A great many organizations have migrated their workloads (databases, back office systems, web applications etc.) to the cloud over the last decade or so. A great many more have still to do so, either because they’re dealing with industry-specific regulatory requirements or, more likely, because of the disruption this change would cause. In any case, the benefits of a cloud migration are well-known at this point, so we won’t waste time talking about those.
More importantly, and what we want to focus on in this blog post, is the added efficiency and security that enterprise architecture can bring during a cloud migration initiative. How EA can turn what’s perceived as a risky, if somewhat delicate maneuver into a transparent, well-organized one. Therefore, this post is aimed at organizations that are still running workloads on their premises and fear abandoning their current IT structure in favor of the cloud.
How EA Helps Moving Workloads to the Cloud
To be successful, a cloud migration requires meticulous planning. All facets of the enterprise need to be examined and understood in the context of the wider organization before any change is carried out. This is because service level, security and business continuity are key elements you must safeguard at all times. So without further ado, here is how EA helps with cloud migrations, broken down by steps.
1. Assess Cloud Preparedness
Moving workloads to the cloud has been shown on average to positively impact businesses. Even so, all organizations are not created equal. They exist on a continuum that includes very traditional enterprises at one extreme and very digitally adept ones at the other. Figuring out where you stand is important for the success of the project. At this initial stage, enterprise architecture assists with:
- Creating a fully-functional, efficient target cloud architecture (complete with any necessary intermediary states) that accounts for the organization’s level of cloud maturity. Developing a coherent, model-based plan for transitioning from the existing systems to a cloud-focused future state is invaluable. Since cloud technology precipitates a decline in the number of both software and hardware components, it produces a change in how the IT stack works, how it’s serviced. It also triggers additional changes on the staff side – the roles that are needed, how they interact with each other now, or if there are any redundancies. Ultimately, you need to develop a new picture of how people, processes, technology and capabilities function in the new cloud paradigm. What better way to get everyone informed, engaged, and feeling in control than by providing them with clear EA deliverables that explain how things are evolving going forward? Enterprise architects have an opportunity here to deliver immense value to a wide array of stakeholders.
2. Identify Cloud Migration Requirements
Every company is unique, which means they have different requirements for moving their IT deployments, though there are many similarities in the benefits of a cloud lift (e.g. cost savings, always having the latest release etc.). At this stage, enterprise architecture helps the organization by providing an understanding of which elements of the IT landscape lend themselves to being migrated. Additionally, it answers crucial questions about the interwoven nature that usually exists between them. As such, EA assists with:
- Assessing the criticality of workloads, which can be defined by the EA team in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. For instance, this can either be based on the other IT components a workload connects to; the business service(s) it helps to execute; the user base segment it serves, and so on.
- Highlighting interdependencies between different elements of the technology stack. Say, for example, that you want to migrate a certain application to the cloud. There are questions to be answered about the move – How, if at all, are customers affected by this?, or Which other applications are dependent upon it?. Integration between on-premise and cloud applications or between applications in different clouds is not always straightforward, for various reasons, ranging from technological to legal/regulatory issues (see next point).
- Identifying regulation and compliance limitations. For example, in which country is my data stored?
Benefits at this point include a clear understanding of the best candidates for migration, a good idea on the desired level of availability, and costs. Architecture will facilitate all that, given a proper EA platform is available.
3. Identify the Best Cloud Service Model
Once an organization figures out their needs, they may move on to deciding on the cloud service model that best suits them. This will come down to a choice between SaaS, PaaS or IaaS. At this point, enterprise architecture again is very useful because it allows the organization to:
- Assess the adequacy of the existing on-premise IT setup being redeployed ‘as is’ in the cloud. By comparing their IT landscape against the available cloud offerings, the enterprise can understand whether a straightforward lift-and-shift is an option or whether they need to actually revise the code running their workloads in order to make it compatible with the cloud provider’s specifications.
- Identify the optimal cloud service model by analyzing any potential loss of functionality due to inherent differences between the cloud provider’s infrastructure and yours. For instance, if you opt for a full SaaS model, you may also lose some of the configurability of an application, since usually you will get a more or less standardized offering. Therefore, it’s not just about infrastructure, but also about the apps running on top of that. Also, think of performance issues. For example, if your application needs extremely low latency, cloud may not be suitable. In any case, impact analysis carried out in this area will elicit useful insights about the options at hand, and help your executive team make the right choice between the different deployment options. This will also come in handy for developing new application process management processes, which will be required if things are going to move to running things in the cloud.
To sum up, if your organization is considering a cloud migration, then you ought to leverage enterprise architecture in order to bring clarity and structure to the endeavor. By taking advantage of EA deliverables, the executive stakeholders in charge of the initiative are sure to improve their decision making and therefore save the company significant time, money and resources as it undergoes this important process.
While we’re on the topic of cloud deployments, here is a bit of information on BiZZdesign’s SaaS Service Assurance. Or, if you want to learn about HoriZZon, our market leading SaaS EA platform, visit us here.