Workload Mobility: the next frontier in enterprise cloud adoption

June 19, 2018 | Posted by

When it comes to enterprise cloud adoption, workload mobility – the ability to move applications and their associated data to a new environment with zero or very limited downtime – has long been a missing piece of the technology puzzle. Cloud environments tend to be very unique and different from on-premises and hypervisor environments, and by nature of their business model, cloud vendors lack incentive to make it easy for customers to move workloads out and into other environments.

There’s a growing range of options for where you can run workloads, but until now, the flexibility of movement has been lacking. As multi-cloud hybrid environments are becoming more common, workload mobility now represents the next frontier for enterprises, and I’m excited to see vendors beginning to catch up.

Why is workload mobility so crucial for enterprises?

Workload mobility is a critical feature because it provides the flexibility to run each workload in the most optimal location and prevents vendor lock in. For example, as an application goes through its lifecycle, usage characteristics might change. It might make sense initially to run in one particular cloud environment during testing and development, but as the application’s users grow, it might require an environment that offers better scale and performance. Beyond migration between cloud environments, a true workload mobility capability can migrate between on-premises infrastructures, allowing you to run your workload in the optimal location.

This flexibility also prevents vendor lock in, provides the ability to reuse legacy infrastructures, and makes is easy to move workloads to new infrastructure. Cloud vendors make it difficult to move workloads around by design, wanting you to go all in and stay within their platform. Workload mobility bring new freedom, allowing you to use the platforms and services that best align with your budget and priorities.

Workload mobility is crucial for enterprises that want to build out a multi-cloud strategy for the future. According to Forrester, 41 percent of companies use two to four cloud providers, and 48 percent use five or more providers (via SearchCIO). By the end of 2018, 25 percent of total application workloads will be running in the cloud according to a survey of CIOs conducted by Morgan Stanley (via Wall Street Journal). To take advantage of each cloud platform, enterprises will need a strategy that allows easy and simple movement across all environments.

One typical use case is cloud brokering, with workload mobility helping cloud brokers and agents better optimize o provide more services at a better price. There are a number of public cloud offerings available today, with new specialized cloud services coming online all the time. As these cloud offerings change and new ones appear, it may be necessary to move certain workloads to optimize for performance and cost.

Making workload mobility seamless

There are several technical hurdles that need to be overcome to make workload mobility seamless. There are number of hypervisors and clouds that must be integrated, each with their own unique interfaces and APIs. A second challenge is with virtual machine conversion. Each hypervisor and cloud has its own version of a VM, and moving a workload from one environment to another requires this conversion, followed by automation of the process.

Finally, data needs to be replicated on a continuous basis so that when the time comes to switch the application over to run in production from the new environment, it can be down with zero or very little downtime. Implementing these capabilities – not to mention making it simple for an end user to implement – is a very significant technical challenge.

Should you consider a workload mobility solution?

Cloud computing brought the promise of simple and scalable capacity, but the reality faced in our multi-cloud world is stark. According to RightScale, 35 percent of cloud spend is wasted.  Silos develop, workloads are orphaned, costs rise and management spirals out of control.

To determine if a workload mobility solution might fit your needs, think through the following questions:

  • Do you currently use a mix of current and legacy on-premises infrastructure solutions?
  • Are you using more than one public cloud?
  • Is managing all of your infrastructure environments creating challenges and causing headaches?

As automation and intelligence begins to transcend cloud and on-premises infrastructures, workload mobility could soon fuel the next wave of enterprise growth. Imagine a world in which you don’t even need to think about what’s running where, and workloads are automatically moved and prioritized based on the required cost and performance.

This is the direction we’re heading at Pivot3, and I’m excited to partner with a cutting-edge workload mobility leader like CloudEndure to bring our Intelligent Hybrid Cloud customers a multi-cloud hybrid environment with robust disaster recovery and live migration capabilities. Workloads and data are protected at all times, and in the event of a disaster at a datacenter, the system can switch to run applications from a cloud service and maintain business continuity. Customers can also optimize the costs of their infrastructure by running each workload in the most appropriate location and vendor lock in is prevented with the ability to easily move between publics clouds, to and from legacy infrastructure.

As we move into this next frontier, workload mobility is helping to fulfill the promise of cloud – and I can’t wait to see what comes next.


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