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How to Choose the Right Approach for Application Modernization and Cloud Migration
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No organization goes from zero to cloud-ready overnight. There should be a plan, a process and milestones along the way – and, often, the help of a managed service provider like NTT.
If your organization is migrating to the cloud, we want to make sure you reap the full benefits of this big step – starting with cloud transformation.
Unlike the simple lift-and-shift method of relocating a workload, cloud transformation involves modernizing, optimizing and transforming applications to take advantage of cloud-native services and functionality. This means we have to fundamentally reimagine the way these workloads or applications function.
Consider a three-tiered system with web, app and database servers. Transition involves moving this system from on-premises to the public cloud while maintaining three separate workloads. Transformation, on the other hand, means adopting cloud-native technologies such as web apps and platform database services to eliminate the need for three separate systems.
Transform rather than transition
Ideally, we prefer to focus on transformation when working with a client because it’s fundamental to efficient cloud optimization. However, sometimes a level of transition is necessary, especially when there's an urgent need – like if a data center with numerous workloads is closing in six months’ time.
In these cases, cloud transition and cloud transformation can complement each other: during a transition, we’ll categorize workloads and identify opportunities for transformation. Later, we can propose changes such as splitting applications, adopting cloud-native platforms and implementing microservices – all part of cloud transformation.
Only when you get your organization’s transformation right will you be able to realize cloud-native benefits such as cost optimization, greater speed to market and agility, reduced complexity and improved security.
5 essential elements of cloud transformation
- The right approach
We adopt a holistic approach that encompasses both business and technology outcomes. During the planning stages of cloud transformation, users may be more concerned with fast and efficient access to applications and being able to do their jobs, yet it is crucial to first understand the business and technology objectives of your organization.
If we don't start there, we won't fully understand what your organization is trying to achieve. Is it cost savings? Security? Agility? Do you need to scale? And if we don't understand your business dynamics, then it's hard for us to architect an appropriate cloud solution.
So, taking the right approach involves looking at the project and overall business impact, not just the technology – and this serves as the baseline for everything else we do.
- The power of discovery
Once we understand your business and technology objectives, we move to the analysis phase, which reveals the impacts of moving one application or one set of systems versus another.
Many organizations have a fragmented approach to IT management. In almost every project, we discover things that clients themselves weren't aware of, such as undocumented configurations, workloads, applications or databases.
Proper discovery involves not only gathering information but also conducting a comprehensive analysis of existing workloads, configurations, resource usage and dependencies. This is vital to avoid unplanned outages and business disruptions.
We’ll also know who in your organization is responsible for what, and we can start with engagements like workshops, which can be instrumental in breaking down workloads and applications and creating a comprehensive view of the system.
- The future state
Determining the desired future-state architecture and best execution strategy for applications and workloads is an integral part of cloud transformation. It involves aligning technology changes with your organization’s overarching business goals.
This is the phase where we’ll look at workloads and decide whether they’ll be better off in Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services, for example, or on one or more private clouds, based on compliance requirements and best execution practices. How will your users access these workloads, and how will we secure them?
The future state involves consolidating all the knowledge gained from the previous phases, considering factors like cloud choice, connectivity, access and security.
- Risk mitigation
A significant aspect of cloud transformation is risk mitigation. We focus on risk throughout the entire process, but the timing and nature of mitigation depend on the specific risks involved.
For example, in the discovery phase of one client’s cloud transformation, we discovered a critical security risk. We immediately addressed it because of its high potential impact on security. In other cases, we identify risks during discovery but mitigate them during the transition or transformation phase if they are of lesser concern.
The level of risk dictates our approach to mitigating it. In some cases, like when changing IP addresses during workload migrations, we plan ahead to minimize disruptions. In others, challenges are inherent to the project, and we adapt our strategies to work around them.
Security also fits within the category of risk mitigation, and it’s something we consider from discovery to defining the target state. It's especially relevant when considering your organization’s specific business and outcomes, because different industries have varying risk and security profiles.
- Cloud economics
Incorporating proper cloud economics and governance is a crucial aspect of cloud transformation. This is what will ensure cost savings, security, agility, scalability and overall business alignment with the cloud strategy.
Ideally, we work closely with your organization to introduce the concept of FinOps. Not only does FinOps involve finding immediate cost savings, but it’s also about bringing together your developers, IT stakeholders and business and finance teams to ensure that cost considerations are taken into account from the project's inception all the way to day-to-day operations.
In essence, cloud economics has two facets: the immediate in-project aspect, which focuses on reducing costs during migration and transformation, and the long-term organizational aspect. We work closely with you to ensure a sustained and strategic approach in this regard.
As with security and risk mitigation, cloud economics is an integral consideration that should span the duration of the project.
Addressing the skills gap
Often, when we discuss cloud, the question of an organization’s lack of internal skills arises. To solve this problem, we offer project-based advisory services, site reliability engineering (SRE) services and a full scope of managed services.
In one scenario, an organization acknowledges a skills gap and brings us in to handle their cloud transformation. We collaborate with their teams, complete the work and hand over the workloads before stepping back. This option assumes the organization has the right skill set for ongoing operations but lacks the capacity or expertise to execute the transformation.
In another scenario, the organization might recognize the need for assistance in both their cloud transformation and ongoing operations – but they don’t want full-scale managed services. Here, our SRE services can cover various aspects such as DevOps, DevSecOps and cloud economics for as long as the organization needs. We can also customize a set of resources targeted to what they need assistance with for a specific period of time.
However, we can also pivot to full-scale managed services after completing the transformation.
One of the key advantages of partnering with NTT is our global reach and end-to-end capabilities. We are a truly global organization with exceptional expertise in numerous technology domains. Our capabilities extend beyond cloud migration and transformation services; we offer managed services and leverage our global network for connectivity and security solutions.
This means that, should an unforeseen issue arise in the middle of a cloud-transformation project, chances are we’ll have an expert within NTT who can address it.
Having completed numerous cloud transformations, we are also well versed in the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Our goal is not just to transition or transform an organization’s workloads but also to modernize their applications – which involves in-depth analysis, breaking them apart, recoding and replatforming. This is where our experience becomes another significant advantage in making sure your cloud transformation is so much more than a simple transition.
Read more about NTT’s Cloud Advisory Services to put you on the road to cloud transformation.