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Moving enterprise workloads to the cloud

(Image credit: Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

Moving enterprise workloads to the cloud is all about utilising an infrastructure that you can shape instantly as demands change, and only pay for what you need. Rather than being locked into a fixed, on-site environment, the cloud offers a degree of flexibility that ensures greater efficiency and lower overall costs.  Along the way, being in the cloud also lets you take advantage of the unique innovations and capabilities that public cloud services offer. 

So why do we still see only ten per cent of all the virtual machines that are available actually being utilised at the top three public clouds?

Apparently, the biggest resistance comes from the actual effort and cost required to lift an enterprise’s applications to the cloud.  In reality, transforming an enterprise’s IT operations can be hard and costly. This is especially true if you need to rewrite existing applications while also providing the monitoring, troubleshooting, networking, security, backup, disaster recovery, audit, compliance, and all the other functions a typical enterprise IT support operation relies on.

Not very enticing when the initial reason for moving to the cloud was to save money.

Cloud expectations

Many of an enterprise’s application workloads are already virtualised. So it should be possible to move them seamlessly to a secure, share-nothing, private environment while having complete control over all their apps, policies, billing, and security using existing tools and skills. And, once in the cloud, they would want to take full advantage of all the native cloud services - such as AI and data analysis.

The expectation is that IT will save time, resources, and money by not having to worry about infrastructure. They can let the cloud providers support the infrastructure, leaving your team to focus on applications, workloads, and business requirements.

Ideally, there needs to be a way to lift intact an enterprise’s on-premises applications to the cloud without requiring extensive changes or loss of functionality. This would be the most cost-effective approach, and would remove the biggest barrier to cloud adoption.

What you can do today

Right now there are solutions supported by both AWS and Microsoft Azure for moving VMware virtualised workloads to public clouds.  These provide all the benefits of a native VMware environment in an isolated environment in a public cloud: 

Allows you to provision a native, isolated, single tenant VMware environment in a public cloud that is dedicated to you.

Lets you manage the environment with the same native vSphere tools you have always used. This approach gives you access to a native VMware instance in the public cloud that is not para-virtualised or nested virtualisation: a native VMware running on bare metal infrastructure.

With Azure, you have the added benefit of a unique integration of VMware management within the Azure Portal that lets users manage all VMware actions.

Providing IT admins with the very same tools in the cloud they already use on-premises immediately results in major cost savings because they don’t need to learn new tools or processes. For example, integration with the Azure portal means they can use existing VMware tools to, or directly from the portal,  monitor, adjust memory, provision, etc, both their public and private VMs.

Moving to a native VMware environment on Azure has its advantages, such as:

  • Full integration with the Azure portal provides the ability to manage VMware from within the already familiar Azure Portal.
  • Elevated privileges that let you implement third party software like Zerto for backup. This offer is unique to Azure.

Immediate cost benefits

The possibility of a seamless transition of an enterprise’s virtualised workloads to a native private cloud creates several new cost and operational benefits.  For example, there is the major advantage of not needing to refactor apps for the cloud environment. And, don’t overlook the discount incentives offered by software vendors to move to the cloud.

Providing a seamless way to transition production workloads to the cloud creates a number of valuable opportunities for managing costs:

  • Dramatically reduce the capital costs of maintaining a datacentre, making those savings available for expanded operational expenses.  With many enterprises dealing with data centre leases expiring in the near term, the pressure is on to move quickly to the cloud to meet strategic goals and save costs. 
  • Consume resources on-demand as needed, and billed hourly or monthly. Or, take advantage of the one-year and three-year reserved models offered by public cloud vendors for deeper discounts.
  • Make IT really efficient. Be able to get up and running rapidly by provisioning an entire VMware environment in minutes, not days.
  • With extended security support available for Windows Server 2008 and SQL 2008 in the Azure cloud, the substantial savings give IT time to refactor applications over the next three years. 
  • Add or remove hosts quickly and easily in response to seasonal or unexpected demands lets you manage costs by paying only for the infrastructure you need when you need it. 

Moving enterprise operations to the cloud does make sense as a way to manage costs more efficiently than with a traditional data centre. But that efficiency hinges on being able to lift those workloads into the cloud environment seamlessly and effortlessly. Once in the cloud, new opportunities arise for cost savings, expanded functionality, and smarter business strategies.

Manoj Sharma, Founding VP, Product Management, Cloudsimple