Running Business-Critical Apps Across Private and Public Clouds

As applications and data become critical to success, businesses are using hybrid multicloud IT systems to develop and run applications across modernized data centers and different public clouds.

By Dipti Parmar

By Dipti Parmar October 27, 2022

Today’s business world is application and data driven. It’s driving application developers and IT operations to work together (DevOps) to find efficient, reliable and flexible ways to build and run business-critical workloads. This is a significant phase of digital transformation as businesses explore new ways for data to feed the bottom line.  

Some analysts expect to see the number of apps to grow by 50% by 2026, indicating the intense effort and investment pouring into application development, according to Lee Caswell, senior vice president of product and solutions marketing at Nutanix. 

“Today, applications and data are business critical because they can bring tremendous value to companies,” Caswell told The Forecast.

He sees more organizations choosing a hybrid multicloud approach to IT systems to meet the growing dependency on IT.

“New technologies make it easier for IT teams to facilitate application developers, who are creating apps aimed at bringing more value to the company,” he said. 

“These new apps are usually additive and require consistent access to data, whether that data is stored as files, blocks or objects – and whether it lives in the public cloud, the data center or at the edge.”

He said modern IT systems powered by hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) software – such as the Nutanix Cloud Platform – are ready for developing, running and scaling up present and future applications. As businesses update existing or onboard new modern applications, this kind of platform allows IT teams to optimize workloads across their data center and public clouds.


When Workloads Are in the Wrong Place

But still, digital transformation can mean many different things to different people, according to James Swanson, CIO of Johnson and Johnson.

“We talk about automating operations, people and new business models,” Swanson told The Enterprisers Project. “Wrapped inside those topics are data analytics, technologies and software – all of which are enablers, not drivers.”

In-house digital transformation initiatives typically include the need for reducing IT complexity. For some, that meant moving quickly to public cloud services.

“As enterprises have launched their cloud strategies over the past decade, they have left key applications untouched, with plans to tackle them at a later date,” said Lynda Stadtmueller, Research VP and Global Practice Area Leader, ICT at Frost and Sullivan.

“For many businesses, that ‘later date’ has arrived.”


Power your business-critical applications

Applications running on older, traditional data centers often require refactoring in order to run efficiently on modern IT environments. This can be time consuming and expensive. Or new so-called cloud-native applications can be developed to replace older apps. Choosing the right path forward requires time and cost analysis.

Instead, those who modernized their IT systems with hyperconverged infrastructure can run business-critical apps and build new apps that can run across different cloud infrastructures. A hybrid IT systems built on a Nutanix Cloud Platform with Nutanix Clusters (NC2) allows IT teams to move applications and data from their private cloud to different public cloud services and back again as needed.

“If 2020 (aftermath of COVID-19) taught us anything, it's that you need to be able to dynamically reconfigure your IT environment based on what's happening in the world,” Steve McDowell, senior analyst at Moore Insights & Strategy. 

“Companies that are tied to legacy environments are the ones that really struggled.”

A modernized hybrid cloud system allows enterprises to: 

Defining Apps as ‘Business-Critical’

Every organization can create its own framework to categorize and prioritize mission critical, business critical and non-critical applications. This helps business and IT teams to align as they plan for any necessary migration of apps to the cloud.


Source: Microsoft

Business-critical applications can be different for different industries.

Source: Azure

These factors can help categorize apps:

Availability: The availability and stability of the application is always top-of-the-mind for architects, developers, admins, testers and support teams associated with the application. When a business-critical app is sourced, developed or maintained from outside the organization, service level agreements (SLAs) of 99.99% are routinely put in place. That translates to a downtime of about four and a half minutes a month or 53 minutes a year. Built-in redundancy in the infrastructure, application copies, hot backups on duplicate staging, testing and production environments, all contribute towards improving the availability of mission-critical apps.

Functionality: Customer-facing apps or apps that employees use at all operating hours to enable core business transactions are obviously critical to business continuity. These can include back-office or middle-office systems such as productivity and collaboration tools, web services, governance and compliance apps as well as financial and accounting software.

Trust: Again, customer-facing apps that are part of core business transactions or operations have the greatest impact on the reputation of the company or brand. In case of downtime – or worse, a security breach – consumer trust on the business drains out rapidly.

Common categories for business-critical include:

Data and analytics: Data and information are central to the success of any business today – not only for beating the competition but also to stay alive and operational. There is rarely an organization that doesn’t use analytics in each of its functions, be it sales, HR or production.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): ERP systems such as SAP form the core of the average enterprise. They govern finance, manufacturing, distribution, HR, supply chain and pretty much every major function of the business.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI): VDIs have become more relevant post-pandemic and are taking on the form of DaaS in the cloud. They have lent the mobility and flexibility needed for remote employees to access the organization’s apps and resources from regular devices such as laptops and smartphones. This makes VDI critical to employee productivity and operational continuity.

Backup and Disaster Recovery (DR): Ongoing backups with well-defined recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) are essential to providing redundancy and recovery for all datasets, applications and services in the environment.

High-Performance Computing (HPC): Complex business processes in sectors such as energy, finance, manufacturing and life sciences rely on HPC applications. These enable the design, development and implementation of products and solutions such as semiconductors, AV vehicles, 5G networks, and so on.

Running Business-Critical Apps on a Hybrid IT

An agile, hybrid infrastructure has some core capabilities that serve to delight users by delivering reliable application and database performance:

  • Scalability: It enables predictable, speedy, non-disruptive and linear scaling of compute and storage resources. Companies can match resources and spending directly with business demands.
  • Storage efficiencies: Unified and dynamically distributed storage consolidates management of data in file, object and block storage systems.
  • “Single pane of glass” management: A unified and automated cloud management plane enables control and workload and data mobility across multiple hybrid cloud environments.
  • Resource delivery for apps: Rapid VM and container-based server sandbox deployment enables rapid provisioning and up and down scaling of compute and storage resources. 
  • Faster development lifecycle: Self-service consoles serve to enhance the agility of applications and also speed up release velocity as deploying new applications from existing blueprints becomes simpler. Centrally enforced, role-based governance ensures better control over the app development lifecycle.
  • Redundancy and recovery: Point-in-time VM snapshots speed up clone creation ensure faster roll backs, while efficient DR processes improve the RPO and RTO metrics.
  • Integrated security: Native VM-level data encryption for apps and databases ensures better security while automated patching enables quicker response to zero-day vulnerabilities.

As organizations straddle the shaky line between a reliable, resilient application and their business goals, they are finding solutions in cloud-native technology. Cloud-native app development is the next frontier in automating the software development lifecycle while commoditizing platforms and infrastructure.

“Cloud-native is about packaging, managing and running a workload that is sensitive to its environment,” said McDowell. “It isn’t going to put your company out of business if you don't adopt it, but it's going to make you a laggard in your industry.”

Dipti Parmar is a marketing consultant and contributing writer to Nutanix. She’s a columnist for major tech and business publications such as IDG’s, Adobe’s, Entrepreneur Mag, and Inc. Follow Dipti on Twitter @dipTparmar or connect with her on LinkedIn for little specks of gold-dust-insights.

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