Mapping Your Journey to Cloud Modernization: 6 Steps for CIOs


Hitachi VantaraInspire the Next

Monday, March 14, 2022

The charge to the cloud continues with businesses migrating services and applications to take advantage of cloud’s features in delivering functions and products in new ways. CIOs must deliver on the reality of the cloud, creating a roadmap that is free of hype and focused on results and their overall business strategy – not just because the cloud works for rivals or to try and match others’ success stories.

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Mapping Your Journey to Cloud Modernization: 6 Steps for CIOs
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Business modernization is back in full flow in the “new normal”. Many companies benefited, having seen the light of the cloud during the crisis as it delivered a broad series of benefits amid continuity and survival efforts. Many of those ad hoc cloud efforts had little focus on strategy, and some came with unintended consequences.

Any new effort, be it a digital business strategy or application upgrade plan, needs to meet the business strategy to deliver long-term benefits. It must also connect departments, your data, and external partners to deliver maximum productivity and growth when it comes to modernizing the digital core.

For CIOs looking to deliver on the reality of the cloud, here are six steps for mapping the path to modernization.

The future belongs to the data-driven

Moving from what's now to what's next starts with modernizing the digital core of your business.


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.

Further reading

Hitachi Vantara

Inspire the Next

Hitachi Vantara, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., guides our customers from what’s now to what’s next by solving their digital challenges. Working alongside each customer, we apply our unmatched industrial and digital capabilities to their data and applications to benefit both business and society. More than 80% of the Fortune 100 trust Hitachi Vantara to help them develop new revenue streams, unlock competitive advantages, lower costs, enhance customer experiences, and deliver social and environmental value.


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