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Why does Workload Placement matter?

Posted on: 31st August 2023

Intelligent workload management is a key element of cloud migration and digital transformation. It ensures that the location or environment where a specific application, service, or workload should run are optimised to meet your performance, security, cost considerations and business requirements.

David Owen, head of pre-sales and our multi-disciplinary solutions architecture team, explores the issues.

Every organisation and every workload is unique, and it’s part of the systems and solutions architect’s role to assess and analyse the functional and non-functional requirements to help you make intelligent decisions about solution design and allocating workload.

The ‘right application, right task, right place’ scenario depends heavily on making the right solution choice. The range of public and private cloud, edge, colocation and on-premise choices has created as many options as there are business models.

Key factors for workload placement
The cornerstones of designing an agile workload placement strategy which balances agility with risk are: performance, security, business continuity, scaleability, data locality and cost.
Everyone is looking for the best long term commercial option for their business, and there are many factors to consider in getting the balance right.

Our pre-sales efforts start with understanding the customer aspirations and challenges, their current and future constraints, and their application set. This helps us to help them define and prioritise workloads and start to identify how the whole model can be redesigned to deliver the optimal solution.

Choose the right partner
The right advice is an essential element in your successful digital transformation journey. So what should you be looking for in a partner? As a minimum, they should have proven capability and expertise in public cloud, private cloud, edge, colocation and on-premise solutions, plus the extra benefit of their own UK data centre.

Very few IT partners truly have this combination of expertise, and you need to be wary of finding yourself being pushed down the wrong path. If you consult a partner who only provides public cloud, then guess what – that’s the option they will recommend for you.
We focus on finding the right fit for each customer so we can present clear options and future proof recommendations, and add value by becoming a trusted advisor. Our customers can expect a thoughtful and detailed analysis to help them make an informed choice. It’s not about a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and springing surprises on them.

Project scope for workload placement
A common practice from customers is to ‘just move application X to place Y, and do the same’. But applications don’t act alone, there will always be something someone hasn’t thought of. Another downside of ‘do the same’ approach is while you might solve an immediate problem, you are very likely to be migrating existing issues to a new platform which is almost certainly sub-optimal. In reality the brief often flexes as we ask questions about interdependencies, and open the door to more possibilities.

For one business it might make sense to run an accounts application in private cloud, use public cloud for less critical workloads, and house backup and recovery on-premise. For another, the model will be completely different.

Organisations constantly evolve, and their workload requirements need to keep pace. What may have been a logical workload placement choice a year ago might no longer fit, as usage patterns change and workloads become more complex. Making sure any proposed solution has the flexibility to be moved to a more efficient solution in the future should also be factored into any decision making.

Security is paramount. Business continuity is more critical than ever, with the number of threats increasing and becoming more intelligent year on year. Having a multi-faceted approach to backup, disaster recovery and high availability delivers protection from hardware failures.

Workload placement strategy: costs
Money matters, and every business is different. Some might be cash rich, while others will be looking to fund their IT through an opex model, a scenario we covered in a recent article here.

You might be happy to hear that part of our recommendations may be to switch certain things off, or how we can optimise workloads by modernising them to take advantage of public cloud services. A carefully considered workload placement strategy can help to identify and remove obvious overspends by reconfiguring or even taking out certain elements. This reduces the dead weight of an older style architecture that no longer delivers the best cost, performance or capability balance.

This is where a holistic analysis of both the specific solutions and the business need could save you a considerable amount of money in the long term.

For instance under a full managed service, your partner will support your solution from the operating system down but is not responsible for – or possibly aware of – what applications run on them. But with a workload analysis, we can identify opportunities for better optimisation and placement on to the optimal platform so you are only paying for what you need and use, when you use it.

Why pay a premium for an application that spends most of the month doing nothing, or one that needs to scale 3000% on a few days a year? This is where cloud’s autoscaling comes to the fore, allowing you to seamlessly scale up and down only when needed.

There are a multitude of factors that can drive the decision about what to put where in terms of your workload.

Get it wrong and you can affect your bottom line, or even compromise your organisation’s security. But making the most of your resources and where they sit can support your business to adapt to changing market conditions and opportunities, so it remains agile and secure.
Many solutions and service providers are focused on one specific platform. Here at ITPS we have an impartial approach to the underlying solution, this allows us to make the most optimal decisions when it comes to solutions design.

If you suspect your IT assets could be used more effectively but could use some help, get in touch to talk to our experts.

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