Business Architecture for Planning Cloud Migration and Transformation

A process of migrating to the Cloud can be very simple, such as moving from in-house Microsoft Exchange email to Google Apps, or it can be very complex – A long term plan to close multiple data centres, consolidate and migrate hundreds of applications.

Therefore the first step in the Cloud Migration process is a strategy review to determine what scope of transition is required.

In the feature video William Ulrich provides a detailed analysis of ‘Architecture Driven Modernization’, and this article explains how the method can be applied to Cloud Migration to address this challenge.

Application Modernization

Many organizations have built up a complex estate of various legacy applications, with many facing issues related to their age, from obsolete and faulty hardware through poorly equipped data centres to software with long-forgotten skills needed to maintain it.

Migrating to the Cloud presents the potential to address these challenges, but not when the scope only achieves a ‘lift and shift‘ exercise, a migration-only exercise. It must also be combined with application modernization best practices, as CIO.com begins to touch on, to achieving the transformation business executives hope for from the investment.

A cloud migration project can be a relatively simple exercise, where applications are migrated ‘as is’, to gain benefits such as elastic capacity and utility pricing, but without making any changes to the application architecture, software development methods or business processes it is used for. The first step strategy review can determine what scope of exercise is needed.

As the ADM ‘Horseshoe’ model articulates, as described in this Carnegie Mellon article, a migration project can be considered with three distinct tiers of scope possible, increasing the size and length of the project with an increasing level of associated business benefit.

1. Technical architecture – The application is migrated as is to a new hardware infrastructure service without modification.

This delivers infrastructure-centric cost and performance benefits, such as autoscaling of capacity and utility pricing, addressing specific pain point scenarios, such as utilizing IaaS for disaster recovery, with the business case being the move off of obsolete hardware.

2. Application and Data Architecture – The application and data structures are also upgraded as part of the process.

This can enable the software development team to adopt Enterprise DevOps methods, achieving faster time-to-market for new innovations that wasn’t possible with the previous legacy software. The software can be re-architected from hard to modify monolithic software to change-friendly designs such as Microservices, and achieve a more integrated state that better utilizes shared services like Digital Identity sign-on and key modern features, like web front-end access.

3. Business Architecture – The business model is also transformed. The new software capabilities can then make possible new digital business models, changing how the pattern of how resources are organized to deliver new services.

Moving to Cloud can actually represent activity on all three fronts:

  1. (T) Virtualizing the platform to simply improve the underlying hardware usage. This begins at a technical migration, meaning the application is migrated ‘as is’ to a new hardware infrastructure service without modification.
  2. (A) Application Modernization, from simple re-writes to make use of native Cloud services such as AWS auto-scaling, through to wholesale transformation, such as converting COBOL code to Java. It can even enable a shift from a procedural software development method to an object oriented one.
  3. (B) Business model transformation – Changing business processes to a new operating model that best exploits these new capabilities.

As the horseshoe describes, these increases in scope mean a larger project that takes longer, because each is delivering a larger scope of business benefits, impacting a larger group of stakeholders and requiring a larger business transformation exercise, such as:

Legacy modernization best practices can address these issues, delivering business benefits including:

  • Untangle and map legacy application complexities – Build a basis of understanding of existing application and data architectures to establish more intelligent IT planning concepts in line with business and technical demands. Developers with no experience of the legacy software can be enabled to implement changes in line with business needs.
  • Extend the life of legacy applications without the risks of greenfield COTS projects – Numerous reports highlight how a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) approach to modernization is very high risk with expensive failure rates.
  • Align user interfaces and back-end application and data models with modern business processes – Modernization can be used to achieve IT objectives such as SOA, Cloud migration and Web-enablement of applications.
  • Leverage new technologies and tools – The overarching benefit is the transformation of software that is now resistant to change and thus innovation, as the required skills have long since retired and/or the suppliers are no longer in business. By moving it to a modern software platform new tools and techniques like ‘DevOps’ can be implemented to speed the rates of innovation.

Decision Tree

In their blog Successful Cloud Migration in Three Steps, RapidValue provides a very helpful overview of the decision process an organization can follow:

They also illustrate the Horseshoe scope in terms of the Cloud stack and the resulting Cloud operating model depending on what level of transformation is decided upon, ranging from the lift and shift scenario:

through to a complete transition to an entirely new, Cloud-based application:

The Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure mirrors this model, where in the Cloud Migration Journey planning they describe:

  • Rehost – Often referred to as “lift and shift” migration, this no-code option lets you migrate your existing applications to Azure quickly. Each application is migrated as is, which provides the benefits of the cloud without the risks or costs of making code changes.
  • Refactor – Often referred to as repackage, this cloud migration strategy involves some change to the application design but no wholesale changes to the application code.
  • Rearchitect – Modify or extend your application’s code base to scale and optimise it for the cloud.
  • Rebuild – Rebuild an application from scratch using cloud-native technologies.

Determining whether to migrate to IaaS (“lift and shift”) or PaaS highlights the value of the first Digital Transformation planning process, to identify whether the benefits sought are purely related to the replacement of server hardware, or if transformation of software development and business process are also key goals.

Case Studies and Vendor Services

This methodology provides a framework for understanding where and how different approaches and vendor solutions can be applied, with some case studies to explain the exercise.

Scope  Scenario / Technology
1 – Technical Architecture
  1. ‘Containerizing’ legacy applications – FPComplete offers this short overview of what containerizing legacy applications involves, highlighting that this is a way to begin modernizing the deployment of the application while making minimal or no changes to the application itself.
  2. Migrating mainframes to AWS This AWS tutorial from Astadia walks through a lift and shift of mainframe COBOL code to EC2 for Cloud hosting.
  3. Migrating databases – The previous use case mentions a component part of migrating from a legacy database such as DB2, to a Cloud-based equivalent such as Aurora. This webinar from App Associates explores that scenario in detail.
2 – Application Architecture
  1. Somerset County Council Migrating on-site, VMware-based legacy apps to a combination of IaaS and PaaS on Azure and enabling implementation of Continuous Integration practices using Visual Studio Team Services.
  2. Guiness Book of Records Migrating to AWS and transforming their software to a microservices architecture.
3 – Business Architecture
  1. The Aldo case study demonstrates how they enjoyed the full three tiers of benefit: Faster performance and no more outages (1-Technical), the adoption of AWS AppSync enabled their developers to more quickly publish new features (2-Application), with this making possible new business processes across inventory management and customer engagement (3-Business).
  2. SnapDocs utilized AWS Serverless and AI technologies to digitize the mortgage closing process, previously a mainly manual workflow taking many hours of face to face meetings and taking as long as 60 days to complete. This is an example of how digital transformation can achieve a superior market product, with AI enabling value add features that go well beyond simple document digitization.

Conclusion

Exploring the specific technical and/or business benefits an organization is seeking from a Cloud Migration can pinpoint which of these journeys is required to deliver those benefits.

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