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Building a house or moving apps to the cloud: Start with a good foundation

I’m frequently asked “What’s the best first step?” when clients want to build a plan to bring their applications to the cloud. It’s a tricky question to answer because it depends on their starting point or how advanced their organization is regarding apps readiness for the cloud. However, regardless of starting point, what we usually agree upon is that it’s like the architecture of a house - you need to build a good plan, a good foundation, if you want to be successful in moving apps to the cloud (or building a house to survive the storms through the years!).


AT2C house framework with cloud.jpg

In an earlier post titled Application Transformation to the Cloud – four modernization alternatives, I discussed with Alison Watterson this ‘solid foundation’ approach. We discussed modernization options we apply to an applications portfolio when planning for the adoption of cloud services and talked about how they fall into 4 categories: Re-Host, Replace, Integrate, and Rearchitect/Refactor.  And just like building a foundation for a house, the framework needed to bring your applications to the cloud needs to be just as solid. 


To help illustrate, I’m posting a graphic that represents our Applications Transformation to Cloud framework.  It serves as a high level view of the major elements of our approach for building a plan to bring applications to the cloud.  Let’s walk through some of the major elements. 


Applications Transformation to Cloud Framework.pngWe start with our Applications Suitability Mapping for Cloud process where each application is given a suitability designation.   There are four major designations for the apps:


  1. Suitable for SaaS – This refers to apps where there is a replacement for your application from a SaaS provider.  For commodity type applications, why continue the expense of maintaining such applications when they can be consumed as a service?
  2. Suitable for Cloud - These applications have technical and business characteristics that align with the characteristics of the target cloud platform.  These apps are usually written in a modern programming language.
  3. Need Modernization Analysis – Some applications will need a more thorough analysis to determine their suitability and determine a modernization approach.  Where possible, we recommend dropping into an applications rationalization process.  If we can rationalize and reduce the number of applications, we simplify the process.  We may also conduct a cloud-specific workload analysis which will aide us in determining the target platform.  A risk analysis may be warranted depending upon requirements like those in the security domain.  And finally, business process analysis may be needed to ensure the new environment and solution can be seamlessly integrated into your business processes while conforming to the agreed SLA’s.
  4. Not Cloud Suitable - I realize this may seem like an obvious statement, but not all applications belong in the cloud.  For those deemed not suitable, at least three options should be considered:  1.) retire the application,   2.) leave it alone – in other words, keep it where it is, and 3.) migrate to a traditional infrastructure.

For those ‘Suitable for Cloud and/or SaaS’, we drop into our level 1 transformation strategy – what we call application of our Re’s.  For details on this step, please see the previous post.


In the level 2 transformation strategy, we evaluate and recommend the cloud delivery model (IaaS, Paas, SaaS), and then the deployment model – public, private, or ‘virtual private’ cloud.  For virtual private cloud, we host and manage the platform and applications for you, which could be on multi-tenant or single tenant platform.


I hope you’ve gained some insight into our approach which spawns some thoughts on how this might be applied in your environment.  Whether you build a house yourself or contract the work, you want to use a blueprint to ensure a high quality outcome in a timely fashion. 


For more information on this topic, check out this video recorded at HP Discover where I discuss Applications Transformation to Cloud.


Follow us on future blogs as part of the Knowledge Matters program for cloud. We will talk about key cloud topics such as the relationship between SOA and cloud, avoiding vendor lock-in, measuring your cloud applications maturity… and many others.

Nadhan | ‎07-28-2012 07:47 PM

Great post, Tom!  Nice picture.  Like the manner in which you draw a parallel with the need for a strong foundation whether you are moving apps to the cloud or building a house.  I would take it a step further and suggest some parallels with moving houses as well:  Moving the House that IT built to Cloud Computing.


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About the Author
Tom is the Global Product Marketing lead for HP's Cloud Applications Services. Tom has over 20 years of experience in information technolog...

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