How to promote business growth with application modernization

Originally published on April 2, 2019 on

Cloud migration has become a growing norm in business. However, many businesses that migrate are not maximizing the potential of the cloud. Despite growing cloud adoption, businesses often fail to operate in a cloud-native manner, creating inefficiencies in terms of both cost and operations. The problem is that it can be difficult to define what it means to be cloud-native, and gaps in education keep business leaders from pursuing cloud-native aspirations for business growth and success.

What’s clear is that, when optimized properly for business, AWS® offers strong returns of about 637% over five years, according to the research firm IDC. These businesses can also expect to see a 51% reduction in the cost of operations, 94% less unplanned downtime, and an estimated $36.5 million in additional revenue annually. With that in mind, let us take a moment to clarify what it means to be cloud native, and translate this into the important considerations for your application migration, including business outcomes.

Defining the cloud-native mindset

When it comes to defining cloud-native, it’s almost easier to describe it in terms of what cloud-native is not. To be cloud-native does not mean creating a one-to-one equivalent of your on-premise data center in the cloud. Instead, being cloud-native means analyzing each workload to assess how it can best operate in the cloud. This means, instead of thinking of how the application operates on-premise, it is important to look through the lens of running on the cloud and find the best option for the application. This might mean refactoring or reworking how the application functions to best leverage the benefits of the cloud.

The reason for this approach is two-fold. First, everyone is adopting the cloud, meaning when you take a cloud-native approach, you are keeping with the standards and expectations of your customers and business partners. Thus, operating in this cloud-native manner can help improve your market positioning. Second, with a cloud native approach, you can improve the efficiency of your application, allowing for greater scalability and reliability, often at a fraction of the cost.

Steps to application modernization

Application modernization refers to projects designed to create new business value from existing, aging applications by updating them with modern features and capabilities. The current trend in this modernization is migration to the cloud.

There are a number of important considerations after you decide to make your applications cloud-native.

Understanding your application architecture

First and foremost is understanding your application architecture. This not only means thinking about which Amazon Web Services® (AWS) services to deploy your application against, but also thinking through how to manage availability, scalability, performance, and cost. Thankfully, AWS has a set of best practices and example templates to consult. Rather than starting from square one, there are guidelines to help make your architecture run efficiently.

1. Evaluate migration methods

Even when engaging a consulting partner like Onica, establishing your architecture takes some up-front time. At Onica, we use a migration method known as Migration as Code, which automates migrations on an application-by-application basis through CI/CD pipelines. This method encourages cloud-native thought more than a traditional lift-and-shift migration and can lead to greater cost savings in the long run. However, it might involve a slower start, as it requires more strategic planning to pick the right services and the best ways to set up the environment. The result is applications that embrace the cloud, leveraging services for more effective results.

2. Consider security and compliance

You need to make special considerations for security and compliance. No matter your industry, security is a major concern for cloud consumers. By following the AWS Well-Architected Framework Guidelines, you can ensure a cloud architecture that meets your security needs, even if they follow a specific standard like PCI, HIPAA, or have requirements like GDPR.

3. Aim to maximize performance and minimize costs

Finally, the right architecture is imperative for maximizing performance while keeping costs low. These efficiency gains come from minimizing unused resources, rightsizing the infrastructure, and designing applications to scale seamlessly.

Business transformation in the cloud is rooted in the leveraging of cloud services. It is not enough to move your on-premise servers in a one-to-one fashion. In fact, this can prove detrimental to finding success in the cloud. Instead, businesses looking to capitalize on their change in infrastructure should adopt the cloud-native approach and focus on the adaptation of applications to meet cloud best practices without limiting them to on-premise functionality. By choosing to leverage automation, scalability, and flexibility, you can not only maximize cloud ROI but significantly impact growth and opportunity as well.

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Tolga Tarhan

As CTO of Rackspace Technology, Tolga Tarhan leads the vision, driving innovation, and strategy for our technology offerings. With more than two decades of experience leading product and engineering teams and as a hands-on technologist at heart, he brings unique insights to customers undertaking the journey to the cloud. As an early pioneer of cloud-native thinking, Tolga’s passion has driven our technical approach and transformed our customers into cloud-native thinkers. Tolga continues to show thought leadership in the field through his extensive speaking engagements at AWS events, industry conferences, and educational groups. Tolga previously served as CTO of Onica, which was recently acquired by Rackspace Technology. Before that, he was a co-founder of Sturdy Networks and served as the CEO through to the acquisition by Onica. Tolga holds an M.B.A. from the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University.

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