Transforming Mission-Critical Systems

    Enterprises that embark on digital transformation quickly confront an inescapable truth: At some point, this change will have to address core, mission-critical systems and applications.

    This is when the rubber truly hits the road because if the enterprise is not willing to remake itself into a completely new entity, then the entire process has been an exercise in futility. But how can this level of change be implemented safely, and what will the resulting structure look like after all is said and done?

    According to Paul Bobak, vice president of technical field services at software developer TmaxSoft, the enterprise is in a tough place when it comes to transformation. The longer you wait to transform core architectures, the greater the chance that someone will pull your business model out from under you. The best way to effect this change is through rehosting, in which existing applications are migrated to open platforms like a multi-tiered SQL environment or to the cloud. In this way, organizations can still maintain existing services on tried-and-true architectures while gradually shifting workloads to the new platform as needed. And if done correctly, there is no need to rewrite underlying business logic or create new user interfaces.

    Still, things can and do go wrong during digital transformation, which is why the continued disinterest in disaster recovery at most enterprises is so dangerous, says ReadITQuik’s Rhucha Kulkarni. According to a recent survey by Forbes and IBM, most organizations suffer from a “resiliency perception gap,” which is the difference between how leaders perceive their resiliency and what is actually in place. For example, about 80 percent of respondents claim that their DR programs could run their businesses following a major outage even though fewer than a quarter admit that these same plans address their mission-critical applications.

    At the same time, however, it is starting to look like even traditional backup and DR strategies will have to transform along with the rest of the enterprise. Alex Raistrick, of data management firm Rubrik, notes that traditional hands-on backup and recovery solutions are too slow and clunky for a modern digital environment, which is why the company has oriented itself around the concept of cloud data management. Under this paradigm, critical apps and data are orchestrated across public and private infrastructure, placing backup and DR under the same management interface as archiving, compliance, search and a host of other functions. In this way, backup becomes a normal aspect of everyday management rather than a separate function that draws time and attention away from IT. At the same time, even the backed up data can be utilized as a business asset instead of sitting idle for months if not years until it is needed.

    Other firms are taking this same tack for functions like data protection and visibility as traditional infrastructure gives way to software-defined architectures. Comtrade Software recently released the HYCU (HyperConverged Uptime) solution designed to provide native data protection to the Nutanix cloud platform. Through tight integration with Nutanix, the system can be easily deployed and provide deep visibility into VM performance to pinpoint exactly where applications are hosted and what resources they are utilizing.

    Core systems will have to be transformed sooner rather than later, so it is imperative for IT managers to make sure the most important aspects of the business model can survive the change and come out stronger in the end.

    Implementing the right technologies ahead of time is the best way to maintain performance both during and after their transformation – because this is too important to leave to chance.

    Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.


    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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