With the ever-evolving technology landscape, cloud adoption is a priority for every CIO. Legacy application architectures are ageing quickly, and the pressure is on to replace them with modern cloud-based alternatives. The cloud offers indisputable business benefits, the ability to be more agile, more mobile, and to reduce costs.
However, moving over to the cloud can be a daunting process. It requires both strategic thinking and detailed execution. What’s more, due to the cloud’s popularity, there are a huge amount of offerings on the market. With so much on offer, it can be challenging to develop a cloud strategy that delivers value from the outset. The cloud maturity model helps business leaders to benchmark their services, analyse their success and achieve consistency in their cloud-based goals.
The Journey to the Cloud
Many organisations work with a complicated infrastructure that has evolved over decades. This means that they have multiple platforms and a vast huge variety of data, as well as highly customised legacy applications. It can seem an impossible task to know how to move all of the applications over to the cloud. Moreover, the challenge is to ensure that the move doesn’t impact business operations.
The solution is developing a strategy for the journey to the cloud that meets business requirements. This often involves each business, and, indeed, each application therein, taking its own path to cloud maturity.
Every application that we work with has several layers. First is the applications code, then there is the data that is consumed and generated and, finally, there’s the infrastructure that supports it. Each layer needs to be viewed individually and treated in the way that will deliver the most business value. Sometimes data might be kept on-premises while the application code and infrastructure move over to the cloud. There are many hybrid options that allow specific requirements and regulations to be followed, while still taking advantage of what the cloud has to offer.
Microsoft Azure’s Cloud Maturity Model
Microsoft Azure is a leading public cloud computing platform. It offers a suite of cloud services including those for compute, analytics, storage and networking. What sets the platform apart is the support that Microsoft provides its customers. Azure is more than just technology; it comes with a set of resources to help its customers apply it in a way that makes sense to their business.
As an organisation that understands the modern enterprise as well as anyone can, Microsoft has a clearly defined maturity model. The model includes four key levels, which represent an organisation’s cloud maturity:
On-premises apps – applications run on traditional data centres in standard virtual machines or private data centres and are monitored by the IT Team. Organisations currently have total control over their hardware, software and data, which can be difficult to let go of. However, starting to move up the cloud maturity model eases the pressure of maintenance and drastically improves flexibility, scalability and speed.
Re-hosted apps – this is the process otherwise knowns as ‘lift and shift. It involves migrating on-premises apps, or virtual machines (VMs), to the cloud. Migration is the quickest way to unlock the benefits of the cloud infrastructure; it allows for the consolidation of data centres. Businesses that have migrated their apps find that they can quickly improve operational efficiencies and reduce maintenance costs. However, there are many other benefits of the cloud that can only be unlocked by moving further up the maturity model.
Re-factored apps – the next level towards cloud maturity involves optimising re-hosted apps for the cloud environment. This is the point when organisations begin to see the true potential value of the cloud. With cloud optimisation, tasks become automated, and applications become elastic to meet varying workloads. The IT department is no longer tied to maintenance, and the business can focus on problems rather than infrastructure issues. Re-factoring apps enables features to be delivered more quickly, security issues to be rectified and innovative solutions to be developed to create new business opportunities.
Re-architectured apps – this level, otherwise known as app modernisation, involves moving an application to a collection of small, modular and independently deployable services. The new modernised architecture takes full advantage of cloud-native capabilities. Microservices can be scaled on-demand to meet application workload requirements. This step is a complete revision, materially altering the application. However, it delivers new capabilities and vastly reduces the amount of code required. Re-architectured applications are ultra-responsive and provide an uninterrupted end-user experience.
Azure’s cloud maturity model outlines the overall direction that businesses head on their cloud journey. However, each company can find its own way. Microsoft meets its customers wherever they are on their journey and supports them on the path and option they choose. Usually, the endpoint will be for most, if not all, apps to be modernised, but every journey is unique. The vital part is ensuring that every business gets the best possible outcome based on its chosen path.
How to Assess Cloud Maturity
The first step towards cloud maturity is for an organisation to assess where they currently are. Many businesses struggle with adopting cloud technologies because of their commitment to the well-established processes that support their on-premise solutions. To begin the journey towards cloud maturity, companies need to address people, processes and technology. In this way, they can assess where they are, but also the best way to move up the maturity model quickly but with minimal risk and uncertainty.
Progression along the cloud maturity level doesn’t involve adopting every level along the way. Some businesses may skip levels, and most will have different applications at different maturity levels. The importance is ensuring a framework that addresses scalability, resiliency, availability and security. Organisational evolution is as critical to success as application maturity.
Cloud adoption is a journey where the migration and, ultimately, modernisation, to the cloud can deliver greater agility, significant cost savings and incredible elasticity. The road may seem complicated, but with a comprehensive migration model and a smart investment strategy, success shouldn’t be far behind.