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The COVID-19 crisis has crunched the timelines for digital transformation. What used to happen in years now happens in months or weeks. This is corroborated by a recent survey by AppDynamics, wherein 66% of respondents said that the pandemic had exposed weaknesses in their digital strategy, driving an urgent need to push through initiatives which were once a part of multi-year digital transformation programs. And, 74% of technologists reported that digital transformation projects which would typically take more than a year to be approved, have been signed off in a matter of weeks. 71% point to digital transformation projects that had been implemented within weeks rather than the months or years it would have taken before the pandemic.

The cloud as a technology is a natural fit in this scenario, due to its ability to scale up quickly with lesser costs. According to Gartner, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spur remote working, segments such as public cloud services which will grow 19% in 2020. Cloud-based telephony and messaging and cloud-based conferencing will also see high levels of spending growing 8.9% and 24.3%, respectively. But the quick adoption without proper planning has consequences. For example, in the recent survey by AppDynamics, 59% of respondents from the same survey admitted that they were firefighting and introducing short-term fixes to technology problems. 76% of technologists expressed concern about the longer-term impact of digital transformation initiatives they have had to rush through during COVID-19.

Given the pressure on the IT function, many CIOs are planning their cloud migration strategies in an ad hoc manner, leading to lack of visibility, dissatisfaction and in many cases, overshooting of IT budgets and timelines. It’s therefore critical to clearly define the pre-migration and post-migration stage, and to document the IT inventory (apps, databases, networks, interdependencies between apps etc.), as well as the expected outcome.

As in any enterprise technology deployment, extensive planning for a successful cloud migration is extremely essential. However, without a cloud governance tool, measuring and monitoring performance while transitioning from on-premise to a public or hybrid cloud is challenging. This is where an APM strategy can prove to be extremely beneficial.

How APM tools can help

In any migration, baselining of apps and associated performance is critical, as it will be difficult for organizations to measure the performance after migration to the cloud. APM tools can help in establishing a baseline app performance scorecard, and help organizations get full visibility into inter-app dependencies. This is extremely critical in hybrid cloud deployments. When infrastructure is deployed across multiple clouds, organizations find it challenging to take a comprehensive and unified view of application data. With data distributed across multiple clouds, it becomes extremely difficult to trace or find the root cause of any performance issue for a given application, post migration.

By using APM tools, organizations can get full visibility into the performance of every application and dependency. They can also gain from the ability to visualize end-to-end cloud application performance in real time, and see for themselves how every application component, line of code and important infrastructure resource is performing. Before undertaking a cloud migration, organizations can use APM tools to ensure that every application dependency and performance requirement is understood clearly.

APM tools can help in each phase of cloud migration. For example, during the pre-migration stage, organizations can use APM tools to decide how migration to the cloud will affect end users. They will be able to gauge the key challenges with respect to latency, performance and additional bandwidth needs that going to the cloud will envisage. During the actual migration stage, organizations can identify potential issues, and test the key components that may potentially affect the performance of the application. Post migration, organizations can use APM tools to gauge if all the application interdependencies and linkages are working perfectly, and also check if performance levels have improved or reduced due to migration.

Post migration, organizations can get complete visibility into the performance of every application. They can also correlate the performance by mapping the user journeys across different delivery channels (web, mobile) and across applications. Similarly, performance can be mapped with respect to infrastructure and insights gained by using the APM tool can be used to better plan and prioritize infrastructure planning for the future. The biggest benefit of an APM tool lies in its ability to trace a transaction across different clouds, and this can be a big benefit during a cloud migration.

As the COVID-19 crisis accelerates, organizations will be thoroughly challenged. For example, Gartner, has predicted that through 2022, insufficient cloud IaaS skills will delay half of enterprise IT organizations’ migration to the cloud by two years or more. With this context, an APM tool can be a big advantage in the armory of organizations wanting to migrate to the cloud.