3 Steps to Simplify Application Migration to the Cloud

Migrating enterprise applications to the cloud is now mandatory for companies that wish to lead in this digital world.

Enterprise applications that used to support 100 to 1,000 internal users may now support up to a million or more — an increase driven by opening these applications and their data to customer- and value chain-facing applications and users. Opening traditional enterprise applications and their data to the larger world enables customer facing applications and processes have the data and business logic they need to deliver contextual intelligent experiences to customers and other stakeholders.

Once on the cloud, these enterprise applications benefit from an improved cost structure, responsive scalability and availability and the ability to be rapidly updated to meet ever changing demands in the business world.

But everything organizations seek to achieve can be undermined if they develop a track record of unsuccessful migrations. This can happen for many reasons. Some of these reasons include tackling especially difficult to migrate applications without the right experience or partner, unrealistic time lines given resources available, and moving the application to the wrong cloud. Funding these migrations may also be an inhibitor with self-funding out of projected savings a path forward. To assure the business case works, an aggressive migration cadence is essential to increase efficiency and deliver savings which delivers this funding.

Yet migration to the cloud doesn’t have to be difficult, if planning is executed properly. The right platform choices can also increase speed and reduce risk. Below are three basic steps every enterprise should be taking in advance of migrations.

Step one: carefully assess your application inventory

Based on Rackspace’s experience guiding our customers’ migrations, many enterprises have an application portfolio inventory that looks something like this:

  • Modern apps, including microservices, cloud native, mobile — 10 percent.
  • Legacy apps, including client-server, mainframe, UNIX/C — 30 percent
  • Everything else, including Java, Java Enterprise Edition-based, .NET, web applications — 60 percent.

A proper assessment will categorize the application portfolio into these groups and include an assessment of the dependencies or “ecosystem” around the application. This ecosystem includes understanding physical and virtual server configurations, network topology, security and compliance requirements and existing support and data dependencies.

Once that’s done, enterprises will be able to see where to begin for maximum results. The first category is either already on a cloud platform or could easily go there. The second category may never go to a cloud because migration is too risky. This category is not where to start.

That said, with a private cloud, IT can choose what degree of cloud services to use for each application, assessing the benefits and costs of making apps more cloud like. In the case of some legacy apps, a private cloud can simply provision reliable servers and storage, enabling the complete application stack to run essentially unchanged, with the same reliability users experienced when it ran on the legacy infrastructure.

The real opportunity lies in the third category. Moving these applications to the right public or private cloud can result in serious savings — at Rackspace we typically see savings of 40 percent to 60 percent.

Step two: build a list and create a plan

The goal is to migrate and modernize the “everything else” app category without adding complexity, challenges and costs. To get a good sense of what the dependencies might be, we encourage customers to think beyond the application and ask these questions:

  • What is the architecture of the application? Does it follow cloud-native principles for high availability or is it dependent on its current infrastructure to provide resiliency and high availability?
  • What tools are being used to manage and enforce the security policies around the application?
  • What tools are in use to manage access to the systems on top of which the application runs?
  • What tools are in use by the operations team(s) responsible for deploying, managing and troubleshooting the application?
  • How aware or unaware is the application of the underlying hardware topology and performance characteristics?

Prioritize your migration based on the answers to these questions. You should decide which cloud to migrate to on an application-by-application basis. For example, more cloud-native applications with no dependencies outside of the immediate application stack are good candidates for managed public cloud. Others, with more complex relationships in the data center ecosystem are better suited and can be moved faster and with less risk to managed private cloud-as-a-service.

Step three: migrate quickly to cover costs and realize savings

While going it alone and being conservative might seem the most cost-effective path to the cloud, too often, that approach ends up costing more in the long run. That’s because during a migration, organizations are running two infrastructures, incurring costs on both sides. A speedy migration with mitigated risks is the fastest path to cover costs and begin to realize savings.

And while, with rigorous planning, going it alone is possible, more enterprises are finding that enlisting a partner with deep expertise in public, private and hybrid cloud options offers the most guaranteed path to success.

At Rackspace, we’ve been guiding companies through successful migrations for almost two decades. Recently, in response to our customers changing needs and preferences, we’ve begun offering professional services “service blocks,” which allow customers to choose just the services they need, and allows our experts to deliver customized and optimized outcomes based on a customer’s specific application inventory and dependencies. Our experts get your applications to the right cloud, in the speediest and most economic fashion, with the lowest risk.

As I mentioned earlier, our customers see operational cost savings of 40 percent to 60 percent when moving enterprise applications to a managed private or public cloud service. A good part of this comes from the efficiencies of the cloud in terms of hardware utilization, better administration tools, and self-service use. Additional savings comes from leveraging Rackspace experience and tools built from leveraging the learnings from more than one billion hours of cloud management.

With the right strategic partner, low risk and speedy migrations that yield these kinds of savings can self-fund your transformation. Learn more about how Rackspace can accelerate your IT transformation through expert migration services.

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Pierre Fricke leads portfolio marketing for Rackspace. Pierre is responsible for developing and implementing the integrated portfolio narrative and messaging framework globally for our full services portfolio, specific segments, and core customer challenges, plus ownership of the integrated, customer-facing roadmap. Pierre Fricke joined Rackspace in 2018 as the company's senior director of product marketing for private cloud. He led a team working to expand knowledge of the opportunities private-cloud-as-a-service can offer enterprises as part of their digital transformations. Pierre co-led Rackspace’s effort to define and lead this new category and help companies understand how it fits into today’s multi-cloud world. Prior to Rackspace, Pierre worked for EnterpriseDB as vice president, product marketing, responsible for leading product marketing to build the business. He co-lead EDB’s effort to liberate companies from database vendor lock-in, allowing them to invest in other digital initiatives to drive growth. From 2005 through 2015 Pierre was director of product marketing for Red Hat JBoss Middleware products. He co-led product strategy and expansion into the application and data integration market. In 2008-2009, Pierre co-led the launches of JBoss SOA Platform and JBoss BRMS, which laid the foundation for a complete open source integration, process and decision automation strategy. By 2015, these products were the unit volume market leader or emerging strong challengers to long time incumbents as well as significant Red Hat businesses. Pierre was chief analyst for D.H. Brown Associates’ middleware and product lifecycle management infrastructure services in the early 2000s. Before that, he held a variety of engineering, engineering management, product management and strategy roles at IBM. You can find him on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/pfricke, and Twitter @pfricke

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