Journey to the cloud

The Challenges You Face in your Journey to the Cloud

With demand for IT capacity and features outpacing budgets, cloud services offer a helpful alternative to expanding the on-premise data centre. As such, almost every business will be moving at least some of their workload into the cloud in the near future.

Although vendors expend a lot of time and effort to simplify this process, you will still encounter challenges along the journey to the cloud. Here are five to be aware of.

1. Realising new performance gains

Not all cloud services are the same – as evidenced by the increasingly complex platform choices and pricing structures. This means that you need to carefully define workload requirements and specify a cloud platform that is capable of delivering maximum performance – otherwise you will never realise the true value of your investment.

For workload specific operations, like Oracle databases, it makes sense to choose a platform provided by the software vendor wherever possible. Not only will you benefit from maximum compatibility, but the platform will have already been optimised for your workload to deliver maximum performance.

2. Controlling costs

For many organisations, initial migration involves little more than replicating their existing environment in the cloud. But there are two problems with the ‘lift n shift’ approach.

First, all of the existing limitations, bottlenecks and failures of your on-premise applications will be replicated in the cloud. You gain almost nothing tangible from the move.

Second, your systems are not optimised for the pay-as-you use billing model employed by cloud providers. Every CPU cycle and gigabyte of storage and RAM is billable, so you need to ensure you do not use more than you need. Otherwise you pay for resources you are not ‘using’, limiting the cost-saving potential of your cloud deployment.

To avoid over-paying, you may need to re-architect applications and services to adapt to the new cloud operating model.

3. Public, Private or Hybrid?

Cloud providers are keen to stress the security of their multi-tenant environments – but they may still be inappropriate for your most sensitive workloads. In some cases, this may mean moving towards a private cloud solution that offers the same resource flexibility as a public cloud platform.

Most commonly, businesses choose to split workload between their on-premise data centre and the cloud to build a hybrid solution. This offers the greatest control over sensitive data while allowing them to tap into the power and flexibility of the cloud for other workloads.

4. Legacy technologies

Mature businesses may be heavily reliant on legacy systems that were designed and deployed before the cloud was even a concept. As a result, they cannot easily be migrated to a cloud platform – if at all.

Rather than trying to force these old systems onto a hosted platform – and undertaking the required re-engineering work – businesses may be better advised to invest in building new APIs to interface with other cloud-based applications.

5. Compliance and sovereignty

Another issue to consider is the physical location where your data is being stored while hosted in the cloud. Industry regulations or legal requirements (like GDPR) may prohibit data being transferred to certain jurisdictions.

Because cloud services often rely on a global network of data centres to maintain performance and availability, it may be that your data is transferred automatically to an unauthorised location. As such you must confirm where a provider’s data centres are located and whether you may run into issues of sovereignty by using their service.

Conclusion

Like any major IT project, cloud adoption can be extremely complicated. The five issues outlined here are just some of the challenges you face in your journey to the cloud, so you should speak to a cloud expert before proceeding.

To learn more about how best to manage your Oracle databases and for hel; in your journey to the cloud, please give us a call.

Oracle spare servers for enterprise infrastructure and data centres in Birmingham

Why Oracle SPARC?

Choosing server technology is an important part of any businesses’ technology strategy and there are many factors affecting the decision. IT leaders should factor in the business platforms it should be running, will they be frontline applications or backup files, will it be cloud based or on premises, does it need to consolidate an existing server estate, what is the best technology the budget will allow?

What platforms will it be running?

For customers who are looking for server technology to run Oracle database and applications, Oracle SPARC servers are fully optimised for Oracle databases and applications and will deliver the best performance and security available. Oracle SPARC’s reporting and analytics capabilities are incredibly fast and inbuilt virtualisation features secure data and improve application performance. Whilst SPARC is optimised for Oracle applications, it is non-proprietary, enabling transformational performance and efficiency gains for most enterprise applications, at an affordable price point.

Cloud or on-premises?

Most businesses today are using the cloud, the Flexera State of the Cloud Report for 2019 found that 94% of businesses surveyed used cloud services, with 91% using public cloud, 72% using private cloud and 69% using at least one public and one private.

For organisations that are considering migrating services to the cloud, or extending onsite data centres to the cloud, even if it is not an immediate plan, servers that have been designed with cloud services in mind will have greater longevity. By taking a cloud-first approach to technology infrastructure development, Oracle has built its cloud solutions using the same SPARC technology that it uses in its servers allowing customers a clear path to the cloud. Customers undecided on when they will move to the cloud can purchase SPARC servers to use on premises, easily moving to cloud services with few migration costs, and without the need to change applications, driving value from today’s investment in the future.

Server consolidation

By consolidating large numbers of smaller servers onto fewer large symmetric multiprocessing (MSP) servers the workload demands on compute power are evened out improving overall utilisation and performance. Large SMP servers simplify the deployment of applications, and less servers to manage means less management overhead, meaning further savings. Oracle approaches server consolidation with different levels of partitioning within SPARC servers, involving PDoms, Oracle VM Server partitioning and Oracle Solaris Zones technology, getting increasingly more granular and flexible. Different workloads have different service levels and will utilise resources differently, which will require different configurations. Oracle’s centralised, single management console simplifies the management of the consolidated servers.

Cost

Oracle SPARC has been priced competitively in the enterprise server market, with feature rich hardware at comparatively lower prices than many other vendors. Cost savings can also come from efficiency gains, enabled because SPARC servers perform more business transactions at a faster rate, so customers need less of them, keeping hardware costs and software license costs down.

Performance

Performance is critical for servers that will be running enterprise applications and serving mission critical data, and this is another area where Oracle SPARC performs well. Core and processor performance are strong, and specific features like Software in Silicon have been designed to ensure faster enterprise apps.

Security

Oracle has built in security from the group up, with advanced encryption for data at rest, in transit and in storage, with no degradation of performance. Oracle’s Silicon Secured Memory provides 24/7 intrusion protection. In addition, SPARC servers running Oracle Solaris offer protection for applications in memory, access controls, automated patching, and security compliance auditing.

Whatever the business requirement, application or environment, Oracle SPARC is a viable server technology that can meet the needs of a modern business, today and in the future.

Useful Links

Flexera State of the Cloud Report – 2019

Shows opened padlock to represent security threat

Why automation will become the most reliable way of preventing, detecting, and mitigating security threats

Modern organisations are taking advantage of new and innovative technology, transforming their business operations, continuously improving efficiencies, delivering high levels of customer service, and unearthing new opportunities for products and services that wouldn’t have been conceivable 5-10 years ago. This transformation comes at a price however, and the same technologies used to drive businesses forward are also being deployed maliciously, primarily for financial gain (71% of data breaches were financially motivated, according to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report) or to gain a strategic advantage. Businesses face greater numbers of security related events more frequently and in different guises than they did five years ago, with attacks on individuals using social channels becoming more prevalent. Alongside this, workforces are hypermobile, well used to downloading applications and accessing, storing and transmitting corporate data anywhere and on any device. In order to keep this edge data secure, businesses must now do more than simply protect against attacks, they must try and prevent them from happening in the first place, wherever the user happens to be and whatever device they happen to be using.

So how do you do that?

The first step is to identify genuine threats from the vast swathes of security incident data that is collected for analysis from a myriad of different sources. They are deliberately not easy to spot, and attackers will use next generation technologies such as AI to hide amongst legitimate traffic. However, some AI and machine learning driven security solutions can analyse massive amounts of data from across any number of data sources, using the power of the cloud to process the analysis right across the organisation, from the edge to the core.

Oracle is one such security solution, enabling businesses to secure modern hybrid clouds with a set of security and management cloud solutions, which draw on data gathered from logs, security events, external threat feeds, database transactions and applications. It uses AI and machine learning technology to detect malicious intentions, then automates the process of finding available security patches and applying them, and all without downtime.

In addition, Oracle’s automated services encrypt production data and enforce user controls, so you don’t have to do it manually.

As we’ve mentioned, to protect data from edge to core, organisations must implement a multi-layered strategy, and when using the cloud, don’t assume that all data protection responsibility lies with the cloud provider. Most cloud providers assume a shared responsibility model, where they offer assurances around the security of the data held on their infrastructure, but access to that data and SaaS data is usually the responsibility of the customer. Consider layering your security solutions to protect every layer of data and each access point, including a Cloud Access Security Broker and Identity Access Manager which will monitor, detect threats, automate the identity management process, sending alerts if anomalous behaviour occurs and remediate wherever possible, without the need for human intervention. Making this work across heterogenous technology on different platforms, on-premises, in the public cloud and in private clouds, is the trickiest part, but Oracle has got it absolutely spot on. Consider the manual alternative, thousands or even millions of security alerts coming into different management consoles, to be sifted through, users to be authorised and behaviour to be monitored and analysed, patches sought and applied and data to be encrypted. It doesn’t bear thinking about.

WTL offer a range cybersecurity solutions which employ next-generation features to ensure you remain one step ahead of the cybercriminals.

Useful Links

Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report

Oracle Cloud Essentials – Secure and Manage Hybrid Clouds

Oracle’s Top 10 Cloud Predictions 2019

Oracles cloud based solutions in Birmingham & the West MIdlands

Next Generation Cloud – Why you should be looking at Oracle

There is no doubt that the use of cloud technology is no longer just about cost and capacity, or cheap servers and storage. Analysts Forrester said it’s about using the best platform to turn innovative ideas into software quickly. Taking innovation to market fast is what sets businesses apart from their competitors, and the cloud is the best way to do that. It’s no longer a destination, it is an operating model. Public cloud usage is growing in 2019, while private cloud use declined, according to Flexera’s annual State of the Cloud* report, the largest survey on the use of cloud infrastructure which focuses on cloud buyers and users. In addition to the public cloud adoption rates rising, enterprise organisations are planning on spending more on public cloud, 24% more than in 2018 and 50% of enterprises surveyed are already spending around £1m annually. Whilst there may still be concerns around the flexibility and performance capabilities of the public cloud for enterprise grade applications, there are emerging public cloud providers that are building clouds which has been specifically designed for enterprise applications and databases. These next-generation public clouds have the tools and utilities needed by developers to build new cloud native and mobile apps, on a single, unified platform and networking fabric.

Oracle’s next-generation public cloud infrastructure offers the flexibility and performance levels that can rival those found in high performance computing environments on premises, alongside support for Oracle applications and developer tools that allow new applications to be created.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is ideal for any workload, whether that is DevTesting in the cloud, of new applications or customisations, validating patches, or testing technologies like containers or methodologies like continuous integration and continuous delivery.

Oracle Cloud is not just for testing however, enterprises can run production environments here with confidence. Bare metal options enable exceptional levels of performance and Real Application Clusters and load balancing can ensure high availability.

For customers that just want to use the cloud for backup and DR purposes, Oracle’s next-generation public cloud is ideal, with its resilient, secure and highly available storage and integration with virtual machines and automation features.

Businesses that aren’t planning on replacing their on-premises infrastructure with cloud infrastructure can seamlessly extend into the Oracle Cloud using a VPN or FastConnect. A great way of maximising investment into on-premises infrastructure.

But why would businesses choose Oracle Cloud over platforms like AWS or Azure? In a research paper by DAO Research, findings showed that businesses prioritised the support and breadth of solutions offered by a cloud vendor, often over the technology features found in each tier. Oracle ranks highly with its comprehensive offering across all tiers, coupled with strong expertise and support offerings.

At the same time customers are looking for simply priced and transparent solutions with no hidden costs, which minimise complexity. Oracle meets the brief, with a transparent, straightforward pricing and service structure which allows for charge-backs. This is often a necessity for global organisations.

Oracle provides enterprise grade performance and resilience, ideal for the large volume, production environment database-driven workloads and applications that are prevalent in larger organisations. The familiar tools and interfaces of Oracle databases and applications are a big draw for customers.

The DevOps capabilities and cloud native design of Oracle Cloud is designed to support advanced  capabilities such as microservices, containers, mobile, analytics and low code development, alongside traditional enterprise applications. This versatility sets Oracle apart from the main competitors and its integrated developer tools remove the DIY element of developing in the public cloud.

For customers looking at hybrid cloud strategies, and it is worth noting that Flexra reports an increase from 51% in 2018 to 58% in 2019 of enterprises with a hybrid cloud strategy, Oracle is well placed to support businesses with the same technology, standards, skillsets and tooling for Oracle Cloud that is used with on-premises Oracle deployments.

Oracle itself predicts that businesses are moving towards a 100% cloud deployment model, and that only cloud providers that can enable highly complex workloads and mission critical applications, with the utmost levels of security, control and continuity will be suitable platforms for 100% data centre replacement projects.

Useful Links

Oracle Cloud Predictions 2019

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure – Cloud Essentials

ODAO Research White Paper – Next Generation Cloud Delivers Enterprise Scale

Flexera 2019 State of the Cloud Survey

Oracle's Cloud Based Solution for applications in Birmingham and the West Midlands

An Enterprise Cloud for any Application

As you probably know, cloud adoption rates are high, with public cloud adoption rates higher than private cloud and many organisations planning a multi cloud strategy. Rightscale’s 2019 State of the Cloud Report found 94% of respondents were using cloud services, 91% have adopted public cloud and 72% private cloud. 69% use at least one public and one private cloud.

But what are the main use cases for cloud and how can businesses find the right cloud for their requirements?

Many businesses use the cloud for a specific application or workload first, then gradually move more. Application development and testing is well suited, as is big data analytics, because of the cloud’s burstable nature. Backup, archiving, DR and high availability can be run simply and reliably. For businesses that need to refresh infrastructure or consolidate multiple applications, the cloud offers a flexible and viable option. Data warehousing requires capacity and scalability, making the cloud an obvious choice.

For most businesses, flexibility, security, performance, availability, cost and simplicity are high on the list of requirements of any cloud deployment, so how do they find all of these?

Oracle Cloud has all the answers.

Flexibility: Oracle Cloud provides customers with an end to end cloud offering, spanning infrastructure, platform and application layers, with integrated consumption models and centralised management. It is flexible and can be deployed as a private cloud, hybrid cloud or public cloud model, which are interchangeable. In fact, Oracle actively encourages a hybrid cloud approach, with pre-packaged applications and tools for rapid provisioning, migration, centralised management and integration.

With Oracle Cloud, applications run identically, whether deployed in the cloud or on premises. As a truly flexible cloud option, Oracle Cloud can run different operating systems and any application, not just Oracle applications. In addition, open standards mean IT teams can develop the integrations they need.

Security: Oracle Cloud is secure, with physical data centre access controls, data encryption, and a multi-layered security strategy which covers all layers of the technology stack. If public cloud really is a no-go for security or regulatory reasons, then Oracle Cloud at Customer is a truly unique option which allows customers to deploy an instance of Oracle Cloud Machine or Oracle Database Exadata Cloud on site. As a subscription model, the deployment is behind the customer’s firewall and Oracle handle installation, configuration, patching, lifecycle management, upgrades and monitoring. This fully managed cloud is secure, flexible, fast and cost effective, with options for offsetting on-premises licenses against the costs.

Performance: Oracle Cloud is an enterprise grade cloud, which offers bare metal options which allow applications to be configured to run on dedicated resources. For mission critical applications, Exadata cloud option ensures extreme performance.

Availability: Oracle offers a Maximum Availability Architecture which includes backup, Oracle Real Application Clusters and DR.

Cost: Cost reductions come from moving entire workloads to the cloud and retiring data centres, and from the elastic capacity offered by Oracle Cloud which facilitates cloud bursts without the need to over-provision. Oracle Cloud also provides the tools needed to migrate applications without the need to rewrite.

Simplicity: As you would expect, moving Oracle applications, such as E-Business Suite, JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, Siebel, Oracle Database and Oracle WebLogic Server from premises to cloud is straightforward. They can simply be repackaged for a seamless move to the cloud. Oracle also provides the tools to allow VMware and KVM workloads to be lifted and shifted to the cloud with no changes.

However, non-Oracle applications such as Microsoft Windows, IBM WebSphere, Tomcat, JBoss, SQL Server, DB2, Mongo DB, Cassandra, Postgres and Sybase can also be migrated to the cloud with ease.

Before any migration takes place, Oracle offers all the tools needed to estimate the resources organisations will need to maintain current SLAs. Performance management tools will identify and fix issues which could affect performance.

When it comes to the actual migration, Oracle offers cloning tools to seamlessly copy applications to the cloud. For businesses with zero tolerance for downtime, migration is possible with Oracle GoldenGate Cloud service, which uses real time data replication feature to move data in large quantities.

For new deployments, Oracle Enterprise Cloud allows organisations to reduce the steps involved in multitier application deployments, from an average 14 steps on premises, to just 6 steps. Oracle Cloud Marketplace also offers a set of pre-packaged applications for turnkey deployments.

Whilst it might not be as well known as AWS or Azure, Oracle Cloud has been built for the enterprise, with enterprise applications and workloads front and centre. It meets the needs of businesses and should not be overlooked.

Useful Links

Rightscale, 2019 State of the Cloud