AWS Public Sector Blog

Focus First: “How” and “Where” to Start Application Migration

A guest post by Brendan Walsh, Senior Vice President, Partner Relations, 1901 Group

As federal fiscal year 2018 comes to an end and with budgets to spend and IT plans in place for 2019, the questions of “how and where do we start migrating mission-critical applications to the cloud?” still loom on many federal IT executives.

Even with funding available and the need for IT modernization, these questions are tough because mission-critical applications often have substantial system entanglement challenges, inter-agency workflows, software-license restrictions, proprietary platform and vendor lock-in issues, and complicated budget constraints.

However, one federal law enforcement agency has overcome these challenges by using a planning, assessment, and categorization approach for application migration that leads to a Firm Fixed Price Migration (FFPM) model with an established budget and plan.

“As our enterprise IT progresses from the AS IS towards the desired future TO BE state, being able to categorize and classify legacy applications using a fixed price migration model provides the agency with flexibility to move incrementally and manage risk. Success breeds success, so focusing on specific application profiles is an important step.”   – Agency Program Manager

Leveraging proven best practices and frameworks such as the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF), and innovative fixed-price contract line item numbers (CLINs), the agency used the FFPM to assign each mission application to one of the following six categories:

  1. Retire – not cloud applicable
  2. Retain – not cloud applicable
  3. Rehost – lift and shift
  4. Re-platform – lift and reshape
  5. Refactor – reshape and decouple
  6. Rewrite – complete rewrite

Assumptions to labor and technology costs were categorized under three classifications: Simple, Moderate, or Complex.


Using this classification methodology, the FFPM model’s assessment resulted in an application portfolio matrix, which highlighted 14 applications as Rehost Simple or Moderate, six applications as Replatform Simple or Moderate, and another 30 applications profiled as more complex requiring substantial code rewriting and/or data decoupling.

By focusing first on the shortlist of less complicated applications, the agency was able to establish their budget and plan to start their mission application migration to AWS, which helped answer “how” and “where” to start.

While the FFPM model provides answers to “how” and “where” to start, these answers also give agency executives quantifiable scopes of work that can be funded and completed expeditiously, delivering tangible proof-points of cloud migration progress and success using federal fiscal year-end monies or future budgets.

For more information on how to buy for federal year-end, visit here.