Moving to the cloud is just the start.
Once workloads have migrated and data center exits have completed, the true transformation can really begin. Why? Because the vast majority of cloud migrations employ a re-host (lift & shift) migration pattern, which places emphasis on moving off on-premise infrastructure ahead of re-architecting applications. You’ll often hear this model referred to as Move, then Improve.
So where does this leave businesses who have lifted and shifted their applications to the public cloud? The reality is that they will often be in a similar position to the one left behind in the legacy world of data centers; sub-optimal performance, rigid application stacks and a relatively low return on investment (ROI). Running an entire estate on compute instances by rebuilding a data center in the cloud is a perfectly valid way to operate and for many businesses, works well enough. But realizing the potential of the cloud isn’t about finding a solution that works well enough. It’s about delivering on the promise of democratized access to data and technology, moving in-house teams up the stack and back to doing what they do best – delivering value, over maintaining infrastructure.
This is the space occupied by traditional application modernization engagements. Cost-driven, one-off projects that are often difficult to green-light and have little focus joining the dots between business value and technological capability. These initiatives are good for addressing the modernization needs of a point-in-time estate but aren’t feasible to run on a persistent basis, meaning technical debt can start to rebuild and another expensive ‘one and done’ engagement is required further down the road. Market analysts tell us that ‘By 2025, technical debt will continue to compound on top of existing technical debt consuming more than 40% of the current IT budget’, so there is clearly a need to address the way modernization efforts are currently delivered.
This is why we started building Sunstone – a software platform that continuously evaluates a cloud estate for modernization opportunities and presents high impact, low effort targets to reduce cost, increase performance and security posture and improve the ability to innovate. Sunstone leans heavily on the vision of the Research and Development team here at Cloudreach, by ‘Automating Everything Cloudreach Does for Customers, Making It Available for All’.
One of the first steps of the product’s development lifecycle was to identify repeated tasks delivered by engineering teams, so automation could be built into the process and the same high quality outputs could be delivered to customers in less time. Discovery is a good example of the ‘Automate Everything’ principle at work. The majority of technology projects invariably require a ‘Discovery’ phase at outset, so the consulting business can gather data through time-intensive customer interviews and build a clear picture of an organization’s technology architecture. Depending on the size of the estate being evaluated these phases can take weeks if not months, which considerably slows down time-to-action in traditional modernization projects. Sunstone is designed with this delay in mind, and is architected to utilize an extremely lightweight onboarding process that places very little demand on in-house customer resources, so they can stay focused on what they’re good at rather than attending hours of interviews with consulting teams. Thanks to Sunstone’s agentless architecture, the product leverages pre-existing instance lifetime data, so the lag before application data is analyzed and modernization recommendations are generated is miniscule. To give this some context, in a recent speed test the engineering squad observed data from a single 100 node account being discovered, profiled, transformed and analyzed inside 13 minutes.
Internal and market-driven research places application dependency mapping high up on the list of customer requirements that Sunstone needs to satisfy. Taking the aforementioned discovered cloud estate data and building a relationship map between individual resources is a relatively simple sounding task but in reality is something that can be difficult and time consuming to get right. Labor-intensive or not, this task is a prerequisite element to most migration and modernization projects. It enables cloud transformation teams to view technology stacks in a collective manner and reduces the risk of making changes to isolated resources without fully understanding the knock-on impact on dependent components. The Sunstone engineering squad tackled this problem by proposing a multiple layer approach to building application dependencies; The first tier utilizes a graph database to gather and query entity relationship data between the nodes detected in the Discovery phase, the second tier monitors IP traffic between entities so resource ‘chattiness’ can be observed and monitored, and the final tier identifies patterns in resource deployment mechanisms. By leveraging the multi layer approach, Sunstone can make accurate inferences into which resources have meaningful relationships so they can be considered holistically when being assessed for modernization.
Rapid data discovery and profiling is certainly a good start but it adds little value to organizations that want to modernize but don’t know where to begin. To address this pain point, an ever-expanding library of analytics engines was dreamt up. Each Sunstone analytic engine targets a particular technology type or user problem; whether it’s driving cost savings through license optimization, promoting value generating work and increasing in-house teams’ productivity by moving off ‘Infrastructure-as-a-Service’ (IaaS) and onto ‘Platform-as-a-Service’ (PaaS) solutions, or increasing ROI and driving more effective use of IaaS workloads by providing instance rightsizing recommendations. Interactions with customers at AWS re:Invent provided valuable insight into which analytics would resonate well with the market, so the existing library will soon be supplemented with the addition of Containerization and Serverless ‘Functions-as-a-service’ (FaaS) engines to help businesses leverage these next generation cloud native technologies.
As Sunstone edges towards General Availability in Spring 2022, the culmination of 18 months of hard work becomes a clearer reality. Lots of lessons have already been learned, and in keeping with lean product methodologies, the majority are most likely still to come. The core principles of keeping an agile mindset, measuring everything and trusting the data are a product team’s best friend at this stage in the development lifecycle.
If moving is just the start, then modernization is the exciting next chapter to realizing the potential of the cloud. This is why we built Sunstone.
If your organization is ready to progress from Cloud 1.0 please visit www.sunstoneapp.io or reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about how Sunstone can help.