OpenGov’s Tech Day: Cloud Migration – What’s Next? From Migration to Transformation on November 7, at the Marina Mandarin Singapore focused on the topic of cloud migration.
Delegates from various government agencies attended the event and shared informative discussions and insights on the steps for moving forward from migrating to a cloud platform to optimising its applications and services.
The exclusive event was designed around three rounds of polling and gamification, and several insightful, interactive sessions from key cloud experts .
This OpenGov Tech Day deployed a cutting edge tool for the gamification rounds – the Surface Hub. An interactive touch-screen whiteboard, the Surface Hub allows delegates to input answers online in real-time.
Mohit Sagar, OpenGov Asia: Optimisation Follows Application Migration to Cloud
Migrating to cloud technology, it may be an unfamiliar process with the same questions: Where to start? What is needed? How does it work?
Helping delegates relate to, Mohit asked them to think about moving to a new house.
When moving houses, new items are purchased which need to be moved across places – making the process labour-intensive and time-consuming.
There may also be slip-ups along the way as well. Most of all, you might get it wrong.
The solution is not to avoid it.
Just like how you need a roof over your head, cloud migration is the “safe home”; housing and safekeeping all your data.
OpenGov and NCS had previously embarked on this topic during the 2018 OpenGov Tech Day event- Modernising Legacy Applications: Where do we start?. It had focused on the initial stages of the cloud migration journey; knowing your strategy for moving to cloud is the first step to it.
Once you have strategized, migration follows. Know what applications are to be moved and where. Now, the cloud platform becomes a host for your applications, you have finally moved into your new home.
But the journey does not end thereIn your new home, you will need to unpack your items and rearrange them – deciding where items are to be placed and how they are to be used. Optimising applications to operate in a cloud environment is key.
This is all very exciting and there might be the urge to get new items to add-on to what is already there. They may be wants, but not necessarily needs. Similarly, applications on cloud must be monitored before deciding on the best scaling that is needed.
Undergoing cloud-optimisation gives a similar experience to being in a circus. The nerve-breaking emotion that watching a tightrope-walking stunt gives, a similar fear of money being wasted may come across.
Illusionary acts may also give the impression that there are savings made. This will create excitement within and expectation to find savings.
At the end of it all, is the satisfaction of successfully optimising the apps in the cloud and getting the organisation fully operational.
All in all, it is a mission to be accomplished that needs to be driven by the mindset that agility and to be understood that applications on cloud are decoupled from the physical infrastructure.
Place in Cloud Migration Journey
Before diving into the transformation journey of cloud migration, a pit-stop was made to understand where government agencies are at.
There was a majority consensus that government agencies are comfortable with switching from “bring-your-own-license” software to an equivalent cloud service provider.
The most common timeline set for the switch over to cloud service provider services is set for more than 1 year.
Key Considerations of Cloud Service Providers
Migrating to cloud requires organisations to look at the key considerations for making use of cloud service providers.
The thought process on this was structured around the overall scenario of migrating to cloud, but merely only lifting and shifting applications onto cloud due to a strict timeline and now having to focus on optimising applications on cloud.
Data residency, though a key consideration to have, it is already a mandated standard for the cloud service to have a localised data storage, such that data resides only in Singapore.
When subscribing to cloud service providers there is a need to consider if the provider is based in Singapore. This is due to the necessity for regulatory compliance.
When picking cloud services, the SLA of the service, as well as the organisation’s architecture design, are taken into consideration, in the event the service is unavailable. While the cloud environment is often promoted to be highly available and elastic, It is also important to note that contingencies in processes and tools need to be designed to ensure recovery or tolerate faults.
But there is one consideration that trumps all – security.
Looking at every stage of cloud migration, safe access and security of the platform must be ensured. It has to be considered at every step of the way.
All in all, data residency and security take precedence overall.
But this all would not be possible without the organisation supporting these initiatives through mandates and funding. The support must be given to allow for seamless migration.
On top of that, assembling the correct people with the right skill set will further drive the cloud migration process.
Capabilities of Government Organisations
The next pit-stop was made to find out the capabilities of government agencies in optimising the cloud platform.
Most government agencies partially have the technical capability to redesign their applications in the cloud to be more cloud optimised.
Interestingly, many of them have the intention to experiment with new technologies, such as machine learning, but have yet to do so.
Designing New Application Architecture
For those providing e-services to their customers, deployment should be automated without having to disrupt live systems. E-services should be available to customers in the fastest turnaround time possible, which will be enabled through automated deployment services.
The system has to restructured to enable such automation. Putting the customer’s needs as a priority, there has to be a restructuring of the SLA accordingly.
Scalability is another key design feature to consider when designing applications to be migrated onto the cloud platform.
With governments increasingly looking into segregating confidential and non-confidential data, applications have to be designed according to how these two types of data can be accessed securely and quickly
Building systemic security into the application’s architecture is still key as it ensures that data is accessed and used in a safe manner.
Failure and/or unavailability of the connectivity should also be considered as part of the application architecture design. The design should ensure resilience and the ability to recover from failure through foreseeing continuity and failures.
Resources and Challenges
The final check was on the resources at hand and of the challenges faced by organisations. More than 20 of their applications require modernisation. This includes re-architecting to microservices.
The biggest challenge to achieving this would be teams lacking the relevant skillsets.
Moving Towards Microservices and Containers
There should be freedom for choosing the right technology for the job. Teams must be able to choose the preferred technology stacks based on technical or business requirements.
This comes along with the restructuring of the development team based on microservices boundaries. Retraining of the team may need to be done to ensure that that they are able to adopt the new platform of development.
The software, structure of the code, created for these microservices and containers represents the theme and structure of the organisation itself.
It is important to note at this juncture that using containers does not necessarily mean that you are secure. There are downsides to security standards when new components are being added to the architecture of the system.
Additional security applications are needed to ensure security enhancement, making use of the lightweight feature of the containers. This is imperative as with services being micro-contained, various entry points are created which may undermine the current level of security in place.
Looking at the big picture, governance is important for monitoring the applications and services.
Governance ensures the mandate of the architecture and the cohesion among the team for implementing it.
There has to be the proper delegation of services amongst people. Governance must strictly be in place to make sure that clear boundaries are drawn and followed.
It will also ensure the right approach to be taken for addressing the complexity of managing new technology components.
Summing it up, microservices allow for the experimentation of technology. If the service does not work anymore, it can be easily replaced.
So, What is Next?
It is important to look at the suitability of the application in transforming into microservices.
It should be identified of which applications should be moved into microservices.
If there is a need to constantly change applications due to business requirements, it should be done. But, of course, not all businesses need such constant adaption.
Customer-service experience is also a key factor to consider. Their experience satisfaction will determine how, and which applications are to be optimised on the cloud platform as well.
Cloud migration is a journey to be undertaken and will be a constant learning process along the way.
It may not be smooth, but the end goals of optimised processes and highly efficient customer-centric services will be effectively achieved.