Why customers value application mobility in hybrid multiclouds

By Venugopal Pai
Vice President, Product Operations
Nutanix, Inc.

June 22, 2022 | min

I am known as a road warrior at Nutanix because I spend a great deal of my time meeting in-person with customers worldwide, and after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, I am finally able to meet with them face-to-face again. It’s a crucial way in which I learn about their cloud and digital transformation initiatives and the challenges they face delivering business agility and a competitive edge.

It is important to share the valuable feedback I hear firsthand about IT priorities and challenges faced by organizations from around the world, starting with some of the reasons why cloud and digital transformation projects are so high on their list of sustainable business priorities.

In the February 2022 IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Nutanix, titled “Surviving and thriving in a multicloud world,” survey data highlights how the market trend for enterprise workloads continues to shift towards public and private clouds.

With an anticipated 4% drop in non-cloud workloads over the next two years, organizations intend to leverage cloud benefits as a way of improving their businesses. This involves a shift of workloads to a variety of on-premises, hosted and public clouds.

ECI Report

Moving workloads to the cloud requires an effective cloud strategy. Equally important is the ability for an organization to meet green initiatives and sustainability goals, hence an effective hybrid strategy that allows the flexibility to choose the right cloud – private, SaaS, and multiple public clouds.

Increasingly, the need for change within IT is driven by environmental, social and governance (ESG), especially in Europe where it is a boardroom discussion. The increasing pressure on the global energy market is a driver and can be a differentiator for customers who want to minimize energy use and carbon emissions.

Customers are choosing to adopt cloud for an assortment of business, financial, and technical reasons, including:

  • To get out of owning and operating datacenters (or to at least reduce their numbers).
  • To integrate with the wealth of cloud-native services.
  •  For AI and machine learning services integration (public clouds are good at scaling this).
  • Shift the financial model to operational expenditures instead of capital expenditures.

Sometimes, it is purely a top-down political decision that forces IT into a cloud operating model transformation. This can take the form of a large, prepaid enterprise agreement with a hyperscaler, which is akin to a multimillion-dollar gift card for IT services with an expiration date.

In these situations, the business has already signed up for the public cloud and the clock is ticking. For IT teams, time is of the essence. They are now under the spotlight to plan and migrate applications and realize the greatest benefit from these investments. But the journey can be far more complex than originally thought.

Although all IT transformation projects have challenges, making an incorrect application migration decision or integrating too heavily with a cloud provider’s native APIs can create inflexibility and lock-in, which can be costly to change later.

Migration complexity starts with the decision to move to the cloud. Understanding the specific reasons for migrating will have a significant impact on the type of journey your organization might consider.

To treat the public cloud like infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) for enterprise applications requires a combination of clinical assessment and evaluation to drive a refactoring or re-architecting engagement.

The challenge is in understanding the sheer complexity of enterprise application dependencies, data flow, required performance, resilience, and data protection at each application tier. This may not serve the company in the long term and could cost a lot more.

For customers that are relatively new to this type of application redevelopment, it also likely means new IT administrator and development team skill sets, toolsets, and processes.

Fortunately, there are several application migration methods that can affect project risk, duration and cost. The choices range from retaining or retiring workloads, replacing them with new off-the-shelf packages, and rehosting, refactoring or re-architecting them.

Each has its own risks, time to implement and associated costs, so determining what works best for your organization is important.

Refactoring and re-architecting require distinct levels of redevelopment and code modification, including a potential shift to a new architecture, a process that can take 6-8 months or more per application.

One of our financial customers recently said it took a year to refactor one application and it had hundreds more to migrate. The time and cost taken to re-architect applications at scale often far exceeds the expected project timeframe and budgets executives are willing to stomach. This all amounts to a significant business risk and presents a huge hurdle for IT teams.

Rebuilding involves a complete rewrite of the application, potentially as a SaaS-based application, and will require a redevelopment process.

Rehosting an application involves migrating it to a different infrastructure without modifying the application code or features.

Migrating applications to the public cloud exposes underlying architectural differences between enterprise infrastructures and clouds. Enterprise applications are typically written with an expectation that the infrastructure is resilient, whereas cloud-native applications are written to tolerate infrastructure failure. It’s all about where resilience is managed in the stack.

This is where Nutanix can help customers make application mobility simple and scalable.

We’ve partnered with public cloud vendors and service providers to port their environments to the HCI stack we pioneered over 10 years ago. This enables all the rich HCI benefits from our distributed storage fabric – from compute to management layers – to work seamlessly in these environments.

The Nutanix® software-defined architecture that sits in the public cloud delivers the infrastructure resilience and performance enterprise applications require, allowing workloads of every type to be moved to the public cloud.

In addition, our thoughtful approach to virtual networking eliminates the need for complex overlays and time-consuming internetworking architectures while enabling customers to integrate private and public clouds with a few clicks.

This dramatically simplifies the entire public cloud infrastructure build-out process. Following simple network integration with an on-premises environment, the hosting infrastructure takes only a few mouse-clicks to build. It also integrates Nutanix Intelligent Operations for automated infrastructure bursting based on criteria defined by IT administrators.

The same enterprise applications that run on-premises can be run in the public cloud without modification. The best part is that IT teams can migrate their applications to the cloud quickly using natively integrated tooling.

More importantly, the ability to move these workloads between clouds becomes more compelling. For instance, one customer migrated workloads using the public cloud as a hosting provider, all without requiring application refactoring.

For another customer, the required performance of an enterprise database application required them to lean-in to higher performance storage tiers that exceeded budget and raised costs. With Nutanix, the customer met performance goals and reduced costs by moving the database application as-is to Nutanix running in the hyperscaler.

Nutanix enables customers to move applications hosted on a SAN running in a three-tier environment to the Nutanix Cloud Platform™ solution with one click. Whether the destination is an on-premises private cloud, a service provider cloud or the public cloud, business is unbound by IT or application limitations.

The same is true for applications that run natively in the AWS® and Microsoft Azure® public clouds. Some Nutanix customers migrate applications from a public cloud back to on-premises. As workload utilization and resource requirements become more clearly understood, customers can always choose the best cloud and location, and change again over time as market dynamics evolve.

When considering native-cloud services integration, simply moving a workload won’t provide that. Refactoring numerous applications for cloud can take years and it’s impractical to tie up your development teams for that duration to work off the equivalent of a technical debt.

Moving applications to the public cloud can be quickly and easily achieved using application rehosting, also known as lift-and-shift. Once in the cloud, IT development teams are free to modify applications as required without the same time constraints.

It’s also a much simpler process because the applications are already running in the same customer VPC as cloud-native applications. This provides the fastest and lowest latency connection between them, so the refactoring process may even be a lighter touch than otherwise thought.

This application migration approach ultimately enables development teams to focus on key projects that from the outset are designed as cloud-native applications. In short, they drive new business initiatives that generate business revenue.

When cloud-native services integration isn’t an objective, there’s little value in refactoring applications. One Nutanix customer I spoke with only uses the public cloud for revenue-generating applications to ensure continued ROI from public cloud spend and to avoid overruns.

Other reasons to move applications to the cloud might require justification. For example, do these applications need rich hyperscaler cloud-native services and the elasticity of the cloud? Answering these questions ensures that the rationale to run the right workloads for the right price, performance and resiliency are always monitored and controlled within a tight budget.

A key Nutanix benefit of application mobility is license portability between on-premises private clouds and public cloud environments. This lets customers select a cloud platform layer without being tied to a location. The database customer I mentioned earlier can consider moving that workload to Microsoft Azure, where SQL Server® licensing is far more cost-effective and may reduce costs.

According to Gartner® analysts*, Henrique Cecci and David Cappuccio stated that, “by 2027, 85% of the workload placements made until 2022 will no longer be optimal,” highlighting the evolving need for application mobility and portability*.

The portability inherent in the Nutanix Cloud Platform™ solution allows customers to get applications into their cloud of choice quickly, simply and without modification which can strengthen green and sustainability credentials. This operating model unifies your entire hybrid multicloud environment, enabling you to run any application at any scale.

Understanding cloud and digital transformation objectives and weighing the application mobility options is the first step to a successful migration project. Nutanix offers a TCO tool that provides a clear and concise estimate of the different options, enabling customers to see the cost and time it will take to move workloads to the public cloud before a specific migration process is selected.

For more information on how Nutanix can help you realize your cloud goals and a cloud TCO discussion, reach out to your Nutanix representative or visit www.nutanix.com/solutions/hybrid-multicloud.

Ready for the next step? Analyze your cloud TCO at www.nutanix.com/cloud-tco

*Gartner, Workload Placement in Hybrid IT — Making Great Decisions About What, Where, When and Why, Henrique Cecci, David Cappuccio, 2 May 2022. Gartner is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.