By Rajesh Rao, Managing Director, Technology, Temus and Aaron Sim, Partner Solutions Architect, AWS Singapore
Technology executives have been given a mandate from their boards to digitally transform by leveraging the power of cloud and compete with digital disruptors building cloud native solutions to attract customers. Many have embarked on a lift-and-shift approach because it provided fastest results with the lowest changes in technology. This resulted in mission-critical applications being moved to the cloud without re-architecture or leveraging cloud native infrastructure.
This has created three challenges:
Temus and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have created the Cloud Value Realisation (CVR) framework to solve these challenges. A key tenet of CVR ensures digital transformation efforts are driven by business objectives such as: increasing customer satisfaction, adding new customers, increasing revenues, and reducing costs. CVR incorporates Agile methodologies to deliver a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) within a few sprints instead of a big bang, multi-year, transformation exercise. This provides a unique solution that generates business benefits while modernising complex legacy applications.
CVR proposes two options: replatforming and refactoring to accomplish these objectives and deliver business value. It is recommended to leverage AWS tools and managed services to accelerate the journey and rapidly create business value. This results in building a cloud native infrastructure leveraging containers, DevSecOps, agile methodologies, and fast implementation of new business innovations. This allows businesses to rapidly innovate and compete against the digital native disrupters to grow business using latest technologies.
Boards around the world understand digital is fundamental and critical to the future of business – it is not a “nice to have” nor should it be an afterthought to be bolted upon an existing enterprise. COVID accelerated these trends because enterprises had to go digital, offer online services, and accelerate their digital implementation to ensure customers continue to get access to their services. The other key reasons for accelerating digital transformation are:
These trends have created unique opportunities for CIOs/ CTOs to rapidly modernise legacy applications and leverage the power of cloud. The main objectives of technology executives are to modernise existing monolithic and inflexible business applications using concepts of digital native, cloud, agility, micro-services, open source, and create a rich user experience.
Technology executives face three different choices while embarking on their digital transformation journey:
A significant number of technology executives have taken the path of least resistance and embarked on a Lift and Shift approach. Existing applications are directly moved into cloud environments without assessing whether digital transformation benefits are accrued to the organisations. Over the last 3 years, this has resulted in cloud environments running legacy applications leading to following challenges:
Large enterprises find themselves at a crossroads of changing their digital modernisation direction to get real benefits or continuing the existing path which might allow digital native competitors to erode more market share. Their existing Lift and Shift approach will continue to cause more challenges and a new way of thinking would be required.
Temus was established in April 2021 by Temasek in partnership with UST a global digital services firm to accelerate the digital transformation of leading enterprises and public sector agencies in Singapore and beyond. Temus created the Vision-to-Value (V2V) framework to solve digital transformation challenges. The framework includes setting a big-picture vision and roadmap but also considers the implementation of the solution to create real business value for the end customers.
Temus has incorporated unique cloud modernisation challenges into the V2V framework to come up with a Cloud Value Realisation (CVR) approach that will enable technology executives to determine the right digital transformation approach. A key tenet of the CVR model is that digital transformation efforts should be driven by business objectives: increase customer satisfaction, add new customers, increase revenues, and reduce costs. These in turn will automatically fund new transformation initiatives in future. CVR enables enterprises to digitally transform using Agile methodologies and move towards a minimum viable product (MVP) within a few sprints instead of a big bang, multi-year, transformation exercise. This will prove modernisation value and generate immediate business benefits to modernise complex legacy applications.
Temus’s Cloud Value Realisation framework enables executives to transform legacy applications faster and provides business value even while the transformation is in progress. This allows enterprises to compete by leveraging the power of AWS managed services and new innovations thereby accelerating business growth.
-- Rajesh Rao, Managing Director, Technology, Temus
CVR starts with an assessment of legacy applications using a robust framework. It leverages Amazon Web Services (AWS) Migration Hub Strategy Recommendations (MHSR) to understand all applications in the enterprise. Enterprises normally have multiple silo applications in different departments to perform the same business functionality. A key aspect in an assessment is to consolidate the number of applications and rationalise the portfolio. Temus has witnessed application portfolios shrink by 40-50% after carrying out the assessment and rationalisation exercise.
The next step is to categorise applications based on various criteria such as ease of modernisation, business benefits generated and other criteria jointly defined before assessment. The Desirability, Viability, Feasibility (DVF) framework (Figure 1) is used in this exercise to derive a prioritisation matrix outlined below.
This is combined with the AWS 7R (Re-host, Re-platform, Re-factor/Re-architect, Re-purchase, Relocate, Retire and Retain) model to determine what should happen to various applications and identify the timeline for application modernisation.
A core part of CVR is to build a digital native infrastructure consisting of cloud, containers, DevSecOps, pipelines, automation, and Day 2 Run operations. Customers are very closely involved in this journey and can support management of the digital native infrastructure to prevent lock-in.
CVR leverages Agile sprints to execute the modernisation and deliver a modern cloud native architecture. This leads to higher business agility and innovation by using new technologies developed by the cloud native ecosystem.
There are two pathways to start modernisation: re-platforming, and re-factoring. You can refer to the decision matrix below to assess and find the recommended modernisation path for your applications based on your business requirements. You should consider making this decision on an application-by-application evaluation.
Not all businesses have access to the source code needed for re-factoring. In such cases, you can re-platform applications onto containers using AWS’ fully managed container services such as Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS). On the other hand, if you have access to the source code, you can re-factor your application code and run it on containers using the same container services like Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS, or run it on serverless services like AWS Lambda.
According to CNCF's report, 96% of organisations are either assessing or already utilising containers to modernise their infrastructure. The adoption of containers by customers is driven by the benefits of reduced risk, increased operational efficiency, faster deployment, and enhanced agility. Leveraging containers can also help in reducing the expenses associated with licensing (i.e. Windows) by consolidating servers and making more efficient use of computing resources.
Re-platforming your applications as containers will help you achieve your business objectives with less effort than re-factoring. AWS App2Container (A2C) can help to containerise applications to containers quickly. It is a command line tool to analyse .NET and Java applications, and generate a container image automatically with the necessary dependencies, network configurations, and deployment instructions. Furthermore, A2C does not require accessing source code for the application, enabling the containerisation of third-party and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) applications.
AWS offers two container orchestration services to deploy containerised applications: Amazon ECS for running and managing applications built using Docker containers, and Amazon EKS for running and managing Kubernetes applications on AWS. AWS Fargate is a serverless compute service that can power both Amazon EKS and Amazon ECS applications.
With A2C, it also creates CI/CD pipelines for Amazon DevOps services like AWS CodeBuild and AWS CodeDeploy for building and deploying containers. With CI/CD tools such as Azure DevOps and Jenkins, you can integrate A2C provided artifacts (e.g. dockerfiles, Amazon ECS task definitions, and Amazon EKS deployment YAML files) into your existing workflows.
Developing and setting up the infrastructure required for application re-factoring can be both expensive and time consuming. That's where AWS Migration Hub Refactor Spaces can help. It is specifically designed to assist customers in incrementally refactoring their existing applications, thereby enhancing business agility and reducing time-to-market.
The Strangler Fig pattern, introduced by Martin Fowler, is a design pattern used in software development to refactor monolithic applications to microservices-based architecture. This is based on the concept of a strangler fig tree, which is a type of tree that grows around another tree and eventually takes over it.
AWS Migration Hub Refactor Spaces adopts facilitate this strangler fig pattern to refactor monolithic applications to microservices-based architecture. It works by orchestrating Amazon API Gateway, API Gateway VPC links, Network Load Balancer, and resource-based AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies so that you can transparently add new services to the application’s HTTP endpoint.
If your application is running on .NET framework, AWS Microservice Extractor for .NET can help simplify the process of refactoring applications into smaller code projects to build a microservices-based architecture. It provides an assistive tool which analyses source code and runtime metrics of your target application, and creates a visual representation of your application and its dependencies. Microservice Extractor provides automated recommendations for microservice extraction based on machine learning. This guided experience helps the developer to speed up refactoring large applications even if the developer is unfamiliar with the codebase. The Microservice Extractor extracts functionality groups within the application as separate code projects that teams can develop, build, deploy, and operate independently to improve agility, uptime, and scalability.
There are also other tools like Porting Assistant for .NET and AWS Toolkit for .NET Refactoring that can help port .NET framework applications to modern .NET (.NET Core) where customers can take advantage of the performance, cost savings, and robust ecosystem of Linux. Refactoring .NET Framework applications to cross-platform .NET Core on Linux brings multiple benefits to businesses, which include saving Windows licensing costs, reducing container image size, faster startup time and gaining access to the latest advancements from the .NET community.
Another choice for building microservices-based architecture in the cloud is serverless functions. AWS Lambda lets you run code without the need for provisioning or managing servers. You can break down your application down into small, independent functions that can be deployed and scaled individually as needed. Unlike containers, Lambda functions do not run continuously and only incur charges when the functions are actively processing requests, making it a cost-effective solution for running microservices at scale. Additionally, Lambda functions can be easily integrated with other AWS services, making it simple to build complex, distributed applications.
AWS and Temus have partnered together to develop the CVR approach for modernising legacy applications. Two approaches, re-platforming and re-factoring have been discussed in detail and gives technology executives the flexibility to choose the best option based on impact to business, time, and cost. It is recommended to leverage AWS tools and managed services to accelerate the journey and rapidly create business value. This results in building a cloud native infrastructure leveraging containers, DevSecOps, agile methodologies, and fast implementation of new business innovations. This allows businesses to rapidly innovate and compete with digital native disrupters to grow using latest technologies.
Engage with Temus to learn more about our Modernization Programme to help accelerate your digital transformation journey.
Rajesh Rao is Managing Director of Technology for Temus and responsible for using technologies such as Cloud, AI, and Application Modernization to solve customer's business problems using digital transformation. He is also responsible for internal capability development and ensuring technology team continuously innovates using new solutions provided by hyperscalers.
Aaron Sim is a Senior Partner Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services in Singapore. He works with AWS partners to help migrate customers’ workloads to AWS Cloud, design and architect innovative solutions on AWS by applying AWS recommended best practices.
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