App cloud migration – a state of play

As enterprise applications become ever more critical to businesses of all sizes, some clear trends in cloud migration are becoming apparent. IDC recently conducted global research, sponsored by AppDynamics, that examined the cloud strategies of 600 mid and large sized enterprises in six countries, including the UK. Whilst the research showed that confidence is increasing in cloud migration, it also identified a number of crucial factors that companies should consider as they embark on migration of applications.

Multi-cloud strategies on the rise globally

IDC’s research showed that migration of existing enterprise applications is a top priority for businesses globally, with a significant majority adopting multi-cloud strategies to achieve their aims. In fact, up to 85 per cent of enterprises worldwide are currently implementing or planning to implement multi-cloud strategies.

What’s interesting about that is that enterprises are no longer only focusing on the cloud for net-new applications. While they recognise that specific applications may have unique infrastructure or security dependencies, more enterprise decision makers believe they can find the right type of cloud to meet the specific needs of their applications and end users. This marks an evolution in the thinking of IT decision makers. High levels of confidence in cloud migration of enterprise and legacy applications appears to be based on broad success achieved by earlier cloud native applications, according to the research.

The rise of the multi-cloud approach is a good thing, as is the growing understanding that there is no single path to cloud nirvana.  This makes a multi-cloud strategy the best option in most cases. The choices of public cloud, hybrid cloud, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and build or buy, can inflict analysis paralysis on even the most adept decision makers. That’s been an issue until recently, but this new research seems to indicate many organisations have overcome this. Instead of focusing on a single strategy, enterprises can and are adopting a variety of approaches to successfully move their IT environments to the cloud.

Changing attitudes within organisations driving cloud migration strategy

Looking at the motivations for enterprise cloud migration also reveals some interesting findings. There are strong indications that business and tech camps are coming together within organisations around cloud migration. This is being driven by a realisation that they need to be working towards common goals.

At the outset, cost tends to be the most important factor to businesses in cloud migration, while the technology benefits expected from the migration are naturally the key focus for tech teams. However, this is leading to evolved thinking between the two groups that cloud migration can deliver reduced development, infrastructure and operations costs.

In the research, 60 per cent of respondents indicated that IT and development cost savings are the most important business benefits expected from migration. While the survey suggests that these expectations are often met, it’s important to note that this requires modernisation of application architectures, supporting technology, people, and processes. Interestingly, UK respondents placed a greater emphasis upon the importance of cost savings than other countries, demonstrating the instant business benefits that local companies need to see from the cloud.

The next wave of cloud migration 

Another interesting finding was that for many organisations worldwide, cloud enterprise migration is only the beginning, with custom-developed browser-based applications set to form the next wave of app migration. Nearly half (45.9 per cent) of the respondents said they’ve already migrated some custom-developed browser-based applications to the cloud, and another 38.7 per cent plan to do so within the next two years. Interestingly, iOS and Android applications are currently the least likely to have been migrated to date, but are important priorities for the next two years.

In the UK, 78 per cent of respondents have migrated or plan to migrate custom iOS and Android mobile apps. Custom apps are important as they offer different capabilities and can be highly distributed throughout the business. These wouldn’t usually be the first candidates for cloud migration, which demonstrates the UK’s advanced use of the cloud and market maturity.

Whether an organisation’s applications run in the cloud, on-premises, or in a hybrid environment, they must continue to fuel growth through rapid innovation combined with significant operational efficiencies. There’s greater awareness of this than there was in recent years. It’s important that cloud performance metrics not be analysed in a vacuum. Not only is it important to correlate an apps’ performance metrics with customer engagement and revenue growth objectives, but it’s also necessary to provide proper attribution to your variable cloud costs, especially with every new feature release. The primary motivation for enterprises to move to the cloud is to accelerate growth through increased agility, unlimited scalability, and reduced costs—so it’s important to ensure applications get these benefits.

Containerisation continues to grow in popularity 

There’s been a lot of focus on containerisation in the cloud migration sphere in recent times.  Containers are playing an increasing role in the decision to migrate existing applications to cloud as they can aid application portability, horizontal scalability and the ability to take advantage of microservice based development strategies over time. The extent of the global trend towards containerisation was another interesting revelation of the research, with 96 per cent of respondents either using or considering containerisation technologies, suggesting many applications will be containerised before migration. Interestingly though, in the UK only 28 per cent of businesses are currently utilising containerisation or only in the early stages of considering it. This may indicate that some UK businesses aren’t adopting cloud to its full benefit, and by not utilising containerisation, they could be hurting their DevOps capabilities as well as the bottom line itself.

The importance of APM in cloud migration

What is clear – and is also borne out in the research – is the importance of application performance management (APM) in cloud migration. APM gives insights on all aspects of app and business performance across distributed architectures. In fact, it’s key to getting cloud migration and multi-cloud strategy right. Everything from business expectations and cost performance to custom apps and containerisation can be monitored through APM.

In today’s modern, multi-cloud environments, infrastructure is dynamic and applications, particularly web, browser and mobile-based customer facing applications are driving more and more customer interactions and revenue generating activities. In digital enterprises, every application needs to be proactively monitored and managed using solutions that understand the flexible nature of cloud and container based infrastructure.

As is shown by IDC’s research, APM and related analytics are playing a crucial role in helping enterprises evaluate and implement the migration of existing applications to the cloud, while helping to maintain service levels once the migrations are complete.

APM solutions that capture real time end to end data about users, transactions, code, and infrastructure are critical. They provide the critical insights that are needed to support existing applications in the cloud as more and more enterprises transition their infrastructure and operational models.

John Rakowski, director of technology strategy, AppDynamics
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