Most organisations are looking to cloud computing to reduce various storage or server costs, while capitalising on automation opportunities.
We all know a huge technical and business priority of most Australian and New Zealand organisations is to reduce costs and technical debt of their IT environments.
However, not a lot of information is shared about how to utilise cloud computing - in particular application, infrastructure and data modernisation - to open up new sources of revenue for the business. We have recently partnered up with the team at Google Cloud to really understand how companies can get the most of their existing IT investments and re-engineer them in a way to gain competitive and commercial growth.
In this two part blog series, we will outline how to prepare your applications and infrastructure modernisation projects for revenue generation, as well as re-invest to open up new services and commercial channels.
First up - let’s actually get to the cloud:
Getting your organisation to the cloud is the first part of the journey - and often organisations will miss a crucial step in planning for the huge efficiency and innovation potential that cloud and modernisation offers. For new ‘digital native’ businesses and application environments, this is easy. However, if we’re working with decades old infrastructure and on-premise applications, it’s crucial to plan your modernisation journey with all the innovative features and benefits of cloud computing.
If you’re a large organisation, you’ll likely have hundreds, thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of applications and various infrastructure portals, and siloed data - often which can be mission critical.
To unlock revenue and top line growth opportunities, you’ll need to carefully decide which of these applications and infrastructure sets need to be modernised - and to what future state. Do you want them prepared to make money today, or have them future-proofed with a likely API solution that allows them to bolt on new services? You’ll also need to consider your infrastructure and data architecture choices and how they interlock together in real-time architecture.
What should we be preparing for?
When modernising your applications: simply rehosting your applications in the cloud will cut some costs and solve varied technical debt issues. This is the easy solution that 90% of businesses achieve. However, they often miss a step in not considering how much extra value they can add, or how they can integrate the application across the environment to open up new insights or commercial advantages.
When modernising your infrastructure: As we move into cloud computing, gone are the days of the hardware and server rooms and we invite in ‘infrastructure as code’. IaaS solutions often enable much more automation and intelligence-driven management, which can easily optimise costs but can also add extra layers of automated workloads (that would often need to be done by humans) and therefore giving you extra output.
When modernising your data: Data is the key priority of any major modernisation strategy. As we all know, legacy data systems are frequently siloed and at risk of cyber attack. There is so much concern for data, however, there is also so much opportunity in data. With modern data architectures facilitated in the cloud, modernisation allows you to spin up advanced analytics services—including machine learning and deep learning—at a speed and with a level of simplicity that would be impossible in your own data centre. This gives the business insights into various revenue streams that we will get into in part 2.
Some ways that you can modernise:
We will often refer to the “7Rs” framework that offers 7 migration options when undergoing the modernisation journey. These options can be applied to applications, infrastructure, integration systems and data. Some are basic and obvious, and others are a little more complex.
- Retire - Simply put, decommissioning the infrastructure or application. This means shutting the system down and walking away.
- Retain - Maintain on-premises applications that prove too costly or complex to modernise in the cloud. Often we will find this with custom made CRM or ERP applications.
- Rehost - This is as easy as putting the application or infrastructure set-up in the cloud with no modifications, generally for cost-reductions sake.
- Replatform - Now we’re getting a little more tricky - these are for applications or systems that need to run in a different operating system. This is often if the company is on a ‘cloud-native’ journey or going through acquisition.
- Replace - This is often seen as an easy solution, to purchase a COTS product that can take the workload and enhance legacy systems. This often does require major migration project power, depending on the size of the business and their IT environment.
- Refactor - This is the first ‘facelift’ type of option where legacy systems can improve, decouple or move some of their functionality to be faster, more efficient and independent of legacy systems. This does require significant code rework, but is often an easy and risk-free approach to extending the shelf-life of an old system.
- Reimagine - This approach is the most exciting and innovative - and closely tied to generating revenue goals. In this approach, systems and infrastructure are assessed on their ‘current state’ and ‘future state’ which is tightly aligned with business growth goals. In reimagining application capability and functionality, businesses can be really creative in how they acquire data insights that form the foundation of new revenue generating channels.
Building realistic business cases for modernisation:
When going in for funding for major application, infrastructure or data modernisation projects - it’s best to be realistic and factually oriented about how this project will convert into cash. Some key tips that we advise our customers include:
- Clearly demonstrate the costs of the modernisation against the revenue creation opportunities. Focus on the value, not just the cost. Modernisation is a long-term process based on a solid assessment of where you are now and where you want to be. Start small and be realistic about what else needs to be done to open up a new service or partnership that will drive revenue.
- Determine what option (listed above) is best. This should be weighted against ‘speed-to-market’ factors and what internal resources you need to make this successful.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. The sheer scale of a cloud modernisation initiative can be overwhelming. Consider breaking your project program into sprints or timeboxed levels of achievements.
- Assess your internal talent constraints - will there actually be a team and skills available to do this? If not, start looking at external consultants to help provide extra resource power. Weigh this against ‘speed-to-market’ and ‘days-to-revenue’ numbers to justify the extra expenditure.
- Get the organisation (and the non-technical people!) behind the program. One of the largest hindrances to cloud projects is that the business doesn’t understand ‘why’ they’re doing this and they will frequently turn off funding with the explanation that ‘IT systems have always been done this way”.
- Decide on the priority - if you need to show some value and ROI straight away, make sure to start with the projects that get the wins quickly. In order to secure more funding and resources, work on parallel projects that open up new revenue streams as soon as possible.
- Make time for testing. Many legacy applications are the result of years of accumulated knowledge and effort and ‘gotchas’. To achieve the same level of performance, your modernisation program needs to respect that degree of effort and test the refactored code exhaustively, as well as be aware of any bugs or major integration challenges that are unforeseen at the discovery stage.
- Consider bringing in third-party experts, such as Fronde. With expertise in hyperscale cloud computing, integration and modernisation techniques - it will often pay off at especially crucial moments such as integration, system testing and go-live switchover support.
How Fronde and Google Cloud can help:
Modernisation should not be a solo exercise. The Fronde Australia and New Zealand cloud engineering teams take pride in the strong partnerships we build with our customers as well as providing solutions that meet their needs at every point in their journey.
As you encounter parts of your system that need modernisation, you don’t have to solve every problem on your own. Fronde and the team at Google Cloud provide a host of solutions for addressing various challenges including:
- Running your critical business applications on secure global infrastructure such as SAP on Google Cloud
- Running Windows workloads on a secure and cost-effective cloud environment such as Windows on Google Cloud
- Migrating and running your VMware workloads natively on Google Cloud VMware as a service
- Migrating VMs to quickly get started in Google Cloud VM migration
- Extending legacy applications and modernising with cloud-native development
- Enabling organisations to incrementally modernise their existing applications by migrating to containers and reducing operational overhead and licensing costs
- Modernising Java Applications with Anthos
- Opening up new business channels using APIs