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Why are IT leaders flying blind into cloud migration?

Tue 19 Nov 2019 | Greg Rivera

Businesses need to adopt an analysis-led approach when prioritising which applications to migrate, writes Greg Rivera, VP of CAST Highlight at CAST

Pilots flying into storms need to turn to their instruments for guidance. Similarly, IT leaders running into cloud migration issues need to assess applications to support and facilitate their move to the cloud. The 2019 Cloud Migration Report revealed half of IT leaders in banks, insurers and telcos do not analyse application software ahead of migrating to the cloud. By failing to do so, they risk flying in the dark.

Today, cloud migration is typically driven by business demand or because organisations feel they ‘have to’, rather than focusing on the individual benefits it will bring to the business, such as cost-savings and IT efficiency. To harness the full potential from cloud migration, IT leaders must ask themselves: What are the real business benefits for moving an application to the cloud?

The main reasons for migration include and are not limited to: The application is already relatively cloud-ready; moving the application is required to modernise, or that the application is critical to business functionality.

However, over 50 percent of organisations primarily base cloud migration decisions on ‘gut instinct’ and ad hoc surveys with application owners, failing to take an analysis-led approach in assessing and prioritising applications to be moved to the cloud.

Once a thorough application portfolio assessment has been carried out and the necessary applications selected, leaders can then move onto the critical next step of reviewing whether their identified apps are ‘cloud-ready’. Solutions such as Software Intelligence, that provide deep analysis into software architecture, can help IT leaders understand an application’s current state, discover and deal with architectural issues upfront and gain a clearer insight into whether application refactoring or reengineering is needed.

Migration ‘quick wins’

Over 50 percent of financial firms have yet to implement a benefit-based approach to cloud migration. In addition, 80 percent of IT leaders across banks, insurers and telcos are picking the low hanging fruit: the easier applications to migrate or the ‘quick wins’ that generate early momentum in the cloud migration process.

The majority of companies first move ‘non-core’ customer applications as they’re easier to migrate, leaving core or critical infrastructure to the end. However, moving non-critical applications first wastes money and resources, as the move is not required in order to modernise and the application is not critical to business functionality.

In fact, 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. To avoid unnecessary migrations, software leaders need to focus on core applications, basing decisions on why applications are being moved and the benefits to the business, rather than opting for quick wins.

Easy ‘lift-and-shift’

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. Simply picking up and moving these applications in their current form only works for applications with up to three years before end of life. Many IT leaders have hit turbulence down the line, facing difficult cloud migrations and integration issues due to this approach.

The 2019 Cloud Migration Report revealed software leaders at banks, insurers and telcos are now revisiting their initial ‘lift-and-shift’ approach. IT leaders need to seriously consider application refactoring for the existing and continuously evolving applications to successfully complete cloud migration. A European Chief Digital Architect commented on the report, “Cloud migration is only really a problem if you’re moving workloads without changing the way they are shaped.”

Analyse cloud readiness

Fewer than 35 percent of software leaders across banks, insurers and telcos use available analysis tools, failing to assess the underlying application readiness for cloud migration. Yet, IT leaders need to realise that even one small change to an application can have a ‘butterfly effect’ on the rest of the code, so a step as big as cloud migration can have a detrimental impact, including IT outages and loss of business.

Software leaders need to gain a deeper understanding of cloud readiness before migration begins in order to mitigate potential issues. Without this guidance, leaders could later face higher costs, IT issues and additional technical debt.

Cloud migration is essential when digitally transforming a business, but it needs to be done carefully with objective cloud migration readiness assessments and processes in place, rather than rushing for ‘quick wins’ such as prioritising ‘non-core’ applications and ‘lift-and-shift’ approaches. Software Intelligence can ensure IT leaders use an analysis-led approach over gut instinct and avoid any additional costs or IT outages down the line, also ensuring that the real business benefits of cloud migration are achieved.

Experts featured:

Greg Rivera



cloud migration
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