Avoiding the pitfalls of a cloud migration

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As we move into the “Late Majority” phase of Cloud adoption (see Everett Rogers’ Theory of Diffusion Scale) many organizations find themselves struggling to make the jump from a few dispersed Cloud applications, to a fully integrated Cloud solution.

A common difficulty is starting the process of planning the migration and then successfully integrating a seamless cloud solution across multiple lines of your business.

As with most underlying business challenges — the pressure to quickly innovate can often push organizations to adopt new technology without a clear long-term strategy.

This is especially problematic in IT where an under-defined project or flawed migration can lead to performance problems, downstream issues, and escalating costs. As with most IT projects, taking a strategic, holistic approach to your Cloud migration will alleviate these challenges.

Here are five crucial steps to help your company navigate the transition and utilize the Cloud for the continued growth of your business:

1. Define Why… Why Move to the Cloud?

“Why?” It is the first question you should ask, and you must go deeper than the simple issues like cost reduction or accessibility. Leadership must get past the technical benefits and take a more holistic look at why the Cloud matters for them.

  • What technology problems are you trying to solve with the Cloud?
  • How will the Cloud support your short and long-term business goals?
  • Can a move to the Cloud have a positive impact on your ability to compete?

Gaining a full understanding of the issues will be key to maximizing the value of the technology. Bypass this critical step and you may solve an isolated problem without gaining any major operational advantages.

2. Assess your environment and select workloads

Introspection doesn’t end at “why”. After you establish clear goals, you must then analyze your computing environment with those goals in mind. Consider how a cloud migration might alter user behaviors, and be mindful of these changes as you plan your migration.

The workflows that intersect your various applications and services are critical to the performance of your business. Precisely understanding how these applications interact with one another should guide your implementation.

3. Migrate

You’ve done your internal analysis. Now it is time to develop a project plan and take action.

There are many moving parts involved in a cloud migration, but the strategic work done in planning for the transition pays off when it comes time to put those tactics into action.

Keep the below four points top of mind when creating your project plan:

  • The “five P’s” (proper planning prevents poor performance) – A certified Project Management Professional (PMP) should oversee your migration. This is the difference between success and failure.
  • The service provider – Amazon (AWS), Google and Microsoft all boast a huge market share. However, niche Cloud integrators should assist in choosing the best provider, and with the engineering and build-out.
  • Responsibilities – Cloud computing can often create uncertainty about the boundaries of the relationship. Make sure there is a clear understanding of who holds what responsibility.
  • Users – Don’t forget the critically important human factor. Users must be trained and have clear expectations regarding how the Cloud will affect them, and what the experience will be like.

4. Measure migration success

IT departments today face a new operational climate. As technology becomes a tool to empower (and not just support) there’s an opportunity to glean bigger budgets from executives looking to capitalize.

However, this emphasis creates pressure to demonstrate a return on investment.

Tech leaders cannot simply migrate to the cloud and hope it delivers value. They must measure and assess performance on an ongoing basis and demonstrate that their time and money deliver direct benefit to the business.

5. Cloud migration doesn’t have an endpoint

The transition to Cloud doesn’t end when your new services are running. The cloud’s greatest benefit comes from its flexibility and scalability. As such, any successful migration hinges on establishing a culture of continuous improvement in line with future business plans.

Having all stakeholders on the same page about future strategies is critical to establishing long-term success. Achieving an effective internal partnership makes it easier to align priorities and establish service roadmaps that will keep up with market demands.

The cloud industry has matured to the point that advanced technologies ease many of the underlying challenges associated with the migrating to the cloud. The key is to understand exactly what your business needs from the cloud and to figure out how to measure performance based on those requirements.

A successful cloud migration hinges on maintaining a deep understanding of application performance prior to the move, assessing performance throughout the migration to measure value, and maintaining key performance measurements to ensure the ongoing health, success, and flexibility of the cloud configuration.

Further, its highly recommended that you consult with a specialized cloud integration firm.

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