IBM and Microsoft partnership accelerates sustainable cloud modernization

A global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) enterprise needed to modernize its product portfolio, focusing on high-growth categories like pet care, coffee and consumer health. Its aggressive sustainability goals included achieving net zero emissions by 2050, making all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025 and investing more than USD 3 billion globally over several years to drive momentum. Along the way, it needed to transform its organizational footprint, technology architecture and workplace culture—all sustainably.

IBM Consulting™ helped the customer modernize its architecture for a heavily used business-to-business conversational AI app. IBM’s recommendations included API-specific improvements, bot UX optimization, workflow optimization, DevOps microservices and design consideration, and best practices for Azure manage services. After getting familiar with the app architecture, priorities and requirements, IBM provided a detailed trade-offs analysis, including improvement options and security and cost implications.

The need to digitally transform touches every organization, in every industry. As a result, increasing numbers of organizations are migrating their information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructures to the public cloud, shifting workloads from on-premises to remote data centers and modernizing their application estates. While this trend is driving growth in the global cloud market, it’s also drawing increased scrutiny to the environmental impacts of data centers.

Currently, data centers are a significant source of organizations’ energy usage and carbon emissions. According to the IT Sustainability Beyond the Data Center report from the IBM Institute for Business Value, some estimates suggest that there has been a 43% absolute increase in the power capacity demand by data center operators between 2018 and 2021, and that the global data center market will grow by more than 30% between 2021 and 2027. That’s why IBM is working with Microsoft to help organizations lower their ICT footprint through sustainable cloud modernization and full-lifecycle cloud carbon accounting.

Learn how an international leading oil and gas company is driving its goal of net zero operations by 2050

A framework for success based on a shared blueprint

With IBM Consulting and Microsoft Tools and Services, customers can leverage the core strengths and latest innovations of both organizations as they move forward with cloud modernization. Along with Azure-managed services to help streamline workloads across the enterprise, customers can use the Emissions Impact Dashboard, a Microsoft Cloud for Sustainability solution, to search for ways to reduce emissions specifically related to their usage of Microsoft cloud services.

The dashboard aims to provide easy-to-understand data visualizations, report preparation and baseline accounting of their cloud-usage-based greenhouse gas emissions. The tool identifies carbon-intensive usage areas (or “hotspots”) and analyzes potential changes in emissions over time as enterprises migrate workloads and rearchitect applications. It can also help organizations plan for the future by forecasting how emissions may change as Microsoft moves forward with its mission to power operations through 100% renewable energy sources.

Based on IBM’s extensive modernization consulting knowledge, our professionals work with organizations to determine the best opportunities and target application architectures to deliver benefits throughout the entire application lifecycle. IBM’s modernization strategy starts with a solid understanding of business needs and the existing application landscape, including the precise number and function of apps and interdependencies.

Using both manual and automated tools to assess the landscape and operations, IBM Consulting guides enterprises as they map their modernization journeys. This includes outlining desired business outcomes, an implementation roadmap, target architecture, sustainability targets and outcomes, and required employee skillsets and business operating models. During the assessment, IBM will position 60+ cloud modernization design principles mapped to different Azure services based on different dispositions like rehost, replatform, refactor or rearchitect. Suggested services are aligned to the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework, a set of Green IT recommendations for optimizing Azure workloads that was developed in partnership with the Green Software Foundation.

Refactoring monolithic apps to microservices in Azure Kubernetes Service

Organizations are moving from traditional application development to cloud-native development (microservices) to help alleviate pain points like application inefficiency, high energy consumption when running monolithic (self-contained) apps on premises and fractured application ecosystems (as opposed to integrated environments enabled by cloud-native containers). Learn more about the benefits of cloud-native development.

Approaching these challenges and achieving goals at the unique scale required for each organization requires both a modernization roadmap and a timeframe. In our engagements, we use benchmarking, templates, virtualization and detailed analysis of technical capacities (such as network latencies) to streamline the journey.

Eventually we recommend replacing physical servers or storage with managed Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) solutions to help reduce energy and resource consumption through centralized cloud governance aligned to the customer’s security principles. 

Better together: IBM sustainability design principles with Azure-managed services

The beauty of modernization that targets common infrastructure attributes like reliability, scalability, usability and security is that these all may lead to environmental benefits. For this modernization, IBM’s proposed sustainability design principles (such as cluster auto-scaling , serverless architecture for data sync from SAP workload to Conversational AI platform and chatty I/O antipatterns) and corresponding Azure services (such as Azure Kubernetes Services, Azure Function, Azure Resource Manager, Azure SQL Database and Azure Cosmos DB) can potentially help customers reduce carbon footprint and advance sustainability efforts by minimizing impact in many areas. These include:

  • Server- and application-related resource and energy usage
  • Latency and network congestion (saving energy by speeding response times)
  • Physical resource requirements
  • Maintenance overhead (saving resource and energy usage)
  • Manual errors that can necessitate repetitive operational overhead
  • Network and database loads (enabling smaller databases)
  • Resource-intensive duplication (speeding communication between dependent APIs)
  • Latency (improving efficiency at massive scale)
  • Development dependencies (freeing organizations to choose sustainable technology and granular scaling) 

What else can be gained with cloud modernization?

Organizations that move forward with implementing strategies for sustainability capitalize on the operational, cost, resource utilization and competitive benefits of solution features like load-based “just in time” scaling, offerings of managed services like Azure, cloud data center proximity and database right-sizing through caching.

IBM Consulting’s “Green IT” framework and Microsoft Tools and Services for Sustainability work together to assess workloads, identify optimization levers that can help lower energy consumption and create an application modernization roadmap that enables you to achieve sustainability goals.

Learn more about Microsoft Tools and Services that help solve real-world sustainability challenges Contact IBM Consulting to learn more about sustainable application services

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