A man in a suit points to the graphic representation of clouds connected by lines and points.

Migrating to the Multi-Cloud Stress-Free

Modern private cloud approaches help to start into an integrated multi-cloud future

September 02 2020Martin Holzinger

Getting out of the cloud mixture

Discussions about the cloud often center on the agility and flexibility of the public cloud. But private clouds have now established themselves for enterprise workloads at large companies. In reality, both sourcings result in a mixture of clouds. An integrated multi-cloud future can be unlocked through modern private cloud approaches such as Future Cloud Infrastructure.

Zwei Menschen sitzen sich an einem Tisch gegenüber, die Köpfe stecken in einer großen grauen Wolke.

The managed multi-cloud is still a pipe dream

For most European companies, the planned multi-cloud strategy is still just a thought experiment. Companies whose business activities date back to the last millennium in particular have different setups. The term 'bimodal IT' describes this reality very well. On the one hand, there is the existing IT, which is by no means something found only at banks or insurance companies. It has been developed over the years and runs stably. But it is under constant cost pressure, especially given the expenses needed to manage these continue to increase and chew up a significant portion of the available IT budget.

Making infrastructures and platforms manageable

The existing IT also stands in the way of innovation. Business units and management alike have notionally jumped on the cloud bandwagon, and now expect the corporate IT to comprehensively upgrade the IT landscape based on the motto of ‘the cloud can do anything‘. An understanding of the fact that established processes, platforms and infrastructures can’t change at the push of a button collides with little understanding. For this reason, corporate IT generally relies on the private cloud in order to take its first step towards agility. The private cloud enables infrastructures and platforms to be controlled, and – depending on the service provider – also generates a certain degree of flexibility for operations and development. But this jump is not enough for the business units.

“Self Service” via public cloud

So they, as well as developers, turn to self-help. They take advantage of the mode 2 world and set up a modern alternative IT – always with the consent of the corporate IT department, which, in the absence of opportunities for agility, gives up. The result is a two-class company that cannot be managed uniformly. It may be tempting to call it a potpourri, but this would suggest that bimodal IT stands for mixing or even integration. In reality, however, the two worlds coexist. Welcome to the new silo. And while this does create some agility advantages (at some places/departments) for the company, it also poses new challenges such as comprehensive IT management and the need for ‘modern IT’ to tackle rules and regulations.

Cloud first

Digital stilisierte Wolke am Himmel, aus der ein Pfeil herein- und herausführt.

An example of a cloud-first strategy at a long-established company could be the notion of having 80 percent of workloads rendered in a private cloud, and 20 percent through public cloud(s) in the next five to ten years. The mix ratio can of course vary depending on industry and workloads. But Pareto always was a pragmatic colleague.

By transitioning to a first-generation private cloud a few years ago, the company has already taken the first step towards this strategy – with the aim of permanently reducing infrastructure costs (we should never forget the cost aspect in any cloud discussion!). But the technology is now outdated. Vacancies in the private cloud put a strain on cost efficiency, and self-service for developers is still not possible. The now established/approved use of Azure from the public cloud is yet to be integrated into a uniform management platform.

A new-generation private cloud as a hub for the future multi-cloud

That’s when it’s worth thinking about a new-generation private cloud. The existing infrastructures have enabled stable single-mode operation. But the demand for PaaS and public clouds is also growing. A private cloud allowing existing resources to be replaced with minimal expense, while simultaneously integrating the Azure public cloud resources, is a functional approach that transforms coexistence into interaction.

The new platform for future-oriented cloud setup needs to be able to do what a bimodal approach could not: 

  • make the private cloud components flexible (‘feels like a public cloud’)
  • integrate the public cloud and private cloud world so that the various sourcing options ‘feel like one cloud’
  • smoothly migrate workloads from the ‘old’ private cloud systems (most easily done when the new platform is based on a similar technology, e.g. from VMware to VMware) 
  • a high degree of automation through software-defined management
  • and a long-term reduction in operating expenses 
  • in a second step, this future platform must also enable flexible workload distribution in multi-clouds and hybrid clouds
About the author

Martin Holzinger

Head of Business Development & International Consulting, T-Systems International GmbH

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