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The Path to Cloud Modernization: 5 Key Strategies & Business Benefits

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, businesses must constantly evolve to stay competitive and relevant. Cloud modernization has emerged as a transformative strategy that allows organizations to harness the full potential of cloud technology to that end.

Modernization empowers businesses to leverage cloud-native capabilities, embrace automation, and innovate rapidly, positioning them for success in the digital era.

This article will delve into the concept of cloud modernization and its benefits, discuss key modernization strategies, share insights from industry experts, analyze the business impact, and present relevant charts and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Business Benefits of Cloud Modernization

A cloud modernization strategy aims to achieve or improve your business in four key ways:

  • By Enhancing Business Agility: Deploying new applications, features, and capabilities faster and with fewer errors
  • Through Operational Resilience: Improving availability and scalability, tightening security, and maintaining verifiable compliance in regulated industries
  • Via Increased Staff Productivity: Replacing manual processes with automation and shifting staff focus from administration to innovation
  • Through Cost Optimization: Gaining the best value to cost ratio from your cloud applications

Defining Cloud Modernization

Cloud modernization should not be confused with cloud migration, although both can be accomplished concurrently. While defining cloud modernization, let’s also discuss the differences between the two.

There are at least seven paths to migrate on-prem software to the cloud, and a large migration project usually involves most, if not all, seven options. Two common paths you can take to get to the cloud are known as rehosting (aka “lift and shift”) and replatforming (aka “lift and reshape”). With these two paths, the software’s architecture and implementation are essentially unchanged. Unfortunately, these avenues result in the migration of the software’s technical debt to the cloud along with the business value.

Despite this, rehosting and replatforming are attractive options because they offer the shortest migration timeline and have the least upfront migration cost, while providing a cloud baseline from which companies can modernize.

Cloud modernization, on the other hand, refers to the process of optimizing and transforming an organization’s cloud infrastructure and applications by adopting modern cloud technologies and practices. In other words, going “cloud native.”

When to Modernize

There are two situations where companies should consider modernizing: during the migration of legacy software to the cloud, and when cloud platforms and applications aren’t delivering the full measure of business value.

To determine if it’s time to modernize, look for these indicators:

  • The market demands faster delivery of features and capabilities. Modernization is even more crucial when this remains a cumbersome process that requires a lot of time and effort to accomplish, even after getting to the cloud.
  • Your cloud platform or application requires manual intervention to scale up to meet peak demand periods. Without manual intervention, the platform’s performance degrades during unexpected peaks and scaling resources back down is also a manual process. Additionally, you may worry about the security of your software.
  • Your development team needs more agility to support increased innovation, and deployments are launching with an increase in errors.
  • Your cloud spend is higher than what’s expected and budgeted. Maybe much higher.

Cloud initiatives companies planned for 2023

Cloud Modernization Strategies

The core principles that drive cloud modernization are to go “cloud native,” automate whenever possible, and monitor your cloud applications.

Additionally, the five strategies of a gold-standard modernization plan are:

1. Containerize Your Software

Containerization is a strategy that makes your software more cloud native. It offers scalability, portability, and fault tolerance. Applications are more rapidly developed, deployed, patched, and scaled when containerized.

  • What Are Containers? Think of containers as lightweight, stand-alone packages containing everything needed to run a piece of software. They are much more resource intensive than full virtual machines.
  • A Quick Overview of Docker: Docker is synonymous with containerization, it’s important to learn its core concepts and how it spurred the container revolution.
  • Cloud Platform Services for Containers: The major public cloud platforms all provide services for container development and orchestration. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers ECS, EKS, Fargate, and others.
  • Modernizing Applications with Containers: Investigate strategies for refactoring legacy applications, managing microservices, and scaling with containers.

2. Embrace Serverless Architectures

Serverless architecture is best used to perform short-lived tasks with event-driven use cases. It is a particularly valuable architecture and is used to manage workloads that experience infrequent or unpredictable traffic.

There are many types of web applications that fit this description, such as mobile app back-end infrastructure and Internet of Things (IoT) back-end applications.

  • Basics of Serverless:  At its core, serverless is about running code in response to events without managing the underlying infrastructure.
  • Built-In Serverless Integration:  Serverless applications have built-in service integrations on the major cloud platforms. That way, you can focus on building your application instead of configuring it. For example, the AWS services that are used in a serverless architecture include Lambda, Fargate, API Gateway, and serverless databases such as DynamoDB, Aurora, and Redshift.
  • Benefits and Drawbacks of Serverless: Serverless isn’t a silver bullet for all modernization projects. Learn where it shines and where other architectures may perform better.
  • Best Practices for Serverless Applications: Design patterns, security considerations, and operational best practices all exist when refactoring applications to be serverless.

Modernization with containers and serverless offloads infrastructure and other management responsibilities to AWS

3. The DevOps Revolution

DevOps is both a cultural movement and a set of engineering practices aimed at unifying software development and operations.

The most important concept within the DevOps strategy is to drive as much automation, security, testing, and observability as close to the development process as possible. 

  • DevOps in Practice: Failing fast and obtaining feedback early in the development cycle, while empowering developers with powerful observability tools, is key to building the best software possible.  It’s also paramount to place security front and center, which is why security tools are such a critical piece of the lifecycle.
  • The DevOps Lifecycle: Incorporating an effective DevOps strategy will evolve your software and processes away from siloed, error-prone, and manual legacy approaches (that rely heavily on rigid processes and institutional knowledge) into an approach that maximizes speed to market and quality of software delivery.
  • Many Things to Many People: DevOps isn’t only a single, well-defined set of products, cluster of microservices, or list of use cases and processes. DevOps also incorporates a broad set of products and services.
  • Integrating DevOps with Containers and Serverless: DevOps isn’t an isolated concept. It integrates with, and enhances, containerization and serverless architectures.

4. Monitoring and Observability

Peter Drucker’s statement, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” is a powerful and frequently cited principle in business management. The same holds true for cloud-based applications and software as a service (SaaS) platforms.

Monitoring and observability is the active process of collecting, processing, aggregating, and analyzing data to keep track of the performance and health of cloud applications and SaaS platforms. It involves using tools to continuously observe system operations to detect and alert on issues or anomalies.

The primary goal of monitoring is to identify problems as they occur, ideally even before they affect the users. It enables teams to quickly respond to outages, performance issues, or any other operational problems.

Unfortunately, monitoring and observability is often overlooked or underutilized in first generation cloud assets. This is a key modernization strategy.

Key aspects of monitoring and observability include:

  • Performance Metrics: Monitoring tools collect data like CPU usage, memory consumption, network bandwidth, response times, error rates, and more.
  • Alerts and Notifications: Systems are configured to alert teams when metrics exceed certain thresholds, indicating potential issues.
  • Dashboards: Visualization tools are used for displaying real-time data about system health and performance.
  • Logs and Events Analysis: Logs are collected and analyzed to track events and identify patterns or issues.

5. Cloud Cost Optimization

The final modernization strategy discussed here is the process of optimizing your spend for cloud operations.

Cloud budget overruns don’t usually have a singular cause. A systematic approach is required to identify the cost drivers and then remedy the causes. This strategy requires its own in-depth discussion. However, the key elements of cost optimization are:

  • Identifying unused or idle services and infrastructure
  • Automatically scheduling resource provisioning to match the demand of your business and workloads as they scale up and down
  • Right-sizing all of your compute resources
  • Looking at your storage and database costs

To make the most of your budget, move data to a more cost-effective storage option where possible. You can also keep costs low (in comparison to licensed database products) by taking advantage of the fully managed database services on your chosen cloud.

Measuring Success and KPIs

To measure the success of cloud modernization efforts, organizations commonly track KPIs such as:

  • Cost Efficiency: Reduction in operational costs
  • Time to Market: Speed of deploying new applications and services
  • System Uptime and Reliability: Improved availability and performance of IT systems
  • Security Compliance: Adherence to data security standards
  • Customer Satisfaction: Enhanced user experience leading to higher customer satisfaction

Capturing initial metrics is a good first step, enabling your team to identify and quantify crucial areas for improvement and create the foundation for a specific modernization plan.

Cloud Modernization Insights from Industry Experts

Industry leaders and experts are continuously offering their perspectives on cloud modernization. Some notable quotes include:

Cloud modernization is not just about technology; it’s about rethinking the entire business model to deliver better value to customers, faster.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

The cloud modernization journey is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires continuous assessment, optimization, and alignment with business objectives.

Diane Greene, former CEO of Google Cloud

One of our metrics for success is the reduction of time to deploy within our teams. We use this method to launch applications pretty quickly compared to a traditional deployment. Moreover, reducing the cost of a rollback to zero means we can be fearless with deployments.

Murari Gopalan, Technology Director, Expedia

Speed is time, speed is money. Our projects no longer last years, they last months — which means that we can deliver new features, new services, and new products to our customers much faster than we had before.

Alan Williams, Enterprise Architect, Autodesk

Barriers to Getting Started

Companies find that it can be difficult to start a modernization project. The barriers most often encountered include resistance to change, time constraints, lack of skilled resources.

How often those and other barriers are encountered are depicted below. If your company is experiencing these types of barriers, the next section will be a big help.

Barriers to Modernization

Why Choose VividCloud as Your Cloud Modernization Partner?

Choosing the best partner for implementing your modernization project involves considering several key factors to ensure their capabilities align with your program’s specific needs and goals.

Here is how VividCloud can help you achieve your program objectives:

  • Expertise in Multiple Cloud Platforms: We have a comprehensive understanding of the features, services, and best practices of each platform. We use this knowledge to design, implement, and manage effective cloud-based solutions on major cloud platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). We are an Advanced APN Services Partner and pursue an AWS-first strategy.
  • Containers and Serverless: VividCloud has extensive experience in architecting and implementing cloud architectures that incorporate containers, serverless, or both.
  • DevOps Practices: We have a deep background in DevOps methodologies and practices and understand the nuances of continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) and automated testing.
  • Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Our advanced capabilities in designing and implementing cloud infrastructure means that optimization in security, performance, and cost is baked into the project from the start. By implementing infrastructure as code, we deliver a dynamic, scalable, secure platform with highly reliable deployments.
  • Strong Track Record in Similar Projects: We have a portfolio of successful modernization projects across a variety industries and similar environments.
  • Customization Abilities: Every project has unique needs. In addition to our strong modernization background, we deploy fully managed teams of experienced software engineers who are capable of customizing solutions to fit your specific requirements, rather than offering a one-size-fits-all approach.

Contact us today to take the first step toward modernizing your systems.