NetApp has been in business for over 25 years, long before the Internet became popular and cloud-aware application architecture came into existence.  Many of our enterprise applications at NetApp are customized from their original form with spaghetti-like integration points and add-ons.  These complex, heavily customized apps complicate business processes, increase operational costs, magnify security exposures, and reduce our IT agility.  We must simplify our enterprise application portfolio by consolidating onto major platforms and maintaining a deliberate hybrid cloud evolution to decide what goes cloud and what stays home.


As a first step to simplify our enterprise business application portfolio, we identified all apps that are potentially cloud eligible. We filtered out any IT (homegrown) monitoring tool and any R&D app managed by our sister Engineering team at NetApp. It is also not necessary to analyze our major applications or core platforms that have existing cloud roadmaps like HR and CRM/Field Sales.


The next step assessed each in-scope application for business value and technology risk/effectiveness based on Gartner’s TIME model:  Tolerate, Invest, Migrate and Eliminate.

  • “Tolerate” applications represent an existing valid business process within NetApp that cannot be eliminated, but also does not require an incremental investment. These applications will be tolerated; they will continue to run, and IT will continue to maintain them.  Approximately 27% of our enterprise apps were categorized as Tolerate.
  • Eliminate” applications represent a business process that isn’t valuable to NetApp anymore. They may be old and/or unsupported, allowing us to sunset the application and free up resources. Eliminating applications is easier said than done, as business leaders still using the apps must be consulted first. Less than 5% were identified as Eliminate.
  • “Migrate” applications represent valid business processes that are needed at NetApp, but the apps that automate them may be old, unsupported, or operating on end-of-life infrastructure. These applications require an investment to migrate functionality to a different application. About 32% of our applications have functionality that can be migrated to another app.
  • “Invest-strategic” applications represent good business processes running on good applications and good platforms. The IT team aims to do more with apps that fall into this category to deploy new capabilities or enhance current functionality.  Roughly 36% fell into this category.

Our TIME evaluation, performed in conjunction with the business, led the team to define how to evolve our hybrid cloud and set a vision for our Next Generation Data Center (NGDC). This is especially true when looking at those applications that fall into the “invest” (strategic) and “migrate” categories. In the two right quadrants, 70% of the applications will move to Software as a Service (SaaS) providers as we recognize it’s best to rent commodity software for things like email, collaboration, ERP, and CRM.


The other 30% of our enterprise apps are going to the NGDC which involves cloud providers like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and private cloud. These apps must be cloud aware, i.e. stateless, dynamic, microservices-based, and created using DevOps and CI/CD delivery models in a software-controlled and orchestrated hybrid cloud ecosystem.  [More on this in the next blog of this NetApp IT series.]


By completing this 4-quadrant application rationalization, we can now evolve our hybrid cloud and continue with our cloud first strategy.  It validates that SaaS is the right solution for commodity services like payroll and benefits, and perhaps even for some systems of record apps like finance and revenue recognition. NGDC will come into play for those applications that differentiate and give NetApp a competitive advantage while our traditional, brick-and-mortar data centers will host the tolerate applications.


At NetApp we are not just fork-lifting our business enterprise applications from our traditional data center into a cloud. We are taking the time to do an application rationalization, to build a proper supporting ecosystem, and to ensure our apps are deployed to the appropriate environment.


“Building a Cloud Aware Enterprise” is a series of blogs on how NetApp IT is making meaningful changes to evolve their hybrid cloud and move from traditional IT infrastructure toward next generation data centers. This series will cover not only the technology involved, but the people and process components to ensure IT’s success. 

Rajesh Shriyan

Rajesh Shriyan is the Director of IT Enterprise Architecture at NetApp. Rajesh and his team work with NetApp’s business teams to ensure application capability in the enterprise and map applications to these capabilities. They help determine how an organization can most effectively achieve its current and future objectives.

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