How to Prepare for a Painless Cloud Migration

Are your fears of cloud migration keeping you awake at night? Rest well, my friend. When done properly, migrating digital assets to the cloud can be much easier than you believe.


Few IT project obstacles are more daunting than a full-fledged cloud migration. Fortunately, with careful planning, a cloud migration can be completed successfully and with minimal effort and disruption.


Organizations’ approaches to mass cloud migrations are rapidly evolving. “Methodical and strategic modernizations have supplanted the expedited ‘lift and shift’ strategy,” according to Alicia Johnson, consulting principal, technology transformation, at professional services firm EY.


The ability to compete at today’s required local and global speeds continues to be a motivating factor for businesses moving to the cloud. For enterprises seeking agility gains through cloud computing, Johnson observes that a transformation of the operating model is frequently required to maximise cloud benefits. “Organisations that optimise their product operating models and transform the way they work and operate frequently reap the greatest benefits,” she adds.


The Initial Stages of Cloud Migration

When planning a cloud migration, it’s critical to collaborate closely with senior management, the entire IT team, and the employees who will be directly impacted, according to Jeremy Rambarran, cloud solutions manager at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine and adjunct professor at Touro College Graduate School of Technology. “Senior management must be aware of the significant changes occurring in their technical infrastructure and be willing to allocate the funds required to migrate internal assets and data to the cloud,” he adds.


Before planning can begin, several critical questions must be addressed, according to Lee Voigt, a principal with audit, tax, and consulting services provider RSM US. “How come you’re moving to the cloud?” How would you describe your ultimate cloud play? What are your primary cloud-related expectations? How have you addressed the technical competency gap in cloud computing? What is your business application strategy? How are you going to manage your cloud assets once they are established?” Identifying and resolving these questions, as well as any others that may arise during the planning process, will assist in ensuring a painless cloud migration, he notes.


Cloud migration should never be approached solely as a technical endeavour. “When this occurs, the divide between business and IT frequently widens,” warns Cindi Howson, chief data strategy officer at ThoughtSpot, a provider of business intelligence analytics software. Without demonstrable business benefits, infrastructure modernization is rarely successful. “To fully realise the benefits of cloud computing, business stakeholders must ensure that cloud migrations result in tangible business impact,” she says.


Points of Planning for Migration

Consider the big picture but begin small, Howson advises. Begin with a single use case that is both valuable and simple, she suggests. “Use this as a teaching opportunity to demonstrate how the cloud will affect technology, people, and processes.”


Johnson asserts that business and engineering groups should collaborate as a single unit. When the cloud is viewed solely as an IT endeavour, it can stifle innovation and frequently fails to deliver new capabilities. “Organisations that optimise their product operating models and transform the way they work and operate frequently reap the greatest benefits,” she notes.


Avoiding Common Cloud Migration Errors

When organisations plan a cloud migration, the most common mistake they make is failing to achieve their desired outcomes or even meeting their minimum requirements. “When an organisation does not spend enough time plotting out their desired outcomes, they frequently end up implementing a first-phase cloud for a single workload that must be rebuilt completely when subsequent workloads are plotted for migration,” Voigt says. “When an organisation does not devote sufficient time to capturing its minimum requirements, adoption suffers as a result of the migration’s adverse impact on internal and external customers.”


Another cloud migration blunder is believing that once digital assets are moved to the cloud, operational costs will immediately decrease. “As you migrate to the cloud, your electrical and cooling costs will gradually decrease as more servers and storage are moved to the online environment,” Rambarran explains. “This will eventually result in lower operational costs for your organisation, as you will be utilising the cloud provider’s hardware for your hosted solutions.” Simply put, do not expect change to occur overnight.


Another potentially costly error is assuming that the cloud provider will always backup and secure data. This is not always the case, as providers are just as vulnerable to attack as any other enterprise, if not more so, given their data-rich nature. Rambarran advises enterprises to safeguard their data with additional firewalls and other robust security measures.


Takeaways from Cloud Migration

The planning stage is only a portion of the migration process. The remaining components, according to Howson, are culture, people, change management, and process. “Throwing new technology at employees without providing adequate time and training for them to adapt and learn new skills and processes is ineffective,” she cautions. “CTOs, CIOs, CDOs, and [other] organisational leaders must also develop a strategy for upskilling employees to fully leverage new technology,” Howson explains.

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