Cloud as catalyst for modern applications.
Blog: Capgemini CTO Blog
Society and companies face the digitalization of their processes and modes of interaction. Whether they are intended for customers, employees, or citizens, the expected services must meet the challenges of digitalization. The recent health crisis has confirmed the importance of efficient and secure digitization.
For large companies and public bodies, which have often invested tens or even hundreds of millions of euros in their information systems, pooling their know-how and often creating a structure enabling them to stand out from the competition, the response to the digitalization challenges cannot involve the construction of entirely new solutions. The most advantageous approach is to rely on modern technological solutions to renovate and open the existing systems and enrich them with new components: in this case, we speak of modernization of the information system. In some cases, the gap to be filled is such that it is more relevant to consider a profound transformation of the existing situation.
Cloud platforms are essential to speed up these modernization approaches:
- They natively provide most of the services required to build and deploy applications according to modern architecture models.
- They allow flexible consumption of these services, with numerous cost optimization levers, provided that the best practices of FinOps* are respected.
- They offer, through the possibility of manipulating all the services by code (via the APIs exposed by cloud platforms), an unprecedented level of automation, both in the deployment of applications (Infrastructure-as-Code and CI/CD) as well as in their execution (automatic scaling) and their operations (observability and self-remediation).
To successfully modernize its information system by taking advantage of the cloud, it must be considered as a corporate program federating businesses and IT, and its justification formalized in a business case. This business case relates the investment and the expected value creation such as an increase in revenue by grasping the digital opportunities more efficiently, a reduction in time to market, or a decrease in operational costs, as well as increased control of operational risks such as reduction of the technical debt or improvement of cybersecurity. Apart from the mobilization and the techno-economic justification, experience has shown that the effective implementation of a modernization program towards the cloud must obey key principles:
- Have a vision guided by the application portfolio, together with a good understanding of the strategic requirements for each business domain.
- Start with an in-depth analysis of the portfolio to route each application, or group of applications, to the right transition approach: from simple redeployment to adaptation of architectures, or even partial restructuring.
- Adopt a different strategy depending on whether specific applications (whose code is owned), software packages (including ERPs), or data platforms (data warehouses or big-data solutions) are concerned.
As modernization typically spans several semesters and focuses on a hybrid cloud infrastructure, it is essential to obtain a hybrid integration platform that can manage various exchange flows between applications on and off the cloud, as well as between existing and modernized applications
What is the best way to organize and orchestrate this modernization?
- Set up a composite operating model, combining factory-mode capabilities (effectively handling rehosting migrations or test campaigns) with a distributed mechanism, associating cloud modernization experts with application maintenance teams, thus leveraging their knowledge of the existing situation.
- Differentiate between the analysis-and-definition phase of target architectures (for each application or group of applications) and the implementation phase of application modernization. This differentiation will guarantee flexibility and the ability to adapt to business constraints and calendar hazards.
- Set up a homogeneous chain of DevSecOps tools and practices to automate the deployment of modernized applications and take advantage of container orchestration platforms on Kubernetes that will deliver high-level standardization and industrialization.
- Adopt a scaled agile approach to pace and coordinate the work of numerous teams, with the constant concern for iterative and incremental creation of value, measured by the effectively modernized scope and its impact on performance indicators: operational costs, delivery cycle times, quality of service in production.
The bases underlying modernization of the existing portfolio (reference architectures, cybersecurity rules, Infrastructure-as-Code module libraries, etc.) are becoming accelerators for new cloud-native projects. Such a base also facilitates the implementation of rapid application development solutions, on secure platforms connected to the company data – this is the low code. It is therefore possible to avoid shadow IT and to offer the new generation of citizen developers the means to put into practice their ideas for improving processes, sometimes constrained by the unavailability of development resources.
All these efforts are driven by data, the most important asset of organizations! By modernizing the IS, it will be possible to process it more efficiently and to enhance it in a way that is more secure for the organization and its end customers – employees or users. In addition, the cloud provides access to numerous value-added services to accelerate innovation and remain competitive: for example, cognitive or conversational services, machine-learning tools, on-demand computing power for simulation and optimization calculations, etc.
The Information System cannot be modernized without changing the skills and operational practices of the teams responsible for maintaining and supporting it. It is therefore essential to support employees in their acculturation to the cloud and the enrichment of their skills. Everyone must play a role in this human adventure of which the cloud is only a catalyst.
To find out how Capgemini can help you reach your cloud potential, please download our Cloud Transformation: The Keys to Success whitepaper, or contact our team today.
Papa Ibrahima Ndao
Vice President Cloud & Enterprise Architecture at Capgemini