Click here to close now.


Microsoft Cloud Authors: Jordan Sanders, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Keith Mayer, Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Open Source Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: 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.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...
PubNub has announced the release of BLOCKS, a set of customizable microservices that give developers a simple way to add code and deploy features for realtime apps.PubNub BLOCKS executes business logic directly on the data streaming through PubNub’s network without splitting it off to an intermediary server controlled by the customer. This revolutionary approach streamlines app development, reduces endpoint-to-endpoint latency, and allows apps to better leverage the enormous scalability of PubNub’s Data Stream Network.