Cloud adoption has been increasing at an incredible rate. By 2020, cloud-specific spending is expected to grow at over six times the rate of general IT spending. That is a serious investment, and one that is happening across all industries and all businesses big and small. It’s no surprise that the cloud has seen such a massive uptake. It offers agility, scalability and speed. However, as with any business cost, the spend needs to be justified by more than promised benefits. Moreover, the spend, once made, needs to prove itself with measurable results.
Why the Cloud Doesn’t Deliver Its Full Value
It’s an easy win for organisations, especially larger ones, to implement software as a service (SaaS) solutions and adopt a cloud-first approach for new systems. However, many are finding it a challenge to get the full value from the cloud. The reason – the majority of their enterprise systems are still on-premises.
While SaaS solutions are very popular for replacing business functions such as marketing and sales, few represent core business functions. The result is that, while there is considerable investment in the cloud, the enterprise adoption is remarkably slow. Businesses are left supporting their inefficient, traditional data-centre environments alongside inadequately planned cloud implementations. The disconnect results in implemented cloud solutions not being as easy to manage or as affordable as it may have seemed at the outset.
The obvious answer, and the simplest in many respects, is to migrate legacy applications to the cloud. The ‘lift and shift’ approach ensures increased scalability and enables integration between systems. However, it shouldn’t be the end of the journey to the cloud for every application.
Lift And Shift Alone Isn’t Enough
Migrating applications to the cloud using a ‘lift and shift’ strategy, appeals to many organisations. It has a pay per use model, the ability to scale based on usage, high resilience and a self-service nature. This can lead to much lower IT costs and certainly begins to help justify cloud costs.
However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg, with greater capabilities to be achieved with further modernisation. Monolithic applications are often configured to a fixed capacity in a few data centres and merely moving them across to the cloud doesn’t give them dynamic features that justify the spend. In addition to this, the applications were developed to function in the traditional IT environment, while it’s beneficial to be moved across, they need to be upskilled to take advantage of the cloud environment.
How App Modernisation Leads to Cloud Maturity
Business applications need to be able to continually change and improve to meet new challenges and opportunities. However, cloud optimisation isn’t a one-off proposition. It needs to be an ongoing process, with continuous adaptation and commitment. This is the only way that businesses can get the results they expect.
While migrating applications with a lift and shift strategy is a great starting place. It should be part of a three-part strategy towards modernisation:
Rehosting – moving on-premise applications over to the cloud with very little change.
Replatforming – changing a few components within applications to allow for a higher level of cloud optimisation.
Refactoring – making significant code and architecture changes to enable maximum cloud-native benefits to be achieved.
The process of modernisation involves continually upgrading and optimising applications and their infrastructure and services. It is the key to reaping the full long-term value and benefits of working in the cloud. These benefits include boosting IT agility, accelerating technology-driven business opportunities, and increasing customer engagement. Moreover, application modernisation leads to cost optimisation, meaning costs can be quickly rescued and turned into profit.
To fully embrace the cloud and take advantage of what it has to offer, businesses need to adopt a culture for change. Ensuring cloud strategy has commitment and a clear mandate from the executive team, over the long-term, is vital. In this way, applications can be continually evaluated and optimised to achieve business goals.
Measuring Success and Justifying Costs
To truly understand the value of the cloud, businesses need to start to redefine their metrics for success. Many industries are being disrupted by small startups, and it is technology that is giving them the power to do so. Simply using a total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation doesn’t go far enough to measure the success of the cloud in terms of its speed, safety and agility.
While it’s, of course, important to consider the procurement and maintenance costs of any piece of technology, there is more to it. By only considering conventional figures, such as TCO, the cloud investment is missing its powerful, strategic objective.
Consider the following measurements for success:
Maturity of the business – agile is the name of the game when it comes to the cloud. Companies need to be able to alter course and adjust to new market demands at a moment’s notice. Being able to shift gears and provide new services are vital skills in today’s digital world. It’s not just about speed; it’s about being able to gain insights and act upon them. But to do that, technology needs to be integrated, connected and efficient. Old processes and behaviours will stall the process. Higher maturity results in faster performance and reduced costs
Time to innovation – escaping legacy thinking helps companies adapt to being innovators. The trick, of course, is measuring this. There needs to be return on investment (ROI) and tangible evidence that innovation increases profits. Innovation should be focused on user benefits, tailoring solutions to meet their needs. A/B testing through rapid innovation can lead to technology changes that drive revenue.
Spend transparency – in traditional IT models, budgets are split across many different units, applications and owners. Moving to the cloud, and modernising legacy applications allows for true cost transparency. The cloud is scalable, so businesses aren’t paying for features and functionality they don’t need, and it’s agile, so they can adapt quickly to changing demands.
Success should be measured as a framework of maturity. Current capabilities should be weighed against critical objectives. With each level of cloud maturity, the organisation should be able to operate with greater speed and agility and add more business value. This is truly how to justify costs – with application modernisation building cloud maturity and increasing its related benefits.
A Journey Of Continuous Modernisation – conclusion
Moving to the cloud should be part of a holistic strategy. It should allow organisations to standardise and automate their IT environment. By migrating applications to the cloud and then modernising them, businesses can work in an automated, agile model. This allows them to leverage new capabilities and to drive innovation. The cloud acts as a force multiplier, but it can only use that force if it is given the opportunity to do so.
Built in 1966, the exquisite RA 770 is the last word in analog computing from the historic German company Telefunken. Owned, loved and operated by analogue supremo Dr. Bernd Ulmann, this beautiful RA 770 (of two left in the world*) has been meticulously restored, each and every circuit. Unique in their function, analog machines were employed for live-analysis and simulation, and in an era where ‘digital’ computing had become commonplace, such an analog machine was something of a rarity, storing no data but performing tasks via wired⠀
connections in almost real-time. ⠀
*(Dr. Bernd also owns the other one)