With a nebulous term like ‘the cloud’, it’s inevitable that there may be some confusion when discussing the modernisation of business practices. This confusion often makes it challenging to determine the various solutions a company may really need, resulting in significant real-world ramifications.
James Farhat, is CEO at ACTS (Applications Consulting Training Solutions), consulting with and supporting companies with a focus on leveraging technology for competitive advantage and growth. With over 15 years of experience within the field, here he shares his thoughts on why we need to be crystal clear with what we mean by modernisation — from the very beginning.
There’s a good reason for the confusion surrounding modernisation. Corporate boardrooms love buzzwords, and the media doesn’t help matters by condensing everything to 30-second sound bites.
However, when discussing modernisation, the conversation is much more nuanced and complex since we’re talking about transforming applications from a monolithic approach to being explicitly built for the cloud.
These are complicated discussions made up of countless intricacies, which is where the confusion over modernising comes from — but the results of these conversations are where the enormous power of cloud transformation lies.
Within that framework, there are some broad areas into which modernisation efforts can fall. When a company says they want to modernise their IT solutions, they might need help in one or several categories. Our goal in helping facilitate these moves to cloud-native solutions is to understand the company’s journey and the modernisation efforts they’ll need to undertake to achieve those aims. By providing that level of clarity, we can help dispel the confusion around modernisation.
Infrastructure, platform and application
Frequently, moving an application or applications to the cloud involves some level of infrastructure modernisation. To that end, a growing number of companies are opting to use the networking infrastructure available through cloud service providers instead of footing the bill for expensive data centers. A tangible benefit of infrastructure modernisation is that it allows you to avoid wasting resources and effectively leverage hardware capacity.
Everything is a service on the cloud, platforms included. Platform modernisation is simply changing the way applications run, even at the operating system level. It also contains a large amount of virtualisation and porting legacy applications into new, cloud-based services.
Application modernisation refers to changing the actual code used to build an application. Coding for cloud-based applications is vastly different from legacy applications and requires some extensive shifts to how the application is managed, deployed, and how agile it is.
Why cloud transformation is the cornerstone of modernisation
Cloud transformation is a broad term that applies to multiple levels of development, and cloud professionals must be sure that they take the time to understand every aspect of their client’s journey. When helping a client modernise, the main goal is to grow market share faster while driving operational efficiency, and the granularity of cloud solutions allows us to base paths on any number of factors, including a company’s business model, application portfolio, and in-house talent. Therefore, it’s crucial to tie the solution to value realisation by considering each level of transformation’s impacts and benefits.
For example, we were able to help one financial services organisation save over 50% of its previous costs through modernising its infrastructure. Whereas they were previously spending upwards of $40 million a year on just their data centre, modernisation helped alleviate those costs, enabling them to reallocate their talent in other strategic directions, resulting in a cascading saving effect throughout the organisation.
The flexibility of the cloud provides agile, rapid change compared to the glacial pace of being stuck in a monolithic, one-way street. Instead, you can be surgical in your strategy and, with the precision of a scalpel, cut away expensive legacy systems to build new solutions in their place that are bespoke to every client’s unique needs and tailored around their desired outcomes and current applications.
When helping a client modernise, no two situations will ever be the same. Some companies might need to focus mainly on infrastructure, while others simultaneously look at platform and application modernisation. Decisions in those early stages will invariably affect decisions down the line.
Cost optimisation and the benefits of the cloud
It bears repeating that the most significant benefit of the cloud is cost optimisation. It isn’t easy to measure and analyse costs when a company hosts its data centre or builds the infrastructure, security, database, platform, and application themselves.
In contrast, everything is measurable and tracked because everything is a service with cloud computing. If you want to lose weight, you need a scale to measure your progress. In the same way, monitoring metrics in the cloud allows you to make changes in seconds that can drastically impact costs. The only way to improve is to measure your current performance in order to identify where corrective action is necessary.
Confusion around cloud transformation is reasonable, but there’s no reason it has to be that way. Helping a company identify its desired outcome and charting a clear path forward can help erase that confusion and lead them toward the ultimate goal of reaping the rewards of a modern cloud-based solution.