Why infrastructure is critical to data centre application

By Grant Caley
Grant Caley, Chief Technologist UK&I at NetApp discusses infrastructure is critical to data centre application cloud migration

Moving applications to the cloud can have numerous benefits for data centres. During the pandemic, organisations around the world have depended on cloud data centre applications for remote working, rapid strategic pivots and increasing operational efficiency.

Today, cloud is not only viewed as a way to respond to current disruption, but as a means to futureproof your data centres in readiness for further change in the years ahead.

But a great building starts with the strong foundations and the right data centre infrastructure strategy is critical for migrating applications successfully.

Let’s consider the six Rs of cloud migration through the cloud data centre lens, and even add a seventh: (w)riting a modern cloud application.

Three infrastructure routes – and the technologies that can help

When migrating to the cloud, data centre professionals usually take one of three routes with their infrastructure. These are our first three Rs – rehosting, re-platforming and rearchitecting – and each scenario offers benefits and challenges. Fortunately, technologies are available that can alleviate potential problems which may emerge during the migration itself.

Organisations will usually choose between:

  1. Rehosting: Lifting and shifting existing infrastructure to the cloud, while anticipating refinements further down the line – enabling businesses to quickly migrate critical core services without costly development and testing 
  2. Re-platforming: Making changes to the existing infrastructure, but keeping the core architecture the same – enabling businesses to start small and experiment with the cloud environment before scaling up
  3. Rearchitecting: Starting from scratch in the cloud – enabling businesses to increase their resilience, adapt to future change and often realise long-term savings 

Hybrid cloud storage can be a valuable resource for businesses that are taking the first route and simply rehosting. Data can be transferred quickly, and applications can run in parallel both on the cloud and on-premises. Organisations can have the same on-premises capabilities in the cloud – while importantly decreasing the risk of any downtime, crucial when outages occur. 

Likewise, storage-as-a-service can offer advantages for organisations choosing the middle option and re-platforming. It’s possible to benefit from the high performance and low latency needed for running demanding applications on the cloud. A variety of performance tiers can enable businesses to quickly scale up and down depending on their workloads. Additionally, the option to use automation, as well as machine learning or artificial intelligence, as part of these services can also be beneficial to create scalable cloud infrastructure for larger applications.

The final option, rearchitecting, will usually have the biggest implications for a business’ infrastructure, but tools can help to reduce the burden. In addition to the various cloud storage solutions, a concurrent versions system (CVS) can decrease the level of manual re-architecting required, while importantly enabling teams to implement new features, enhance performance and build in scalability. 

Critically, a CVS can reduce the risk a business faces during this significant operation, by supporting disaster recovery and offering business continuity through cross-region replication (CRR) – for added peace of mind.

To retire, repurchase, retain . . . or (w)rite?

 

Businesses are gradually pivoting away from on-premises solutions and towards software-as-a-service (SaaS), to support flexible working and build greater adaptability into the organisation. Therefore, as part of the cloud migration, businesses should audit their infrastructure to evaluate where applications are hosted – and this is where our next three Rs come in.

It might be best for applications to be:

  • Repurchased: Legacy applications that aren’t meeting business needs, or are incompatible with the cloud, can be decommissioned and replaced with a cloud-based version
  • Retired: Redundant applications can be decommissioned or consolidated with other applications
  • Retained: On-premises applications that already work well or require very high performance might be retained

Again, identifying the right storage options can help teams through any transition. During the retirement process, IT teams will need to extract the data from applications. This can then be archived in low-cost storage or alternatively stored on object format to reduce costs even further and keep the migration cost-effective. 

Equally, there might be applications that will be useful after rearchitecting, so should be left on-premises until changes are made and the migration takes place. For the layover time, having a public or hybrid cloud data centre might be the best approach. This can be combined with storage tiering to reduce costs, by storing data that’s not being used frequently on inexpensive block storage.

Finally, there’s a seventh, additional R to consider: (w)riting cloud applications. Driven by the demand for rich, personalised digital experiences, many businesses are now writing their own applications specifically for serverless and Kubernetes environments, offering speed, flexibility and agility. 

Application-aware data management services can ensure businesses build and use applications efficiently. At the same time, solutions are available to protect, recover and move applications deployed on Kubernetes – without requiring the installation of software that subsequently has to be maintained.

Strong foundations

 

Data centres are keen to reap the advantages of moving to the cloud – and a key part of ensuring the migration is successful in a way that sets the business up for the future, is to focus on building strong foundations. That means identifying the right approach for your data centre. 

There are many considerations to bear in mind, but whatever strategy is best for your data centre, there are tools to help. It’s important to consider ways to reduce complexity and manage costs to reap the advantages of the cloud. Automation can continually optimise and monitor cloud infrastructure in any environment: whether on-premises, cloud or Kubernetes service.

Plan carefully, take advantage of the tools available – and ensure your cloud migration becomes your data centre’s platform for future success.

 

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