Companies are migrating workloads to the cloud, and the leading factor driving this mass effort for companies today is to reach the nirvana-like state of digital transformation. A study by IDG Research showed that 43 percent of companies expect their digital transformation to drive revenue growth. The race to push workloads to the cloud as well as the applications that drive them is under way. Transformations are not overnight endeavors however. They require strategy and planning. Part of that initial strategy is conducting an inventory of your current enterprise applications, mapping their interdependencies, and determining the feasibility and payoff for cloud possible migration. This assessment should include the following three questions:
- How critical is this application to the business?
- What is the level of complexity concerning this application?
- What are the costs involved in migrating it to the cloud?
The answers to these will help you formulate a strategy. While there are many ways to do this, a straightforward approach that Gartner calls, the 6 R’s, is perfect to guide you through the process. Just like the 3 R’s of reading, writing and arithmetic you learned in school at an early age, the 6 R’s provide a simple, yet logical metaphor to direct your decisions.
Any type of reassessment is an ideal time to conduct some necessary housecleaning. Although it may seem contrary to the mission, you could decide to hang it up permanently for some of your legacy applications that have outlived their usefulness. Sometimes things are left running out of the assumption that someone is using them, which is not the case. Applications cost money, so if it isn’t providing real value to the company, then there may not be a justification to anything more than simply turning it off. This often translates into more than just decommissioning the application, but the hosting server or servers as well, whether virtual or physical. If still residing on bare metal, then the reduction in surface area of your datacenter will offer a definite return by essentially doing nothing. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself failing to justify as much as ten percent of your enterprise application fleet.
If your organization is under the jurisdiction of a compliance that prohibits the public storage of personal data than the cloud may not be possible. Perhaps you have an application that is already slated to be decommissioned at the end of the year anyway or maybe you just purchased the on premise infrastructure required to host an application a short while ago and the political cost of moving would be too substantial. Its possible the cost of migration is simply out of reach for a company of your size, or an application in question simply isn’t suitable at all for the cloud. Sometimes, the inevitable decision is to simply have things remain the way they are, at least for today. Everything assigned a retainment strategy should be reassessed at regular future dates.
This strategy may coincide with the retiring of an application. Perhaps there is a third party SaaS alternative in the market that is packaged in such a way that it makes no sense to continue to maintain your own application offering. Examples are Office 365 or Salesforce.com. In these cases, only your data and security settings need to be migrated.
Sometimes people may need to reside at a new place, but want to keep the exact same house they have. So they put it on a trailer and move it. That’s what rehosting is basically. You’re not doing anything to change the application coding structure itself, just the infrastructure underneath it. Instead of residing on a VM in your datacenter, it now resides on a cloud vendor’s VM. This strategy works is a good option if under a deadline to move out of a physical site. It also may make sense for those who want to attain the agility the cloud offers applications with dynamic workloads that fluctuates greatly so the application needs to scale quickly. Rehosting can also serve as a first step in the migration process to give your developers the opportunity to adapt the application to its new environment at a later date.
Now is when things start getting complicated because not all legacy applications play well in the cloud. When you cannot justify the cost to completely rearchitect your application, but the costs of continuing its lifecycle on premise is cost prohibitive as well, a process known as replatforming may be just what you need. Perhaps your legacy application requires some sort of emulator or compatibility tool to run in its modern cloud IaaS environment. Maybe certain functions of the application can take advantage of cloud database services or you can reduce costs by moving to an open source platform. In other words, you may be changing features and things around the edges, the core of the application remains the same.
And then, sometimes you will need to just implement a redo when an application must be rearchitected at its core to be optimized for the cloud. This is the most expensive option, but there are times when the benefits of refactoring to a service-oriented architecture most certainly justify the time and costs.
Yes, migrating applications to the cloud is a complex process involving a multitude of moving parts, but you don’t have to go it alone. There are companies out there like iQuate and their iQCloud product, with the expertise and knowledge to help you maximize your Hybrid IT architecture. The iQCloud tool is able to discover and map services adding visibility and clarity to what might be strategic uncertainty at present. Simplicity is one of the reasons you are migrating to the cloud. Let iQuate help simplify the migration as well.