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Destination Cloud: Let’s Get Ready to Modernize

by in Application Modernization

Setting a strategy

For many organizations, getting to the cloud is an important step to support a digital transformation strategy. According to a recent Accenture study, 60 percent of banking organizations now plan to take core business application workloads into the public cloud, as compared to just 30 percent just nine months ago.  That is remarkable given that previously these same workloads were considered too risky and too complex to move. The tide has changed and now momentum is building toward a large workload shift to public cloud infrastructure. But what is involved in moving these core business workloads to the cloud and what are the technical options? 

Why cloud?

A recent Vanson Bourne study revealed that 92 percent of organizations see core business applications written in COBOL or running on the mainframe as a strategic. Furthermore, over 80 percent of these same IT leaders see their applications remaining in place for at least the next decade—if not longer. However, these systems are not standing still. In fact, cloud was the number one driver for change impacting these core business applications. It is driving new IT investment with over 50 percent now planning to modernize their applications over the next 12 months.

But moving to the cloud can be challenging, especially for some applications. What is important to recognize is that every application journey to the cloud is unique, and the cloud does not need to be a direct end goal for all. In fact, for some, cloud is the destination, but for others, the incremental journey of modernization is what delivers true value. More IT leaders are now embracing a phased approach of continuous modernization enabling them to both manage modernization risk while delivering new value back to the business. There’s good news as well—a modernization journey can now begin without a commitment to a fixed endpoint. How does that happen? Well, let’s explore three achievable steps that can launch you toward modernization:

  1. Get cloud ready.
  2. Migrate and optimize.
  3. Go cloud native. 

Let’s get cloud ready

The first step to getting cloud Ready often requires moving core application workloads to x86 or virtualized environments. Most IT leaders will target application hardware change as their first strategic move. Porting existing applications to lower cost and commodity hardware such as Linux is seen as a lower risk alternative to re-write or replacement. The move also enables the organization to position itself for the next move toward modernization and cloud.

Alongside that strategy is the desire to transform how IT functions in response to business change. Embracing new methods such as Agile practices and continuous integration enables IT to respond much faster to new requirements, deliver more frequently, with higher levels of quality, and incorporate customer feedback faster. The transition toward Agile can be enabled through the adoption of modern development solutions including tools supporting Visual Studio, Eclipse, or VS Code.

Next, migrate and optimize

As organizations begin moving core business workloads to new platforms, they will also consider virtualization and containerization solutions supporting Docker and Kubernetes as part of their evolving deployment strategy. These new models enable faster application deployment at lower cost, but also equip IT teams to scale application development and testing to meet the needs of the business. This step also drives the development of an integrated DevOps pipeline aimed at optimizing the software delivery lifecycle.  New tools supporting modern source code management, application intelligence, coding standards, unit testing, security, and continuous integration all come into play. The cloud takes center stage as the platform supporting development, testing, and management services, enabling on-demand and real-time application delivery.

Go cloud native

As organizations progress their strategy toward a native cloud infrastructure, the need for application change will arise. However, introducing change to complex core business workloads can be costly and present high risk. Here, organizations need to consider new approaches to application change, which do not compromise the core codebase.  Refactoring (or code slicing) delivers that low-risk capability for COBOL and mainframe applications, enabling developers to discover and extract core business logic and data and then quickly API-enable those components into microservices for re-use across the organization.  Alternatively, IT teams may want to align their applications closer to modern platforms and elect to compile core application programs directly to managed code running under .NET 6.0, or a Java byte code running under the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).  Application security also takes a prominent role in a native cloud infrastructure with direct integration of application security scanning and tooling throughout the complete application delivery process.

Plan your path

Taking steps toward cloud requires planning but is very achievable for most core business application workloads. What’s most important is having a plan—an incremental strategy that manages risk while ensuring value is delivered at each stage of the journey. The Micro Focus Modernization Maturity model enables that modernization journey to the cloud, introducing several planning considerations and technical options for your overall transformation strategy. 

As mentioned, each journey to the cloud is unique and requires careful consideration to detail, but with the right plan, that vision becomes a reality. Take those first steps today. Explore how to “get cloud ready” and take your first steps toward modernization and the cloud.