Best Practices for Successful Cloud Migration for Applications - Part 2
September 10, 2019

Lev Lesokhin
CAST

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Many aren't doing the due diligence needed to properly assess and facilitate a move of applications to the cloud. This is according to the recent 2019 Cloud Migration Report which revealed half of IT leaders at banks, insurance and telecommunications companies do not conduct adequate risk assessments prior to moving apps over to the cloud. Essentially, they are going in blind and expecting everything to turn out ok. Spoiler alert: It doesn't.

Start with Best Practices for Successful Cloud Migration for Applications - Part 1

A solid start to migration can be approached three ways — all of which are ladder up to adopting a Software Intelligence strategy:

1. Businesses should lead with a benefit-based approach to cloud migration instead of targeting the low hanging fruit

Today, over 50% of financial firms don't do this. The majority (over 80%) are picking the easiest applications to migrate in order to generate early momentum in the cloud. Non-core customer applications are taking precedence over critical ones. Although the latter may be easier to implement, they often don't provide ROI and as a result can impede the migration of more business essential applications.

To avoid wasting time and resources on unnecessary migrations, software leaders need to decide why applications are being moved rather than opting for quick wins. Some applications may be better off not being migrated at all. There is always the option of replacing lower value applications with commercially available off-the-shelf alternatives saving time, cost, and resources.

2. Be advised: "lift and shift" is high risk for mainframe applications

To save time and resources the majority of IT leaders have tried a "lift-and-shift" approach, moving applications from their current environments to the cloud without adjusting or updating them. This only works for applications with up to three years before end of life, not mainframe applications. Moving workloads without changing the way they are shaped, creates issues.

Effective cloud migration demands increased data connectivity, performance and security. Legacy process firms experience further complications when they locate data on a different cloud platform to the applications.

This is also true for the connectivity back to the mainframe. As these systems become exposed to the outside world via APIs, the threat surface and complexity increases. Standing up replacement systems beside the mainframe will be the principal cloud migration option for large institutions.

And as some functionality goes live, equivalent components can be retired as long as the cost isn't too prohibitive. Planning needs to begin now in order to start this critical migration process. 

3. Choose the most effective migration plan and architecture approach per application

Grappling with the microservices versus miniservices question is a struggle for most firms, regardless of region, particularly for legacy processes. Setting the right architectural model is critical to avoid creating additional technical debt. In monolithic systems, resiliency suffers, but heading too far down the microservices path creates dependency and deployment risks. Microservices are ideal for rapidly evolving applications serving a diverse user base; miniservices enable a quick path to value. Refactoring — and grasping the relative opportunity for modernization in virtualized environments — is the battle to be won.

Overall, businesses need to follow these best practices, but they also must assess applications using four key criteria to determine whether to rehost or replatform, refactor or rebuild. They need to look at interconnectivity, reliability, effort to remediate, and the frequency of drops. This will help them to assess the best strategy for migration per application class.

Cloud migration is essential for digital transformation and the pressure is on for organizations to get it done quickly. However, fewer than 35% of technology leaders are using freely available analysis tools to prepare for migration, and over 70% of firms report cloud migration is driven inconsistently across application silos. 

Software leaders need to gain a deeper understanding of an application's cloud readiness before migration begins to mitigate any potential issues. They also need to adopt a Software Intelligence led approach, basically a cloud center of excellence which helps to centralize cloud migration activities, which will lead to faster progress.  Using an analysis-led approach over gut instincts will help avoid any additional costs or IT outages down the line. Without it, firms will miss the opportunity to truly modernize the IT environment and investment priorities and benefits will simply be lost. 

Lev Lesokhin is EVP of Strategy and Analytics at CAST
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