The Lighthouse Podcast with Brecht Vancauwenberghe: “Application modernisation and differentiation go hand in hand.”


Migrating applications to the Cloud is one thing, but getting to the end of the process successfully is something else again. It’s a process that is fraught with pitfalls, many very well-known but some much less so. So what exactly are the things to look out for? We spoke with Brecht Vancauwenberghe, CloudFuel founder and Senior Azure Application Architect. 

Your company helps customers modernise their applications. How would you explain your approach to doing that? 

Brecht Vancauwenberghe (Founder & Solution Architect, CloudFuel): “Firstly, we look at the existing environment. What the on-premise software is, how we can modernise it and how to migrate it to Azure. What’s vital at this point is that there has to be a differentiator. Modernising applications without a differentiating factor is basically pointless. So application modernisation and differentiation go hand in hand.” 

Does that mean that migrating an application to the Cloud might not always be a good idea? 

Brecht: “Let’s just say that it’s not always necessary. We focus on the differentiation aspect. That’s something that requires a whole lot of work, but it’s where you can make a difference with PaaS services. It absolutely does not have to be a big bang or a complete rewrite. When we approach it with Azure PaaS services, we stay one step ahead and can even end up saving money.”  

What are the most common mistakes that are made during a migration process? 

Brecht“We very often see people falling into old habits, and doing the things they already know. Developers follow a fixed pattern when they approach a migration, one that fits their existing mindset. That’s mainly down to the lack of knowledge and expertise on finding the right match between application and the Cloud platform, that is, basically the components that need to be used. The sad thing is that so very often, we see the Cloud serving as nothing more than a data center. These days, the differentiation is much more about the proper use of PaaS services rather than in the infrastructure.”  

So you’re saying it’s all about working with the customer’s development teams? 

Brecht: “Exactly. Azure is a very broad and powerful platform, with tremendous functionality. Using it right requires knowledge and specialisation. CloudFuel has the capacity to support internal development teams. We make sure that they are using the right platform services.” 

Once an application has been migrated to the Cloud, is that all there is to it? 

Brecht: “You wouldn’t believe how common the assumption is that once something is in the Cloud, it’s automatically fine and is going to stay fine. It’s important to look beyond that, to focus on the availability and evolution of the solution and keeping it future-proof.  

You often hear that the Cloud is more like a garden; regular maintenance makes sure that everything stays nice and the whole thing remains under control. A garden that you neglect for too long means you have to basically cut it all down and start again, which obviously means higher costs. Making sure that a solution keeps evolving is something that’s inherent to the tech industry; so in that sense, the job is never done.”  

Here you’re talking primarily about the technical aspect. Are there also pitfalls on the business side? 

Brecht: “With on-premise software it’s clear who has the responsibility for what. You’ve got a system administrator, who’s in charge of the infrastructure, you’ve got application developers developing the software and making sure that it runs right. In the Cloud, responsibilities are more shared. That’s not meant to imply that the role of system administrator doesn’t exist there, but you see that it’s a different role. This is where it becomes the Azure governance aspect. The system administrator has the task of drawing the outlines of the frames within which the developers develop, without making any sacrifices in velocity.”  

“And of course, the tech landscape is always a rapidly changing landscape, very much influenced by new trends. We note that the business side often puts a lot of pressure on the development teams – they’ve got to get the job done on time, every time. That leaves them little to no room to experiment with new frameworks  and technologies. That’s a missed opportunity. And that’s where we as a partner can step in and give you the advice you need.” 

If you have a secure platform, does that automatically mean your processes are secure? 

Brecht: “It’s more or less impossible to get the same security levels for on-premise software as in the Cloud. There are plenty of PaaS services that relate to security – Azure Key Vault, to take one example – but whichever you use, of course you have to know how to use it right.” 

“We also see that security based on networking in the Cloud is becoming an increasingly important agenda item. Public PaaS services still have to be protected by default.  But that requires expertise and knowledge, and these are things that CloudFuel can help you with.” 

Did reading this interview give you any ideas? Are you getting curious about how CloudFuel can help your organisation or enterprise with a migration? Don’t hesitate to contact us – let’s start looking at the possibilities!