1. Understand the present
Any cloud modernization effort requires a thorough understanding of every business application, service, and the data that feeds them within and beyond the organization. The CIO needs teams to map those out, identify the people responsible for them, and understand each application’s role in driving the business forward to inform a cloud upgrade process.
In an ideal world, it should be easy to draw lines between an old service and its future state in the cloud. Productivity applications are easy to migrate and analytics tools will thrive, but there can be tricky collections of legacy applications that require more effort, or data silos that will be tough to migrate or translate.
2. Moving from past to future
Having mapped the existing state of the business, highlighted any problem areas, and asked teams and workers how the cloud can improve their productivity, CIOs and their IT transformation team must then consider how each app or service will be treated.
The famous 6Rs, (Retire, Retain, Rehost, Replatform, Replace, and Refactor) enable teams to place each application or service into a running order for migration while identifying easy wins that can help build the business case for the leadership. Some clear use cases include:
- Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP): Bringing most key functions under one application and linking data to tactical and strategic applications to deliver key business insights
- Virtual desktops: Providing remote access to all applications without the need for IT oversight of constant installs and upgrades
- Data backup and recovery: Providing automated and scalable archives that can help the business overcome major outages
- High-performance applications: The cloud and high-performance data centers enable businesses to run intensive applications or simulations without the need for their own data center, or having to periodically upgrade them to meet business needs
- Cloud for applications: Providing an environment where resources are essentially infinite, global collaboration is easier, multiple models can be used, and deployment is faster
3. Implement a decision tree
Many customers have a cloud-first strategy and ambitions of moving everything to the cloud while only keeping their mainframe in the data center. However, it often turns out to be too ambitious and expensive to move everything with a lift and shift approach.
For this reason, some companies start with long hang fruits like front-end applications and customer-facing applications - areas where they can more easily ramp up and down resources according to business needs - and thereby move to a hybrid approach instead. If an application is not fit for the cloud, they create a path to keep them in the data center.
Some customers implement a decision tree that clearly defines what goes to the cloud and what does not - this takes the emotion out of the discussion. For example, if the success rate is below 40-60%, you don’t take the application to the cloud.
4. What cloud are CIOs looking for?
Lightly used applications, ones that create unwanted business complexity, or those that are outpaced by modern alternatives can be analyzed for retirement or replacement.
For business-critical applications, CIOs need to consider the security implications, availability and accessibility, and have a cloud exit strategy in case things do not work as planned.
For apps that are suited to the cloud, a focus on adopting cloud-native apps, using microservices or other technologies, all need to be considered.
From the leadership perspective, CIOs need to demonstrate the value through savings over legacy IT, and justify the cost as the cloud becomes the dominant technology, with bills likely to increase as energy and network costs rise.
CIOs in regulated industries such as banking and healthcare also have extra privacy, compliance, and risk management issues to consider, with many dedicated cloud services available for those industries.
5. Taking advantage of cutting-edge cloud
The fast pace of change for cloud development services continues at a frightening pace for many businesses. But features like dockers, microservices, serverless apps, and machine learning are already considered mature by operators.
For companies looking to further leverage the cloud to extend their business capabilities, quickly getting on top of these features, applying them to suitable applications, and planning where they fit in future upgrades is a key part of any migration.
Consider cloud-friendly design approaches, where new features or technologies can be added, while looking at the benefits of content delivery networks (CDNs) and cloud scalability. These can improve efficiency for departments, teams, workers, and customers, moving beyond building an app for the sake of it.
6. Ensure growing ROI and a brighter cloud
While the CIO and teams might be focused on functionality and usability, each application and step toward cloud modernization has to deliver value for the business in terms of revenue savings, value on investment, and productivity benefits.
Cloud-based apps can reduce the need for data centers and provide scalability for growing companies to expand as the number of employees and the volume of data they produce increases.
The cloud, be it public, private, or hybrid, will continue to dominate the business computing landscape for productivity and applications in the years to come. For CIOs with a strong on-premises background or without extensive cloud experience, there are plenty of technology partners and providers who have been through the process many times to help enable change across a business.
Application modernization will play a key part in keeping businesses competitive and capable of providing needed services and operations in the future. Ensuring that apps are cloud-enabled will improve the user and customer experience, while making the business a better place to work for developers and speeding up development and delivery.
Yes – the cloud is not without risks. Fortunately, alongside your own apps, there are plenty of services and features to de-risk the cloud environment, from live backups and always-improving security to supporting switching providers and trying new development methodologies.
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