Cloud computing isn’t exactly new. It‘s origins date as far back as the 1960s, but few heard of it until 2010, when big tech companies, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, started their own cloud services. It wasn’t long before companies saw the benefits of moving their software and databases from in-house servers to offsite cloud datacenters.
Still, by 2019, roughly 90 percent of senior business leaders named cloud migration as a company priority, yet less than a quarter of companies had made significant progress on their cloud transformation journey. On average, those organizations had from 20 to 40 percent of their data on the cloud.
In the same vein, the adoption of microservices architecture has become more popular in the last few years. In fact, according to a 2018 survey, 63 percent of companies are opting to transition from monolithic to microservices architecture for scalability, agility, and cost-saving.
This article will touch on how COVID accelerated this transition to microservices and then dive deeper into how organizations can do it the easy way moving forward.
How COVID accelerated transition from monolithic to microservices timelines
In 2020, COVID-19 upended everything, including the way we do business. Overnight, online shopping turned from a convenience to a necessity. The deadly virus forced companies to send most of their employees home, where they work remotely. Even our doctor’s appointments went online.
At the same time, cyberattacks became far more commonplace. During the pandemic, ransomware, phishing, and other scams rose 400 percent as people were forced to use their own devices on their insecure home networks.
Suddenly, cloud migration went from near the top of enterprise wish lists to a priority. Post-pandemic, around 86 percent of companies, about double the pre-pandemic numbers, plan to move more than three-quarters of their apps and workloads to the cloud.
What is cloud computing
Cloud computing refers to the internet-based availability of computer services. Services might include customer service, networking, storage, and even servers.
Rather than store and run enterprise workloads and apps on-premises, cloud computing enables IT departments, employees, and customers remote access to computer functions and data.
Related: Why Legacy Application Modernization Is the New Buzzword
What is a monolithic to microservices transition?
Monolithic architecture, sometimes called a legacy platform, is a traditional unified model software program in a tightly-coupled architecture. Using the same backend codebase, several components are integrated into the program and onto a stand-alone platform.
Microservice architecture refers to a loosely-coupled system where each component works independently, as a suite of small services, but functions as a single cohesive app. Each service is independently deployable, fully automated, and built around an organization’s capabilities. Because each component functions separately, microservice architectures require very little centralized management and can be coded in different languages.
To transition from monolithic to microservices architecture, enterprises need to identify and decouple large, independent services before moving them to a cloud-native model.
Why transition from monolithic to microservices is critical
Monolithic architectures might have worked a decade or two ago, but the exponential growth of data has rendered monoliths expensive, insecure and obsolete. Experts predict that we’ll generate more data over the next three years than we had in the three decades before. In short, monolithic architecture wasn’t designed to keep up with the exponential data boom, but that isn’t the only benefit to a migration.
Reduction in cost
Because microservice cloud platforms aren’t tied to hardware, there’s no need to buy additional equipment as an enterprise grows, you can use the elasticity of the cloud to scale for you. The cloud frees up time for DevOps specialists and system administrators to focus on their daily demands instead of maintenance and updates. There’s no need to pay for the power that companies have no use for since clients pay as they go with cloud vendors. Organizations even save on significant electricity bills.
Microservice adopters save upwards a minimum of $300,000 – $500,000 for even the most basic application and much more for complex monoliths. For a typical project, that’s a savings of over $10M. This return on investment calculator demonstrates how your organization can save.
Scalability and agility
A cloud-based microservices architecture enables instant response time if there are fluctuations in demand. Unlike with monolithic platforms, there’s no need for additional hardware or increased IT staffing during busy times and no need to cut back during slower times. It’s all automatic.
Cloud microservices provide accelerated adaptation. Companies can adopt new and expanding technology as needed with little to no disruption.
According to Gartner, the average cost of network downtime is $5,600 per minute. A single hour of downtime, especially during a busy period, can easily cost a company more than $330,000. Instead of relying on monolithic architecture, cloud-based microservice architecture offers built-in redundancy. That means if there’s a weather occurrence or other natural disaster, an unexpected surge in traffic, human error, or a security breach, a network with built-in redundancy will automatically switch to other devices within the same network.
With a smart cloud migration strategy (more on that in a moment), the cloud can be much safer than legacy network systems. Cloud systems have a “shared responsibility” model, which means that both the client and the cloud provider are responsible for security. Most cloud providers, such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, have built their systems from the ground up, with security at the top of their priorities.
Better customer experience
Perhaps one of the least mentioned benefits to cloud computing is an improved customer experience. Customers can retrieve their records online, and even remote call center employees can access customer data. Because downtime is rare with cloud-based architecture, companies experience better customer satisfaction and retention.
With cloud networks, companies and systems can adapt almost immediately to the changing regulatory landscape.
Regardless of geographical location or even timezone, microservice cloud architecture lets both employees and customers log on at any time.
Applications and data are stored in offsite cloud servers, usually in areas not prone to disaster. Even if something were to happen to a company’s physical equipment, data and applications would be safe.
Three components of a transition from monolithic to microservices
Cloud migration is far more than just flipping a switch, which is one of the reasons few companies have completed their cloud migration journey. A transition from monolithic to microservice architecture requires a broader organizational commitment. Because no two businesses are alike, forgoing a clear assessment and strategy can lead to costly, confusing, and potentially devastating errors.
Learning and Assessment
Before attempting a cloud migration, a team should conduct a thorough data-driven assessment of your company and its needs. You may find that a hybrid approach, where some legacy applications remain, fits your business model better than a general approach.
Organizations should adopt DevOps methodologies and practices. DevOps refers to company culture, philosophy, and tools that improve an organization’s means of delivering services and applications at an accelerated pace compared to legacy infrastructures. DevOps requires training and organizational alignment.
A modernization hub and dashboard lets organizations of all sizes manage the transformation of hundreds of applications from a single focal point.
What an assessment looks like
● Define your business objectives – What are the main goals? Common goals are improved scalability, better remote collaboration, business agility, lowered costs, improved security, and enhanced failover capacity.
● Determine business transactions – Identify the end-users, transaction characteristics, and your company’s response time sensitivity.
● Inventory your current network – Take a thorough inventory of each piece of hardware, the operating system, tools, and applications currently being used.
● Use existing data to measure complexity across your network
Identify pain points
Before taking the next step toward a cloud migration, take an objective look at your company’s pain points. Is there something your competitors are doing better? Where can your technology be improved? Are there customer service issues?
Determine the budget
There are several benefits to cloud migration, including dramatic cost savings, but not all organizations can afford a full migration all at once. Some companies may find that hybrid or single cloud deployments, where some applications move to the cloud, meets their immediate needs while saving costs.
How to get from point A to point B
Getting from point A to point B on a monolith to microservices transformation is daunting without a clear roadmap. A well-executed transformation should meet the following criteria:
● Automation – Automation should be part of the cloud transformation from day one. With automation, it takes just hours to assess cloud readiness on all applications. When done manually, it can take months. Automation saves on costs, and it helps mitigate business disruption.
● Observability – Monitor and observe every application with tools like a modernization hub that makes each process repeatable.
● Continuous deployment – Once the tests are done, continuous deployment automatically deploys actions that used to be performed manually.
● Loosely coupled architecture – Automation propels the transition from tightly coupled monoliths to a loosely coupled microservice architecture.
A thorough strategy should include:
● Achievable timelines
● An understanding of cloud stack variables and dependencies
● Current cloud maturity
Related: Flip the Script on Lift-and-shift Modernization with Refactoring
What does a monolith to microservices transformation destination look like?
Once a transformation is complete, a monolithic architecture will have two features:
● Cloud-native platform – A monolithic architecture can cause downtime and other problems when it needs an update or repair. However, a cloud-native platform is resilient, agile, easily manageable, more secure, and more cost-effective.
● Stack – Unlike the wire “stack” racks of years past, a cloud-native stack application refers to a number of solutions within an architecture working in unison to achieve the user’s goal. A stack system includes hardware, software, and the physical architecture. A full stack includes servers, data, networking, load balancers, execution runtime, middleware, virtual machines, and the application. Because of its flexibility and scalability, the stack is the go-forward architectural platform.
Cloud migration strategies
Depending on budget and needs, cloud-ready organizations have several transformation strategies to choose from. In 2010, Gartner coined the “5 Rs” or the five ways to migrate to the cloud: rehost, refactor, revise, rebuild and retire. Today’s experts, depending upon whom you ask, add either one or two to that list.
● Rehost – Rehost, otherwise known as “lift and shift,” refers to the process of “lifting” applications and servers from their current hosting environments and “shifting” them to the cloud or a rehosting infrastructure.
● Replatform – A modified lift and shift is called a replatform. A replatform requires some modifications to the platform but not an entire transfer shift.
● Repurchase – Repurchasing is also called “drop and shop.” A repurchase cloud migration strategy refers to dropping part or all of the existing architecture and moving to new systems.
● Refactor – Refactoring refers to re-architecturing one or more services or applications. Refactoring manually has been resource-intensive; using automated tools solves that problem.
● Retain – With a typical hybrid approach, the organization retains the parts of the architecture that works for them.
● Rewrite – A monolithic application can become cloud-ready with rewriting, rebuilding, or re-architecting the current system. While these options save hardware costs, they require coding and are labor-intensive.
● Retire – Some companies choose to shut down the services and assets that no longer work for the organization. Shutting down applications requires constant supervision to ensure that the system doesn’t lose functionality.
Partner with the expert to simplify the transition
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Recognizing cost, time, and risk constraints associated with the manual modernization of business applications, vFunction delivers cloud-native modernization with a repeatable and scalable factory model.
See how leading companies around the world are experiencing a faster, more productive digital transformation. Request a demo to see how vFunction can help transform your architecture into a high-performance, modern, scalable cloud-native one.