Flexibility: That’s what a hybrid cloud must ultimately deliver in order to provide business value to an organization.
To put it another way, a hybrid cloud should be a “just-right” combination of the scalability and versatility of public cloud, with the control, security and practicality of private cloud. It should help teams preserve their existing applications and IT infrastructure investments — for instance, those related to IBM Power Systems enterprise servers — while simultaneously enabling the development of modernized applications that leverage technologies like containerization and Ansible-driven automation.
IBM Power Systems & the hybrid cloud
IBM has been at the forefront of hybrid cloud innovation, having continuously rolled out updates that streamline the process of connecting IBM Power Systems servers to the cloud and supporting business-critical applications. Ansible automation came to IBM Power Systems in 2020, and IBM and Red Hat have since worked together on content collections and on broadening support for key Red Hat components like runtimes. IBM itself has identified two overarching use cases for this expanding set of hybrid cloud technologies:
- Modernizing existing applications: AIX and IBM i both have long-term development road maps to ensure that they continue to serve as scalable, secure foundations for hybrid cloud deployments. 2021 marks the 35th anniversary of the AIX operating system, a staple of mission-critical computing for many enterprises.
- Building new applications for cloud: The availability of Red Hat OpenShift on Virtual Power Server, the expansion of Red Hat runtimes, and the launch of the IBM Power Systems Private Rack Cloud solution all support the development of Kubernetes-based applications that can be co-located with existing AIX and IBM i apps.
To get more granular, how can an organization move, step by step, to a hybrid cloud that maximizes the value of their IBM Power Systems investments? Let’s look at a rough blueprint for doing so.
Step No. 1: Establish the goals of the hybrid cloud project
Hybrid clouds may be deployed on IBM Power Systems infrastructure to reach one or more goals, including but not limited to:
- Rapidly developing and testing cloud-native apps, using tightly integrated open-source tools from Red Hat, that will span IBM Power Systems as well as other environments.
- Increasing the uptime and reliability of critical IT systems that support 24/7 operations and often need to be scaled as demand evolves.
- Properly maintaining well-established business applications, which may benefit from the option to use public cloud capacity or comprehensive private cloud infrastructure.
In the real world, organizations such as Delta Air Lines and The Coca-Cola Co. have built hybrid clouds using IBM’s wide range of technologies and services. Delta, for instance, worked with IBM starting in 2018 on a combination of hybrid cloud application migration and development, touching everything from its Fly Delta mobile app to its baggage tracking systems, per The Wall Street Journal. The workloads in question run on IBM Power Systems and on IBM Z mainframes in IBM Cloud.
Step No. 2: Identify the key technologies that will be needed
Hybrid clouds can be complex to build. For example, the private cloud and on-premises portions of the architecture might be badly mismatched with the public cloud front end, creating a situation where the end-user can enter information easily but still encounter slowdowns due to limitations of legacy back-end infrastructure.
To overcome this type of problem, many organizations have turned to containers and Kubernetes, both of which are deeply supported on IBM Power Systems via its Red Hat OpenShift integrations. Containerization and container orchestration, through Kubernetes, allow workloads to be packaged up and abstracted from their underlying operating systems, enabling high portability and consistency across hybrid cloud and multicloud environments.
On IBM Power Systems, Red Hat OpenShift has become much easier to deploy than in the past. According to consultant Patrick Moorhead, the process of building an OpenShift environment and then uploading applications to it once took as long as 12 weeks, but can now be done in just a few days using the IBM Power Private Cloud Rack, a solution that combines a complete IBM and Red Hat software stack with on-prem hardware and expert installation.
Step No. 3: Condense these goals and technologies into a strategy
One of the biggest risks in hybrid cloud strategy is not having one. Even if an organization knows what it wants from the implementation and the technologies that will be involved, it still needs to map out the long-term implications of the hybrid cloud shift and rationalize its assets.
A cloud strategy can help a company determine which workloads it might keep on-prem and which it will choose to move into the cloud, as not all of them will be equally suited to a cloud environment. As just one example, a workload that is constantly running is likely to be better suited to on-prem infrastructure than to the pay-as-you-go consumption model of some public cloud services.
Strategic thinking also contributes to a better understanding of costs. A company that knows clearly how it plans to address technology upgrades and obsolescence is well-positioned to avoid:
- Letting hybrid cloud infrastructure become too old and vulnerable to cyberattacks, such that it precipitates a costly breach or downtime incident.
- Spending too much money on unnecessary upgrades that might not deliver any marginal value to what the organization already has in place.
After all, hybrid cloud is a balancing act — and having a clear strategy makes striking the right balance easier.
Step No. 4: Adjust to change and stay in communication
Implementation of hybrid cloud infrastructure is more straightforward when working with a partner. Whether it’s IBM Systems Lab Services when implementing the IBM Power Private Cloud Rack or InfoSystems when working on IBM and Red Hat-related projects more generally, a partner helps the transition stay on track.
More specifically, such business partnerships support better adaptability to change, superior communication with stakeholders and increased flexibility in revisiting assumptions as needed.
InfoSystems is an IBM Platinum Business Partner and Red Hat Advanced Business Partner in North America. Connect with us to learn more about how to transform your IBM Power Systems investments into a modern hybrid cloud that sustains your business.