We all know those trusty, dusty systems – the ones that have served us well, but maybe haven’t kept pace with innovation. Migrating them to the cloud can seem daunting, and yes, there may be some challenges to overcome, but the potential benefits are undeniable: increased agility, scalability, and cost savings.

Here’s the exciting part: we were recently joined by an AWS migrations expert – Nic O’Brien, Global Partner Lead for Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) at AWS – as we dived headfirst into the world of legacy applications and workload cloud migrations. Nic shared his insights and experiences working with both customers and AWS partners, exploring those potential migration challenges, and unlocking the secrets of a smoother, more efficient journey to the cloud!

#1: Is migrating legacy applications an essential step for organizations to remain competitive and secure?

In a nutshell, yes, it’s a big and complex topic. Businesses are constantly striving to extract value for both themselves and their customers. Thinking broadly about applications within a company, they can typically be categorized into three groups.

First, there are the table stakes applications which are essential for basic business operations. These are the foundational tools like building management systems, lift controls, or holiday booking platforms. They perform necessary but relatively straightforward tasks without which a business couldn’t function.

Moving up the value chain, there are applications that are crucial for running the business efficiently, although they might not directly differentiate the company in the market. Think of backend systems like tax management software. While vital for operations, they’re unlikely to be the reason customers choose a particular company.

Finally, there are the ‘crown jewels’. These are the applications that define a company’s unique offering and help it stand out in the marketplace. These applications are crucial for competitiveness and brand identity. They often represent years of development, integration, and adaptation to changing technological landscapes.

However, modern organizations running on digital-native infrastructure pose a challenge to established businesses with legacy systems. These newcomers can innovate and develop quickly at a lower cost, creating pressure for older companies to adapt or risk falling behind.

The real value lies in transforming these legacy applications to remain competitive. While it’s not a simple task and can face resistance from stakeholders comfortable with the status quo, it’s essential for staying relevant in a rapidly evolving market. Ultimately, the challenge lies in balancing the need for change with the inherent complexities and risks involved.

Learn more about SourceFuse’s migration capabilities and get started with your cloud migration journey today.

#2: After an organization commits to migrating legacy applications, what's the optimal approach to execute the process?

As an organization, we’re not overly prescriptive about dictating how things must be done. It’s crucial for every company to introspect and gauge their capacity for change. Finding the balance between pragmatism and ambition is key. We need to assess our skills, resources, and past successes in taking on ambitious projects before diving into major changes.

When dealing with customers, it’s essential to be mindful of their pace of change and avoid forcing an unnatural speed. Especially in highly regulated industries, where compliance with commitments to customers, regulators, and other stakeholders is paramount, strong executive leadership is vital. Leadership that sets clear goals and brings people together can prevent siloed work and foster collaboration.

Starting with an appreciation of the rate of change, having decisive leadership, and determined individuals willing to make a difference, are the crucial first steps. From there, pragmatic approaches involving thorough data analysis, groundwork, and preparation pave the way for success. We don’t prescribe complex modernization efforts all at once; instead, we might tackle smaller parts of large applications to build momentum, skills, and early wins.

Breaking down large, technically complex challenges into manageable pieces and setting achievable goals over time helps maintain momentum and tackle the task effectively. This approach reflects our mindset when approaching customers and working with our partners – a balance of pragmatism, ambition, and careful planning to drive successful outcomes.

#3: What are the common challenges organizations face during cloud migrations?

When it comes to back-end projects and migrating to the cloud, there are several considerations that customers need to keep in mind. Partnering with experienced professionals who have navigated these transitions before is crucial, especially when dealing with regulatory compliance and other complexities surrounding personal information.

In my experience, three key areas tend to emerge as focal points in these projects: governance, commercial aspects, and technical considerations. Executive leadership plays a vital role in setting the scope and pace of change, while clear articulation of goals and success criteria is essential for alignment. Engaging stakeholders across various departments and managing their involvement in testing and implementation can be challenging but is necessary for success.

Commercially, transitioning to the cloud involves a shift in expenditure profiles and requires careful monitoring and management to avoid unexpected costs. Balancing the expenses of running existing infrastructure alongside cloud migration efforts can be tricky, and ensuring proper coordination between different aspects of the project is crucial.

From a technical perspective, while many IT professionals are adept at managing on-premise workloads, transitioning to the cloud requires a different approach. Support and guidance are necessary to navigate potential pitfalls related to security, data replication, and understanding responsibilities in the new environment. Our partners play a significant role in providing this support, ensuring a smooth transition without the need for entirely new skill sets but rather an assimilation of existing expertise into the cloud context.

Overall, there’s a range of factors to consider, from governance to commercial aspects to technical delivery. By addressing each of these areas thoughtfully and with the right support, organizations can successfully navigate their migration to the cloud while minimizing risks and maximizing benefits.

#4: How does the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) benefit both partners and customers?

I’ve been involved with the MAP program since its inception and to give you a visual, think of MAP as a colossal funnel through which we channel everything that we believe is beneficial for our partners or customers. The objective is to consolidate all these valuable resources into one comprehensive program.

The program is structured around six pillars, each aimed at assisting customers in their cloud adoption journey. Firstly, there’s the methodology pillar, which provides a structured approach for customers, particularly those who seek clear guidance on what steps to take.

Next, the partner dimension is vital. We have a robust competency program, tier system, and dedicated relationship managers to support our partners. We aim to share useful insights and continuously improve our programs based on partner feedback.

On the customer side, our ProServe team offers solution assurance and support for major projects. They’ve developed valuable assets that we’re keen to share with both our partners and customers.

Training is another crucial pillar. As cloud adoption grows, addressing skills shortages becomes imperative. We offer training tailored to different scenarios our partners and customers may encounter. Tooling is naturally a significant aspect, given our tech-centric approach. We’ve developed various tools to streamline processes and enhance reliability & consistency for our customers.

Lastly, the financial aspect is essential. We’ve aligned funding mechanisms to different phases of the cloud adoption journey, supporting partners in conducting discovery exercises and assisting customers with foundational work and financial planning.

Overall, these six pillars form the backbone of our MAP program, aimed at providing comprehensive support to our partners and customers throughout their cloud adoption journey.

Learn more about SourceFuse’s MAP capabilities and get started with your cloud migration journey today.

#5: What’s one of your most memorable experiences when collaborating with partners utilizing MAP?

When I first started, the program was still in its early phases, and with fewer projects on hand, I had the opportunity to become deeply involved in each one. One of the earliest projects I worked on dates back to October 2017, involving a sovereign wealth fund spread across the globe. As a trading organization responsible for managing citizens’ funds, they had incredibly demanding IT requirements, requiring high latency and resilience.

Being intimately involved in this project allowed me to utilize various aspects of MAP, including its financial components and methodology. Our partners played a significant role in the process, and I had the chance to witness everything from a customer’s perspective while providing support wherever possible.

The project culminated in an RFP process, with heavy governance and competition from other major cloud providers. As part of this process, we traveled to Seattle, which was a true demonstration of our customer obsession and our collective efforts alongside our partners. Two AWS entries from our partners scored the highest, with one partner emerging successfully and which flawlessly executed the program.

This experience was a phenomenal learning opportunity for me, highlighting the seamless collaboration within our partner network and the profound impact it has on our customers. While it may have been further back in time, experiences like these continue to unfold daily, serving as a testament to the strength of our partnerships and our shared commitment to excellence.

#6: What technology trend(s) do you predict will dominate the year ahead?

Well, it’s hard to ignore the impact of generative AI lately. It feels like it’s exploded onto the scene in the past year or so, capturing public attention much like the advent of cloud computing did in its time. Just as ‘cloud’ became a buzzword that resonated with the media and customers alike, genAI seems to have sparked a similar level of curiosity and interest.

This surge in interest is driving organizations to analyze how they can leverage generative AI within their operations to derive business value. We’re witnessing significant interest across various sectors; for instance, energy firms are already contemplating the immense power requirements for data centers that will host AI models.

The scale of genAI aligns closely with the cloud-driven paradigm, which adds to its appeal. As with any emerging technology, we’re likely to see a progression through the hype cycle. While not every project will materialize, there will undoubtedly be some compelling case studies showcasing the tangible benefits, particularly in enhancing the customer experience.

At our end, we’re actively developing products like Code Whisper, which leverages genAI to assist developers in writing code more efficiently. These innovations are just the tip of the iceberg, and we anticipate more examples emerging where organizations can gain a competitive edge, save time, and deliver greater value to their customers.

Generative AI is a prevalent topic in many of our conversations with partners and customers. It’s clear that it’s making waves across industries, and its influence is felt everywhere at the moment.

Learn more about SourceFuse’s GenAI capabilities and contact is today to get started.