Moving to the cloud
Moving to the Cloud could be regarded as moving with the times. But, for any business, understanding why you should make a move is often the first question that needs answering in this process or strategy.
The foundation of any migration proposal should be on how a cloud migration would help support business objectives. For example, scalability, entering into new markers or cost optimisation would be just a few business reasons. Understanding why you’re moving to the cloud and understanding the business problems you are trying to solve allows you to understand if it’s the right choice for your business. This then allows you to determine the migration strategy you should adopt, as well as what you need to measure along the way.
This article will take you through the steps of what moving to the Cloud means for legacy applications and the benefits it can bring to your business.
Focusing first on why you would move, follows the statements made above. Understanding the business need to move can then help define clear benefits and measurable goals for the business.
Why would my business need to move to the Cloud
Operational overhead from having an on-premise estate is a popular reason for moving to the Cloud. Having to maintain physical infrastructure on-premises requires a large amount of effort and investment, updating security patches, and providing different access controls requires large overheads. If your core business does not involve provision of technical services, then the effort required doesn’t add much value to your business. When this exceeds the benefits of having an on-premise estate, the Cloud is a viable option. Removing this overhead frees up teams to focus on problems that are more value-adding to the business. For example, moving away from managing databases to instead incorporate data science and gain meaningful insights that can then be fed back into the value stream.
Risk is another area to consider when thinking about migration to the cloud. By moving to the Cloud, you are effectively transferring a degree of risk to your cloud provider and it is important to understand how this fits with your overall risk appetite and risk management process. For example, the risk of managing hardware and security may not be relevant to your day to day business objectives or specifications, which means managing this process involves hiring a whole team or specialists. Transferring this risk to the cloud providers saves the capital and effort of managing those teams or specialists. Moving to the Cloud might be the first step of managing the risk but at the same cost? The business also needs to reconsider evolving current policies around disaster recovery/ backup, as these will also change when you move to the cloud.
The benefits of moving to the cloud
Once you understand the business drivers for moving to the cloud, it’s important to understand the additional advantages (or disadvantages). Cloud providers can give companies access to services that they don’t currently have, or would have been prohibitively expensive to set up themselves on premise. Cloud platforms offer access to these services in a far more cost effective manner, which has the effect of lowering the bar of entry and adoption. Take for example big data/ data science analytics, which would involve fairly large investment, companies are now able to leverage managed services on Cloud Platforms. Cloud providers offer many different tiers of usage, with some even providing free tiers of some sort. This makes it incredibly cheap for Organisations to try out how new services might offer innovative solutions to their business problems, without the danger of a long term commitment up front.
Whilst these examples may or may not be relevant to your business, some things are important to consider. Moving to the Cloud should always be backed with a clear business driver. I.e. a movement to the cloud should be in response to the needs of an Organisation. For example, that might be a need for greater scalability or a desire to reduce operational costs. A Cloud migration should not be viewed purely through a technical lens. The most important reason to move is that it’s aligned with the business objectives. And, these business objectives are often different depending on the business need. For example:
Applications - Adopting Managed Services can help Organisations consolidate their technical tooling. For example, rather than having separate tools from different vendors for log aggregation, alerting, dashboarding etc - these can all be brought together under the same Cloud Provider.
Regulations - Depending on the industry operated in, regulations can be costly and with high time restraints and impending deadlines. Cloud providers create patches and solutions to regulations for their infrastructure, solving the issues without the business investing the time.
Skillset - Cloud providers often create training schemes and certifications, making it easier to hire employees with existing knowledge of the systems. On-premise infrastructure can require a high level of training to get someone on-boarded, whereas cloud adoption brings a level of standardisation around skills.
Why invest in migrating to the cloud?
Investing in migrating to the Cloud would need to solve challenges that you currently face with your legacy applications. Access to greater compute elasticity can be an important factor in moving to the cloud. Automated elasticity of infrastructure and compute power from a Cloud provider, allows Organisations to deal with peaks and troughs of traffic to their systems with relative ease and in a highly cost efficient manner. Traditionally Organisations would need to invest both money and time in planning and procuring extra hardware in preparation for upcoming expected peaks in traffic (e.g. season loads such as Christmas for online retailers).
Communicating value back to the business is determined by the challenges understood at this first point, why did the business move to the Cloud? Suppose it was cost, by understanding the previous running costs allow metrics to be set towards how much the cloud infrastructure is now costing. In that case, you can also show the cost savings by understanding the impact to the business. Take for example if the downtime was a large problem, creating customer complaints, you can then go on to measure downtime, customer complaints and the team dealing with complaints workload. If regulations were the reason for moving to the Cloud, continuing to work with your provider to understand what patches have been implemented to help align your organisation with these requirements can be communicated back to the business and an understanding of the effort that would have been required in-house.
So for the question of why you would move legacy applications to the Cloud, it ultimately depends on your business goals as to why it would be a good idea for your business. There are benefits to every challenge, but there won't be any benefits if there aren’t any challenges.
Continue your journey of cloud migration by understanding which strategy is right for your business with: Application Migration Strategies - The 3 R's