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The challenges cloud migration and modernization solve for enterprises

Armor cloud storage sign with two up and down arrows in blue with reflection background. Cloud technology. 3d rendering – illustration.

With legacy systems, traditional data storage, and integration methods phasing out for many organizations, businesses are rapidly transitioning to cloud-based data to improve operational workflow and ensure a trustworthy data foundation. Cloud migration and modernization resolve numerous challenges commonly faced by modern companies. As more organizations adopt cloud initiatives for their business infrastructures, it is essential to understand and define the transformative process to maximize their distinctive value.

According to a recent report by Pluralsight, 70 percent of organizations say more than half of their infrastructure exists in the cloud, while 65 percent operate in multi-cloud environments. The market for cloud services and the benefits they deliver is quickly growing and evolving. Cloud applications remain among the most significant developments in data science innovation in recent years. Before business professionals can adopt and implement an initiative, they must know the differences between the two and their capabilities for maximizing business intelligence.

Transitioning to the cloud: Defining the market’s size and scope

The market value of public cloud spending on cloud-based technologies and digital transformations continues to skyrocket. Gartner predicts that worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will grow 20.7 percent from 2022, totaling $591.8 billion by the end of 2023 (Table 1). Legacy data systems and traditional methods are on their way out as cloud-based infrastructures replace the data approaches of yesteryear. Achieving substantial business growth that accumulates value in today’s market requires a modern approach to data and analytics. This can only be acquired through a cloud-based digital transformation.

Table 1. Worldwide public cloud services end-user spending forecast in U.S. billions 2001-2023

With 94 percent of organizations already in the cloud, it is safe to assume that most enterprises have embraced the migration process to keep up with the latest developments. Cloud innovation is at an all-time high since businesses rely on these technologies and applications as the backbone for their current and future business strategies. With an ever-expanding cloud marketplace comes an increase in operational complexity. It is essential for organizations to have a firm grasp of what these cloud applications truly mean for the future of their businesses.

Research shows that approximately 75 percent of enterprises plan to invest in cloud technology platforms to facilitate innovation exchange. Additionally, around 47 percent of cloud decision-makers define digital transformation as “optimizing processes and becoming more operationally agile,” while another 40 percent claim it’s “improving customer experience.” Many organizations undergoing an enterprise-wide transition to cloud-centric data are still defining their strategy upon implementation. To reap the benefits of cloud developments while overcoming its many challenges, leaders need to maintain a comprehensive understanding of what transformation means for their organization and its specific business needs.     

Benefits and challenges of migration and modernization

Implementing a cloud-based digital transformation is a tedious process that requires close examination and a defined strategy to ensure success. There isn’t much room for error, and it cannot deliver results if a business blindly initiates implementation. Cloud-based data and analytics initiatives can solve several issues plaguing many organizations, and, like most initiatives, it comes down to time and money. Cloud applications ensure faster deployment and incremental releases while reducing the costs of managing an on-premises infrastructure. Traditional data management applications requiring manual maintenance from business users can become problematic with an overabundance of users simultaneously. Delegating all management and maintenance duties to the cloud resolves the issue of having “too many cooks in the kitchen” while ensuring applications run smoothly and efficiently. Solving these common problems allows businesses to maximize cloud potential and reap valuable benefits.

Migrating or modernizing cloud data applications can create substantial advantages for an enterprise (Figure 1). Three of the most significant areas in which they provide benefits include:

Workload agility
The scalability and elasticity of the cloud allow business users to manage workload changes more easily while efficiently handling workload overtime changes. This reduces technical debt, eliminates maintenance costs, and improves system reliability.

Innovation and deployment
The cloud’s self-service nature facilitates quick and ingenious implementations by reducing time-to-market. Enterprises can roll out new features or releases on a fluid timeline utilizing the cloud’s progressive delivery methods.

Enhanced user experience
The cloud targets and resolves user interface shortcomings while quickly deploying the most effective features. It consistently enables current updates and reduces latencies or lag time for a faster user experience. Cloud-based data centers also allow enterprises to expand their global reach and improve accessibility for customers and users.

Figure 1: Cloud modernization outcomes

While cloud platforms can provide several business advantages for global organizations, there are also distinct challenges that, if overlooked, can potentially harm or slow down an enterprise. Legacy systems and applications collapse into one team with a move to a cloud-based modern organization. There is often strong internal resistance to cloud modernization programs as it causes an inherent culling of resources. Moving legacy workloads that process extensive amounts of data to the cloud can be both timely and costly due to the size and bandwidth involved. Data security is also at risk without experienced developers or administrators managing cloud deployment. If security best practices are not followed, security can be made worse through misconfigured databases or negligent vendors. Regarding budgetary constraints, some executives predict over 30 percent of cloud spending is wasted. An organization must maintain a well-defined plan or strategy when adopting a cloud architecture to make every penny count. Implementation without strategy is a recipe for disaster.

Key aspects and approaches of cloud modernization

Digital transformations require careful planning before they are put into action. It’s essential for IT and business leaders to know the key aspects of the modernization process, including:

Security compliance
Cloud providers offer several advanced security features and compliance certifications to help organizations adhere to strict privacy standards.

Serverless computing
Developers can put aside infrastructure worries with a serverless platform that allows them to build and deploy applications more seamlessly.

Applications and their many dependencies are packaged into containers to ensure consistent deployment. Tools such as Kubernetes automate and manage containerized applications.

Initiating a modernization strategy

While there are several available routes when selecting a modernization strategy, three significant strategies outweigh the rest when maximizing value and minimizing effort. These strategies include:

Process modernization
Modernize development and work operations to lower the total cost of ownership. This promotes collaboration between the development and operations teams when implementing automated processes with reduced errors.

Application modernization
Use virtualized workloads to modernize an application or framework through platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions. The cloud platform manages health, availability, and deployment, while the business only needs to provide codes and select configuration options.

Database modernization
Improving how data is stored, processed, and fed through a modernized database provides scalable and flexible solutions that will enhance the value and quality of centralized data.

Ensuring a successful cloud-based initiative

According to a recent Gartner report, 70 percent of enterprise workloads will be cloud-based by 2024, yet three out of four organizations do not have a fit-for-purpose cloud strategy. An organization’s cloud migration or modernization success relies entirely on its strategic approach. A more effective plan is for enterprises to establish their business goals and primary use cases before implementing a cloud platform. Ultimately, the endgame for a cloud modernization initiative is to grow the business and deliver significant value. This includes developing new and efficient workflows, reducing and/or optimizing tech costs, expanding products and/or services, and developing new ideas through data-centric decision-making.

Unfortunately, many businesses encounter obstacles when developing their strategic initiatives and implementing cloud-centric plans. Common pitfalls to avoid when creating a migration approach include:

Single vendor
To avoid putting all their eggs in a singular vendor basket, savvy enterprises employ a multi-cloud strategy. A cloud provider is easily replaceable, so it’s essential to leverage multiple automated tools and applications that support data discovery and optimization analysis.

Too much, too fast
While it may seem tempting to do everything simultaneously, it is vital for enterprises to start small when migrating to the cloud. By transitioning the workload into smaller portions, organizations are better aware of the benefits and the potential value while temporarily maintaining old technologies for a more seamless migration process. This reduces any uncertainties before going all in.

Lack of focus
Upon initial migration, it is crucial to prove the cloud’s worth by starting with the right use case(s) that can best benefit from cloud analytics and processing massive amounts of data.

Successfully creating a cloud-centric culture for an organization means establishing a clear path with a destination in sight. Business leaders support growth and innovation by encouraging employees to experiment, take risks, and embrace the change that comes with an adaptive cloud migration.

To optimize the chances of success and sidestep potential roadblocks, building a framework to structure a migration helps to plan and manage the process and creates accountability for every step of the process. While it’s essential to understand that all modernization strategies should be customized to the organization’s unique needs, here are the key phases of a successful strategy (Figure 2):

Assessment phase.
Analyze existing systems, architectures, infrastructures, and security. Develop budgets, bill of materials, and key performance indicators.

Design phase
Develop a deployment model, document the infrastructure architecture, select a vendor, plan the product, and build support within the organization.

Migration phase
Leverage different storage options to migrate infrastructure, applications, and data.

Operation phase
Manage workloads in the cloud including monitoring performance, managing resources, and maintaining security and compliance.

Optimization and ongoing support phase
Identify opportunities to improve efficiency and performance, reengineering as necessary for cost savings, improved business value, and other enhancements.

Figure 2: Cloud strategy phases

The future of the cloud: exploring innovative data science, ML, and AI possibilities

Cloud modernization is changing the way enterprises work and conduct business. As cloud technology evolves and develops, global enterprises will exponentially grow their business in new and innovative ways. Recent Microsoft research estimates that the value of the cloud computing market will reach $1,240.9 billion by the end of 2027. Cloud platforms deliver the flexibility and scalability necessary for optimizing analytical research to maximize profitability. Cloud technologies will continue to revolutionize the IT landscape, leading to new developments, discoveries, and strategic opportunities for organizations.

Figure 3: Cloud computing projected market size 2020-2030

The future of the cloud remains bright. Enterprises are reaping the benefits of the cloud and avoiding common problems plaguing many organizations. Business growth and innovation will continue at an augmented rate as data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence specific developments and cloud applications thrive and evolve. Cloud initiatives reduce costs and ensure timely operational practices. Global organizations can leverage clean, accurate, and reliable data by implementing a modern cloud infrastructure, allowing employees to focus on other essential tasks and ensuring enterprises flourish, evolve, and expand quickly through streamlined operations.

About the Author:

Senthilkumar Thirunavukarasu is an IT professional with nearly 20 years of experience in data analytics, cloud computing, AI, and ML. He has successfully architected and built large-scale data integration solutions in the cloud for numerous enterprises across various industries, with a strong focus on setting up cloud-based infrastructure, building data engineering solutions, configuring security features, setting up data governance platforms and compliance standards. For more information, contact [email protected].