The Evolution of Distributed Enterprise Systems Towards the Cloud

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Having and executing a cloud strategy is going to be on every enterprise IT teams’ priority list in the coming year. 

Research from Gartner shows that the shift of enterprise IT spending to cloud-based alternatives is going to be relentless and, “28% of spending within key enterprise IT markets will shift to the cloud by 2022”. In 2018 we saw the cloud hosting 45% of workloads, a number that was expected to touch 60% in 2019. While we wait for the actual numbers to come in for 2020, the global cloud computing market is expected to grow to USD 623.3 billion by 2023.

The cloud has become the enterprises’ favorite child for some compelling reasons – cost efficiency, the avenues for increasing collaboration easily, the prospect of enabling mobility, improved disaster recovery capabilities, etc. Moving to the cloud needs methodical planning, especially as enterprise wide distributed systems move towards the cloud because of the complexity and legacy they carry. 

Assessing your dependencies

A strategic cloud move has to begin with assessing and evaluating the dependencies that exist in your enterprise. One common misconception is that cloud migration is a one-time trip. Since cloud migration is about moving the enterprise data, applications, associated business elements, and workloads from an on-premise center to the cloud, this entire migration process has to happen gradually. 

The hallmark of a successful migration lies in its seamlessness – where work is not disrupted, and productivity is not interrupted. Having said that, it is essential to evaluate your existing set of dependencies and the gaps that emerge as hurdles in the cloud migration journey. 

What should move to the cloud-first?

Since not all applications are created equal, the non-critical and simpler enterprise applications should be the first movers to the cloud. Since these applications are not mission-critical, this stage can be used to evaluate the efficacy of the cloud service and decide what needs to work better. 

It is essential to point out that to make this move successful, it is imperative to:

  • Map out interdependencies between applications
  • Assess, evaluate, and understand the complexity and needs of these applications since different applications have different computing demands, maintenance needs, network and storage requirements, etc.
  • Evaluate how high does the application stands on the ‘mission-critical’ list and choose applications that do not rank up high in the first stages of cloud migration

To re-architecture or to not re-architecture when moving enterprise systems to the cloud?

Re-architecting an entire application is time, resource, and cost-intensive. However, there are legacy systems that require current modernizations to leverage the advantages of scalability, performance, or feature-enhancements. Since these systems have different computing needs and can consume resources even when idle, they need to be optimized to leverage the breadth of advantages that the cloud provides. 

It is also a viable alternative to consider a feature-driven approach instead of completely re-architecting and migrating only those components that are critical to the business.

Optimize for the cloud

Taking a step-by-step approach to optimizing applications for the cloud is an organic way for enterprises to be cloud-ready. As applications become more cloud-optimized, they begin to take advantage of cloud features, which makes it easier to update and replicate them. 

In the case of a legacy system, this might also mean looking at this migration and optimization project from the lens of project management. Assessing which parts of the system need optimization, which parts to optimize first, which ones to refactor or re-architecture, the time duration needed for the same, understanding the business impact of any associated downtime, and ensuring that the same is minimal become foundational in designing the sprints for optimization. 

Using this methodical approach helps enterprises conveniently complete each sprint and move the necessary component to the cloud. Eventually, it is each sprint that takes the enterprise closer to being cloud-ready.

Moving enterprise systems to the cloud successfully are thus, all about taking a well-designed approach that takes into account all potential challenges, roadblocks, possibilities, points of failure, etc. and having the domain knowledge to understand how each cog contributes to the entire business outcome.
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