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Don’t trap your apps

Don’t trap your apps: why the cloud isn’t just for native applications

Andrew Gough, Client Services Development Director at Agilisys, debunks the usual FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) about re-platforming public sector applications and services into the cloud.

If you’ve ever been told “you can’t move that app to the cloud”, we need to talk.

Over the years, we’ve heard every imaginable reason why an application or service can’t make the leap to the cloud. You might have been told that an application has been in your environment for too long, isn’t well-documented, uses hardcoded IPs, or just isn’t ‘cloud-friendly’. It’s time to call these reasons what they are—excuses.

Although these excuses stem from different motives and interested parties, the simple truth is that re-platforming into the cloud is often wrongly perceived as impossibly costly or difficult. As a result, people talk themselves out of it—or allow themselves to be talked out of it. In almost every case, moving an application into the cloud isn’t just possible, it brings major benefits.

Today, most public sector organisations run virtualised infrastructures. That means their applications and services are built on the same foundations of compute, storage and networking that underpin any hyperscale cloud provider.

Therefore, by definition, anything running in a Microsoft or VMware virtual infrastructure is a candidate re-platforming. Extensive, well-proven tooling exists to support the migration of virtual servers and storage to the cloud. The question is, are there good business reasons to make the leap? We think the answer is a resounding yes, and here are our top three:

1) Create cost-savings

Most public sector organisations overprovision in their data centres to allow for spikes in usage, future growth and so on. Since infrastructure costs are fixed on premises, there’s little to be gained by carefully controlling the resources applications use.

In the cloud it’s a different story. A consumption-based IT model means organisations should only pay for only the resources they need. That means significant savings can be made through rationalisation, optimisation and clever service management. Your applications may not be cloud-native, but you can still drive cloud-based benefits from them

For instance, by retiring legacy or sprawled databases that applications no longer need, you can drive a major reduction in the IT resources it demands. This is especially true if you have a tangled technology stack with systems that have grown organically over many years. We recently helped one London borough downsize its application footprint from 1250 to just 240, a reduction of more than 80%.

Aggressive infrastructure management can do even more. Consider an application that only needs to be running during working hours. Outside of Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, the application can be turned off entirely—that’s equivalent to 73% of the year! The same principle holds true for applications that see seasonal demand, such as council tax processing—they can be revved up around the year end or down for the rest of the year to drive savings.

2) Join the dots on data

Today, there’s growing demand for more agile and efficient public services. The ability to access, share and analyse data effectively is crucial to achieving this vision. By harnessing data-led insights, the public sector can better understand customer needs, forecast demand and improve services.

With applications on premises, data is likely to remain isolated in different siloes and supported by separate legacy IT systems. For instance, records about the same individual could be stored across multiple locations, with no ability to join the dots.

Connecting and sharing information is far easier in the cloud, so re-platforming applications allows organisations to capitalise on the potential of data and analytics to work smarter. In the cloud, the same application can help inform a holistic picture of customers or the wider community.

3) Prepare for the future

Once applications or services are re-platformed into the cloud, keeping pace with change also becomes easier. With an underlying infrastructure that’s evergreen, organisations can break the cycle of regular infrastructure upgrades—saving time and money, while also enabling applications to meet growing demand seamlessly.

More importantly, re-platforming into the cloud unleashes your access to a host of new innovations, from easier integration with the Internet of Things, to natural language queries, trend analysis and automatic reporting…as well as whatever Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Oracle, or Salesforce is dreaming up next. Neutral cloud services also offer a faster and more cost-effective platform for collaboration with other public sector organisations compared to modifying bespoke on-premises services.

When a re-platformed application does reach end-of-life, migrating to a new cloud-native alternative can be done more simply and quickly. Better still, by dramatically lowering the time and cost of trialling new services, the cloud makes failure not just acceptable but to be encouraged, giving your teams the freedom to test fresh approaches to problems and opportunities.

While the standard excuses are no reason to avoid re-platforming applications into the cloud, there are still, of course, good reasons not to make the move. Clearly, migrating an end-of-life application that’s about to be retired doesn’t make financial sense. Similarly, certainty over service levels can be a good reason to keep an application on premises, since you know your engineers can get into the data centre within a guaranteed response time. However, we’re pretty sure that, in the vast majority of cases, moving to the cloud is the right choice—so ignore the claptrap and avoid the app trap.

Download our public sector cloud roadmap now to discover more about Agilisys and how we can support your cloud journey.