Transitioning your applications to the cloud is undeniably a critical factor to a successful digital transformation endeavor. It’s more than just a lift-and-shift, however. Let’s explore several things that you need to consider before migrating your applications to the cloud, including:
Readiness of your application portfolio
Where to begin – the right business case and migration strategy
Technology requirements and considerations
Operations issues: Timing and talent
Choosing a cloud platform, considering vendor support
First of all, legacy applications often must be significantly rearchitected so that they can function seamlessly in the cloud. In other words, your applications and data center need to undergo a thorough cloud readiness assessment before you can narrow down the right migration approach and sequence.
To evaluate an application’s cloud readiness, your organization needs to analyze it from both an enterprise level and an application level. This is key, as your migration will not only present technical challenges related to architecture, security, and performance, but also on enterprise cloud strategies.
An organization also needs to consider potential disruptions and vulnerabilities during the application assessment, formulating a strong business continuity plan to weather any potential storms that may arise.
Before devising a migration strategy, your enterprise must fully comprehend why you want to move your applications to the cloud. Thus, the first and most essential is to build a strong business case, which should clearly demonstrate the meaningful technical and business advantages of the migration.
Ideally, this migration should be one component of the roadmap through a well-designed, overall digital transformation. But even as a piecemeal activity, the enterprise advantages of migrating your applications to the cloud are significant and quantifiable, ranging from increased revenue to faster time to market, to much higher customer satisfaction.
Framing your current state and outlining the clear benefits of your projected end state is key to a solid business case. That end goal of application cloud migration can be anything from simplified operations, reduced ownership costs, or improving app performance.
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Migrating enterprise applications to the cloud is obviously not an endeavor without its technical challenges. Because the cloud is a relatively hardware-free, open hosting environment, it often requires applications to be completely rearchitected to function seamlessly within it.
Legacy applications are designed with the assumption that hardware, such as RAID systems (i.e., a redundant array of independent drives), is going to be on point to handle failure. Cloud-native applications, on the other hand, are engineered with software and virtual machines to handle the resiliency process.
Furthermore, on-premise applications often have inbuilt dependencies on other applications in the form of interfaces. This in turn makes them unsuitable to migrate without a fairly in-depth redesign. Since the cloud offers native features such as auto-scaling, elasticity, and redundancy, an application needs to be architectured to internally support these things.
Probably the most critical consideration to make, however, is the fact that the cloud can be vulnerable to data breaches and security threats. Therefore, applications must be swathed in layers of security that remain in place both during and after migration.
All of these technical matters need to be accounted for in the business case, in tandem with the enterprise-level perspectives.
Your business case should also be supplemented with a projected timeline, which presents the phases of your application migration and explains your structure of priorities. This timeline will be a good place to establish some of the immediate benefits that come with the first phase of migration.
However, before diving into a migration with both feet, you must factor in your organization’s internal capabilities. A few things to ask are whether your team has the required skills to ensure a smooth transition; whether they have prior experience; and finally, whether they have the necessary tools and technologies for a migration.
It is important, in one way or another, to address and fill any internal skill gaps as soon as possible. This will help you decide how to position your application migration strategy. Are you going to establish a training program to brush your team up? Or would you rather turn to a strategic partner who can take on the project of end-to-end app migration?
Finally, your organization needs to decide which cloud hosting platform is right for your applications. One way to keep your options open would be to redesign your apps to be cloud endpoint-agnostic, so that your strategy doesn’t end up with a provider bias based on proprietary assessment tools.
Considering that lifting and shifting your legacy applications isn’t going to create sustainable business value, you can see that migrating them to the cloud is going to be an intricate process. Evaluating your enterprise’s readiness, as well as that of the applications, is critical.
Since cloud readiness assessments are complicated – and challenges should be expected to pop out of the woodwork – businesses often collaborate with strategic partners to see their migration process through from the assessment through the actual implementation.
Whichever path suits your organization best, assessing the readiness of your applications proactively and managing issues pre-emptively will make sure you can confidently and seamlessly migrate them in a way that brings the most value.
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