30-08-2018 / blog / Dan Korving

Cloudy with a Chance of Legacy

Fuelled by digital transformation, the possibilities of cloud computing are reaching to the skies. But how do you prevent the migration to the cloud to become foggy? Here are some valuable insights that might help.

Is it still cool to own stuff? A lot of millennials would argue that it’s not. The shared economy has caused a massive paradigm shift over the last few years. Why own a car yourself if you can share a car and ride with others? Why ask a bank for an investment if you can also raise money through crowdfunding on your own terms? Why buy something new, if you can buy, resell and trade used goods?

 

Yes, ‘shareconomics’ has brought changes in the way we do and perceive business. Not only for millennials, of course. In the last decade or so we’ve seen some very interesting new companies and business models rise to success. The largest taxi company in the world, doesn’t own any taxis, the world largest accommodation provider doesn’t own any real estate, and the world’s largest movie house doesn’t own any cinemas. This all leads to cheaper goods and services.

 

The business models of these companies are mostly build on the same principles of flexibility and agileness. Making it possible for them to react and adapt to change fast. But they all have one other thing in common: next to not owning any assets, all these companies provide on demand services.

And suddenly it became a bit cloudy…

When it comes to providing on demand services, I find cloud computing to work by same principles as shareconomics. Because why would you want to own your own infrastructure, platforms or software if you can get them provided as a service? Not only at a lower cost, but also making your services better as a whole?

 

Cloud computing offers organisations maximum flexibility: you only pay for what you use. And it also offers them agileness: if you can build and configure machines to host applications or other services virtually automatically within a working day, you can react and adapt to change or (business or customer) demand faster.

 

Fuelled by digital transformation, the possibilities of cloud computing are reaching to the skies. We probably all know about software as a service (SaaS), being one of the more popular cloud idioms around. But what about data as a service (DaaS)? DaaS lets you pay for the data you actually use, instead of paying and storing everything yourself in a self-contained repository. This offers flexibility, agility and reduces costs. Platform as a service (PaaS) or infrastructure as a service (IaaS) reduce complexity in your IT organisation.

 

With PaaS or IaaS, there’s no need for complex IT management anymore. Instead of manually building and configuring IT infrastructure, computer systems, applications and services, you can choose to orchestrate them automatically. Aligning business needs with IT configuration and management by the push of a button. And speaking of push: system updates and patches will be automatically pushed to you, with some suppliers like Oracle even offering cloud based systems that can repair and solve performance issues themselves.

 

Orchestration in cloud computing means a shift from manually configuring complex systems and infrastructures into creating scripts that automatically configure and build systems and infrastructures for you. Leading the way to a more a service-oriented architecture (SOA) or the virtualisation of your hardware. That will offer maximum scalability when it comes to application needs. And if you add artificial intelligence and also take increasing computer power into consideration, the future of cloud computing looks very bright.

 

… with a chance of legacy

 

But when it comes to ‘the cloud’, there’s one very big challenge: you have to get there. And with that I mean transforming your on premise IT organisation, including legacy IT, into a cloud based one. All these legacy services are there for a reason. They probably offered you a lot of value when they were built. Maybe they were even tailor-made for you. Or solved critical issues concerning your business continuity. Offering trust and comfort when it comes to your business and its daily operations.

" Imagine the dispatch system of ambulance services not working, public transport not running or traffic lights not in service anymore because of a massive IT failure"

But eventually costs of maintaining or upgrading these systems will rise. Systems will get out-dated or reach the end of their life span and support, making your IT more expensive and complex. With an increasing risk of disruption and thus performance, influencing your business and customer satisfaction.

"When reasons to move to cloud computing seem clear, a lot of decision makers tend to keep it foggy"

In the (semi) public sector, mission critical systems running on legacy IT pose other vital threats. Imagine the dispatch system of ambulance services not working, public transport not running or traffic lights not in service anymore because of a massive IT failure. Yet a lot of (public sector) organisations choose to manage, maintain and patch their legacy IT systems instead of transforming them to a more future proof cloud based one. When reasons to move to cloud computing seem clear, a lot of decision makers tend to keep it foggy.

 

From fog to cloud...

A transformation to cloud computing isn’t a decision that you want to tread lightly on. But it isn’t all as technical as you think. A cloud transformation will need to start with a very clear, high level cloud strategy, that will benefit the strategy of your business or organisation. The shift to cloud computing will impact every aspect of your business or organisation. You must have a road map with clear understanding how to get from on premise to the cloud. And when it comes to cloud computing, organisations will have to change their mind set significantly.

 

If you own your IT systems, you exert control over them. It’s physically there for you to see, hear and touch, if you wanted. If something goes wrong, you can dispatch your own IT crew to solve the problem at the physical location where your servers are.

 

Now of course, moving your IT to the cloud doesn’t mean moving it all to a zeppelin that’s floating high in the skies. It does mean moving them to a server where you can only access your systems virtually, rendering them physically not there anymore. This all adds to the psychological feeling of losing control. It might sound a bit odd, but I’ve spoken to some (IT) managers and architects who tend to get very nervous by this thought. Seeing this as a very big security risk.

 

Having said that, you must also take into consideration the impact cloud computing will have on your security policy and think about the way you want to manage or mitigate security risks. Making sure it’s compliant with data protection laws such as the GDPR in Europe. A cloud migration will ask for new roles and competencies in your organisation, which can be in fact a very big advantage and driver for change. But it will require commitment by everyone in your organisation and it demands a new change-embracing mind set.

 

... to sunny spells

 

Digital transformation is on the rise and it will impact business and organisations even more in the near and distant future. Cloud computing can be a very strong driver to digitise your business or organisation. It can be an enabler to become more flexible and agile, when it comes to change and adaption.

So when you transform to the cloud, make sure you don’t forget to see the sunny spells.