IT Transformation

Your ‘How-To’ Guide for Moving Applications to the Cloud

Scott Bils By Scott Bils Americas Digital Transformation Practice Lead, Dell Technologies Consulting Services November 2, 2015

New cloud infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) models are creating attractive opportunities to transform and modernize the application portfolio. Public cloud services enable on-demand provisioning of infrastructure for applications with highly variable utilization. Private clouds can provide the security and control needed for some applications, while also capturing the efficiencies of internally shared infrastructure. In addition Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) models can provide added valuable benefits from abstracting middleware and infrastructure away from the developer.

Moving legacy applications to the cloud involves a number of choices. While a small number of applications will be clear cut migration candidates, for the majority of the portfolio IT organizations will have to answers critical questions like:

  • Which applications are best suited for private vs. public cloud models? What are the optimal target environments for our different workloads?
  • What’s the right cloud strategy for my legacy applications? Which should we migrate with a lift-and-shift approach? Which should be rewritten or refactored to be cloud-native?
  • How do we provide the financial transparency needed to ensure optimal application and workload placement? What’s our business case and roadmap for moving to the cloud?

Let me walk you through two of the most common scenarios for moving legacy applications to the cloud. Application migration, which is also commonly referred to as “lift-and-shift”, and application modernization, also termed “refactoring” in many circles, for cloud-native applications:

Application Migration

For many legacy applications, a lift-and-shift migration approach to the cloud, requiring minimal code changes is the right approach. Often times these are applications already running in virtualized environments on industry standard stacks. Migration to shared cloud infrastructure offers attractive benefits from operational flexibility and efficiencies, and also helps organizations get up the learning curve on cloud.

The EMC Federation provides several attractive options for customers seeking to migrate existing application workloads to cloud environments. The Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution, in particular, provides an attractive platform for enterprises seeking to migrate application workloads to the private, public or managed IaaS environment that best aligns with their business objectives. With the Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution IT organizations can:

  • Offer both internal and external cloud infrastructure services that provide the flexibility needed to optimize enterprise application portfolios.
  • Ensure interoperability and the ability to migrate workloads to the most appropriate cloud infrastructure models across the application lifecycle.
  • Provide visibility into infrastructure costs needed to ensure the most cost-efficient placement of applications and workloads.

The Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud solution provides the ability to orchestrate and broker infrastructure services across on-premises VCE Vblock-based private clouds with public clouds such as Microsoft Azure, AWS and other EMC-powered service providers including Virtustream.

Beyond just compatibility with the Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, Virtustream provides a particularly compelling option for organizations seeking to capture the benefits of the cloud with mission critical applications such as SAP, Oracle and more. Virtustream enables organizations to migrate even the most I/O intensive enterprise applications to a managed private cloud that provides the benefits of shared infrastructure in a secure, enterprise-class environment.

Beyond IaaS some organizations are also migrating applications that have already been developed as cloud-native to a Pivotal Cloud Foundry PaaS environment through a ‘lift and shift’ approach. Applications that have already been developed as stateless and can scale horizontally in IaaS environments are often prime candidates for lift-and-shift to PaaS. This approach provides organizations a low-risk opportunity to gain familiarity with new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) models while also capturing the initial benefits of cloud and virtualized infrastructure.

Application Modernization – Refactoring for Cloud Native

At the opposite end of the spectrum from lift-and-shift is refactoring for cloud-native (3rd platform). Some legacy applications benefit from a full rewrite to a cloud-native and/or microservices architecture using Pivotal Cloud Foundry or other PaaS platform. This is particularly true of applications that need to operate in Mode 2 of Gartner’s Bimodal IT model, and which need to be agile and nimble to enable a continuous innovation model. These applications are most frequent market facing ‘systems of engagement’ that support direct interaction with customers and partners.

Refactoring a monolithic, legacy application to be cloud-native often requires decomposition and re-architecture of the app into new, separate microservices. These newly decoupled services can each evolve independently, providing agility, speed and innovation. While the agility benefits are attractive, refactoring legacy applications for 3rd platform can also be costly. IT organizations need to have a clear understanding of the business case before pursuing wide scale modernization of the existing portfolio.

More Options

There are, of course, options for moving applications to the cloud beyond just lift-and-shift migration and modernization using refactoring for cloud-native. Replatforming applications to recent open source stacks can help enable some legacy apps to be ‘cloud aware’ and able to operate in public or private clouds. Other applications may require remediation of specific issues or other refitting to operate in the cloud. The good news is that a variety of options are out there – the challenge is identifying the optimal path.

How We Can Help

EMC’s Global Professional Services business provides the capabilities and expertise IT organizations need to identify the optimal strategy for moving applications to the cloud.  In particular, EMC can help develop optimal cloud migration and modernization strategies by profiling applications with the industry-leading Adaptivity analytics platform.   Based on the business, technical, operational and implementation characteristics of a given application, EMC can help determine if lift and shift, refactoring or even retirement is the right answer for an existing application.

When assessing pure lift and shift opportunities, EMC’s Cloud Advisory Service provides an objective, data-driven approach for determining the suitability of a given application for private or public cloud models. The service also identifies the specific cloud service provider or internal environment most appropriate for an application based on a set of business, technical and operational characteristics. EMC services also can help IT organizations develop the costing models and analyses required to determine the most cost efficient infrastructure option for a given application.

After assessing suitability and determining optimal cloud migration or modernization strategy, the EMC Global Professional Services team can also develop application specific architectures and migration roadmaps. EMC can also help assess overall Application Transformation maturity to ensure that organizations have the platforms, processes and organizational structures in place to fully capture the benefits of cloud migration.

The EMC Federation provides a portfolio of industry-leading platforms, pre-engineered solutions and professional services to help organization seeking to move existing applications to the cloud and transform their application portfolio.

Contact us today to learn more about how EMC Global Services can help you make the right decisions about how to move your applications to the cloud.

Scott Bils

About Scott Bils


Americas Digital Transformation Practice Lead, Dell Technologies Consulting Services

Scott is a Senior Director in the Dell Technologies Consulting Services organization. In his role leading the Americas Digital Transformation Practice he is responsible for services in the areas of Cloud Native Applications, DevOps / Infrastructure as Code, Big Data Analytics and IOT. Scott blogs and speaks frequently on the topics of application, cloud and digital transformation.

Prior to Dell Technologies Scott co-founded a leading boutique consultancy focused on helping large enterprises and service providers navigate the issues associated with cloud and ITaaS transformation. Scott was also the Founding CEO at Conformity, a venture-backed provider of the first enterprise-class management and governance platform for cloud applications. Prior to Conformity Scott held senior executive roles at Scalable Software and Troux Technologies, and also worked at McKinsey and Co. and Accenture.

Scott holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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