Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Adrian Bridgwater, Liz McMillan, Lori MacVittie, Roger Strukhoff, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, .NET, Open Source, Virtualization, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

When IT Universes Collide

How 'Swing Shift' Hybrid Clouds Can Help Transition Post-M&A IT Assets

You may be the CIO or IT manager for a fairly complex IT environment. You also may already have begun moving your data center to a private cloud paradigm that offers greater efficiency and agility to meet your company's needs.

While there are still a few challenges to work through, most days seem to run fairly smoothly. In the course of a week, however, the landscape changes. You are suddenly drawn into discussions with company management about a potential acquisition or merger in the works.

How do you advise your company on the impact of bringing both IT worlds together, let alone how best to navigate, post-M&A, the smooth integration of the other company's IT assets with yours?

As it turns out, a hybrid cloud paradigm - used in what I call 'swing-shift' mode - may be one way to mitigate risk when integrating  IT worlds after a corporate merger or acquisition.

Expanding Use Cases for Hybrid Cloud
We generally define hybrid cloud as the informational and managerial relationship between an organization's internal, private cloud and someone else's cloud (whether that other cloud is public or a hosted, private cloud). The idea of using the fast-growing hybrid cloud paradigm as a swing shift of sorts for post-M&A IT asset integration is the second of two use cases we'll describe here:

1. Cloud Bursting
This is the first and most commonly described use case for hybrid cloud computing. Often referred to as 'cloud bursting,' this allows a company to temporarily expand the processing capability of its own internal, private cloud environment by tapping into the added processing power of an external cloud provider. This scenario is used to better meet short-term, burstable processing needs that are often associated with seasonal fluctuations of retailers or business service providers. Examples that come to mind include Black Friday, Election Day or other significant, periodic inflection points.

Using hybrid cloud to temporarily boost in-house compute cycles can give companies an extra weapon in the capacity-planning arsenal and a better way to balance capital expenditures with on-going operating expenses. Capital expenditures can be budgeted to meet a company's general, steady-state processing capacity while operating expenses are contracted based on usage in order to meet a yearly services rush. The business advantage to buying-for-the-surge is that the additional cost can be associated with the specific event. Subsequent cost/benefit analysis is then focused on that specific event.

2. Swing-Shift IT Integration (Post-M&A)
Admittedly, using a hybrid cloud architecture to aid integration of IT assets for a corporate merger or acquisition project is not as common a use case as cloud bursting. But, it can have much broader appeal to more companies. I call it hybrid cloud in 'swing-shift' mode because this use case relies on an external cloud provider acting as a safe 'swing' architecture (or temporary home) for the merged or acquired company's IT assets and applications.

This type of hybrid cloud usage can help address many of the challenges that occur when acquiring companies with technology assets. Such challenges include:

  • Isolating and evaluating possibly outdated technology which the acquired company may not have kept up to date in anticipation of being sold.
  • Separating architectures -- especially where there are vast differences in security, compliance or other IT governance issues between the acquirer and the acquired.

In each of these cases, the acquirer may be unwilling to bring such IT assets onto the network or into the data center too quickly or without ample triage around the migration approach. In contrast, a hybrid cloud environment can provide a temporary holding place for users' desktops, mailboxes, or even certain business applications. For the acquiring company it can offer a useful virtual, 'cleansing' environment to use as a base prior to ingesting into the permanent environment.

Swing Shift Hybrid Cloud in Action
In recent years, a few companies have made IT news for their novel use of hybrid cloud to aid in their own M&A integrations.

In 2011, Gartner published its own case study surrounding international Milwaukee-based manufacturer Brady Corporation that had acquired 50 companies in relative short order. The case study, "Brady Corporation: Hybrid cloud sourcing accelerates post-merger integration," [ID Number: G00211838] described various ways the company was able to leverage cloud services to help it migrate IT infrastructure and systems following its various acquisitions.

In late 2012, enterprise cloud provider Virtustream also shared how Domino Sugar used its hybrid cloud services to migrate and integrate IT assets from a recently acquired holding, Tate & Lyle Sugars. In this case, Domino Sugar had to first 'carve out' Tate & Lyle Sugars' business applications from its prior parent company's IT environment before the newly acquired company could be integrated into Domino Sugar's IT environment. At the time, Domino Sugar was also using Virtustream cloud services. To aid the process, the cloud provider deployed an on-premise cloud appliance at Tate & Lyle Sugars' U.K. data center. It then connected the appliance to its own off-premise cloud nodes in the U.S. A post-merger integration, migration and archiving methodology was followed by Virtustream in order to successfully transition and merge IT assets between Domino and Tate & Lyle. [See press release dated 09/13/2012, "Cloud Leveraged for a Rapid Post-Acquisition Integration of Tate & Lyle Sugars." ]

Such use cases highlight hybrid cloud's ability to serve a number of functions, including its use as a viable staging and filtering area for incoming IT assets stemming from a recent acquisition.

Swing-Shift Hybrids: What You Need to Know
Domino Sugar's real-world case describes methodologies and planning needed to successfully use hybrid cloud in this type of swing-shift mode.

Here, it might be helpful to consider that much of the same methodologies and planning apply to the post-M&A environment as they do when you are conducting other major data center transformation efforts:

  • Physically moving your company's IT assets to a new data center
  • Consolidating or collapsing multiple data centers
  • Merging dispersed IT assets after a business-wide reorganization.

In all cases, a wide variety of large and small details and dependencies must be identified, evaluated and addressed. Experienced IT advisors can help minimize a company's risk during this process. This includes knowing where best to employ a hybrid cloud to further minimize risk and streamline integration. Armed with this type of advice, a company in the midst of M&A activity should be able to better address:

  • Ways to begin operation of the newly acquired entity within an often tight timeline
  • Interim and post-M&A handling of the acquired company's mail servers and Active Directory domains and domain controllers
  • Whether or not the acquired company's hardware should be added to the new company or whether it should be subsequently retired
  • The impact of archiving some of the acquired company's data and applications vs. retiring applications which may now be obsolete
  • The possibility of combining short-term data migration efforts in a hybrid cloud environment with a larger virtualization project. Such an environment may be able to facilitate migrating the acquired company's physical servers into a virtual server environment (P-to-V conversion)
  • The prospect of setting up parallel or interim test/development environments via hybrid cloud in order to try out migration and integration efforts between old and new systems, or between the two companies themselves

Other Considerations
In contrast to a cloud provider used for cloud bursting (where usage may only be needed over a matter of hours, days or weeks), usage of a swing-shift hybrid cloud provider is likely to span several months. This can impact what to look for when trying to find the right cloud provider.

Among the points identified earlier in this article, organizations also need to take a closer look at certain IT management elements like data protection and security. The term "hybrid cloud" implies that certain controls like authentication and management/monitoring can be extended from your company to the cloud provider. Even disaster recovery may need to be considered and included. Organizations should also spend time looking at the provider's data migration plan and application migration strategy since the data originates from an external source, the acquired company.

This is also an area where details really matter. A service provider that can effectively serve the role of a swing-shift hybrid cloud provider must exhibit the appropriate level of technical expertise, technological capabilities and customer references. The provider's contract and service level agreement must also have much of these details spelled out before you sign on the dotted line. IT advisors can help in this type of vetting process as well.

Once you have a viable roadmap to help navigate through these potential obstacles, hybrid cloud used in this type of swing-shift mode can be a very satisfying and efficient way to ease the burden of acquisitions. It can also help ease IT operational headaches and smooth the integration of an acquired company's people, processes and IT assets.

More Stories By Steve Bulmer

Steve Bulmer brings more than 30 years of strategic and tactical technology advice to a vast array of clients. As former CTO for StraTech and now advisory principal with Datalink, he consults with IT executives and managers on strategies across Big Data, IT service level management, data protection and data management, business continuity/disaster recovery, and IT automation including virtualization, cloud, and the software-defined data center. Steve has helped develop numerous frameworks, methodologies, and maturity models that bring efficiencies to IT organizations.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Cloud Expo Latest Stories
With the explosion of the cloud, more businesses are transitioning to a recurring revenue model to generate reliable sales, grow profits, and open new markets. This opportunity requires businesses to get to market quickly with the pricing and packaging options customers want. In addition, you will want to take advantage of the ensuing tidal wave of data to more effectively upsell, cross-sell and manage your customers. All of this is possible, but only with the right approach. At 15th Cloud Expo, Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder at Aria Systems and the inventor of cloud billing panelists, will lead a panel discussion on what it takes to launch and manage a successful recurring revenue business. The panelists will offer their insights about what each department will need to consider, from financial management to line of business and IT. The panelists will also offer examples from their success in recurring revenue with companies such as Audi, Constant Contact, Experian, Pitney-Bowes, Teleko...
Planning scalable environments isn't terribly difficult, but it does require a change of perspective. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will broaden your views to think on an Internet scale by dissecting a video publishing application built with The SoftLayer Platform, Message Queuing, Object Storage, and Drupal. By examining a scalable modular application build that can handle unpredictable traffic, attendees will able to grow your development arsenal and pick up a few strategies to apply to your own projects.
Come learn about what you need to consider when moving your data to the cloud. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Skyla Loomis, a Program Director of Cloudant Development at Cloudant, will discuss the security, performance, and operational implications of keeping your data on premise, moving it to the cloud, or taking a hybrid approach. She will use real customer examples to illustrate the tradeoffs, key decision points, and how to be successful with a cloud or hybrid cloud solution.
The cloud provides an easy onramp to building and deploying Big Data solutions. Transitioning from initial deployment to large-scale, highly performant operations may not be as easy. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will discuss the benefits, weaknesses, and performance characteristics of public and bare metal cloud deployments that can help you make the right decisions.
Over the last few years the healthcare ecosystem has revolved around innovations in Electronic Health Record (HER) based systems. This evolution has helped us achieve much desired interoperability. Now the focus is shifting to other equally important aspects – scalability and performance. While applying cloud computing environments to the EHR systems, a special consideration needs to be given to the cloud enablement of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), i.e., the largest single medical system in the United States.
Cloud and Big Data present unique dilemmas: embracing the benefits of these new technologies while maintaining the security of your organization’s assets. When an outside party owns, controls and manages your infrastructure and computational resources, how can you be assured that sensitive data remains private and secure? How do you best protect data in mixed use cloud and big data infrastructure sets? Can you still satisfy the full range of reporting, compliance and regulatory requirements? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Derek Tumulak, Vice President of Product Management at Vormetric, will discuss how to address data security in cloud and Big Data environments so that your organization isn’t next week’s data breach headline.
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Is your organization struggling to deal with skyrocketing volumes of digital assets? The amount of data is growing exponentially and organizations are having a hard time managing this growth. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Amar Kapadia, Senior Director of Open Cloud Strategy at Seagate, will walk through the essential considerations when developing a cloud storage strategy. In this discussion, you will understand the challenges IT is facing, why companies need to move to cloud, and how the right cloud model can help your business economically overcome the data struggle.
If cloud computing benefits are so clear, why have so few enterprises migrated their mission-critical apps? The answer is often inertia and FUD. No one ever got fired for not moving to the cloud – not yet. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Michael Hoch, SVP, Cloud Advisory Service at Virtustream, will discuss the six key steps to justify and execute your MCA cloud migration.
The 16th International Cloud Expo announces that its Call for Papers is now open. 16th International Cloud Expo, to be held June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
Most of today’s hardware manufacturers are building servers with at least one SATA Port, but not every systems engineer utilizes them. This is considered a loss in the game of maximizing potential storage space in a fixed unit. The SATADOM Series was created by Innodisk as a high-performance, small form factor boot drive with low power consumption to be plugged into the unused SATA port on your server board as an alternative to hard drive or USB boot-up. Built for 1U systems, this powerful device is smaller than a one dollar coin, and frees up otherwise dead space on your motherboard. To meet the requirements of tomorrow’s cloud hardware, Innodisk invested internal R&D resources to develop our SATA III series of products. The SATA III SATADOM boasts 500/180MBs R/W Speeds respectively, or double R/W Speed of SATA II products.
In today's application economy, enterprise organizations realize that it's their applications that are the heart and soul of their business. If their application users have a bad experience, their revenue and reputation are at stake. In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anand Akela, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Application Performance Management at CA Technologies, will discuss how a user-centric Application Performance Management solution can help inspire your users with every application transaction.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in software-defined storage (SDS) purpose-built for Windows Servers and Hyper-V, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Gridstore™ is the leader in software-defined storage purpose built for virtualization that is designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Using its patented Server-Side Virtual Controller™ Technology (SVCT) to eliminate the I/O blender effect and accelerate applications Gridstore delivers vmOptimized™ Storage that self-optimizes to each application or VM across both virtual and physical environments. Leveraging a grid architecture, Gridstore delivers the first end-to-end storage QoS to ensure the most important App or VM performance is never compromised. The storage grid, that uses Gridstore’s performance optimized nodes or capacity optimized nodes, starts with as few a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudian, Inc., the leading provider of hybrid cloud storage solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudian is a Foster City, Calif.-based software company specializing in cloud storage. Cloudian HyperStore® is an S3-compatible cloud object storage platform that enables service providers and enterprises to build reliable, affordable and scalable hybrid cloud storage solutions. Cloudian actively partners with leading cloud computing environments including Amazon Web Services, Citrix Cloud Platform, Apache CloudStack, OpenStack and the vast ecosystem of S3 compatible tools and applications. Cloudian's customers include Vodafone, Nextel, NTT, Nifty, and LunaCloud. The company has additional offices in China and Japan.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TechXtend (formerly Programmer’s Paradise), a leading value-added provider of server and storage virtualization, and r-evolution will exhibit at SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TechXtend (formerly Programmer’s Paradise) is a leading value-added provider of software, systems and solutions for corporations, government organizations, and academic institutions across the United States and Canada. TechXtend is the Exclusive Reseller in the United States for r-evolution