Welcome!

.NET Authors: Elizabeth White, ChandraShekar Dattatreya, Trevor Parsons, Peter Silva, Yeshim Deniz

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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
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.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, phone and digital TV services to consumers primarily in rural areas.
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The major cloud platforms defy a simple, side-by-side analysis. Each of the major IaaS public-cloud platforms offers their own unique strengths and functionality. Options for on-site private cloud are diverse as well, and must be designed and deployed while taking existing legacy architecture and infrastructure into account. Then the reality is that most enterprises are embarking on a hybrid cloud strategy and programs. In this Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo (http://www.CloudComputingExpo.com), moderated by Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, Nate Gordon, Director of T...