1.1 Inherent Challenges for Workload Transformation

As your business evolves, the data center can expand unevenly or in very dissimilar ways through mergers and acquisitions. Legacy and new technologies coexist. Your IT staff maintains a heterogeneous mix of hardware architectures, operating systems, and applications. This workload diversity increases the stress on your IT staff as well as the likelihood of human error. Older hardware typically has a larger facility footprint, consumes more power, and requires more cooling than does a consolidated solution using virtualization platforms.

Benefits of Transformation

You want to transform your workloads to achieve these benefits:

  • Optimize workload diversity to better meet your current and future business needs

  • Simplify daily operations

  • Improve overall efficiency

  • Reduce operational costs

  • Reduce risks in the IT environment

Goals for Transformation

The purpose of any workload transformation or migration is to change workloads from their current modes of operation to appropriate future modes of operation. How you achieve the change depends on the types of workloads you manage and your business needs. Typical project objectives include the following:

  • Migrate workloads between physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructures.

  • Upgrade workloads to newer hardware, different hardware vendors, or hosted provider hardware.

  • Consolidate workloads on virtualization host servers or to cloud infrastructures.

  • Move virtual files to newer virtualization host servers, running the same or different virtualization hypervisors.

  • Lift and shift equipment from location A to location B.

  • Decommission old workloads as you retire software and services.

Your transformation or migration project might be a combination of any of these goals, or thousands of instances of the same one.

Challenges for Transformation

Migration planning is unwieldy. Migrating workloads from one place to another is easy to do if you have a few servers, or even 100 servers. Large-scale migration project might have thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of workloads. The information and planning requirements are not easily captured in a spreadsheet.

Business takes priority. Transformations require minimal downtime for mission critical applications and services. Each workload transformation has different priorities and windows of opportunity based on business demands. Schedules must consider the availability of target facilities, networks, equipment, and the IT staff needed to plan and execute the transformation. Management and organization stakeholders want to track the progress and status of your projects.

Assessment is tedious. Defining the original state of a workload can be tedious. You create a profile of the workload that includes information about its compute infrastructure, operating system, applications, data, and configuration. Because workloads might be upgraded or re-purposed over time, the profile might need to be augmented or updated before you execute the transformation. The related proposed workload profile might also need to change as appropriate to the revisions to the original workload.

The process seems never-ending. Large-scale IT transformation projects typically occur over an extended period in a production environment that might span multiple locations. Complex projects with massive numbers of workloads might take months or even years to complete. It might be possible to plan details only a few months in advance. Projects require multiple phases, not a one-time effort.