Are the days of quick wins in the cloud over?
Now it’s time to tackle ‘black sheep’ infrastructure.
By Ben Svalbe, Manager, Presales NSW at NTT Communications ICT Solutions
When I look at what our customers have done with cloud, I’m increasingly left with the impression that the easy stuff – the quick wins – are behind us.
Now comes the time-consuming phase of figuring out what to do with the leftovers – the 20 percent or so of systems that have no easy migration path to the cloud.
What I call the black sheep infrastructure – or leftover legacy systems.
Whether you try to re-architect those leftover systems for cloud, uplift them to newer versions (if that’s possible), or simply keep running them as-is, at some point you’ll want to think about how you harmonise them with your cloud-based environment – so that new and old systems seamlessly co-exist or work together.
This is not necessarily an easy process or conversation but it’s one my team and I are increasingly having with customers as we redesign their IT infrastructure and data centre environments for the cloud world.
The reason this is an issue now is because black sheep infrastructure is starting to impact businesses’ ability to achieve all their IT goals.
Typically, when organisations go down the cloud path they have some sort of endgame in mind. Perhaps it’s about increasing efficiency, optimising infrastructure, reducing costs or enabling consolidation.
Quite often that’s manifested by some form of target from the CIO that that encourages or incentivises the business to – wherever possible – find cost-effective cloud-based solutions or outsource where it makes sense.
A cloud-first strategy can work well when sourcing infrastructure for new projects. But at the other end of the scale, legacy systems are stopping many businesses from achieving their full potential.
In pursuing the cloud, businesses still want what they’ve always had: the ability for systems to live in close proximity where they can communicate and work together.
One way we do this for our customers at NTT ICT is to physically co-locate cloud and leftover systems within the same building.
In other words, the customer runs workloads in NTT cloud and legacy systems in co-location racks, and logically interconnect those systems to make them manageable through a unified console. The black sheep infrastructure simply becomes another managed service.
Alternatively, we also run projects where we don’t simply lift-and-shift the legacy systems into our data centres, but we also upgrade and modernise them on that journey.
This is perhaps a more difficult road because there’s no guaranteed upgrade path for some black sheep kit. It may have become neglected because its maker went out of business, its installation media went missing, or the path of least resistance was simply to keep nursing it while it still worked.
However, where an upgrade path exists, we have found that modernising legacy infrastructure can be well worth the effort. It means you don’t have to shift to (or create) a completely new system, while ensuring you end up with more up-to-date infrastructure. Most importantly, it can allow you to harmonise your cloud and legacy systems.
Ultimately, harmonising systems can enable you to achieve full visibility of your IT across the organisation. And by being able to see how the business consumes IT resources, you’ll gain a better understanding of the cost implications of your decisions and how to best engage with others to drive real value and results.
At NTT ICT, we have a proven track record in harmonising our customers’ cloud and legacy systems. If you’re having trouble with your black sheep infrastructure, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to share our experience.