Understanding the Various Levels of Cloud Migration Maturity

The cloud has now established itself as a viable business proposition…one that unlocks a lot of value and helps organizations navigate the challenging waters of the business landscape. 

According to experts, the cloud hosted 45% of workloads in 2018, and this number was expected to reach 60% in 2019. This global cloud computing market size stood at 272 billion dollars in 2018 and is expected to grow to 623.3 billion dollars by 2023. 2018 saw the average yearly cloud budgets of organizations circle around $2.2 million, with organizations dedicating one-third of their IT budgets to cloud services. 

The cloud has become the new normal in the enterprise landscape today owing to the host of business benefits it brings. Some of the most pressing ones being:

Cost efficiency: The cloud helps organizations respond to their data needs without the need to purchase or invest in expensive equipment, data centers, hardware, facilities, utilities, and other expenses needed from traditional computing. It also gives flexible payment options owing to the subscription-based model it employs and eliminates the need for upfront capital expenditure.

Increased collaboration: The cloud makes it possible for global teams and organizations to work cohesively and communicate effectively because of its real-time sharing capabilities.

Drives mobility:  The cloud has been crucial to enabling the anywhere-anytime work culture and allows the workforce to work from anywhere in a secure manner

Improved disaster recovery: The cloud improves disaster recovery efforts as hosting systems and data on the cloud acts as a smart safeguard in case of emergencies such as natural disasters. 

These are amongst the rudimentary benefits of the cloud but have been convincing enough to solicit the interest of businesses. However, taking a walk in the cloud has to be a well-thought-out and planned initiative. Moving to the cloud and reaping its benefits has a lot to do with the journey, not just the destination. 

The various stages of cloud migration

Migrating to the cloud is not another ‘lift and shift’ operation and needs organizations to address the people, process, and technology when adopting it. Assessing your current maturity readiness plays a crucial role in cloud migration success. Cloud migration is the process through which your data, applications, and other business elements from the on-premise computers to the cloud – the virtual pool of shared resources offering compute, storage, and network services at scale. Once you have decided to move to the cloud, you need to do a comprehensive analysis of the various applications your organization houses and have your team of seasoned professionals in place to oversee the entire process. 

Here’s a look at what the stages of cloud migration look like

Stage 1: Cloud Enablement – Migrating your applications to the cloud 

The first stage of cloud migration involves moving simple applications to the cloud. This helps in checking how the cloud service works. These applications or parts of the application are not usually mission-critical. These cloud-enabled applications are built with the requirements to run of specific systems and within a particular environment. 

Most traditional line-of-business applications are cloud-ready applications, and moving these applications to the cloud helps them integrate with cloud features and take advantage of the amenities the cloud provides irrespective of whether the application that was built for an on-site environment. Businesses can then reduce their capital expenses, hardware, building and maintenance costs, etc. once these applications migrate to the cloud. 

These apps do not require re-architecting or refactoring and need the least migration efforts. While these apps are easier to maintain, they can be expensive to maintain owing to how they consume computing capabilities, storage, and network resources even when they are idle. 

Mapping out interdependencies between applications, understanding the complexity and needs of the application, and identifying the importance of the application are critical considerations when deciding which applications to roll out in the cloud.  

Stage 2: Cloud Optimization

Stage two involves optimizing the applications to leverage cloud features without any need for application redevelopment as a cloud-native application. 

Cloud optimized apps are a hybrid concoction between applications that were specifically built for the cloud and applications that have been moved to the cloud. 

These applications can be updated and replicated easily. They take advantage of cloud features, which allows for easy on-demand scaling up and tearing down of infrastructure. It is also easy to recreate the environment and configuration by cloning existing applications. Additionally, these can be published when needed. 

You also avoid the expense and the additional complexity of managing and supporting the underlying infrastructure, OS patches, VMs, and networking configuration, etc. Developers can also write code from their locations and push these to the staging/development servers and ultimately push the code into production. 

These applications leverage the managed services offered by cloud providers, which helps in reducing the deployment footprint. This offers great flexibility to IT teams. The elastic nature of the applications provides great scalability enabling optimal utilization of resources. 

Stage 3 – Cloud-Native

These are applications that are born in the cloud. This modern breed of applications is designed as microservices and is frequently deployed as containers. Managed through the latest DevOps processes, these applications take complete advantage of the cloud and are resource-optimized, elastic, event-driven, and with fast release cycles. 

The target deployment environment for these applications includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Containers as a Service (CaaS), and Functions as a Service (FaaS). When combined with DevOps principles of continuous integration and continuous deployment, you can enable rapid software delivery and, consequently, a faster time-to-market. 

These applications also reduce the risk of single points of failure and make scaling related performance issues a thing of the past as applications automatically scale to different compute and memory resources. 

When you look closely at these stages, you can see that 

  1. Stage 1 is the foundational stage in the cloud transformation journey. Here, the organization is still evaluating its key drivers for moving to the cloud. 
  2. Stage 2 is the intermediate stage where some non-critical workloads have migrated to the cloud but are still not confident about moving business-critical and production workloads to it. 
  3. Stage 3 is the advanced stage where applications have been running in the cloud, are leveraging all its benefits, and the key focus of the organization is on optimization. 

You will argue that the cloud is more than a place than to just host applications. But it is when you go past the first three stages that you begin to take advantage of the other value-added services of the cloud. You start seeing greater value to the applications and begin to enjoy the benefits of the cloud – that of lower costs, increased flexibility, unprecedented scalability, and greater availability, amongst others. 

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