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Boost your business performance by transforming your application portfolio


apps to cloud.jpg“How do I turbocharge my business?” “How do I grow revenue?” “How do I get into new markets?” These are the types of questions I get from IT execs who ask me how they can begin these discussions with their business leaders and embark on initiatives to meet these goals. I tell them, if you want to drive growth, you have to think about your applications. By transforming and moving some of those applications to the cloud, you can help boost the performance of the business.



Which applications matter?


So how do you decide which applications belong in the cloud? The first step is to determine which applications are running your business. Front-end systems of engagement enable your business to grow. They often run on mobile or web platforms and need to be flexible and easily adapted to the needs of the moment.


You want to keep these apps updated and working at peak level, so that you can introduce new products and services in a timely manner, interact closely with your customers, and respond to customer needs before competitors do. For example, NASCAR uses its Fan and Media Engagement Center to listen, monitor, and engage with leading media channels in near real-time. Front-end apps typically need frequent changes, and demand for IT resources to power them usually fluctuates due to the fluid nature of customer engagement.


On the back end, you have systems of record such as ERP, CRM, and financial applications. You use these typically very robust systems to manage business processes. Often an authoritative data source, the applications themselves don't change very frequently. These applications enable your employees to collaborate and do their jobs more efficiently, to make your business processes run faster and smoother. You want to keep the cost of operating and maintaining these apps to a minimum.



Assessing your application portfolio


Not all applications belong in the cloud. By assessing the status of your applications today and determining what you want to get out of them for the next five or 10 years, you can decide which action to take:

  • Leave the application in traditional IT. If your system is running smoothly and you don't plan to increase demand by hiring a large number of people or acquiring a company, then there's no reason to move the application to the cloud.
  • Re-host the application "as-is" to a more flexible, scalable infrastructure platform. If you're satisfied with the application's functionality and features but you anticipate, for instance, a 30 percent increase in the number of users of your human resources application, your existing infrastructure may not scale well to handle the increased workload. A cloud-like infrastructure may be more practical in this case.
  • Re-architect or re-factor the application so it can run on a more flexible, scalable infrastructure platform. Not every application can be moved as-is. Some legacy applications may have been developed to integrate specifically with certain hardware platforms. Or maybe you need to move more to a service-oriented architecture, so you need to modify the API calls before you run the application on a more flexible infrastructure platform. These applications need to be re-architected or re-factored before you move them to the cloud.
  • Replace the application with a new one. In some cases everything needs to change. You may be dealing with an old user interface, or the application may have no mobile extension. Or, re-factoring or re-architecting the application may cost too much money. In situations like these it makes sense from both a technology and an economic perspective to replace the application, either with your own or with a SaaS offering. Salesforce is a good example: why build your own CRM if you can economically adopt existing functionality?
  • Acquire new functionality. To grow your business, you may need to add new capabilities to your roster. For example, your marketing division may need third-party SaaS digital content management applications to run behind its web applications.


Moving to hybrid IT


Companies that have invested millions in traditional IT may worry that they won't continue to get value from their legacy applications. By assessing your application portfolio, you can counter some of the fear surrounding cloud and decide the mix of traditional IT and cloud that will deliver the greatest boost to your business performance.


For more on application modernization, read this post by my colleague Christian Verstraete. In a future post, I will write about how businesses can integrate applications that are running in traditional IT with those that are running in the cloud, using a hybrid integration platform[1].


I will be at HP Discover event in Las Vegas from June 9-12, and will be presenting “Five Steps towards Your Hybrid Cloud” (DT3614). Come join us if you can.



For information on transforming your applications to the cloud, visit


[1] "Integration platform as a service: a catalyst for hybrid cloud integration?" 451 Research, August 27, 2013.

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