IT infrastructure optimization: tips, tricks, and best practices
N-iX
2021-08-04T21:32:20+00:00

It is critical to have a well-defined IT infrastructure optimization strategy to avoid over or under-investment.  However, choosing the right approach to optimizing your infrastructure can be a challenging task. You need an experienced technology partner to design, plan for and imp...

IT infrastructure optimization: tips, tricks, and best practices

It is critical to have a well-defined IT infrastructure optimization strategy to avoid over or under-investment. 

However, choosing the right approach to optimizing your infrastructure can be a challenging task. You need an experienced technology partner to design, plan for and implement an optimization and transformation plan.

In this article, you will learn the key benefits of IT infrastructure optimization, ways to optimize on-premise and cloud infrastructure, and more. 

IT infrastructure optimization: 3 key types

There are three main ways of IT infrastructure optimization: optimizing on-premise infrastructure, optimizing cloud infrastructure, and optimizing by migrating from on-premise to the cloud. Let’s view these ways and their benefits in more detail.

  1. On-premise infrastructure optimization

The most significant benefit of optimizing on-premise infrastructure is cost-cutting. However, be aware that by optimizing, you can sacrifice the performance of your system. 

Usually, to optimize on-premise infrastructure, businesses opt for cutting down the number of machines in their data centers. Sometimes companies go for reducing the number of processors, going for less powerful processors (4 core instead of 8 core, for instance), or decreasing memory capacity. However, all these ways of optimization may bring about some risks. 

Let’s say your e-commerce platform runs on 20 machines, which are expensive to maintain. Thus, you decide to optimize your IT infrastructure by cutting the number of devices to 15. Your system works fine, and you save 25% on infrastructure costs. But then Black Friday kicks in. Your platform experiences a peak load that 15 machines cannot handle. That, in turn, leads to downtime of your website and losing profits. 

So, before optimizing your on-premise infrastructure, make sure that it will handle the load throughout the year.

  1. Optimizing cloud infrastructure

Cloud infrastructure optimization is about assigning the right resources to a workload or application to maximize performance and minimize waste. 

Every application or workload has unique infrastructure needs, and these needs can change over time. So, it is critical to match workloads with cloud resources.

By regular (once in six months) cloud audits, businesses can achieve optimal performance, as optimized apps run better, require fewer resources to manage and less support. 

To optimize cloud infrastructure, the DevOps team can, for instance, prepare a solution that runs cloud infrastructure on demand. Thus, it gets possible to stop or start cloud infrastructure whenever you need it automatically. 

For instance, it is a common practice to launch an environment for a demo purpose. So, you pay for two hours you use the cloud instead of keeping it running the whole time.

Also, you can optimize your cloud expenditures by running a development environment only during the working hours of your developers, rather than using the resources 24/7. Thus, you can reduce costs on the development environment by two times.

You can also optimize only the most expensive components of cloud infrastructure. This way, some infrastructure elements are running 24/7, and others run only at certain periods when required.

  1. Optimization by migration from on-premise to the cloud

Many organizations have already made a shift from on-premise to the cloud or at least have moved a part of their infrastructure to the cloud. Gartner states that the global public cloud services market is expected to reach $354.6B by 2022, up from $227.8B in 2019.

Migration from on-premise to the cloud can help you save a lot. For instance, one of N-iX clients, a global streaming service, was able to cut infrastructure costs from $38.325 per month to $2.190 per month due to optimization and migration from EC2 to EKS cluster. 

There is no unified approach to cloud migration. There are many cloud services options. However, they are all built around three main pillars of cloud transformation: apps, data, and DevOps.

IT infrastructure optimization: cloud migration

Cloud infrastructure brings a wide range of benefits. Let’s view them in more detail.

  • Flexibility

Cloud vendors offer the concept of shared responsibility that provides flexibility and customer control. Within the concept, your cloud vendor is accountable for hosting your operating system and overall infrastructure security, whereas you are responsible for scaling and the security of your cloud.

  • Controlled level of responsibility

When businesses choose to host their data on the cloud, they benefit from managed services. This means that they entrust augmenting and optimizing their operational capabilities to a cloud provider. Thus, clients choose a level of responsibility they have over their infrastructure. 

For instance, AWS provides you with operational flexibility, tackles security issues, and helps you optimize capacity and take action on identified cost savings. They provide consistent monitoring, security, and incident management best practices.

  • Cost-optimization

As a result of shared responsibility and managed services in the cloud, you can cut operational costs. As the cloud vendor is responsible for security and hosting, and you need fewer people to manage your infrastructure. 

However, there are seven critical risks you need to consider while migrating your data to the cloud:

  • You do not have a clear cloud strategy;
  • Your current infrastructure is not compatible with the cloud;
  • Data losses;
  • Wasted costs;
  • Unwanted latency;
  • Lack of visibility and control;
  • Weak security. 

Learn how to mitigate these risks

The key benefits of IT infrastructure optimization by cloud migration is the increased scalability of such a system and shared responsibility.

The benefits of IT infrastructure optimization are tempting. But how to optimize IT infrastructure? What are the main stages? Let’s find out together.

How to optimize IT infrastructure: key steps

No matter what way of optimization you go for - on-premise, cloud, or migration to the cloud - there are three main stages of IT infrastructure optimization. They are audit, planning, and implementation. Let’s view these stages in more detail. 

  1. Audit

The audit is a critical part of IT infrastructure optimization, as you need to understand the possible optimization results. Let’s say you have an on-premise system that works fine. You decide to optimize it by moving to the cloud for the cost-cutting. It is, however, not always a case: sometimes cloud infrastructure is even more expensive to maintain.

So, during the audit stage, you need to find solid reasons why optimization is required, what consequences it may bring, and how your optimized infrastructure may perform in the long run.

Now, let’s learn more about on-premise and cloud infrastructure audits. 

On-premise audit:

The key to a successful on-premise infrastructure audit lies in understanding your system. How many machines are there in your data centre, what memory capacity your system has, and how much it, in fact, needs.

Cloud audit:

In the case of cloud audit, you also need to understand what resources you have and what is actually used. 

To perform a thorough audit of your current infrastructure, you need a strong team of DevOps experts if it comes to the cloud and administrators if you host your data on-premise.

When the analysis is ready, and you know for sure that you need infrastructure optimization, it is time for the planning stage. During this period, your team decides what way of optimization is the best fit for your business. 

  1. Planning

As there are different available ways of IT infrastructure optimization, planning gets even more critical. 

  • Planning on-premise infrastructure optimization

The main ways to optimize on-premise infrastructure are cutting the number of machines and decreasing the memory capacity.

  • Planning cloud infrastructure optimization

To optimize cloud infrastructure, creating Kubernetes clusters/Docker containers is a viable option. 

By doing so, you can, for example, create a system of five machines and run ten applications on them. This approach helps to reduce the cost of hosting and not have problems if one of the machines breaks down. 

So, if one of the machines fails, the system automatically transfers services hosted on it to other machines. Conversely, if the machine returns to the system, the services also return to their initial place.

You need to understand which approach will bring the most benefits to your project and think carefully about how it should be implemented. If it becomes clear that something needs to be upgraded or rewritten, then the development team should join the process.

When a team has a clear understanding and vision of how the optimization process will look, they continue to the implementation stage. 

  1. Implementation

  • On-premise optimization:

When it comes to on-premise infrastructure optimization, experts usually just cut the number of machines in a data centre. 

  • Cloud optimization:

At the same time, there are six main ways to transfer data to the cloud

They are: 

  • Re-host (lift and shift);
  • Re-platform (lift, tinker, and shift);
  • Modernize;
  • Rewrite;
  • Drop and shop;
  • Retain.

Re-hosting is the easiest one as it requires no coding effort and takes the least time. However, from a long-term perspective, this method doesn’t offer superior scalability and performance opportunities. 

Replatforming as a variation of the lift and shift approach involves some further adjustments to improve your landscape somehow, like migration to fully managed services. 

Modernizing is a similar approach, but some application components are enhanced or changed before or after the migration. Thus, more coding effort is needed. Rewriting is a complex process of application transformation that involves monolith to microservices decomposition.

Drop and shop is the best option if the ROI to transition a legacy application to the cloud is poor. In this case, it is better to purchase the ready-made solutions that will bring you the scalability and performance opportunities you require. 

Retaining is a passive method as no migration is needed. You keep applications as-is, where they are.

Learn more about cloud migration and transformation

To determine the best application transformation method, first, you need to analyze the application portfolio carefully. You have to assess whether a simple porting is possible or whether the application requires slight improvement before/after migration. 

In some cases, a complete redesign is needed. If none of those mentioned above methods suits you, you will need to replace your existing app with services from a SaaS cloud provider.

IT infrastructure optimization: key stages

Although the process of IT infrastructure optimization has many benefits, it also comes hand in hand with some challenges. Let’s view the main possible issues and the ways to overcome them. 

IT infrastructure optimization: challenges and best practices

The difficulties of on-premise and cloud IT infrastructure optimization are a bit different. 

On-premise optimization challenges:

When it comes to optimization without transferring applications to the cloud, i.e., on-premise, the most challenging task is a detailed analysis. 

To perform it, you need to clearly understand how the users of your product act, when the peak loads happen, how much capacity is required to withstand these loads, and the product development strategy for the future.

Cloud optimization challenges:

Also, each cloud infrastructure is unique, which also brings some challenges while optimizing.

Imagine that the system has a business process that was created ten years ago. Since, in most cases, the developers of this process no longer work on this project, the team does not know what the optimization of the process may affect. 

Accordingly, there is a risk of system failure due to its optimization.

Both these challenges can be addressed by finding a trusted partner that will help you optimize IT infrastructure. You need a partner with robust DevOps expertise, a partner that will ensure successful knowledge transfer. 

Businesses that benefit from IT infrastructure optimization

  1. Lebara

Lebara is one of Europe’s fastest-growing mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) with millions of active customers, employing over 62 nationalities worldwide in six countries.

Lebara needed a team of specialists to perform a wide range of solutions and comprised of several phases:

  • Re-platform — cost optimization and lead time decrease by migration from on-premises to the cloud 
  • Tech-stack upgrade: migrate from on-premises WCF and BizTalk to Azure, currently — from Azure Service Fabric to Azure Kubernetes Services
  • more flexible and scalable solution with the ability to change the cloud provider

Due to cloud migration, our client was able to improve scalability: it took a lot of time in the old configuration to scale; optimize costs: the reduction in infrastructure cost amounted to around 25-30%; improved innovation and lead time: service provided by the cloud helps the client to deliver faster. 

  1. Canadian online brokerage

This company is leveraging technology to lower fees while providing a viable alternative to traditional financial investment options. The client required a team with strong engineering skills to develop two React Native apps from scratch and cloud infrastructure optimization.

Three of our specialists extended the client's team of cloud infrastructure engineers. Together with the client's team, they modernize the infrastructure provided by Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Our main tasks encompass pipeline enhancement and optimization. For example, the client requested the solution to use one Redis by several apps. It allows for saving costs by using a fewer number of Redis. Previously, every app used its Redis. Also, we started to use storage versioning. 

Why optimize your IT infrastructure with N-iX?

  1. Our professionals can help you move data, applications, and systems from on-premise to a cloud or from one cloud provider to another;
  2. N-iX has excellent DevOps expertise that is critical when it comes to cloud IT infrastructure optimization;
  3. Due to our broad data expertise, we help our clients manage their data as well as develop various data solutions, including big data, data warehouse, data lake, business intelligence, data science, etc.;
  4. N-iX provides IaaS, PaaS, as well as SaaS solutions. 

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By Anton Vasylenko August 04, 2021
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About N-iX

N-iX is an Eastern European software development service company that helps businesses across the globe expand their engineering capabilities and develop successful software products. Founded in 2002, N-iX has formed strategic partnerships with a variety of global industry leaders and Fortune 500 companies, including OpenText, Fluke Corporation, AVL, Lebara, Currencycloud, RateSetter, TuneIn, and many others. With more than 1,500 professionals, N-iX offers expert solutions in software engineering, cloud-native services, data analytics, embedded software, IoT, machine learning, and other tech domains covering a wide variety of sectors, including finance, manufacturing, telecom, supply chain, to name a few.

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