Digital transformation continues to create opportunities for UK businesses. As uncertainty remains the mood of Britain, companies are prioritising transformation programmes to ensure continued growth. Many see digital transformation as key to becoming more competitive and a necessity to keep up with a rapidly changing business environment, and for many the cloud is critical to its success.
For years, CIOs have been caught in an 80/20 IT spending trap: 80% of the budget going to ongoing support, leaving only 20% for new initiatives. Cloud users on the other hand only allocate about 69% to ongoing support, opening up 31% of budget for innovation. The understanding of what can be achieved with the extra budget for innovation and alignment between the CEO and CIO is crucial for firms to fully embrace the cloud and its potential.
To help inform CIOs on their cloud strategies, I will address the four of the six Rs for public cloud adoption - rehost, re-platform, re-factor and replace – as there is a great deal of clarity to be gained from an intricate look at each of these migration strategies.
The additional Rs - remain and retire – are not detailed below. While they are integral to the decision-making process, they do not strictly require migration as an action. A company will come across these options if:
There is no business justification to migrate applications to the cloud (remain)
Applications that are duplicated or redundant require turning off (retire)
The methods outlined below will provide guidance on which strategy will be the most appropriate for your company’s individual business needs.
Rehost – the “lift and shift”
In a typical scenario, the first step is Rehosting. This method involves minimal risk and effort for moving traditional data centre workloads to the cloud. Rehosting entails the as-is move of existing applications and services that may be running on bare metal or virtual machines in a traditional data centre, to virtual machines running on the cloud. This move may also involve the virtualisation of the existing environment into containers beforehand, or as part of the migration to the cloud activities.
Primarily rehosting dramatically reduce infrastructure and operating costs. Using this method of cloud migration organisations will find that applications are easier to re-architect. This will benefit the organisation long-term as it will encourage a cloud-first approach for the company and develop skills within the business.
Re-platform, re-factor, replace
Due to the similarities in the nature of the transformation we’ll next consider these migration methods as one group.
Re-platforming provides some immediate, modest cloud benefits without much risk. The strategy involves making a few cloud optimisations during migration. Common cloud services such as load balancers that can be leveraged during migration to reduce the number of virtual machines, configurations and operational processes to be migrated without changing the existing application. Making some cloud-friendly modifications to the application during migration makes it possible to reduce the risks by avoiding migrating fragile scripts and configurations to the cloud.
Re-factoring is a method of transforming a non-cloud application into a cloud-native application. Cloud-first migration strategy alters everything about the application: the components, the application code and the data itself. This strategy is driven by a businesses’ need to add features, scale, or performance that would otherwise be difficult to achieve in the existing environment.
Although this is certainly the most expensive option for cloud migration, if organisations are looking to boost agility and improve business continuity this strategy would be most beneficial for long-term.
Replacing can be the most simple and safest method of running services in the cloud. Migrating through vendor applications such as AWS Marketplace, businesses can avoid much of the effort involved in setting up in the cloud.
For example, enterprises can refresh their application stack smoothly by replacing software through cloud procurement frameworks such as AWS Marketplace.
Whilst there are a number of risks associated with the Replacing method, it offers a business the most opportunity to mix and integrate components that have been migrated via another method. Such risks include mismatching the re-configuration of the new service, onboarding of procurement team on procedures for buying applications.
The benefits of cloud
Choosing the right migration strategy can help your business reap the benefits of the cloud. While the business case benefits of an initial “lift and shift” rehosting can deliver OPEX and long-term infrastructure ownership savings, the additional steps can deliver even bigger benefits.
Re-platforming, refactoring and replacing will improve the cloud-nativeness of IT environments, achieving further and potentially the full business case benefits of OPEX and CAPEX through automation. In turn, this approach will enhance the ability for timely innovation through the use of native services at minimum cost and effort.
Taking the decision to move applications or entire services to the cloud can be a bold step change to a company. However, a cloud-enabled business model is the stand-out way for a business to innovate and discover new opportunities. It is an incredibly exciting time when a company decides that it plans to migrate to the cloud. Each businesses’ cloud strategy is unique to them but follow the same set of principles. Each cloud migration journey presents itself as a business development opportunity for each company to expand and develop, constantly evolving and advancing its business.