"Applications?" I hear you say. "Why are Cisco talking about application? They're a networking company!?" If this is what you are thinking, I'm glad you are reading this blog. As we've broadened to be an IT company, we in Cisco Services have been quietly building our application migration capability for the past 2 years. And with cloud, as the leading designers of cloud IaaS infrastructure, we in Cisco Services are in a unique position to help you migrate applications to the cloud, where the skillsets required are not only application migration, but a deep understanding of how to enable your applications to genuinely exploit the capabilities of your cloud infrastructure.
Which takes me to the subject for this blog, Domain 8 in the Cisco Domain TenSM framework - Applications, following on from my Domain 7: Platform discussion the other week. In our view in Cisco Services, (business) applications are the primary reason for the existence of the data center. Applications drive so many of the decision in the other facets of the data center. And when it comes to cloud (which is my theme for this Cisco Domain Ten series), there are additional considerations related to migrating applications to the cloud. Let's discuss some of these in this blog.
From a cloud perspective, many of the key challenges of Domain 8 revolve around "Cloud Application Onboarding". How do you migrate applications onto your new cloud infrastructure, in other words. The following picture summarises some of these challenges. For example, how do you prioritize which applications you may choose to move, and which you will leave on the current architecture? How do you identify application dependencies and components, so that you can assess any complication of a move? And how do you cost and compare the options for migration or replacement? As you move to the cloud, do you need to re-platform legacy RISC/UNIX applications to for example Cisco UCS and x86?
So .... what are some of the steps you should consider to solve some of these challenges? Here are some considerations (and please note that this list is a subset of what Cisco Services can help you with in this area).
- Understand your business drivers. This is key to aligning your decision with what adds value to your business.
- Standardize your operating system and platform components - see my previous blog for this on Domain 7: Platform.
- Discover your application inventory, the various components of each application, and their dependencies upon the underlying infrastructure. We call this "Application Dependency Mapping". And a related question is what automation tools you can use to help you with this task.
- Identify application candidates for migration - you should develop clear prioritization criteria to guide your decision.
- Do you have any brand new applications, that you will focus on first? (a common approach)
- Analyze the options for each of your priority apps. Migrate as is? Re-write? Replace? Consider a SaaS alternative? Migrate RISC to x86?
- Understand capacity requirements for each application in the cloud. And what other constraints impact each application migration decision?
- Investigate the financial implications, including licensing - examine TCO/ROI for each option
- Don't forget the organizational/political challenges. Do the respective application owners buy in to your strategy? Have you investigated sufficient time educating them on the challenges, opportunities, benefits and costs?
- Decide on your application onboarding roadmap. Which app is first?
- Run a pilot. Get help to do this if you need it. There is no substitute for learning on a small scale, in a controlled environment, well before you tackle production migrations. And again investigate automation tool support to help you perform the migration.
- Plan your migration - carefully - for your first production application transition. Program management skills are key here, as are setting realistic applications.
And last not least, consider getting help from a professional services organization who has done this before. And ensure that this partner is a cloud expert, not just an applications expert. This is where, in Cisco Data Center Services, we have a distinct advantage, with our track record for designing and building many cloud infrastructures and helping customers enable application capabilities on these clouds. So you know where to look for help!
I do hope you are enjoying and learning from my series of blogs on Cisco Domain Ten. Please do take some time to leave a comment or question, and tell me what your questions and/or around Cisco Domain Ten are.