Cloud is no longer a trend; early adopters have already embraced the cloud and capitalised on the benefits it can deliver. Many organisations now take a cloud first policy and even those once viewed as technology laggards, such as government and the public sector, have a cloud native approach.
In a recent report, Forrester identified cloud computing as the most exciting and disruptive force in the tech market within the last decade. It predicts the cloud market will accelerate faster in 2017 as enterprises seek to gain efficiencies and scale their compute resources to better serve customers. This influx of investment is expected to drive the global public cloud market to $236 billion in 2020, up from $146 billion in 2017[i].
As more organisations contemplate the migration to cloud, consideration needs to be given as to how the transition will be made. There are 3 key stages that companies experience on their migration journey and each stage offers great opportunities for the channel to provide guidance and services.
Stage one: Migration – the “fork lift” effect
Many companies start with migrating existing workloads by simply moving a physical or virtual machine to the cloud. The workload is effectively ‘lifted’ from the corporate environment and ‘shifted’ to the cloud.
In theory, this is not a bad idea for organisations dipping their toe into the water for the first time. The ability to start small, fail fast, learn and iterate is key. However, the “fork lift” effect of moving workloads can be a complex process; besides why learn from failure when you can get it right in the first place?
The channel with its unparalleled cross vertical knowledge can assist organisations by performing a detailed cloud assessment of the customer’s existing environment and identifying:
- What is in place – hardware, software, support, licensing etc?
- How it is utilised – application rationalisation, integrations, application dependents and storage utilisation?
- What is required – each organisations is unique, one size doesn’t fit all, what is the objective and purpose?
Once a detailed assessment is undertaken, a migration plan can be defined and the correct tools for the task identified.
Stage two: Translation
It is fair to say that most applications and services in use today were not written with the cloud in mind. Therefore unfortunately for some organisations, not all of their applications can be seamlessly migrated to the cloud.
Typically applications are developed to scale vertically with performance increasing in parallel to the number of CPUs and RAM added to the server, whether physical or virtual. This ultimately limits the expansion that can be achieved and in some cases the application itself limits its own scalability.
Cloud infrastructures offer the ability to easily scale horizontally, by adding additional server instances, and indeed some public clouds enable automatic scaling, both up and down. However, the applications may not have the architectural capability to take advantage of this.
Organisations may only have 1 application or they might have a 1,000, therefore, the challenge is selecting good candidates for migration.
Channel partners can assist organisations by identifying criteria for selecting suitable applications for migrating to the cloud by completing an assessment of all the applications in the organisation. In addition to performing an inventory of the application assets, the partner can assist by providing application dependency mapping that is essential to planning any cloud migration.
Lastly, channel partners can advise organisations on how applications can be adapted to be more cloud friendly and if appropriate make those changes.
Stage three: Exploitation
Cloud infrastructures provide many options to developing new applications, with serverless architectures now not just a possibility but a reality.
Microservices, a set of smaller applications chained together, provide the ultimate in scalability. Instead of a server waiting to be accessed, the service is triggered when needed and only active whilst completing its task. In essence, it’s like a modern smart phone, with each of the apps doing a very specific task but only when called upon.
The benefits are increased flexibility, scalability and agility with a reduced cost of failure. If a monolithic application isn’t working, an organisation can effectively grind to a halt. In a microservice world if a service stops working it doesn’t take down the entire organisation’s ability to function.
Channel partners have a critical role in developing applications for the next generation of infrastructure. This can be achieved with the partner developing and deploying the service and then handing it over to the customer in a traditional application way. Alternatively the partner could develop the application and then deliver it as a managed service. These are two great opportunities for the channel.