Over a century ago, it was common for factories and large manufacturing outfits to house power production facilities on-site. At the time, it was less expensive to produce energy as part of plant operations than it was to lean on the relatively new and arguably unreliable power companies. Over time, technological advances increased reliability and lowered the costs associated with subscription-based energy delivery, making most on-site factory power plants obsolete. Computing power has followed a similar trend. Until recently, it was not technically feasible or cost-effective to host business-critical, computationally demanding applications outside of on-site data centers on dedicated servers. With the advent of distributed platforms and vi
rtualization, cloud-based application hosting with incredibly high computational power, scalability, and relatively low cost has become a reality. As such, companies are pushing more to the cloud to save costs and increase agility. Furthermore, development platforms and integrations have been empowered by cloud architecture, driving adoption even further. The reasons firms are leaving legacy systems- lack of scalability, difficult integration, cumbersome collaboration, and expensive deployments, are the same reasons those firms are moving more of their workloads to the cloud.
Where Do You Start?
Small companies and startups are often born into cloud environments. They get their email taken care of with Office 365, their web presence is entirely virtual, and they typically expand infrastructure in the cloud as well without ever purchasing a physical server. The barrier to compute power is significantly lower in a cloud vs. premises cost benefit analysis, so it makes sense. However, companies with legacy systems such as mainframes are not startups or small, they’re large and they’ve been around a long time. They have data centers filled with assets running many, if not all, of the functions of the business. “Just move everything to the cloud” is an unrealistic mantra for these firms.
Many of these large companies will take advantage of cloud services where it makes sense and is easy, focusing on things like disaster recovery and storage first. However, these services aren’t technically tied to the company’s existing infrastructure. In order to tie services in the cloud to the network, network elements have to be placed in the cloud or the firm can adopt a hybrid cloud approach.
What Is Hybrid Cloud?
A hybrid cloud environment consists of a mix of on-premises and cloud services that are connected to allow orchestration between the platforms in such a way that the combined entity acts as a single network. For example, permissions and identity management extends across both the servers that reside locally and the servers or services in the cloud without the need for replication. In fact, hybrid cloud is the best solution for larger business looking to migrate to the cloud, either completely or partially. Migration can take place in a phased approach, reducing the risks associated with complex network and platform changes. As the IT staff hones the cloud services, provider preferences, and orchestration best practices, larger, more business critical systems can be migrated. In a legacy modernization sense, hybrid cloud is excellent because in a phased, microservices approach of migration through business rules extraction, batch offloading, or even database replication, business functions can be placed in the cloud or on premises at the administrator’s discretion to maximize the effectiveness of that particular service.
If you’re considering a phased approach to modernization or an extraction of business functions from legacy systems as microservices, it is a worthwhile exercise to investigate hybrid cloud and how it might benefit the business as you retire big iron.