Application modernization is a process, not an event. Many cloud-native apps have been developed for the cloud, but there are also legacy applications that need to be migrated to this new environment. It can be challenging to decide what cloud architecture will work best for your organization and how you should go about migrating all your existing data.
We are sharing our most often cited 11 steps towards developing a cloud strategy where organizations can modernize their application and infrastructure operations by moving their applications from on-premises servers to hybrid cloud and public cloud architectures.
Inventory Your Applications
The first step in any migration and modernization project is to inventory your applications. This will help you understand which applications are ready for the cloud and which ones need more work. You’ll also want to create a list of dependencies so you can plan accordingly. As the saying goes: "you can't manage what you can't measure".
Determine Your Cloud Strategy
Once you know what applications you’re working with, it’s time to decide what cloud strategy would work best for your organization. Do you want to go all-in on the cloud? Or will a hybrid cloud model be more beneficial? This is an important step and needs careful consideration as the decisions made here can affect every process moving forward.
Identify Your Application’s Limitations
It is critically important to identify an application’s limitations and use that information when deciding on cloud architecture moving forward. For example: if your cloud-native app has limited functionality because of data locality, that will define the path to modernization and migration for you.
This is where dependencies must be uncovered and documented and some may be found the hard way. Be prepared to discover the "unknown unknowns" about your applications and set your strategy to deal with those limitations to be successful.
Assess Your Business Continuity and DR Plan
Your cloud architecture will need to account for business continuity and disaster recovery. Many of the cloud providers offer tools that help you build a DR plan, but if these components are not available in your cloud strategy, it’s important to understand what may happen when an outage occurs.
There are many possible solutions, so it can be overwhelming to choose the "right" type and level of protection. You must be prepared for outages and how to mitigate without getting buried by the cost of over-architecting your applications. This will also include just simple backup and recovery as well.
Services Over Servers
Once you have a cloud strategy in place, it’s time to begin the migration process. This is when you should move away from server-based architectures and towards cloud services that can be provisioned within minutes or automatically scaled up as needed. Let's not repeat the old way of doing things on new architectures. The distinct advantage to public cloud platforms is the ability to leverage services over building servers and IaaS-centric workloads.
Deploy Application Automation
The goal of cloud modernization projects is to improve speed to market, reduce costs and improve efficiency. Technology can be both the cloud provider’s responsibility as well as your own organization's cloud strategy team - depending on what cloud architecture you've chosen.
With cloud modernization projects, technologies must be deployed in an automated way with minimal or no human intervention required for provisioning and day-to-day operations.
Refactor at the Destination
Refactoring an application means making changes that improve the codebase without changing its functionality or behavior. This is a critical step in cloud modernization as this will keep your architecture secure and moving forward with new technologies and services.
Organizations constantly get held back by the inability to refactor on-premises so the refactor at destination approach is a great forcing function to rearchitecting for real business ROI. Once the per-minute billing begins, teams tend to become more focused on getting the price to performance ratio in their favor.
Skill Up Your Team
The cloud is a complex environment and there are many different providers, services, and technologies to learn. As your organization begins its migration journey, it will be important to skill up your team on the latest cloud technologies.
You don’t want to get held back by a lack of skills or knowledge within your team - this can slow down the modernization and put your business at risk. The core function of IT is about delivering services and reducing risk to the business.
Shutdown Data Centers Gracefully and Intelligently
This is a critical step in your cloud migration journey, but it can be difficult to execute if you’re not prepared. Shutting down data centers gracefully and intelligently means planning for the endgame and ensuring that all systems are transitioned over to the cloud in a way that doesn’t negatively impact your business.
It's also important that we look for what applications' needs are before, during, and after transition. There may be real reasons to maintain a data center presence. Don't let guesswork be your guide.
Match KPIs to Business and Operational Goals
To measure the success of your cloud modernization project, you need to match key performance indicators (KPIs) to business and operational goals. This will help you track progress and ensure that your project is delivering value to your organization.
It can be difficult to know which KPIs to use when measuring cloud modernization projects, but the real measurement is business outcomes - are you increasing value and decreasing operational risk and overhead?
Continually Reassess Your Applications
As cloud technologies and cloud-native architectures emerge, your organization’s applications will need to be reassessed regularly. The best thing you can do is stop looking at things in silos - are all of these services working together?
Do they provide greater value than the sum of their parts? How much time is it taking to deploy and maintain the cloud services that your organization has?
Your cloud modernization strategy is all about providing value to your business, reducing risk with modern technologies, and increasing efficiency. What you build in-house vs what you buy will be determined by several factors including cost, reliability/security, and speed of deployment.
There are many advantages to embracing public cloud and cloud-native infrastructure and application patterns.