Cloud migration best practice: Application portfolio analysis
In part three of this series on cloud migration best practice, I will focus on migrating the application itself. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read our recommendations from part two, “Classifying Your Data,” check it out — those activities are crucial to the decisions addressed in this installment.
While many organizations are aggressively moving applications to the cloud, they often set the criteria for a cloud service provider (CSP) without the necessary technical and operational due diligence. This widely observed error typically leads to migration delays, failures to attain expected business goals and general disillusionment with cloud computing. However, avoiding this disappointing experience is relatively easy. All it takes is executing an application portfolio screening process that takes a look at:
- The most appropriate CSP target deployment environment.
- Each application’s specific business benefits, key performance metrics and target return on investment.
- Each application’s readiness for cloud migration.
Build a foundation
The first step in the screening process is determining the most appropriate cloud deployment environment. This practice establishes an operational foundation for subsequent service provider selections by using relevant stakeholder goals and organizational constraints to guide service model, deployment model and implementation option strategy decisions. Enterprises transforming their information technology should evaluate all available options by analyzing an app transition across three specific high-level domains and sub-domains, such as:
- IT implementation model
- Managed service provider
- Cloud service provider
- Technology service model
- IT infrastructure deployment model
Cloud computing domains
These domains and sub-domains outline a structured decision process for placing the right application workload into the most appropriate IT environment. This is not a static decision: As business goals, technology options and economic models changes, the relative value of these combinations to your organization may change as well. Plus, single-point solutions are rarely sufficient to meet all enterprise needs. By the end of the cloud migration journey, an organization may require a mix of two, three or as many as 10 variations. Infrastructure variation is why an organizational hybrid IT adoption strategy is crucial. Figure 1 is an example application decision matrix suitable for this step.
With target deployment environments selected, companies should evaluate each candidate application regarding their business benefits and ability to leverage cloud computing’s technical and operational advantages. Using a simple qualitative scale, stakeholders should agree on:
- Key performance indicators relevant to business or mission owner goals.
- Expected or target financial return on investment.
- Each application’s ability to use cloud infrastructure scalability to:
- Optimize time to deliver products or services.
- Reduce time from business decision to execution.
- Optimize cost associated with IT resource capacity.
- Increase speed of cost reduction.
- Possible application performance improvements that may include:
- More predictable deployment and operational costs.
- Improved resource utilization.
- Quantifiable service level metrics.
- Value delivered by improved user availability that may be indicated by:
- Improved customer experience.
- Implementation of intelligent automation.
- Improved revenue margin.
- Enhanced market disruption.
- Enhancing application reliability by:
- Establishing enforceable service level agreements.
- Increasing revenue efficiencies.
- Optimizing profit margin.
Figure 2 provides a baseline KPI and ROI model that can be easily modified to effectively manage a qualitative assessment across time, cost, quality and revenue margin criteria.
The final step of this application screening process is determining each application’s readiness to actually migrate to the cloud. This step should qualitatively assess the alignment of an application’s cloud migration decision to the organization’s:
- Risk appetite and risk mitigation options.
- Ability to implement, manage and monitor data security controls.
- Expected migration timelines.
- Expected ROI realization timelines.
- Current culture and necessary organizational change management resources.
Performing an application portfolio screening process can be useful in aligning cloud application migration projects with organizational business, technical, security and operational goals. It can also avoid application migration delays, failed business goals and team disillusionment by building and monitoring stakeholder consensus.
In the next and final installment of this series, data classification and application screening are linked to cloud service provider selection and application migration execution.