When I think about the trajectory IT has been following since the 1960s, I believe it resembles gold mining in some ways. Towns, industries, and infrastructure spring up around a gold mine. People take what they need until the mine is depleted and then they move on, leaving broken footprints and ghost towns behind. In the case of IT, the gold has been mainframes, physical servers, application servers, installed software, PCs, wired connections, and so on. They’ve all been left behind as the industry chases the next “gold”—broadband, Wi-Fi, mobile, tablets, and whatever else is hot.
The difference between IT and mining is that most enterprises still must use bits and pieces of these remains. There are no complete IT ghost towns other than perhaps some empty server rooms. The latest IT goldrush is the cloud, and the owners of its “mine,” have made excellent cases for why enterprises should invest in cloud solutions that can replace all the physical on-premises aspects of IT. But in most cases, this is not practical or even safe, since most enterprises have confidential data to secure.
The result of this is that IT organizations have ended up being the overseers of an infrastructure where applications and some data are hosted in the cloud, and others remain on-premises. A relatively new term, “hybrid IT,” is being used to describe this infrastructure mix. Many see this as a passive state, something over which we have little control, but there’s more to it than that. In this post, I’ll explain.
WhatIs.com defines hybrid IT as “an approach to enterprise computing in which an organization provides and manages some information technology (IT) resources in-house but uses cloud-based services for others. A hybrid approach allows an enterprise to maintain a centralized approach to IT governance while experimenting with cloud computing.” An even simpler definition is offered by Techopedia: “Hybrid IT is a technique in which an enterprise uses both in-house and cloud-based services to complete their entire pool of IT resources.”
Dig past the basic definitions of hybrid IT, and two different schools of thought emerge. One is that it is an organic and largely uncontrollable state created by the fact that a 100% move to the cloud is nearly impossible for large enterprises. Instead, they have sprawling and diverse IT landscapes hampered by older technology that is hard to scale and slow to change, multiple disconnected IT infrastructures, and deployment of cloud resources outside the watchful eyes of IT organizations. This can lead to broken business processes, disruptions and delays in services, and management and security costs that are too high. The result is a series of challenges that must be overcome, usually by investing in another solution.
The other school of thought is that hybrid IT is not a state that sets up a challenge to be “solved” but instead is one that should be embraced. The premise is that the best IT architectures are a mix of cloud and on-premises capabilities built around business needs. I believe this is a better view, so let’s dig into it more deeply.
Rather than an ad hoc adoption of cloud solutions because of hype or the lure of lower costs, hybrid IT can be a strategic endeavor. The objective is a seamless unity of applications and systems deployed in a mix of on-premises, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and public cloud infrastructures, all centered on driving business. In this scenario, the focus is not convenience, accessibility, and types of environments; it’s workloads and applications.
How does this work? In the case of workloads, each is scrutinized individually to determine whether it is in the proper place to enable the business to outperform the competition or, better yet, disrupt it. Four key factors to consider are security and compliance, total cost of ownership, application performance, and level of control, along with the fact that workload demands can change over time or even with the seasons of business. This deliberate and conscious review and its results then drives technical and architectural needs.
For applications, the objective is distinguishing between what is core and what is critical. This is not as easy as it sounds. It is common for applications that run critical business processes to vary from one line of business to another. Others might be critical to just one function or project but not the entire enterprise. And then there’s the fact that not every application in use is known to IT.
All this evaluation and detective work might seem more daunting than the easier path of just investing in cloud solutions as the need or pocketbook strikes. However, the result of a deliberate approach to hybrid IT is a manageable, cost-effective infrastructure that can run the business while fueling agility and innovation. And the additional good news? Mainframe rehosting can make it easier and faster to implement a careful hybrid IT strategy.
If you dive deep into the motivations behind choosing to build and maintain a hybrid IT infrastructure rather than moving 100% to the cloud, the mainframe is there. According to this blog about why you should not ignore your aging mainframes, these behemoths still run the businesses of the world’s largest and most successful companies. At the same time, much of the concerns about hybrid IT infrastructure, especially in the organic state, are related to the costs, resources, and efforts of maintaining legacy systems on the mainframe.
Mainframe rehosting enables the workload and application balance that is at the heart of the strategic hybrid IT state. You can significantly reduce both costs and MIPS by moving those critical workloads and applications to open distributed systems or to the cloud without changing business logic or rewriting. Your applications are now running in a modern architecture, positioning your organization for greater agility, growth, and competitive advantage.
And if you choose your rehosting solution wisely, a source code analysis is conducted before anything is migrated, and it often uncovers more opportunities for cost savings and performance improvement. The result? You can overcome the common challenges of hybrid IT in an organic state.
Why let your legacy applications and mainframe dictate what your hybrid IT infrastructure looks like? You can rehost them with OpenFrame as part of a careful, controlled, strategic approach to hybrid IT instead. Learn more about OpenFrame rehosting by downloading our new eBook, Lift, shift and modernize: proven mainframe modernization strategies that enable digital transformation.
Kelly McClure is the Vice President of Global Marketing for TmaxSoft. Her 20-year marketing career spans both Fortune 1000 companies and fast growth technology startups. Kelly is responsible for leading TmaxSoft’s marketing strategy. She is experienced in aligning marketing and sales, building relevant content and messaging and developing integrated lead generation campaigns. Before joining TmaxSoft, Kelly served as the Vice President of Marketing for 10th Magnitude and held senior marketing roles with DataStax, BMC Software and Micro Focus. Kelly has a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago.