Cloud computing is quickly becoming the leading technology solution for the enterprise. Analyst firm IDC predicts that by 2020, 60 percent of all IT expenditure will be cloud-based. Even if they haven’t deliberately implemented it yet, most businesses will already use some cloud software.
There isn’t a singular destination to the cloud, each business takes a unique route. In order to have a successful journey to the cloud, there are five key steps a business should follow:
Step 1: Find your North Star
The most vital element of a cloud migration strategy is to understand the key business drivers. This could be anything from capacity needs, security or software end of support. Assess, migrate, optimize: this is the basis for the journey to the cloud. Consider:
- Who is leading the journey? The IT team will have different priorities and insight from the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Sales Officer.
- What existing cloud applications are being used? What Shadow IT has crept in?
- Hybrid, or full cloud? In order to get to full cloud, you have to start with hybrid. What are the reasons behind the need to move to full cloud? Is cloud really the right destination for all your workloads?
- Who will be in charge of the migration? Do they have the skills to progress through the whole journey?
In answering these questions, and fully assessing the business needs for migration, it will enable the company to create sound, solid business objectives that act as the North Star for the whole project.
Step 2: Explore the drivers
The drivers are complex. No company has a simple approach. Many start the journey before they realize it with SaaS applications. The drivers could be any of the following:
- Datacenter contracts
- Datacenter locations and/or need for data sovereignty
- Urgent capacity needs
- Software or hardware refresh
- Application innovation
- Software end of support
- Latency issues
By doing a full assessment, then exploring, examining and pulling apart the drivers, the person leading the cloud journey should be able to keep the company on track to its North Star.
Step 3: Ignore the people factor at your own risk
Alongside technology, people are at the heart of any transformation. With any significant change you will encounter naysayers. There are lots of points of view to consider. This is where the cloud journey leader needs to take charge and do so with the backing of senior management. Putting in place some simple steps will go a long way to smoothing the path forward:
- Develop a cloud development advocate program to bring stakeholderson-board with the businesses journey
- Have a clear case for change (see Step 1 and Step 2 above)
- Inventory the various objections and explore responses
- Employ a transparent communications approach, keeping everyone involved up-to-date with progress, unexpected challenges and milestones of the project.
Having the right people involved is a vital component to a successful journey as well as ensuring all stakeholders are heard.
Step 4: Consider the SixRs
Once the drivers are defined and the concerns have been addressed, it’s time to decide on the type of journey the business wants to embark on. As originally introduced by Gartner in 2011 and more recently revised by Amazon Web Services (AWS), here are the six basic approaches to cloud migration:
- Rehost – Lift and shift. Meaning no changesor significant optimizations
- Replatform – Lift, tinker and shift. This can involve making some adjustments in order to take advantage of PaaS services available in the major cloud platforms
- Refactor –Re-imagining how an application is architected and developed using cloud-native features. It is typically driven by a strong business need to add features, scale or performance that would otherwise be difficult to achieve in the application’s existing environment
- Retire — Eliminate. It’s estimated that as much as 10 percent of an enterprise IT portfolio is no longer useful and can simply be turned off.
- Repurchase –Replace existing applications with SaaS. This avoids development costs, but can mean vendor lock in and issues accessing data
- Retain — Do nothing (for now). A company should only migrate what makes sense for the business
Step 5: How to migrate with confidence
The biggest step is the first one: understand the business objectives fully. Decide on your North Star and this will keep you on track throughout the whole process.
What’s next on the journey?
Cloud computing is coming for every business– if it hasn’t happened already. There isn’t a ‘copy and paste’ approach which will work for all businesses. Each business’ journey to the cloud will be determined by their unique position, existing adoption levels and appetite for change. The most important thing is to identify and understand the North Star – success should be pinned against this.