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HP Discover: Cloud it’s all about the applications

on ‎12-11-2013 01:40 PM

App trans.jpgCompanies don’t buy a cloud environment for the stake of having a cloud. They do it to run some applications. So applications are core and center to cloud, whether it is private cloud, managed cloud or public cloud. Defining what services you want to deliver from these environments is critical. And that’s what I talked a lot about at HP Discover today.


Cloud requires a services thinking rather than an infrastructure one. What services should IT deliver to the business? Well the easiest is probably to go and ask the business about what they want. Hang on, that is not always that easy as different teams may have different requirements and they do not always fit together.


The first step in the journey to cloud is to identify the initial list of services you want to deliver. Starting from the business strategy, understanding what the enterprise wants to be famous for, reviewing the business strategy, and looking at the opportunities to reduce costs, improve business or develop new business opportunities, you can identify a couple key business processes you may want to improve and/or automate. That becomes your starting point. Draw the business processes, transform them where required and start analyzing what each process step performs.


Reviewing the steps, it becomes quickly obvious which ones require digital interactions, being it with a mobile platform as they require user interactions, or functionality and information access. These are the services you want to deliver. Define them, describe their characteristics and highlight the information they are creating, consuming, transforming or deleting.


Once that is done, you may want to look at which existing application, if any, delivers the functionality required by the service and what data sources it uses. This leads to a series of applications that need to be cloud enabled.


And this is where things become interesting. Some of those applications may be software packages, which may have been highly customized, others may be own written applications, some of them a long time ago.


What is sure is that none of them have been implemented with cloud in mind. So, we’ll need to transform them so they can take full advantage of the cloud. How do we do that, in three steps? The first one consists in analyzing the application from a usage and a technology perspective, understanding what migration strategy should be used. There are four:

  • Re-host, if your application is SOA compliant and well suited for a cloud environment, you may just have to re-install it in the new environment
  • Re-factor, if your application requires code optimization to improve the run-time efficiency, especially taking advantage of the cloud platform with no changes in business processes or programming language
  • Re-architect, if the application needs rebuilding to adopt modern techniques, typically using the architectural principles of service orientation.  Loosely coupled, composite applications can best take advantage of running in the cloud
  • Replace, if the transformation of the application is so cumbersome that it makes more sense to retire it and replace it with a new application or SaaS service

Once the transformation approach has been chosen, the transform phase is taking place. The transformation will be performed, the application tested and installed in the target cloud environment.


The third step is the maintain step. Once the application is in the cloud it will continue living. Releases have to be rolled out etc. The environment built to transform the application in the first place and the tools used during that process are ideally suited to facilitate the evolution of the application once installed in the cloud.


Interested in knowing more about what we do to transform applications to the cloud, here is my discussion with Peter Schofield, Portfolio lead Cloud Applications on the subject.


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