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Migrating to the Cloud: Managed Providers Quest for Uniformity

Join IBM cloud CTO Mac Devine and Appzero on cloud migration: automate on-boarding of complex apps

One of my favorite jobs was working in corporate development and looking at companies to acquire back at Progress Software. We had a couple hundred million in the bank, low single digit organic growth, margins expanding from 20% by 2 or 3% per year, and had gotten addicted to buying top line revenue to "juice" our top line.

Corporate development got to go shopping for acquisitions, meeting with tons of small to medium sized companies to find the next one that met our model and fit our strategy. We called the activity around this shopping "kissing frogs" and "turning over rocks."  When we found a live one, I would:

a.  vet them

b.  buy them,  and

c.  run like hell - far away from the integration team.

Why run?  Because no matter how diligently one does due diligence, there is always a difference between the "story" (business-as-promised) and the "install" (business-as-practiced). Once the board signed off on the company's proposition, value, and financials, the hard work of learning how to productively "live together" began - and the age-old difference between selling and installing quickly became apparent.

No matter how hard you squinted, few of the companies we talked with were going to turn into a prince and dramatically change the vector of the company. Realistically, everyone knows that most deals fail to meet expectations. (At Progress we batted about 400.)

Here's how it works with managed providers on the story-sell-install timeline:

The Story: Dear CIO; as your provider, we can run and manage the operational part of your data center more efficiently than you can. Afterall, we have efficiencies of scale, proven superior best practices, and there will be a "clean" line of demarcation between the app that performs the business function and the pesky infrastructure that makes the apps run. We will modernize your aging data center, move "your mess" and run it for "less." This arrangement will save you money, free your folks to focus on your ‘core competencies' of providing what the business needs, and we will provide you with better SLAs because we are experts.

The Sell: What's not to love about that story? The strategic rationale is clear (focus on the business) and the financial model is one my mother could understand (it's cheaper). Oh sure, yeah there was a bit of heart burn about taking way loyal-employee-#25's  badge and making him an employee of our new partner Mr. Service Provider. But, in the end, it makes great business sense. So, the deal flies through all the committees and gets signed off by the board.

The install: Here's where it all starts to go downhill. Where selling and installing meet. How do all those legacy applications get transformed into the brave new world? Answer: They don't. They get "temporarily" moved -- lock, stock, and barrel with their existing infrastructures - along with the promise that they will be modernized later. Much later. .. because that transformation is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and expensive. In order to run as efficiently as possible, the MSP quest is to have all the apps on a uniform operating stack (hardware, OS, patch level, security, monitoring, back-up, etc). One-offs mean diversity and diversity destroys margins.

Normally, MSPs are faced with a long, linear, labor-intensive effort to move an application that includes 1) capture, 2) extract, 3) operation-alize and then 4) transform. The linear approach takes a long period of time with no assurance that transformation will ever occur.  There are few tools that automate the process and it's tedious as well as error-prone.

appzero is making that approach obsolete with a product designed specifically for easy, flexible extraction and transformation of applications. Extraction and transformation occur simultaneously with delivery to operations. The MSP does the transformation concurrently with the extraction.

Consider this analogy: Before ETL tools existed, companies would dump a DB to a spreadsheet. It would be up to a person to manually de-dup, clean, augment, validate, and then reload into the data warehouse. When ETL came along, it sent this approach back to the Stone Age for all but the tiniest of companies. Today, appzero is the ETL equivalent when it comes to moving applications from data center to MSP, or cloud. Swift and efficient.

The appzeo approach of transforming an application during the move guarantees that the applications are running on an operations stack that is homogenous, uniform and consistent. And there you have your competitive advantage. A clean match between "the story" and the "install" means good-bye to one-off margin-destroying diversity and hello to robust, predictable profit margins.

Join me and IBM cloud CTO Mac Devine - as we do a show and tell webinar.

Cloud migration automation; on-board complex enterprise applications

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me @gregoryjoconnor or us @appzero_inc.

Register to attend: "Cloud migration: automate on-boarding of complex apps"  Moving production applications to the cloud doesn't have to take heavy lifting. Join IBM Cloud CTO Mac Devine and AppZero CEO Greg O'Connor as they demonstrate the automation of migrating production applications to any cloud.  Find out how to on-board complex enterprise applications unattended. Join us Thurs, Mar 29th @ 1pm EDT register now>>

More Stories By Greg O'Connor

Greg O'Connor is President & CEO of AppZero. Pioneering the Virtual Application Appliance approach to simplifying application-lifecycle management, he is responsible for translating Appzero's vision into strategic business objectives and financial results.

O'Connor has over 25 years of management and technical experience in the computer industry. He was founder and president of Sonic Software, acquired in 2005 by Progress Software (PRGS). There he grew the company from concept to over $40 million in revenue.

At Sonic, he evangelized and created the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) product category, which is generally accepted today as the foundation for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Follow him on Twitter @gregoryjoconnor.

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