The Application Baseline is a high level analysis of the current application landscape. It determines the span of the governance controls and scope for cloud migrations.
Which applications provide the organization a competitive advantage.
The application baseline should provide insight into:
- Which (bundles of) applications are part of the organization’s estate
- Which (bundles of) applications provide the organization with a competitive advantage (commodity vs competitive)
- Which (bundles of) applications are critical to the organizations mission (mission critical)
- Life Cycle status of (bundle of) applications
- Relationships between applications and dependence on middle ware
- Underlying infrastructure components and footprint
- Privacy and CIA classification of the applications (CIA= Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability)
- Identify (bundles of) applications that show potential for cloud
- Identify most important applications per business unit
Purpose of an application baseline
An essential part of being able to govern any IT environment and cloud migrations in particular, is the ability to understand the scope and complexity of the application landscape. Understanding which applications provide the organization with a competitive advantage and which applications support processes that are critical to the organization’s mission allows for prioritization and classification of the tactical cloud migrations. A priority of your cloud strategy may be to relieve the IT Operations Department from the burden of maintaining infrastructure for commodity applications. For more information on the cloud strategy of which the application baseline is an essential step; refer to the Cloud Strategy section .
A logical method for performing the application baseline involves a two-phased approach;
Scan 1: high level | high speed | low resolution
The first and initial scan of the application landscape should be performed at high speed and at a high abstraction level. Avoid details in this phase; the goal is to get a high level view and understanding. Identify bundles of applications that form logical groups; based on their architecture patterns or that belong to the same set of applications. Earmark those bundles of applications that show potential for cloud for review in the next phase.
A few type of tools that have proven to be of great use in this phase:
- Automated application discovery tools like AWS Application Discovery Service, Microsoft MAP tool, Cloudamize, etc. Use these tools to scan through the infrastructure and report on: infrastructure footprint, installed applications and inter-application relationships. This (non-intrusive) information gathering process produces standardized output that expedite the assessment.
- Electronic Questionnaires: SurveyMonkey alike tools that facilitate questioning a large group of application owners at once. Some analysis tools allow the application owner to update information about the application directly and hence contribute to the quality of the analysis.
- Other data sources: Information about sizing of infrastructure components can usually be extracted from the management control interfaces. For example: export sizing and allocation of the storage environment using the management interface, export a list of all Virtual Machines with its respective sizing using VMware vCenter tool or a third party extraction tool like RVtools.
Scan 2: low level | low speed | high resolution
The second phase of the scan involves a more detailed assessment of those (bundles of) applications that show great potential for cloud. A good practice in this phase is to perform detailed analysis workshops with the teams responsible for the applications. These workshops can be prepared by the assessment team by modelling the gathered information into an enterprise architecture methodology like Archimate. The goal of this detailed assessment is to determine how applications are constructed; which platforms and technologies they rely on and what the potential Strategic Drivers for a cloud migration are. Determine which components of the application have great potential for using cloud services (like managed components or Platform / Server-less components) and identify any roadblocks for the cloud migration like technology- or configuration choices that are not compatible with cloud.
Reporting on the application landscape
When reporting on the application landscape pay particular attention to the dominant platforms (like database platforms or application middle ware and programming platforms) and identify potential outliers on less modern technology platforms. What are the dominant technology choices in the application landscape and what is their potential cloud readiness. Furthermore a thorough understanding of which applications are used by which business department is important when determining the Migration Roadmap (see section XXX)
Application Assessment Canvas
The difference between a ‘good enough’ assessment and a ‘perfect’ assessment may be a matter of weeks or even months of work. Getting locked-down in the analysis phase (also known as Analysis Paralysis) is a true risk for any team performing such an assessment. Knowing when good is good enough might require standardizing the output and deliverables per bundle of applications. A particular strong way to standardize the output is the use of an Application Assessment Canvas. The Canvas is an instrument during the assessment that ensures that al vital information about the application is assessed and that irrelevant information is excluded. Use and modify this canvas at your own peril.