Forward thinking companies are racing to implement ground breaking technologies to beat the competition. But trends like ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policies and big data present new complexities; as well as demanding workloads vastly different from those of the past. When organisations try to adopt these trends, but deploy them on outdated or poorly designed IT infrastructures; their plans for cost efficiency and increased productivity are destined to fail.
A crucial first step in optimising your IT is making sure you are utilising server platforms that can support the applications and services your company needs. This starts by conducting a thorough workload analysis.
Workloads refer to the collection of computing processes and requests made by applications of a system. By conducting a workload assessment, you get a clearer picture of your infrastructure requirements and determine what applications are a good fit for certain platforms. When performing the assessment; classify various workloads by their characteristics and requirements, such as:
- Application architecture – deals with finding out whether an application is cloud-ready or a desktop-only version. You should also check whether certain applications need to be integrated with other software, in such cases cloud services are more suited.
- Up-time requirements – This area looks at what levels of availability applications are required to work properly. Emails and customer service applications, for instance, need to be running at all times; as such, they should be running on high-availability cloud servers or visualised servers.
- Computing demands – Here, you should assess what quantity of CPU, memory, network, and storage are typically used/needed by certain applications. Can the cloud meet your requirements, or are computing demands small enough that you can get away with traditional deployments?
- Hardware specifications – Do applications require specific hardware like a specialised server or processing unit? If so, on-premises platforms could be what you need to retain the freedom to choose the solutions you want.
- Security considerations – Finally evaluate the support requirements of your applications. If it manages sensitive data, it needs to have backup solutions, data encryption, and authentication; all of which are provided by private cloud data centres and by some on-premises computers.
Once you have a clear blueprint of your application’s requirements you can then find the right platform that matches your specifications. There are several options available:
- bare metal,
- public cloud,
- private cloud, and
- hybrid environments.
Bare metal is where applications run on local hardware and operating systems. There are a few reasons why your business should host at least a fraction of your workload in-house. For one, some businesses prefer to host graphic design applications on-premises because they perform better and are more responsive than web-based versions of this software. Other custom applications that require specialised hardware are also best left on-premises. Companies that require fast incident response times; could benefit from traditional deployments since data and software are stored locally.
However, onsite solutions capable of keeping up with current computing demands aren’t cheap. When workloads increase, on-premises technology is difficult to scale. This is because you often have to buy stronger hardware to meet the computing demands of new applications. Also, opportunities to integrate with web-based services are limited and leave you with little choice but to just tolerate the complexity of your operations. So instead, you should consider running on-premises platforms alongside cloud or virtual solutions.
Virtualisation allows users to create virtual versions of computers and operating systems; and consolidate them into one powerful physical server, thereby helping you manage workloads efficiently. With a virtual machine manager, also known as a ‘hypervisor’; you can simply delegate the necessary RAM, processing power, storage, and specific operating system to run resource-intensive applications without having to purchase additional hardware.
With failover clustering features; virtualisation is also ideal for businesses that require high-availability applications. This means that if one server fails, another virtual machine can take over its workload without any interruption of service.
With public Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) models; cloud services providers manage the hardware, software, servers and storage components on your company’s behalf. If you need to run more resource-intensive workloads; IaaS platforms offer highly scalable processing power, storage space, and software licenses that can be adjusted on-demand. This makes IaaS well-suited for dynamic, unpredictable workloads.
Public cloud environments also offer applications like Office 365, SharePoint, and Outlook via the internet. This allows access enterprise-level emails and productivity software, without having to worry about meeting minimum hardware requirements.
The one downside of public clouds is security. Since you’re sharing cloud servers with other users, there’s an increased risk of data leakage. As a result, sensitive data and critical workloads should not be hosted in public cloud environments.
The only difference between a private and public cloud is; private clouds use a dedicated cloud infrastructure to provide computing resources for a single organisation. When you have workload-heavy applications like business analytics software; it is advisable to host them on a privately managed environment where; you can guarantee they’re getting the resources it needs.
This platform is also suitable and often necessary when businesses have high security and up time requirements. Because you alone own the data centre; you can protect your cloud platform with your company’s firewalls, encryption systems, and backup management policies; making it ideal for companies that manage sensitive customer information and run mission-critical applications.
Of course, these options aren’t an all-or-nothing decision. By seamlessly combining these platforms, companies can place workloads where they perform best. For example, sensitive customer relationship management software that needs more processing power should go in private cloud environments; productivity applications that host non-essential files should run in public clouds; and custom applications that require low latency should go on-premises.
After you’ve assessed your options, you need to ask yourself some questions: Will migrating to a new platform give you the expected benefits? Does your setup make your workloads more manageable, reliable, and secure? The answer to these questions won’t come easy, which is why you need an experienced IT consultant to assess your workloads and find the right fit.
Here at Empower IT Solutions, our consultants will visit your company and learn your specific workload requirements; and propose one or more platforms to meet your strategic goals. Contact us now to get started.