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Cloud Adoption Missteps Part 3: Governance and Organization

Common_Cloud_Adoption_Missteps_PT3_2-1 Cloud Adoption Missteps Part 3: Governance and Organization

Welcome back to the final part of our 3-part Cloud Adoption Missteps series where we will be going over some of the errors and mistakes that take place during the governance and organization stages of the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure. The first two parts of the series gave insight into earlier steps in the framework process, what they entail, and common cloud adoption missteps that can arise. To read an overview of what the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure is and some of the antipatterns that take place during the first 2 stages of the framework, click here. If you would like to check out the second part of the series, “Common Cloud Adoption Missteps Part 2: Adoption and Management Stages”, you can read it here.

The conclusion of the Cloud Adoption Missteps series will cover antipatterns in the governance and organization stages. We will share what goes on during these steps, common antipatterns, and some strategies to mitigate the antipatterns that may arise. 

Governance Stage

Taking organizations to the cloud is a complex yet highly rewarding process as we’ve clearly outlined in the past. However, it’s important to note that constant cloud governance must take place to create a strong cloud governance foundation. To learn some of the governance methodologies for the cloud, read this guide from Microsoft.

There are 3 main antipatterns that take place during this stage in the Cloud Adoption Framework: misunderstanding responsibility, straying too far from the compliance framework requirements, and using custom compliance.

Misaligned Shared Responsibilities

Though the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure is well-defined and clearly laid out, it can still be difficult to recognize where your organization’s responsibilities end and your cloud service provider’s (CSP) begins. Oftentimes that line gets blurred and that’s when the problems begin. Whether it’s security concerns or non-compliant servers, it’s important to address those issues right away. 

By building a “readiness plan”, you and your CSP can find that middle ground that works for everyone. A readiness plan focuses on capturing concerns, identifying gaps, and partnering with other teams to overcome this hurdle. For a more detailed look into what a readiness plan entails, check out Microsoft’s guide here.

Inaccurate Security Assumptions

It’s easy to assume that the move to the cloud is automatically a security upgrade, and that’s not necessarily wrong; however, it’s not a great idea to assume that out-of-the-box solutions provide security. Focusing on adhering to the compliance standards for Azure and using Azure portal ensures more stable security. Learn more about the Azure Security Centre here.

Custom Compliance or Governance Frameworks

The third and final antipattern that takes place during the governance stage is the use of a custom compliance or governance framework. Integrating these custom frameworks is very time consuming, especially when translating them to cloud settings. This will significantly slow down the cloud adoption process. Instead, rely on existing frameworks while making that transition to the cloud. It allows for ease, simplicity, and measurability of security settings. After making that transition is a good time to look at custom frameworks.

 

Organization Stage

The final stage in the Azure Cloud Adoption Framework is the organization stage. It looks at managing and organizing people (teams), structure, and the roles each person plays. Oftentimes, customers face cloud adoption missteps during the organizational stage due to a variety of aspects. The antipatterns that we will cover are 4 of the biggest missteps that often take place: utilizing IT as a cost centre, platform developing without approval, outsourcing core business functions, and hiring technical decision makers rather than cloud engineers. For more information on the organization stage in the cloud adoption framework, check out this overview by Microsoft.

Treating IT as a Cost Centre

When organizations or employees start to see IT as a cost centre rather than an enabler, pushing growth and success, there is reduced motivation in the long run. IT feels discouraged and along with that, management feels as though IT is slow and inefficient. 

Rather than viewing IT as a cost centre, try and see it as an enabler. By viewing IT as an agent with operating expenses, transparency, accountability, and optimization as are all maximized.

Investing in New Technology Without Involving the Business

Different departments all have separate functions to focus on. So it’s easy to forget that there are other business units that could be affected by even the smallest decisions. For example, if IT fails to consider business units while making design and structural decisions, it can lead to platforms that aren’t optimized or properly functioning for the business units. This leads to frustration and poor/ineffective adoption of the new platforms.

Instead, involve business units in the decision-making process. This eliminates the risk that those teams will not be able to implement or adopt new platforms. It takes into account the preferences and needs of the business units and creates a more cohesive platform that works for everyone. 

Outsourcing Core Business Functions

When running an organization, it’s easy to get caught up in outsourcing business functions to managed service providers (MSPs) and consulting partners. These partnerships can give way to a lot of exciting possibilities. However, it’s crucial to make sure that your company doesn’t become dependent on providers.

Keep critical design areas within your company, regarding subjects like risk, compliance, identity, and government. This ensures that your organization won’t become dependent on external providers, and instead will use them to speed up other important business processes.

Hiring Technical Decision Makers

Finally, the last cloud adoption misstep that we are focusing on in this series is the choice between hiring technical decision makers (TDMs) versus investing in cloud adoption engineers. TDMs are often a great way to get your cloud adoption framework up and running. However, a successful cloud adoption journey needs people with deep technical knowledge such as cloud engineers. 

Because cloud engineers are crucial for creating successful landing zones and cloud automations, they can help you realize the true potential of cloud adoption and the benefits that it brings. TDMs can always be brought in for decision-making later in the process, but cloud engineers are the ones with rich engineering knowledge.  

Conclusion

This article was the final part of a three-part series focusing on common cloud adoption missteps while using the Azure Cloud Adoption Framework. We hope that you gained a detailed overview of the many stages of the cloud adoption process and what they entail. As well as this, we hope that you are now aware of the antipatterns and cloud adoption missteps that can be easily remedied. 

Many organizations find it beneficial to work with a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) when undergoing cloud adoption. Read our article on the benefits of using a CSP.

If you’re interested in having Optimus as your CSP, you can reach us at: info@optimusinfo.com

 

Optimus Information Wins at Microsoft’s 2021 Impact Awards

MSImpactAwards_2021Winner_badge_rev_EN Optimus Information Wins at Microsoft's 2021 Impact Awards

Microsoft Canada recognizes Optimus Information as winner of the  2021 Regional Cloud Solution Provider – Azure Impact Award

Vancouver, BC, Canada — July 15, 2021 – Optimus Information Inc. is proud to announce it has won the 2021 Microsoft Canada Regional Cloud Solution Provider – Azure Impact Award.  These annual Canadian awards recognize Microsoft partners that have focused on bettering the lives of Canadians and demonstrated excellence in sales, marketing, skilling, innovation and implementation of customer solutions based on Microsoft technology. 

Pankaj Agarwal, Managing Partner of Optimus Information said, “Optimus Information is honoured to be recognized by Microsoft. We are grateful for the opportunity to team up with Microsoft to help our clients on their cloud adoption journey.”

Microsoft Canada presented these awards in 27 categories on July 15, 2021 as part of Microsoft’s second virtual Inspire conference. Winners were selected based on the outstanding work the companies provided to their customers and community. 

“We are pleased to recognize Optimus Information as this year’s recipient of the Regional Cloud Solution Provider – Azure Impact Award,” said Suzanne Gagliese, Vice President, Global Partner Solutions, Microsoft Canada. “Amid a challenging year, our partners have demonstrated dedication to innovation and customer excellence by leveraging cutting-edge solutions to solve complex business challenges and overcome disruption.”

Optimus is a leading technology consulting company providing professional and managed services in cloud migration and management, DevOps, application development and modernization, data analytics, and testing. We leverage our Microsoft gold competencies, advanced specialization for application modernization, and our global delivery model to help our customers achieve their digital transformation goals. Visit us at www.optimusinfo.com

 

For additional information: 

Please contact Jessalynn Tran at jessalynn.tran@optimusinfo.com

 

Product or service names mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

 

Modernizing Applications with Azure PaaS

Modernizing-_Applications_with_Azure_PaaS-2 Modernizing Applications with Azure PaaSFor organizations that rely on legacy technology, the cost of maintaining outdated software inhibits innovation and slows down the digital transformation process. Since business operations generate dependency on these legacy systems while accumulating enormous data over the years, such systems are hard to scale and complex to replace.

Migrating their legacy applications to an efficient technology ecosystem, organizations undertake app modernization as one of the key stages of their digital transformation journey. With modernization, organizations embrace efficient technology, tools and approaches, including Cloud, DevOps, and Microservices. These collectively enable organizations to become more lean, agile, and adaptable. 

A common approach to app modernization is transitioning the legacy application off the on-prem servers and rehosting/re-platforming it to a cloud platform. A Platform as a Service (PaaS) platform is one such cloud-based model that allows organizations to benefit from a pre-configured platform of essential infrastructure resources. 

In this article, we dive into the use-cases of a PaaS model, and the benefits of modernizing applications with Azure PaaS.

Modernizing Legacy Apps With Azure PaaS

A legacy on-prem framework requires enormous efforts towards provisioning and ongoing maintenance of the underlying infrastructure. In addition to this, managing a platform in-house gets immensely complex with frequent changes in compliance policies and security landscape. For mission-critical applications, ensuring a load-balanced service with distributed traffic additionally requires niche skills as well as considerable financial commitments. 

To help with this, Microsoft offers an HTTP-based Azure PaaS Service (commonly referred to as App Service) for hosting web applications, REST APIs, and mobile application backends on Windows or Linux-based environments.

With App Service, there are no administrative efforts to maintain the base infrastructure where the applications run. This provides an efficient approach to deploy an application on the cloud without worrying about provisioning, configuring, or scaling the platform. 

Azure uses an efficient Service Fabric to ensure that each application in the plan keeps running and that resources can be scaled up or down as needed. Each App Service runs on a virtual machine in a Microsoft Datacenter. By allowing users to easily set the maximum instances of VMs on which they want to run their applications, the Service Fabric then replicates the application across multiple VMs, keeps them running, and balances load across them.

Some features of Azure App Service include:

  • Support for Multiple Programming Languages and Frameworks: Organizations can deploy applications built on a wide variety of frameworks, including .Net Core, NodeJS, Java, PHP, Python, or Ruby. Azure App Service also supports Powershell and other executable scripts as background services.
  • Serverless Code Using Azure Functions: Rather than deploying applications that explicitly require extensive provisioning or management of infrastructure, organizations can run serverless code snippets at a fraction of the compute time cost.
  • App Containerization: Organizations can deploy applications in containers and leverage efficient architectures such as Microservices for enhanced scalability and performance.
  • DevOps Support: Azure allows to set up testing, staging, and production environments with continuous integration and deployment pipelines in line with DevOps practices.
  • Provides CORS support for APIs. Also supports secured authentication, push notification, and offline data sync for mobile apps.
  • In-App SQL databases for storing app data.

Benefits of Azure App Service 

Organizations can benefit from modernizing applications with Azure PaaS in the following ways:

  • High Scalability: Azure allows organizations to scale their applications up or out. With the easy to use Azure Portal, users can set up auto-scale settings based on CPU, memory, and disk utilization levels to support additional application load or stress. Additionally, the Per-App scaling feature allows organizations to allocate and set resources for mission-critical applications selectively. 
  • High Availability: Azure’s App Service SLAs guarantee high availability using the optimum resources. This benefits an organization by leveraging the ability to host its applications across multiple regions through Microsoft’s extensive global datacenter infrastructure.
  • Analytics and Actionable Insights: The Azure portal provides insightful analytics on an application’s health and performance levels. Organizations can also obtain details on the app’s response times, CPU, memory, and disk utilization levels for identifying incident root cause or performance optimization. 
  • Robust Security: App Service provides authentication support through Azure Active Directory, Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Microsoft accounts. Additionally, organizations can control network access of their apps by setting up a priority list of deny/allow IP addresses while benefitting from Azure Virtual Network subnets.
  • Multi-Platform Support: App Service supports different languages and frameworks for app development and deployment, thus allowing for various industry and application-type use cases.

Popular PaaS Use-Cases 

While there are numerous successful use-cases of the PaaS model, the following are some of the most common domains that benefit from it:

  • Datawarehouse/Business Intelligence

Using cloud-based PaaS offerings, organizations can locate insights, generate patterns and predict results to improve business decisions such as forecasting, product design, and investment profits. Due to a number of PaaS-enabled benefits, more and more organizations securely set up and manage data storage such as databases, data warehouses, and data lakes using popular PaaS platforms such as Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

  • Application Hosting

A PaaS model is often considered as an enabler to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. As a result, for businesses that offer SaaS-based application offerings, PaaS offers an immediate, quick to launch platform of cloud services to deploy, host, run and manage cloud-based applications, APIs, and mobile backends.

  • IoT

The versatility provided by PaaS platforms shown in the range of languages, frameworks, and tools supported allows for IoT deployments and integrations. By supporting to efficiently deploy applications on the edge, organizations can benefit from modernizing applications with Azure PaaS, focusing on an IoT framework.

Summary 

Legacy applications are usually monolithic, expensive to manage and difficult to scale. Outdated software makes it challenging to adapt to new business requirements and hinders an organization’s digital transformation. Adopting a pragmatic approach to app modernization using PaaS platforms provides ways for organizations to refactor these applications for high efficiency. It also helps organizations to take advantage of cloud benefits like economies of scale and scalability.

Azure’s App Service by Microsoft is a cloud-based PaaS offering that provides a fully managed platform that offers auto-scaling, in-app SQL databases, high availability, and robust security to modernize and deploy modern applications. With a growing pattern of emerging technologies such as IoT, Stateful Applications, and Event Stream Processing, the computing paradigm is now at a completely different level than it used to be. This is why it’s critical for businesses to focus on the core application development and its growth, rather than spending efforts on redundant tasks of managing underlying platforms. 

 

To know more about how Optimus can help you migrate your legacy apps to a PaaS model, contact us today.

How to Get Your Cloud Migration Right

In the modern world of emerging technologies, organizations that rely on legacy systems can start to lose competitive advantage and experience a decline in customer experience. A popular driver for cloud migration is the rising need to achieve enhanced performance and operational efficiency alongside achieving robust security and data protection. Other reasons for migrating include the cost savings, scalability, reliability, availability, and flexibility the cloud offers. 

However, migrating to the cloud requires thorough analysis and planning to take advantage of the benefits listed above. A clear-cut strategy for migrating enables organizations to avoid hidden challenges and extra costs that might accrue over time because of a half-hazard migration. 

Additionally, not carefully defining organizational needs and project scope in advance can result in performance issues and low return on investment, defeating the purpose of migration. This article discusses how to get your cloud migration right to avoid these issues.

Choosing the Right Approach to Migration

When planning a cloud migration, one key consideration is deciding the right approach to adopt. Different methods are more suitable for specific workloads, and the nature of the existing content management system plays a fundamental role in determining which one will work best.

Big-Bang

This approach to cloud migration involves a switch from the legacy or on-premises setup to the cloud in a single operation. The process essentially is a part of a large program that often is carried in a single migration window involving a predetermined downtime. Such an approach eliminates the need to run the two systems (on-prem as well as cloud) simultaneously during or after the migration sprint.

For organizations with systems that do not operate 24/7 or have less complex migration workloads, Big-Bang is often considered as the suitable cloud migration approach.

On the other hand, for organizations that have business-critical or complex applications, Big-Bang poses a high risk to cloud migration as any issues that arise during the migration process can extend the system downtime and have a negative impact on business operations. 

Phased

A phased approach tackles the migration of workloads from an onsite environment to the cloud in a clearly defined incremental manner. Bit by bit, modules, subsystems, or volumes of the source system are migrated to the target environment. Each increment or update of the target system undergoes testing to identify and resolve bugs before the next occurs.

The result of a phased approach is eventually an extended migration period. The implication for the longer migration timeframe is the increased cost of migration, effort, and potential loss in business, if not planned well. However, the risks associated with this staggered method are minimal.

Selecting the Right Technical Strategy

While every organization may opt for a specific use-case or migration strategy, the following are some of the general technical strategies to apply during a cloud migration process:

Single or Mulit-Cloud

When migrating to the cloud, organizations must decide whether they want to choose a single cloud provider and optimize their application for that cloud platform or run it across multiple vendor platforms. With a multi-cloud deployment, organizations have three options to choose from based on their specific requirement. These are: 

  1. Different applications in different cloud platforms, 
  2. Split a single application across multiple providers, or 
  3. Build a cloud-agnostic application entirely.

Maintain Robust KPIs & Performace Baselines

Set up additional cloud-related KPIs and baselines to compare the performance of migrated workloads with predetermined expectations. Doing this enables teams to identify problems within the application and verify the migration status in terms of success and completeness.

Identify Key Components to Migrate

Identify connections and dependencies between key components. Doing so enables teams to select critical components to migrate and prioritize their migration. Some common examples include Datawarehouse and ERP applications that are critical to an organization’s day-to-day operations. 

Prepare a Data Migration Plan

Data migration is an intricate yet integral part of the migration process. This is because migrating the data ultimately affects the performance of related applications and can potentially impact the overall business operations directly. As a result, it is essential to choose the right data migration strategy that is best suited for an organization’s workloads and migration before beginning the process. As a best practice, it is also recommended that Data Migration is considered as a separate project that oversees a seamless migration to support the holistic on-prem to cloud migration.

Refractor

While there are a number of cloud migration strategies to choose from, one of the most followed strategies is to modify an organization’s existing application architecture to modernize it to retrofit cloud capacities and features efficiently and effectively.

Plan Resource Allocation

Cloud allows for dynamic resource allocation to benefit fully from the cost savings it provides. However, as teams migrate to the cloud, they outline a strategy to determine how they will leverage this cloud capability in distributing resources for their applications. As an efficient strategy, organizations must include resource allocation as part of the larger goal that goes beyond the migration project for an improved bottom-line.

Choosing the Right Azure Sizing

In addition to selecting a migration approach and deciding the technical strategies, organizations must decide the optimum cloud computing model to adopt. Some of these include  – Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service. Of the three, IaaS is known to provide the highest level of flexibility by allowing businesses to deploy applications in fully customizable virtual machines.

Additionally, evaluating existing and planned workloads allows organizations to identify resources such as CPU, memory, storage, and network to provision and optimize for their services. Azure provides different categories of virtual machines that are suitable for certain types of workloads. These include:

General Purpose

The general-purpose Azure virtual machine is designed for workloads with a balanced CPU to memory ratio. That means, they are not CPU-intensive, do not perform a considerable amount of disk reads and writes, and have minimal network traffic demands. They are best suited for development, testing, or small low-traffic server applications.

Compute Optimized

A compute-optimized Azure VM is designed for use cases that require a high CPU to memory ratio. Workloads that demand a lot of processing power can take advantage of the optimized compute power for these virtual machines. Examples of services like these include gaming and data analysis applications. It is also ideal for medium-traffic web servers and application servers.

Memory-Optimized

Azure’s memory-optimized VMs have a high memory to CPU ratio. They are designed for memory-intensive workloads. They are best suited for database servers and in-memory application cache setups. 

Storage Optimized

Storage-optimized VMs are suitable for workloads with a high frequency and amount of disk read and write operations. These types of workloads include large databases and high-velocity data storage applications like data warehouses.

GPU

Azure’s GPU VMs powered by Nvidia GPUs are designed for handling workloads that involve extensive graphics processing and CPU-intensive machine learning processes. 

High-Performance Compute

High-performance VMs are designed for specialized use cases that cannot be handled by GPU VMs. These workloads are highly compute-intensive and the VMs are optimized and configured to operate as nodes in a High-Performance Computing (HPC) cluster. Examples of such workloads include applications handling DNA modelling and developing neural networks in artificial intelligence.

Choosing-the-Right-Azure-Sizing How to Get Your Cloud Migration Right

Additional details of Azure Sizing can be found here:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/virtual-machines/sizes

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cloud-services/cloud-services-sizes-specs

 

5 Essential Tips for a Successful Migration 

1. Maintaining Parallel Computing

Organizations should run both legacy and target systems during the migration period to avoid an interruption in service or operations that could have cost implications.

2. Shift Left for Security

Integrating security early on in the software development lifecycle is necessary for a successful migration. Doing this safeguards the deployment pipelines from external actors with malicious intent during the migration process.

3. Embrace Container and Microservices

Containers provide a way to package applications together with their dependencies so that they are environment agnostic. Refactoring applications as microservices deployed containers allows organizations to release bits of an application in isolation, especially in a staggered or phased migration approach. Additionally, businesses can improve traceability and reliability when issues arise.

4. Enhance Operational Efficiency with DevOps

Embracing DevOps practices such as setting up a CI/CD pipeline enable businesses to monitor applications, log system activities, proactively raise alerts for current and potential issues, and provide faster incident resolution. A well-implemented CI/CD pipeline extensively uses automation to handle these processes seamlessly and aids an efficient cloud migration.

5. Consistent Learning & Feedback

Migrating to the cloud is not a one-off activity. It is an iterative learning process that involves identifying where improvements need to be made and applying the required changes. It is also necessary to provide an efficient feedback loop during the migration process that ensures that an organization’s employees and users are aware of the migration.

Essential-Tips-for-a-Successful-Migration How to Get Your Cloud Migration Right

Conclusion

Modernizing applications by leveraging the powers of the cloud can provide benefits such as availability, cost savings, reliability, and scalability for businesses. However, choosing a suitable approach and the right technical strategy to migrate their workloads to the cloud are two of the most crucial factors to get your cloud migration right. Organizations can leverage the tips, suggestions, and options identified in this article for a suitable and efficient migration to the cloud. While doing so, it must be noted that there is no one size fits all, and thereby every organization must follow the right approach that suits their purpose. 

 

To know more on how Optimus can help your organization with a seamless Cloud migration, contact us today

 

Top 5 Cloud Adoption Pitfalls

iot-3337536_1280 Top 5 Cloud Adoption Pitfalls

What are some pitfalls you can avoid in your cloud adoption journey?

Digital transformation is the evolution of business because it embraces the necessity of change. Cloud adoption is a pivotal and typical step in the digital transformation journey. However, if not implemented correctly, there are many potential pitfalls you can encounter. In a recent webinar with Betty Rhiger, CTO of Microsoft Canada’s One Commercial Partner, she discussed common cloud adoption pitfalls and how to avoid them

1. Not Defining the Outcome

During the cloud adoption journey, business will sometimes feel like they are not achieving what they wanted. Often, this is because they didn’t clearly define what digital transformation meant for their organization or what specific outcomes they wanted to achieve. These outcomes are not necessarily technology outcomes, but they could include improving speed to market, agility, and employee engagement. Regardless of the outcome you’re after, it is important to define these outcomes from the beginning because it will change the workload, your plan, and what you’re measuring your success against.

2. Not Assessing who is invested

Major roadblocks can be encountered if you don’t have the buy-in from your stakeholders: customers, investors, your team, etc. Who will be impacted and who is invested? 

Also to avoid cloud adoption pitfalls, be sure to evaluate your team and see if they have the skills to adopt the cloud. Building a skills readiness plan is also recommended. This helps identify how and which team members should be reskilled or where you want to get the support of a third party.

3. Overlooking the details

Now that you have identified your outcomes and developed a strategy and plan, some businesses forget about the details such as the environment setup, architecture framework, and landing zone. Moving to the cloud can save money if it’s done properly. But, companies make assumptions that overlook these details, and it can end up being costly. Know your details, migrate and modernize properly, and save money. 

4. Not Maintaining the Same Quality

Cloud adoption requires adjustments, but don’t sacrifice quality along the way. Regardless of whether you are adapting existing offerings or building new ones, have a plan to ensure you are maintaining the quality of your application or service. To avoid this cloud adoption pitfall, ask yourself: Do you know what the quality was before? How might these changes create a dip in quality and impact your user experience? Making a change for the newest and “coolest” technology won’t work if your users don’t know how to use it. 

5. Not Incorporating Governance Early 

Governance underpins everything. Controls, compliance, security are all needed in a cloud environment. Even if you are using SaaS, where users are not responsible for hardware or software updates, that doesn’t mean you are handing all support over to the cloud provider. For example, you will have to think about how you will incorporate new releases. What functionality will you use or not use? If data is being pulled out of that app and being used somewhere else, are you still staying compliant? Governance should be in place early and any feedback and learnings should be incorporated into your iterative process. 

 

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