IT Modernization is a Top Cloud Driver, But What Does It Entail?
According to a recent Gartner survey, IT modernization is the top motivation to move to public cloud services for companies of all sizes. Cost savings came in a close second, but in many ways IT modernization leads directly to cost savings. Cloud providers offer the latest technology powering scalable infrastructure, and they can deploy it much more rapidly than an in-house IT team without a capital expense for the client organization.
Here are some of the reasons companies modernize their IT through cloud computing and some of the benefits they find when they do.
Why modernize IT with cloud?
It costs both time and money to maintain old systems — just ask the feds, who admitted early this year that in 2015, they spent around 75% of their IT budgets keeping legacy equipment and applications functional. That leaves only a quarter of the budget for new systems or initiatives.
Using a cloud provider means physical equipment and the virtualization platform are always maintained and up to date. With a managed cloud option, operating systems and some applications can even be kept patched and monitored for proper functionality. Ask your IT team how much time they’re spending maintaining current applications rather than helping users. That time could be freed up.
Over time your IT environments naturally being to sprawl. Mergers and acquisitions, different managers who have come and gone, and forgotten company projects all contribute to a mishmash of legacy applications and hardware that may be redundant or may not communicate with one another.
Old hardware also eventually dies, and that death is rarely painless. It takes a significant amount of staff time and capital to replace servers and reconfigure them. If they have been in service for a long time, there may no longer be vendor support for them either.
Most modernization pushes will seek to identify these applications and re-host, rearchitect, and re-platform them to enable interoperability, standardization, and/or a single hosting platform for more simplicity and ease of administration.
The modernization process
When starting a modernization initiative, the first step is a complete inventory of your IT environment across the entire organization, both physical and virtual. Don’t modernize just for the sake of going cloud: identify the applications and data that are feasible for modernization.
Once identified, project the resources and changes needed to enable a modernized version of the IT resource. What IT and business processes will need to change? What about the application will need to change? Is it technically possible with your current hardware and software platforms? Will you need to engage a service provider?
Envision what the ultimate business goals are for the IT resource. Once you answer these questions, you should be able to craft migration goals and recommendations to guide the process. Try and include some quantifiable metrics to measure your success once complete.
Business analysis should include economic and strategic factors like costs, benefits for users, and the operational risk of changing the application. If given the green light to proceed with an IT modernization initiative, you’ll next have to design the new solution and phase it in. Development, deployment, and testing work together to create a functional new IT environment in the public cloud. Once certified, you can point users and related IT resources to the new virtual app.
The main steps towards modernization are:
- Modernization viability assessment
- Hardware and software inventory
- Target environment design and specification
- Vendor/service provider selection
- Deployment of new cloud hardware and apps
- Migration of relevant data and systems
- Optimization and testing
Obstacles to modernization
The biggest hurdle to clear is justifying the initial effort required to modernize IT. While the Gartner survey results make it clear than many businesses see the value in modernization via cloud computing, organizations are often concerned with the expense and labor involved. Compliance, security, and compatibility are often cited as obstacles as well. Modernization often means rehosting and rearchitecting, as old apps are built on outdated platforms that are incompatible with x86-based virtualized platforms.
All of these are reasons why many businesses stagnate alongside their aging IT systems, struggling to shore up a sinking ship. Re-hosting and modernizing to virtualized infrastructure allows greater variety of software options, modern backup and disaster recovery planning, application consolidation as apps no longer rely on proprietary hardware, and flexible infrastructure planning. Automation is growing more popular in cloud environments, as well. All of these factors will ultimately save the IT department time and money, making that initial redevelopment of legacy applications worthwhile.