To unlock all the benefits of the cloud — faster time to market, agility, scale and optimized economics — continuous modernization must be part of a holistic digital transformation.
That’s because digital transformation is not just about technology; it’s about business processes and organization. Aligning those processes to your goals — such as delivering new products and services faster and superior customer experiences — is foundational to leading in this everything-as-a-service era.
It also means getting the right data to the right applications at the right business moment. Optimizing applications means fitting the infrastructure to what the application needs, not the other way around. Similarly, deploying your applications and data sources to the right cloud enables better agility, performance, and economics.
By modernizing applications, data, cloud and organization, your business can not only accelerate the delivery of new products, services and experiences, it will also increase business agility — the ability to rapidly adjust to evolving (or radically changing) business circumstances. With the speed of business accelerating along with customer demands, an agile infrastructure and application strategy is imperative.
Myriad goals, successful outcomes
Organizations come to understand the necessity of modernization for many reasons, but the benefits are uniformly undeniable.
For Delmar International, a global transportation and logistics company, strong international growth through acquisitions was hampered by aging data center infrastructure, degraded application performance and the challenges of integrating all the existing infrastructure from those acquired companies.
Traditionally, the company owned all its IT infrastructure. The downside to that, of course, is spending time on infrastructure and not laser focused on the business along with a lack of scalability and agility. After getting buy-in from company leaders, CTO Ron McIntyre moved a single application to public cloud. Reports that were timing out after 1,200 seconds were suddenly being completed in 12 seconds.
It was a light bulb moment for McIntyre, who moved to develop a comprehensive strategy to modernize, integrate and optimize Delmar’s entire technology stack from applications to infrastructure.
Modernization is about more than apps. For Feeding America, the goal was to get out of the hardware business and find a managed services provider, allowing the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief and food rescue organization to focus on its mission.
Moving Feeding America’s infrastructure out of its colocation solution to a managed private cloud brought additional benefits, allowing the organization to tap into best-of-breed technologies that can rapidly scale up or down to fit its needs, with an operational cost as opposed to a capital expense outlay that has been reduced by a whopping 45 percent.
For Boozt, a Nordic multi-brand ecommerce site that attracts more than five million visitors a month, the goal was to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to enhance customer experiences and drive growth. But first, it needed to make sure it’s infrastructure could cope with the increased traffic those technologies would bring. A move to public cloud was the first step, but then Boozt leaders needed to make a decision: go out and hire and build what it needed or find a partner who had done it before.
The company chose Rackspace, which helped them maximize their chosen cloud platform and integrate cutting edge data analytic, machine learning and AI. Already, Boozt has seen a 50 percent increase in click-throughs on recommended items, thanks to better use of relevant customer data.
Overcoming the challenges of modernization
These successes are undeniable, but the challenges each company faced are common. Traditional IT structures, siloed and proprietary applications, outdated processes and resource-intensive operations can all slow the pace of modernization.
Deeply embedded traditional applications and infrastructure are a major roadblock, as these were designed to automate now out-of-date business processes using inflexible technology stacks.
Even the very first step — understanding current business and IT processes, in order to re-align or redesign them to drive superior customer experiences, accelerating new products and services — can be a roadblock, as this work requires bandwidth your business and IT teams may not possess. Yet this step is critical to leading in an everything-as-a-service world.
That’s where an expert partner can help. Given the complexity of today’s IT landscape, it almost never makes sense to go it alone. But how do you assess potential partners’ capabilities?
Be on the lookout for companies that understand modernization is not as a one and done activity but should be considered a continuous process. The right partner should also be able to:
- guide you through the early work of establishing the right business processes and systems to support agile execution;
- look beyond the current organization to build out a talent pool able to scale and support the organization’s digital initiatives through a new ecosystem;
- anticipate and implement innovation quickly, with the right vision of what modern applications can be and understanding different cloud models;
- customize, modernize and migrate existing applications to integrate and scale with the latest technologies and meet the demands of the business and
- rebalance the operating model to optimize applications and infrastructure and reduce costs.
Continuous modernization requires that organizations take a comprehensive view of their application and infrastructure environment. It is thinking beyond just applications and infrastructure and expanding to consider how applications impact and are impacted by business processes, new and rapidly changing data, a DevOps culture and tools, cloud infrastructure, continuity and deployment options.
If you’re looking for a strategic trusted partner to guide your modernization journey, consider Rackspace: