Lift and Shift Workloads for the Same Cloud

By Alan Zeichick

IT managers shouldn’t have to choose between cloud-driven innovation and data-center-style computing. Developers shouldn’t have to choose between the latest DevOps programming using containers and microservices, and traditional architectures and methodologies. CIOs shouldn’t have to choose between a fully automated and fully managed cloud and a self-managed model using their own on-staff administrators.

At an Oracle OpenWorld general session on infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) October 3, Don Johnson, senior vice president of product development at Oracle, lamented that CIOs are often forced to make such difficult choices. Sure, the cloud is excellent for purpose-built applications, he said, “and so what’s working for them is cloud-native, but what’s not working in the cloud are enterprise workloads. It’s an unnecessary set of bad choices.”

When it comes to moving existing business-critical applications to the cloud, Johnson explained the three difficult choices faced by many organizations. First, CIOs can rewrite those applications from the ground up to run in the cloud in a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model. That’s best in terms of achieving the greatest computational efficiency, as well as integration with other cloud services, but it can be time-consuming and costly. Second, organizations can retrofit their existing applications to run in in the cloud, but this can be challenging at best, or nearly impossible in some cases. Or third, CIOs can “lift and shift” existing on-premises applications, including their full software stack, directly into the cloud, using the IaaS model.

Historically, those three models have required three different clouds. No longer. Only the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Johnson stated, “lets you run your full existing stack alongside cloud-native applications.” And this is important, he added, because migration to the cloud must be slow and deliberate. “Running in the cloud is very disruptive. It can’t happen overnight. You need to move when and how you want to move,” he said. And a deliberative movement to the cloud means a combination of new cloud-native PaaS applications and legacy applications migrated to IaaS.

Avoid Difficult Choices

In a traditional data center, developers and operations staff must make decisions. Which physical servers should be used for which applications? Who should manage those servers? How often should those servers, and the rest of the infrastructure, be refreshed for improved performance and lower operational costs? Refreshing the hardware means increased capital expenditures, significant human effort, and potential disruption as data and workloads are migrated to the new platforms.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure eliminates the need to make those choices, Johnson argued, offering greater performance at low costs, backed up by robust service-level agreements. What’s more, the cloud platform is open, without proprietary lock-in or software requirements. “Bring your favorite tools, orchestrations, platforms, and applications,” he said. “You can run your entire business in our cloud, and if you choose to, you can shut off your data centers.”

What does that mean? Everything from bare-metal x86 servers to storage to newly announced DNS services for IaaS applications that are lifted and shifted into the cloud, running alongside software-as-a-service applications such as Oracle’s PeopleSoft Human Capital Management and cloud-native PaaS applications. All in the same cloud, all with unified identity, inter- and intra-service messaging using standards such as Apache Kafka, and unified security models.

New Infrastructure Offerings, Better Performance

On the hardware side, Oracle announced new Oracle Cloud Infrastructure offerings at OpenWorld 2017, such as what Johnson called “X7” architecture based on Intel’s Skylake processors. A typical X7 cloud server provides up to 52 cores in physical or virtual configurations, with up to 768 GB of memory, 51 TB of solid-state storage, and 50 GB/sec network connectivity. That’s high performance, offering 3.9 million input/output operations per second (IOPS) per server, an order of magnitude higher than what’s available from other public cloud providers.

As if that’s not enough, Johnson explained that Oracle also is partnering with NVIDIA to offer graphics processor units (GPUs) in its IaaS servers, to assist with math-intensive computation for applications including simulation, analytics, high-performance computing, and artificial intelligence. In those sorts of applications, GPUs can operate with 10x to 100x the performance—and a significant reduction in cost—compared with standard CPUs.

Traditionally, those types of flexible computing resources were found in data centers, not in the cloud. The world has changed, and that’s why Johnson insisted that with Oracle Infrastructure Cloud, using the IaaS model, developers and CIOs don’t need to make difficult choices when it comes to developing new cloud-native applications or lifting and shifting existing enterprise workloads. Want GPUs? No problem. Want Docker containers and Kubernetes? No problem. Want Oracle to manage some things, while you manage other things? No problem.

CIOs should not have to choose between cloud-native apps and existing applications. Now, they no longer have to decide: They can run both types of workloads side by side in a first-class IaaS cloud.

Alan Zeichick is principal analyst at Camden Associates, a tech consultancy in Phoenix, Arizona, specializing in software development, enterprise networking, and cybersecurity. Follow him @zeichick.

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