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Four steps to identify and relocate an application portfolio to the cloud

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Large enterprises looking for ways to modernize and migrate a portfolio of business applications to cloud will need to adopt a methodical approach. The approach should give enterprises ways to build a pipeline of applications suitable for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS) types of cloud enablement.

The approach should also provide an ability to decide on an appropriate cloud deployment model: public, private or hybrid. Of these, the IaaS  is the quick route for enterprises looking at cloud enablement for moving towards an OPEX model for lower cost of operations. The success of IaaS in public and private cloud deployments and the associated cost savings have already transformed the operations of many data centers.

This chart provides the key elements of a framework that will help enterprises move toward relocating their applications to cloud:

migrating applications to the cloud

The main steps that must be addressed in the migration framework include:

1. Strategy. Defining a cloud migration strategy involves performing a cloud fit analysis of the applications that are to be moved to the cloud. The various steps that are involved in performing a cloud fit analysis include collection of the data about the applications that will be migrated, conducting required executive workshops to understand the applications and analyzing the data that is collected to understand the pain and the gain associated with moving the applications to the cloud. Such analysis may indicate that migration of some applications involves high pain and high gain. In such situations, enterprises will need to make sure there is a long term strategic gain of migrating applications to cloud.

2. Analysis and planning. The next step in the migration framework is the high level design of the migration, which involves analysis and planning activities. In this step, the architectural artifacts of the applications that are to be migrated to cloud are reviewed. Any constraints associated with the migration are included in the review.

As part of the analysis, applications are analyzed and classified into one of three categories:

• Migration, where very minor changes are required in the application
• Transformation, where business logic changes are required to take advantage of the cloud environment
• Rebuild, where the application requires a rewrite

An estimate of the time needed for the migrations is determined based on this analysis. The key outputs of this activity include a cost benefit analysis of the migration, detailed migration plan and associated schedule.

3. Design, development and integration. After the applications are analyzed and classified, the next step is to perform required design and development changes to the applications, including integration changes, to ensure the applications run smoothly in the cloud. The design, development and integration activities for each classification will be very different. The key output of this step includes architectural artifacts, design documents, project plan, test plan and deployment plan.

4. Migration and deployment. This step of the migration framework involves the migration and deployment of the applications that have been identified for cloud enablement. The analysis performed as part of the migration framework will indicate the appropriate deployment model for the application including private cloud, managed private cloud, hosted private cloud or a public cloud.

During the architecture and analysis/planning phase, it is important to identify the applications’ affinity towards the type of cloud, like IaaS, PaaS, SaaS or business process as a service (BPaaS) to take advantage of cloud services already available.

Here, you see an example selection framework that will help you decide on type of cloud with services already available.

Cloud Services

The quick wins are the ones that can be moved to an IaaS type with SoftLayer or IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ (SCE+). IBM is investing heavily to build and acquire world-leading IaaS capabilities. The recent IBM acquisition of SoftLayer provides the industry’s only seamlessly unified global cloud computing infrastructure. It combines virtual public cloud instances, powerful bare metal servers, turnkey private clouds and a broad range of storage, network and security devices, and services. All these services are connected through a global private network across 13 data centers, with a single control-and-command portal.

Customers can quickly deploy applications on globally distributed hybrid architectures. Options that are available include GPU-powered servers, high-speed storage and multi-processor bare metal. These options give customers access to higher levels of performance than available in commodity public clouds.

The performance mandate extends to SoftLayer’s innovative triple-network architecture with these capabilities:

• High-speed public connectivity
• A global private network for security
• Point-to-point intra-application and inter-data center connectivity
• Out-of-band management network for systems administration

This comprehensive approach, supported by processes, methods and tools (PM&T) from IBM’s many years of experience, is a proven one with several large global enterprises. I will be more than happy to provide additional details on this approach and the PM&T. Please contact me at ram.ravishankar@us.ibm.com.

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