In the new normal, businesses need applications that are quick, work seamlessly from anywhere, support customers and employees no matter what network or device they use, and deliver intuitive and user-friendly experiences – all while keeping security front and center at any given moment.

To deliver this, organizations need their IT infrastructure and ecosystem to live and breathe on the cloud. The challenge, however, is rearchitecting legacy applications and preparing them to thrive in a modernized environment, living on the cloud or perhaps on the edge for use by an extended network.

A consumer goods conglomerate we work with had managed to stave off a move to the cloud while observing carefully. The group company’s lack of need to engage directly with customers in the past made it possible for its applications to live on premise. Yes, legacy applications were inefficient and resource-heavy but it was the default that the company was familiar with. In comparison, migrating to the cloud required optimizing their applications to become cloud-native which involved additional effort.

The client recognized that competitors and global leaders were moving to the cloud but weren’t in a hurry to make the move themselves. When they needed to refresh the technology environment recently, for example, their emphasis was on simply upgrading their data centers to meet current needs instead of using it as an opportunity to modernize their footprint and kickstart their migration to a cloud-first environment.

Our team understands the challenges that CIOs and leadership teams in such conglomerate organizations face; securing their buy-in for the migration often requires an equal measure of education, scenario simulation, and advisory/consulting. Truthfully, it’s not just the organization that needs to be motivated for the move – it’s the entire ecosystem, including individual companies in the group, its partners, distributors, and often even vendors.

We recognized and delivered the support they needed. Prior to taking even the first steps in the technology environment, the bulk of the initial work involved having these key conversations with stakeholders across the board. Once this was achieved, deploying the project using Cisco’s portfolio was easy thanks to the prior experience acquired by the team helping similar conglomerates make the switch to a more cloud-ready state in the near term, and possibly a cloud-native state in the future.

The cloud, after all, puts the conglomerate in a position to lead from the front – across its various companies and market segments. Once this state has been achieved, applications can be moved to the edge to support a wider use case, delivering more flexibility, improved security, better intelligence, seamless experiences, and more. Infrastructure and applications must be modernized simultaneously.

Cloud move tied to decision-making improvements

The mandate for the project was to modernize the organization’s infrastructure. The first step however involved assessing the applications it used and modernizing them.

The largest deployment across the conglomerate’s sites – and arguably the most important from a decision-making standpoint, was SAP, it’s enterprise resource planning tool.

One of the biggest challenges of relying on archaic infrastructure was that some applications and workloads were not configured in the best way possible – including SAP. The design flaws were so grave that they resulted in several challenges for decision-makers in the conglomerate company as well as managers in its various group businesses.

SAP, for example, pooled the information that flowed into the organization from various data streams. A report the tool generated provided great insights to the management, giving them visibility into their performance, state of operations, cash flows, inventory, demand, and so on – allowing them to make forward-looking projections and important decisions.

The report unfortunately took nearly 48 hours to generate given the inefficiencies of the legacy infrastructure as well as the flawed deployment, customizations, and so on. Being of great importance, users set the tool up to generate the report on a Friday night and hoped to see it on Monday morning. They, of course, couldn’t account for errors that would come up while they were away for the weekend and sometimes found that no report was produced as a result – making it difficult to plan for the week.

Thanks to the conglomerate’s decision to move to a modernized environment comprised of Cisco Hyperflex, Cisco Intersight, and a number of aligned solutions, this changed quickly.

Like any application moving to a modern, cloud-ready environment, SAP needed to be re-tuned for the migration, but the result was phenomenal for the organization.

The report that previously took nearly 48 hours now took no more than 90 minutes to generate. That served as immediate proof to stakeholders that they were on the right track and had made the right choice.

The success achieved with SAP doesn’t stop with that one report, it multiplies manifold. Not only can the team generate that report more often to get better, more frequent updates, but also generate other reports, accelerate data analysis to create more intelligence, and so on, in less time, with fewer resources, and with a better overall experience.

Other legacy applications that are migrated must also go through the re-tuning process. It’s necessary, and it’s an investment, not a cost. The returns, of course, speak for themselves.

There’s no doubt that the organization is on its way to building an architecture that scales horizontally to their own constituents as well as their critical stakeholders. It’s what will establish their future-forward state and prepare them for business in the new normal and beyond.

Their effort to modernize their infrastructure is a great step and puts the company in a position to leverage the cloud to make its applications quicker, easier to access, more secure, and offer a better experience overall. This was achieved – without interrupting business as usual – building confidence among leaders and managers in the organization and encouraging them to think about next steps in their ongoing journey to cloud maturity.