Lowering the Threshold
From IBM’s perspective, a holistic view of the cloud – including infrastructure, platform and software – is very important – not least due to our installed base. After all, many customers are running small applications based on our traditional ‘base systems’. These customers must be guided to possible alternatives in the cloud by a ‘trusted partner’ – for example within a managed environment. By trying things out, they can then ascertain whether or not the cloud really satisfies their needs, thus lowering the threshold for transitioning to the cloud. For example, using the cloud for the test and development environment first, and only later employing it for other solutions.

Traversing these phases together with customers involves a considerable broadening and deepening of my role. It also increases the necessity of working very closely with colleagues within the software environment. Infrastructure and software simply cannot be viewed separately from one another.

IBM Systems Architect - Senior IT Specialist at IBM Netherlands

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