Application Modernization Assessments – Migrating to Microsoft 365

Watch, Read, or Listen to: Application Modernization Assessments – Migrating to Microsoft 365

In this Podcast, Application Modernization Assessments – Migrating to Microsoft 365, we discuss…

2:10Definitions: Modernization, Migration
2:13Rob’s blog post on When You Should Modernize an Application
5:10Main Objective of Modernization versus Migration
6:09Decreasing Risk
10:30Rencore Migration Tool
14:39Customization Assessment

Danny Ryan:It’s Tuesday, July 28th. And today I hand the reigns over to Pete Skelly to lead up the conversation with Chris Edwards about the Rencore tool set and how you can use the tool set in order to understand what you need to do to modernize your applications. I hope you enjoy.


Pete Skelly:Hello everybody. My name’s Pete Skelly, VP of Technology at ThreeWill. And this morning I’m taking over the podcast. And I’m here with Chris Edwards, our senior consultant and one of our resident migration and modernization experts. Morning, Chris.


Chris Edwards:Good morning. Glad to be here.


Pete Skelly:Other than the network quality issues today, hopefully we’ll be able to kind of get through this and have a little chat about application modernization and kind of moving to the cloud and Microsoft 365. So you’ve just kind of give us a little sense of some of the things you’ve done modernization wise and migration wise in the past, Chris. I know some of the things you’ve done, but it might be helpful to set the stage with why we’re going to talk about modernization.


Chris Edwards:Sure. So I’ve done a lot of work. We do a lot of things with Jive to SharePoint migrations, and so a lot of my recent experience has been more focused in on that. But I have done some other recent experience with customers that just really just want to optimize using their Office 365 environment. And we’ve seen folks that have actually started with their own environment, even kind of rolled out Office 365 and then found that they’ve made some mistakes and want to kind of revisit some things. So even starting out, sometimes folks just need to kind of reset, look at some of the best practices, really understand where they go wrong and what’s the best way to kind of handle that. So whether it’s dealing with migrating existing content or whether it’s we’re kind of restarting and doing things the right way, we’ve seen it all. So just to here to talk about some of those things, some of the tools that can be used to help identify the best way to move forward and be effective.


Pete Skelly:Maybe it’ll be good to start out with the definition of what modernizing is to us and what migration is to us. I think Rob Horton just published a blog post, I think late last week about when to modernize your application and what is application modernization. And I think his definition, I don’t know if it’s his specifically, but it certainly captures what modernization really is, kind of moving that business critical legacy application or system, kind of updating infrastructure, architecture, feature sets, et cetera. So it’s not just kind of a lift and shift migration just to us at least. And you can kind of put your spin on it. Migration to us usually means just kind of moving one part of the system to another part. So a lot of times customers will say it’s just migrating content.


The difference to us, I think, is modernizing means taking the opportunity to think about how to move from large and rigid to smaller and flexible. And a lot of those things in Microsoft 365, as far as the old world of deep site hierarchies to a flattened site collection hierarchy, moving to teams, moving to kind of a little more nimble services, that really is capturing what modernization is to us. And migration typically tends to be that kind of just pick up content and move it. And then the customizations typically have to be modernized. Would you kind of agree with that? Is that what you see on a regular basis?


Chris Edwards:Yeah, it’s become kind of more of the standard. I mean, it really, I think it’s more of a recent shift in the last year or so. We’ve kind of really shifted our focus, but to seeing the architecture, the things that are out there, people what people want. Going from just pure migration, taking content from one system and making it work and visible, usable in another system, that’s just one piece of the puzzle, right? It’s a much bigger thing. We talk about modernization. Migration and transformation is all part of that, but definitely taking the best of what was there in the past and bringing it up to, like the term says, modernization, bringing it into the modern world, right? Making it shine, making the content shine, making things work, taking advantage of all the Office 365 features that are out there and doing it in a way that’s best practices so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot, right? There’s rules you have to follow, and you want to make sure that you’re leveraging your investment in that platform effectively and really bringing something valuable to the enterprise.


Pete Skelly:What do you see as challenges for kind of what’s the main objective from modernization versus migration? Is migration just a simple, “Hey, let’s move this,” and modernization has a different kind of business value profile?


Chris Edwards:They’ve kind of blended together at this point. I mean, I can’t talk modernization really without migration where they kind of come, they are part of the same picture. It’s just it’s a deeper conversation, right? It’s taking the time to think, “How do we do this in a way that brings migration, [inaudible 00:05:45] to do things successfully, but also takes into factor all the different technologies that are out there?” How do we do this correctly? A lot of times we have multiple teams, multiple groups now that we’ve kind of engaged on these projects to think through this stuff properly. And it’s become kind of the norm in the past year or so…


Pete Skelly:Chris, one of the things that I encounter early on with customers is how different segments of the business… So executives want to know how do I manage my risk from a business perspective? You’ve got platform owners, depending on the size of the company, that are saying, “I have collaboration needs. I’ve got applications that I need to support and continue to support. And I may have SLAs.” And then there’s just the modernization effort that developers and architects have to go through. And I think one of the things we look to do is decrease people’s risk. Right? So one of the things that, as a consulting company, we really try to doing is managing risk and adding business value over time. Is that, in general, do you see that as something that we work towards, both in the migration and modernization space?


Chris Edwards:Absolutely. Yeah. We definitely want to look at the various business values that can be achieved and while we’re managing that risk things around application security, that’s always a big topic, dealing with who can do what. Governance and compliance, around things like making sure that things are created in a consistent way where we’re doing things according to best practices, as well as whether it’s industry best practices or whether it’s company best practices. We want to make sure that we are kind of leveraging that. And just general business risks, just things around companies, adoption, support, general, if there’s SLAs in place that companies have to support, making sure that we know we are aware of that, and we’re designing for that as well as just a general modernization risk itself. Are we estimating things correctly? Are we planning? Are we handling things in a way that it kind of exposes all the costs involved with modernization and allows that to come into play, but also make sure we stay on target with what we’re going after. So yeah. We get it from all those different sides.


Pete Skelly:Yeah. I think one of the things that we’ve heard recently and has been sort of in the news is SharePoint 2010 workflow requirements going away. And I think that’s one of the really big things as far as risk, helping folks manage that risk. That’s a great example of you may have a business critical process in that workflow, and it’s not just, you can’t migrate that. Right. You’ve got to modernize that. Kind of begs the question of what are the options for assessing and doing an assessment? If you’re going to have to modernize something like SharePoint 2010 workflows, or just workflows in general, or are you trying to upgrade and kind of move towards modern communication sites and those types. How are we doing that today? What are customers’ options today?


Chris Edwards:Yeah. I mean, some of the options, there’s quite a few out there. There’s some that we kind of lean towards though as best practice. So, I mean, from a customer perspective, I mean, you could always do some custom scripting, custom PowerShell, that sort of thing. That’s, to do an effective job there and it takes a lot of work, a lot of planning, a lot of basically building tools itself. So typically lean away from that. We can always supplement with custom scripting if we have very specific things we’re going after, we typically use that. But one of the main tools we’ve had to use in the past is the SMAT tool is actually an opensource tool that’s out there. It does a scan of your farm can do that and go through it. It’s more of a SharePoint analysis tool, right? It goes through and digs down into SharePoint and produces multiple outputs, multiple files that can be used to do some deep analysis. So very, very good.


We also lately have been using the Rencore Migration tool. It is actually a really nice tool for being able to point to a farm and quickly give you some visual kind of representation of what your farm is made up of, what are some of the complexities, where the lift and shift opportunities versus where are the true deep dive opportunities that require planning, require modernization thought, kind of aligning with what you were talking about earlier with the workflows. How do we ferret out those types of things and say, “Okay, these things will not live forward. We have to do something about them.” Right. It’ll help find those things quickly.


Yeah. And there’s other tools besides the SMAT and Rencore. There’s SPDocKit. There’s the new PNP modernization scanner that’s out there. I haven’t done a whole lot of work with that one yet. I’m interested in checking that out in more detail. But so far the Rencore Migration tool is kind of my favorite one to look at it. I mean, it’s a quick visual, quick hit and visual, and also something very easy to share with other folks that may be not technical.


Pete Skelly:So would you say SMAT, I think one of the things we’ve run into is using SMAT and some of the other analysis tools just requires a significant amount of post-inventory analysis, right?


Chris Edwards:Oh yeah, definitely.


Pete Skelly:So our kind of gravitating towards Rencore and moving towards the modernization assessment from Rencore, that enables us to, I think you used the term point and shoot and get immediate analysis and kind of helping you target, okay, let’s build a plan for this. Let’s not spend, depending on the size of the farm, two weeks, three weeks plus trying to do all of the analysis and then even with SMAT and some of the modernization things, you’ve got to kind of dive deeper and Rencore just seems to give us that kind of immediate analysis, lets us give the information to executives in a way that says, “These are the things that are going to impact you.” Platform owners, developers, et cetera. Is that what we’ve seen?


Chris Edwards:Yeah. I mean, we try and take steps out of the mix that allow us to be more effective. Right. So having the SMAT tool is very valuable, very useful, but it does produce a lot of detail that it requires that extra layer, that extra step that someone has to say, “Okay, how do we interpret this detail? How do we present it to the business so that it makes sense?” What we like about the Rencore tool is that it kind of fills that gap a little closer. We can run it and we can actually show results visually and a little bit more kind of directly to the business owners. It takes that extra step, at least part of that extra step away. I mean, there’s still deep dives that we have to do, but it smooths that out a little bit. It makes us more productive.


Pete Skelly:Yeah. I always think of every time I hear customers say, “Well, we just start to get into the assessment of the inventory.” I think SMAT sort of begs the question always of, “Well, yes, I know there are web parts or [inaudible 00:14:02] parts, or I know there’s workflows.” But we, given just SMAT or given even some of the other tools, outputs, we don’t get as deep as we get with Rencore. Right. So Rencore is at least going to tell us, “Hey, that, yes, you have the web parts, but you also have code that’s a risk from an application security perspective or you’re not following best practices or you’re going to have performance issues or you really need to modernize this. You’re using event receivers or timer jobs or things that just aren’t even possible and need to be redesigned and rearchitected before we move.”


I think for early conversations, a lot of what I end up talking about with customers is content planning versus customization planning. And content planning can be relatively easy. There’s a mapping exercise. We’re going to transform the content. And we’re kind of just, we’re migrating content. I think the customization assesses some of the real complexities trying to figure out, well, what needs to be rearchitected? How long is this going to take? What kind of business investment are you going to have to make? And what are the risks you’re going to have to manage?


Chris Edwards:Absolutely. I mean, you can think of, that you want to get that information as quickly as possible because each one of those little modernization opportunities where you find a workflow that’s not going to transition over or the event receiver is not going to transition over. Those are little mini apps within themselves. They can almost turn into little mini projects in themselves to deal with. So we want to find those things quickly. We want to understand them. We want to put some boundaries around them quickly and not spend a ton of time just trying to understand what’s really there. We want to be able to get that information, share it, and actually be able to put estimates around, “Okay, what’s it going to take to move this stuff over?”


Is it valuable? Do you even care about this anymore? Is it valuable? Is it something, what’s the priority within itself? Okay. We may have to workflow. We may also have the script editors out there. What’s the higher priority? We can have those conversations earlier and get that stuff and really do the due diligence necessary to make sure we’re prioritizing, building a backlog going after the stuff that’s really high value for a customer. So that’s all part of modernization and migration’s big piece of it. But all of the stuff I just described is also elements of parts to it as well. So yeah.


Pete Skelly:Yeah. That’s one thing I think, from a planning perspective, customers often will ask, “Well, how are we going to train users? What are we going to do for adoption and change management?” I think that’s one of the best things that comes out of an assessment for us is figuring out those kind of just a rough cut, initial roadmap to say, “Here’s your simple things that we could migrate content very quickly. Here’s the moderately complex things. We might have to write some custom code for some sort of simple app that they had in JavaScript.” But then you get into some of the more complex things. And we may have to reengineer, rearchitect and redevelop. And those take a lot of management, change management and [inaudible 00:17:16] management. From a modernization perspective, if you had to put kind of one thing and just one way to describe why we’re kind of gravitating towards Rencore to do some of these assessments, what would you say it is? What’s the top thing on your mind?


Chris Edwards:It’s just the immediate, you basically can point to the environment, to the farm and basically get immediate results that are kind of demonstratable to the business. You don’t have to do the extra layer of digging. We will obviously to do that, but it’s immediately valuable and it can be shared. That’s why.


Pete Skelly:Yeah. I think, to wrap up some of the things that I think Rob’s blog post captures really nicely is if your application’s still valuable or if your intranet, so to speak, is still valuable, taking the time to do the assessment, figuring out, “Well, what can I do to kind of make the transition for my users very smooth and how do I manage the risk associated with some of my business critical applications?” And risk comes in not just while we’re moving it, right? You’ve got adoption and change management. Like I said, you’ve got code quality. If you’re going from on premises to the cloud, you’ve got concerns about injection attacks, you’ve got different attack surfaces.


So coming up with ways to handle all of that, to me, it boils down to risk management. I think that’s one of the biggest things from a modernization assessment across the board is why they are so valuable. And then they come up with really clear plans on how to make sure that customers maintain value for the investments they’ve made, whether that’s converting something, whether that’s a simple migration, whatever the case may be.


Wanted to keep it kind of short and sweet. Thanks for joining me today, Chris.


Chris Edwards:Absolutely.


Pete Skelly:And have a great week, everyone.


Danny RyanThank you for listening to the Work Together Better Podcast. We’re available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If you’re looking for a partner to help you craft a modern digital workplace in the Microsoft Cloud, please come by and see us That’s the number three spelled out Thank you and have a great day.



Danny RyanApplication Modernization Assessments – Migrating to Microsoft 365

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.