In order to address the issue of Cloud Business Transformation and understand its central and strategic scope, it is necessary to start from some facts. In 2019 the Italian cloud market reached the value of 2.77 billion euros, recording an increase of 18% compared to 2018. The source is the Cloud Transformation Observatory of the School of Management of the Polytechnic of Milan. In an official press release, the Observatory underlines how the cloud has become "the preferable model in the development of digital projects in 42% of large companies and even the only possible choice in 11% of cases" in our country.
Cloud Business Transformation, a widespread model
Cloud Business Transformation seems to be an increasingly consolidated paradigm and "82% of companies have understood that the cloud enables greater agility of the corporate IT" says Alessandro Piva, director of the Cloud Transformation Observatory. The reason is that the cloud infrastructure allows IT management to be fluid and dynamic. In addition, it ensures flexible access to data and resources, which can automatically scale their capacity according to needs. In terms of reliability and business continuity, Cloud Business Transformation allows to obtain a degree of availability and safety of the IT infrastructure that would be complex and expensive to implement in house. Furthermore, Cloud Business Transformation provides multiple benefits:
- Reduced IT infrastructure management costs;
- Cloud computing allows to quickly execute, in a few clicks, the provisioning of the resources required for system implementation. This allows to reduce the time-to-market for the release of products and services;
- Facilitated access to innovative IT technologies and solutions;
- A cloud-native architecture increases the ability to provide more agile and modern apps and services, and therefore more satisfying customer experiences.
How do you deal with a cloud transformation process?
The traditional cloud transformation approaches include various strategies. For instance, the "lift and shift" approach consists in moving an application from the on-premise IT environment directly to the cloud, without making any changes to it. By doing so, you can reduce migration and implementation times and costs, but you cannot fully benefit from cloud-native features and functionalities, including automatic scalability. For example, a project or a legacy application which are brought to the cloud as they are, after migration may experience performance or latency issues.
On the contrary, the approach based on "refactoring" techniques allows you to take full advantage of the cloud-native paradigm. This technique requires the restructuring, or rewriting, of large portions of the application code before transferring it to the cloud. It also implies consequent times and costs which are related to the development and migration process.
Cloud Transformation, the replatforming path.
In order to better seize the benefits of Cloud Business Transformation, without embarking on huge refactoring and cloud migration projects, companies can now move towards a different and incremental approach: replatforming. It is possible to develop new applications and services directly in cloud-native mode, that means designing services specifically for the cloud. Cloud-native applications are developed to operate in containers, which are managed by orchestration platforms, such as Kubernetes, and implemented as sets of independent microservices, each of which can perform a function. Since services are containerized, all new developed services can be moved smoothly from on-premises to cloud environments and vice versa. In essence, through the incremental approach provided by replatforming, new applications are immediately implemented in cloud-native mode, while existing legacy applications, when business needs require it, can be evolved and converged towards this architectural style, optimizing project effort and costs and maximizing business benefits.
Advantages of a cloud-native platform
Solutions such as the Mia-Platform Suite, which has all the necessary components to create modern software architectures, allow to migrate towards the cloud-native paradigm. This way, new software projects are ready for the cloud, inheriting the scalability and flexibility of containerized microservices. Mia-Platform integrates with container platforms such as Openshift for the administration of hybrid cloud implementations or multi-cloud environments. For this reason, one of the benefits of creating cloud-native applications with Mia-Platform is that it allows those who prefer to remain on-premise to continue developing applications for this environment and to have the applications 'cloud-ready', in the event that they will migrate to cloud.
With this strategic approach it is possible to gradually increase the number of services and applications running on the cloud. It also becomes easier to manage the Cloud Business Transformation process. In fact, through the cloud-native model, the planning of IT renewal and innovation initiatives become, with the new available budget, more affordable, thanks to the use of an incremental approach. This provides an advantage, in contrast with allocating substantial investment to large projects of application modernization for the migration towards the cloud.
In addition, the reusability of the components, which is typical of the cloud-native model, allows to increase the development speed and, consequently, to implement the applications in less time.
For business continuity, the cloud-native style allows to develop new applications without affecting the normal operation of the business and the functioning of the ones already launched in production.
Finally, the implemented microservice architecture can also have a positive impact on the modernization and integration processes of legacy applications, because through microservices, monolithic legacy applications can be broken down into software components, which are open to technological innovation and easier to manage in migration and refactoring processes.
Compared to other application modernization strategies, replatforming is the most convenient approach for an organization. Applying replatforming by using a cloud-native development platform such as Mia-Platform’s brings various benefits: the results are found in terms of reduction of development time, scalability and evolution speed of the applications. Replatforming, the approach recommended by Mia-Platform, lets combine the benefits of cloud projects, which in Italy now represents a market of almost 3 billion euros. In addition, replatforming allows to mitigate, if not eliminate, the problems of traditional cloud transformation approaches, which might lead to long execution times, high budgets, slowdowns or interruptions of the business, and are not particularly advantageous, as in the case of "lift and shift" initiatives.