Clearly, moving applications to the cloud delivers significant advantages. Greater agility and scalability are top among them. In fact, according to a survey performed by Right Scale, companies are already running a majority of their workloads in the cloud, with 41% in the public cloud and 38% in a private cloud.
And the adoption of public cloud is growing fast. According to CIO Magazine, public cloud adoption in the enterprise will cross 50 percent for the first time this year.
But, what's standing in the way of full cloud adoption? For many companies it's those burdensome (but critically important) legacy applications. Because legacy applications often have a lack of documentation or even staff resources that understand them, and sometimes simply because they are old, they can be among the most challenging to move to the cloud and be made "cloud ready." However, migrating them may also deliver the greatest value, assuming their migration and cloud-readiness can be made easy.
Moving more workloads to the cloud is a top IT priority. In fact, data shows that moving more workloads to the cloud (51%) is second in priority only to optimizing existing cloud use and cost savings (58%). So, eventually it will be time to consider how to make those critical legacy applications cloud ready. Consider the following eight steps to chart your cloud journey:
1. Assess your application portfolio
It's always best to start at the beginning. In this case, the beginning means taking a comprehensive assessment of your applications to identify:
■ what you may be able to retire
■ what you may want to sunset over time
■ what could be containerized so that it can "tolerate" the cloud
■ what should be enhanced for true cloud optimization
■ what needs to be recoded for cloud operation
Each of these areas should be weighted based on the value of the application to the business along with it's age and available working knowledge of its code base, security and risk mitigation, etc. Evaluate, too, the infrastructure costs for running the application on premises, keeping in mind that the fewer applications you have to leave behind on premises, the more expensive they become individually.
2. Consider cloud costs when charting your migration strategy
Speaking of costs, it can be easy to simply map your path to the cloud without thinking all the expenses through. If you're not careful, and deliberate, the cloud can cost you more, rather than less.
Before moving applications to the cloud, factor in how their processes will adapt to cloud infrastructure. Can you streamline them for greater efficiency? Can you minimize the data retention they require? Just because an application is easy to migrate, it may not be cloud ready. Be sure you understand all its operational characteristics before you make the move.
3. Engage the business in your application decisions
Don't make the common mistake of only considering technology factors when evaluating the applications you'll move to the cloud, and when. You need to engage the business in this decision process.
If you opt to recommend that an application be sunsetted, for example, be sure that you've queried all the business teams that interact with that application. It may serve a vital business purpose you didn't expect that can't be replaced otherwise.
Likewise, if you're moving an application to the cloud, evaluate what more the business may need from that application and what it might take in order to enhance it to meet these needs during the process. Gaining business buy-in for your cloud migration decisions will ensure that your project has the support you need to be successful.
4. Evaluate your tools and options
Containers, microservices, wrappers, service brokers, native translators – where do you start? what's best? complexity? chaos?
There are a great many options when evaluating the tools and techniques to use to optimize legacy applications for the cloud. Choose your options wisely, as each has a cost. Some may deliver a cost savings that is far greater than the tool set. Others may cost more than the efficiency they deliver.
Be sure that you, again, have a full understanding of the value of the application to the business and match your investment in that application directly to its worth. Also consider the long-term benefits of the application to the business. While it may not deliver big bottom-line impact this quarter and next, it may be an application that will live with the business for years, thus needs to be easy to migrate over time to other clouds or infrastructure as cost structures evolve. Important applications shouldn't keep you locked in to a specific cloud or environment. Your business needs to remain agile.