Moving to a new house can be one of the most stressful things we do in life, but if you’re in IT, re-homing your apps in the cloud can be just as exhausting. This is particularly true against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, as IT priorities shift and teams are forced to re-evaluate both short and long-term goals, including how to execute a successful and cost-effective migration to the cloud.
While this may seem like an unusual time to change course or pursue new projects, the reality is that for many IT teams right now, it’s the new norm. In fact, new research from AppDynamics reveals that 95% of organizations have changed their technology priorities and pivoted their strategy during the course of the pandemic.
So, where are IT teams beginning to re-focus their efforts?
Gartner says they’ve set their sights on the cloud, which is why they’re predicting the growth of public cloud services by 19% this year.
In the current global climate, it’s a prediction that makes a lot of sense: the pandemic has prompted a massive increase in remote work and socially distant activities, putting more pressure on IT to drive the performance of a wide variety of business applications, even as demand and usage soars. Cloud, with its promise of agility, faster go-to-market and scalability, is — naturally — an alluring solution in the face of mounting demands on performance. But proceed with caution: Businesses often view cloud migrations through a narrow lens, neglecting its broader role in essential business processes.
The end result? A cloud migration strategy that’s based on guesswork, not facts.
The “Design-Build-Operate” Methodology That Drives Cloud Success
Fortunately, there is a better way to plan for your cloud migration, and it begins with proper application performance monitoring (APM) as well as a simple design-build-operate methodology. Let’s dig in to understand what that entails and what your team needs to do to ensure a successful journey to the cloud.
Before you embark on your cloud migration, it’s important to identify where APM can play a vital role in scoping the move in advance, as well as helping you to understand application health down the road by identifying key baseline metrics.
First things first, baseline your app performance.
If you don’t baseline app performance today, it’s going to be impossible to determine what “better” looks like after migrating to the cloud tomorrow. That’s why it’s critical to establish your existing performance baseline. Determining what “better” looks like for your business will also help you to define a performance goal for moving to the cloud. Baselining also reveals what’s throttling performance today, so the same challenges are not recreated in the cloud. Lastly, application-level traffic data can also allow you to split which traffic will remain in the cloud and what will egress the cloud – the last of which is a cost.
Be clear on the app interconnects.
Before you move an app, it’s crucial to evaluate the potential impact on your broader app ecosystem. With APM, you get full visibility across inter-app dependencies, so you can be sure of what you’re moving and the effect it will have on the other apps powering your business. Because some apps have many high-intensity interconnects, it can be better for them to simply remain close to the rest of your stack.
Now that your app is in the cloud, you need to make sure it’s optimized for performance and unit economics.
Size closer to the edge.
In my experience, customers frequently over-provision resources in the cloud. In a recent project, we discovered a customer had selected one of their providers’ pre-determined instance configurations to support a database, but performance was well behind what they anticipated. Using AppDynamics as our APM solution, we identified the instance was more suited to a compute-intensive rather than memory-intensive app, like a database. This insight enabled the customer to move from the original configuration and size their resources more precisely to their app. This vastly improved performance and saved them 40% on their service cost in the process.
Hold your Cloud Service Provider accountable.
Your cloud provider will promise SLAs as part of your contract, instead of user-experience. So how do you know they’re delivering? APM gives you a way to independently monitor service and end-user performance, so you know for sure what you’re paying for, and can hold your provider accountable if they don’t meet their commitments.
Keep pace with application release velocity.
One of the most popular reasons for moving to the cloud is running apps in a containerized environment, which helps keep up with release velocity. However, all it takes is one wrong statement in code to have a significant impact on application performance. Without deep visibility made possible by an APM solution, it’s difficult to pinpoint when the service degraded and what caused it.
Remediate faster across a new stack.
Moving to the cloud may also prompt other changes to how apps are delivered. Switching to cloud-native versions of apps, the volume of data ingested, even security measures could mean there are lots of changes occurring simultaneously. With so many moving parts at play, APM is an essential tool for instantly revealing where performance bottlenecks are occurring and when.
Right cloud, right time.
No application destination should be seen as final. Keeping your app in Azure could ensure optimal app performance and economics today, but tomorrow it might perform better — or be cheaper — if moved to AWS. Without proactive monitoring, it would be impossible to determine what factors should trigger an app move for your business, preventing you from responding to these events and potentially benefiting through improved performance or better commercials. As more organizations opt to go hybrid or even multi-cloud, achieving this visibility is critical to moving apps at the right time and according to the right conditions for your business.
Jan Elmelund Olsen is a tech leader at Ymor, a part of Sentia. He specializes in managed services powered by AppDynamics to support planning for and then operating apps in the cloud.