There are many reasons for companies to adopt the cloud. However, cloud services might not be a viable solution for your business and/or there may be stumbling blocks that might derail migration to the cloud.
We’ve talked previously about the reasons why cloud projects fail and also situations where the cloud may not offer a better solution. So, let’s take a look at how you should go about charting your migration to the cloud.
Step 1: Start with a Business Analysis
We often hear people talk about “the cloud” as if it’s a singular thing. But as you know, it is not. The cloud covers a number of technologies and capabilities, as we discussed in a previous post, “Ways the Cloud Tackles Business Challenges Head On.”
Before any technology discussion begins, you need to clearly understand the business issues that are driving you to consider the cloud. Are you looking to cut application costs, or run existing apps faster?
Do you want to deploy brand new applications, perhaps with increased resilience? Are you expecting significant business growth, or an acquisition, and need to scale your operations? Or perhaps you’re looking for a business continuity solution?
Whatever your situation, be sure to define your expectations for cost and performance, and profile your applications including transactions, data volumes, and other resources — for today and for the foreseeable future. Importantly, make sure you know what service level metrics are expected.
Once you’ve completed your analysis, be sure that your communicate cloud basics and the benefits you are projecting.
Step 2: (Truly) Understand Your Costs
Cost control is high on everyone’s list of business drivers, and cost savings are frequently cited as a key benefit of public AND private cloud implementations. Probably the most often cited way that cloud solutions save money is the elimination of physical infrastructure. But there will also be costs involved with going to the cloud.
You will almost certainly have some level of parallel running and onboarding costs, as you spool up your cloud operations, set up apps, move data, and test your applications. On the flip side, you’ll have the costs associated with running down your legacy operations, probably decommissioning hardware and terminating software licenses. And, of course, your IT staff will be impacted — through reassignment, retraining, and possibly even layoffs.
Beyond the migration, get a good handle on your ongoing costs for new cloud operations, especially if you expect strong business growth. Make sure that you identify any pricing tiers that might push your costs over a cliff.
Step 3: Assess the Apps to Migrate
You should perform a portfolio analysis of your applications to decide which applications can be migrated to the cloud and which would need to be re-engineered or replaced. If you are running licensed software, are there cloud-based versions you could move to? For example, Google G Suite or Microsoft Office 365?
If you’re considering moving a significant portion of your work, then prioritize your apps according to complexity, mission-criticality, and cloud readiness. Identify applications that have workload peaks and valleys, which can take advantage of the cloud’s ability to scale up and down!
Although many of your apps may be cloud-ready, don’t assume that “lift and shift” is always the right migration approach. You may be better served to re-engineer an application to take advantage of cloud capabilities.
Migration can be a risky process, so plan to start with some easy ones, getting your act together, before you move on to mission-critical applications. And if you’re implementing a business continuity/disaster recovery solution, make sure that you look at both sides of the event, both backup AND restore/recovery.
Step 4: Create an Education Program
You might think that the next step should be something associated with the actual work of migration. The reality, though, is that you need to educate every shareholder from leadership, to support staff, to those actually performing the migration.
Very few really understand the entire range of cloud technologies and what they can do. For that reason, we used the word education, rather than training because you will need to bring people — executives, IT staff, and users — up to speed about the cloud, its benefits, and how it will impact the organization.
And of course, don’t forget you also might need to provide training for the people who will be involved in the migration planning, execution, and testing.
The decision, as to what you move to the cloud and how, must come as a result of careful analysis and planning, all driven by business imperatives. With deliberate planning and consideration, the chances of a successful migration to the cloud will increase.