BRIAN FAWCETT (BF): You want the benefits of the cloud, but you don't want to abandon the infrastructure you've already invested in. So, what's the best path forward? I'm your host Brian Fawcett and this is IT Availability Now, the show to tell stories of business resilience from the people who keep the digital world available.
The cloud computing market stood out more than $371 billion in 2020 and is expected to more than double to $832 billion by 2025. Despite that massive growth, not every company is leaping in. Many hesitate because the cloud would replace existing infrastructure that they've already invested in but haven’t yet seen a return on.
On this episode of IT Availability Now, we have Servaas Verbiest, Lead Cloud Evangelist at Sungard AS, to tell us how a business can advance to the cloud without abandoning the investment it made in its current infrastructure. Servaas, welcome back to the show.
SERVAAS VERBIEST (SV): I appreciate you having me Brian.
(BF): If companies already have an existing infrastructure, why should they consider a cloud migration in the first place?
(SV): It's about identifying the use case and where cloud options can provide that. Things like their industry, current IT landscape, market position, and financial structure, and business targets, are what's going to make up the use case. From there, the adoption of cloud services will have some form of migration.
You need to make sure that the goal you're targeting is efficient with your time and effort, that you have the right tools to align with the job that you're trying to accomplish, and most importantly, you're not adopting an approach that's based on other market use cases that don't align to your use case.
(BF): So, that's a lot of decisions to make. Where do companies struggle the most?
(SV): Determining where to start and dealing with the operational and political components of change is a big piece. There are downstream impacts in both operations and finances that can cause hesitation. It's usually best if you weigh these implications as they determine what migration path makes the most sense. It's hard to walk away from an investment in hardware and software without getting a return.
As I mentioned before, the political impacts of these decisions can impact someone staying in a company, or, you know, them maintaining their job, which can cause hesitation. And they can also play a role in a P&L statement to impact the financials of the company as well. So it's crucial to come up with a plan that allows for a return on investment for existing assets, while also migrating to the cloud, to be able to address the new needs that are arriving for the business and that's a challenging thing to do.
(BF): Yeah so, how do organizations overcome these challenges and roadblocks?
(SV): They have to look at the market value of change. Will it provide a better experience to displace competitors to gain a larger market share and increase adoption? Will it be faster, so I can transact quicker to gain more clients? Will it be cheaper so I can reduce my costs to deliver goods sold, or will it mitigate against risks that are high probability and could have a sizable negative impact if they occur?
(BF): Alright so a company’s made the decision to migrate to the cloud. They decide that’s the right move. How can that company then formulate a plan that takes into account its existing infrastructure?
(SV): It's essential to keep in mind that there's no “one size fits all” approach. Solutions need to meet your business's needs. You’ve got to find a path that allows you to repurpose any investments or technical debt that you can't get rid of due to its complexity or integration in the organization.
It's also going to apply to your operational model as well because you don't want changes that are going to create new bottlenecks or hang ups that are going to add excessive cost or complexity to how you operate.
And you've got to make sure that your transition plan has options that allow for investments and technical debt to be phased out once they've matured, reached the end of their lifecycle.
(BF): So obviously there's much to consider when forming a plan and cloud migration will obviously be a big part of that. What should a company's process look like for taking its first steps into the cloud?
(SV): Back in 2016, AWS introduced a strategy with its six Rs, which has been embraced across the marketplace: re-host, re-platform, re-purpose, re-factor, retire, retain, based on the applications that support a business, and how you should deploy them across cloud technologies. Identifying priorities, KPIs and a scope, driven by operations finances, etc., is where you should start with determining your migration path.
You should choose a cloud for items that you want to re-host or re-platform that doesn't require a tremendous amount of modification or refactoring for applications that can't bear that kind of activity. You should look to SaaS, if at all possible, to support applications that are going to drive business processes in an organization because all you're going to really focus on is setting up and deploying them.
For applications that require more radical transformation, you can use methods like containerization, infrastructure as code to support, you know, the gold standard, which is a service-oriented architecture and factor in how it's going to work with the application lifecycle that you want to maintain and the software development lifecycle that your organization for comfortable with.
As things get replaced, they can be retired, or if it's at a state where it's either too heavily integrated and you don't have enough time or finances to bear the type of transformation in hosting, you can maintain it until there gets to a point in the future where you're in a better position to handle that asset. You know, you’re really going to make sure that you validate your approach after making these terminations, prior to beginning a transition and finally promoting everything into production.
(BF): Thanks for going through all that. So how quickly then does the migration happen? Can the organization do it in phases or should they do it all at once?
(SV): It rarely happens all at once, and in fact, it's fiscally responsible to do it that way. Companies can maintain existing software and even some hardware, and then incorporate and migrate to the cloud over time. Most organizations rarely run a full lifecycle in its entirety, across its infrastructure and software, that aligns to everything, spontaneously being ready to retire. You know, the sun and moon will not align in most cases, so you have one set date.
So with that in mind, radical full transformation can come with a very high price tag. So, what you want to try to do is leverage cloud, where at all possible to curb some of these on-premise costs, with leveraging the fact you're not going to have to maintain power for cooling and running hardware, hiring security guards, maintaining site access controls because the cloud will absorb these responsibilities so companies won’t be on the hook for it.
(BF): Great recommendations. Balancing a cloud cloud migration with existing infrastructure investments is a calculated decision for any company and because the cloud is so flexible, it can be the solution for almost anyone in some capacity as long as their approach to migration considers the right things like financial impact, business operations and lifespan of its existing tech components.
Servaas, thanks for helping us navigate the nuances of finding the right strategy.
(SV): No problem. Thanks for having me, Brian.
(BF): Servaas Verbiest is Lead Cloud Evangelist at Sungard AS.
You can find the show notes for this episode at SungardAS.com/ITAvailabilityNow.
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I’m your host, Brian Fawcett, and until next time, stay available.