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Why an Application Strategy Can Make or Break a Cloud Migration

With careful planning for application migrations to the cloud, CIOs can drive cost savings and minimize the risk of costly oversights.

3 Min Read
Why an Application Strategy Can Make or Break a Cloud Migration

Bob Dvorak is the President of KillerIT.

Sixty-nine percent of enterprises already run applications in the cloud today, according to a recent report from IDG. However, many of those organizations have not implemented the critical first step of migration: devising a migration strategy for their application portfolio.

This oversight could be costly, in part because the cloud continues to gain momentum. A recent Data Center Knowledge article reinforced the rapid pace of cloud adoption, expounding on the reasons why hybrid cloud in particular has become so popular. According to the Cisco report cited in the article, by 2018, cloud data centers will process more than 78 percent of workloads, with traditional data centers processing the remaining 22 percent.

That means it’s up to CIOs to decide which vendor and which deployment model is best suited to their company, as well as what assets they should migrate. By incorporating existing applications and business metrics, IT must make smart decisions about which ones provide value and which are financial drains on the organization.

“Many organizations may try to take a more laissez-faire approach to governing these efforts, but they do this at a substantial risk,” wrote Gartner analysts in the 2014 report, "How to Budget, Plan and Govern Application Rationalization." That “risk” easily translates into real dollars and cents. For example, on average, organizations fail to use 28 percent of all deployed software, while every PC costs $224 in wasted licenses, according to a study by software lifecycle automation services company 1E. It conservatively estimated the total cost of deployed, yet unused software within companies of 500+ desktops, at $6.6 billion in the U.S.

While software represents 34 percent of enterprise technology spending, CIOs spend 55 percent of the applications' budget on maintenance and support, according to Forrester Research’s most recent “State Of Enterprise Software And Emerging Trends” report. The visibility into which applications to migrate to the cloud and which to eliminate completely will prove to have enormous cost savings – money that could be reallocated to cloud projects.

Meticulous discovery will help inform accurate applications analysis. A detailed cloud strategy should begin by categorizing enterprise applications with metrics such as: total cost of ownership, number of unique functionalities, number of applications that depend on it to function, and how many other interfaces with which it interacts. Because the organization also needs to determine deployment models, IT leaders should rank each application with risk and security metrics, assuring the most sensitive information stays on private infrastructure.

From there, the CIO can distinguish both the deployment model and the best cloud service vendor based on the overall application categorization and score. This newfound understanding of the organization’s IT portfolio may also allow the enterprise to trash a number of applications that have completely lost their value.

Once IT has completed thorough asset identification and categorization processes, CIOs should communicate their findings to their teams and ensure they have a holistic understanding of what is involved.

“When the CIO issues the simple directive, ‘Move some applications to the cloud,’ architects face bewildering choices about how to do this, and a decision must consider an organization’s requirements, evaluation criteria, and architecture principles,” said Richard Watson, research director at Gartner. “However, no alternative offers a silver bullet: All require architects to understand application migration from multiple perspectives and criteria, such as IT staff skills, the value of existing investments, and application architecture.”

All of these steps are necessary because migrating to the cloud is an incredibly complex undertaking – one that can trip up half of all organizations.

According to Gartner’s 2014 study, "Best Practices Mitigate Data Migration Risks and Challenges," through 2019, more than 50 percent of data migration projects will exceed budget and/or result in some form of business disruption due to flawed execution.

However, with a thoughtful application migration strategy, CIOs can shield their companies from failure and lead them through a successful migration.

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.


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