After a spate of failed cloud migrations—we’ve all seen the shocking Fortinet study, which revealed that 74% of companies have repatriated cloud-based applications back on-premises— many organizations are looking to adopt a smarter approach to cloud transformation.
Each of these repatriations of applications from cloud back to on-prem infrastructure represents wasted time and resources. Why are some organizations able to generate value from the cloud and others not? How can you ensure that your migration will go smoothly and you will realize the business gains you expect from the cloud? In an area where the pace of innovation is matched only by the speed at which new jargon is created, it can be difficult to know where to start. After all, what exactly makes a cloud migration ‘smart’?
Though the answer isn’t quite as simple as ABC, it’s a good place to start.
A is for Automation
IT decision makers planning a cloud migration often think they have two options:
- Move quickly: saving time and money in the short-term, but sacrificing precision and not taking advantage of the strategic benefits cloud can provide.
- Undertake a painstaking planning and development process: guaranteeing better outcomes, but requiring significant time and resources.
But, there’s a third route available that offers the best of both worlds with the help of automation and AI. AI-based cloud migration applications can map thousands of customer data points and correlate them to an optimum migration pattern in minutes. What’s more, AI uses historical data to inform its conclusions, so it gets smarter with each migration, and lacks the same inherent biases as human teams, so can help to maintain objectivity and consistency in decision making.
Pre-migration, automation can help you discover ‘unknown unknowns’, including:
- Understanding app dependencies
- Assessing technical feasibility
- Weighing up on-premises vs. cloud costs
Post-migration, automation can help by monitoring your cloud estate in real-time and providing intelligent modernization recommendations. Having completed a cloud migration, too many organizations adopt a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality. This leads to resource mismanagement and over-provisioning—ultimately resulting in poor performance, unnecessary spend, and security vulnerabilities.
B is for Business Empowerment
Let’s zoom out a bit. It’s now well understood that a cloud migration isn’t purely a technical project, but a business enablement initiative. In a recent survey of US businesses undertaking a large-scale cloud migration, 80% of respondents cited improving business agility and 71% cited reducing time to market as their key motivators.
A smart migration should start by identifying the strategic benefits cloud can bring to your business. Perhaps your organization wants to start experimenting with machine learning capabilities like image recognition or voice analysis? All three of the major cloud providers have created general-purpose services to support this, which don’t require in-depth data science skills.
Or maybe you want to build data-driven decision making into each stage of your value chain? The cloud offers greater data visibility, enabling you to more quickly make the right decisions.
Once you’ve decided what you want to achieve, true cloud transformation depends on putting a comprehensive migration plan in place—one that takes your goals into account. This should include:
- A migration strategy for each application.
- A definition of the amount of change you’ll make to each application as it’s migrated.
- How rapidly you can move applications through the migration process.
Failure to do this can slow down your migration, cause you to miss dependencies, and lead to outages. Automation can help here, too—enabling you to effortlessly fly through painstaking mapping work that would otherwise take weeks.
Also read: Creating a Cloud Migration Checklist
C is for Communication
A successful cloud migration depends on effective communication and mutually understood goals. A clear migration communication strategy will ensure your entire organization is aligned and provide the right information to the right people:
- C-suite: If they’re not directly involved, senior leaders need succinct information around costs, benefits, and expectations as well as a clear picture of what a successful migration would look like.
- Management: While requiring less strategic information than the C-Suite, managers need to understand the details about how this change will affect their departments and the services they provide.
- End users: A cloud migration is a significant cultural change. End users need to know when changes are taking place, how they will be affected, and who to turn to with any questions or issues.
Cast your mind back five years, and organizations would typically start their cloud transformation project by building a landing zone. They’d then do a lighthouse application migration, start application assessments and continue in this vein. Only much further down the road would IT decision-makers think about a cloud education program.
Nowadays, forward-thinking organizations are turning this timeline on their head—focusing on education and communication before starting the build process. Let’s take the example of one financial services organization recently supported by Cloudreach. The organization began its cloud transformation initiative with a cloud fluency program for 50 to 60 product leaders and C-Suite executives. Through a mixture of formal education and informal brainstorming sessions, it was able to uncover some unexpected strategic benefits of cloud—and engage decision-makers from all verticals.
Of course, these are just three factors to consider when starting your smart cloud transformation—and they all depend on having the right team of experts in place to execute the project. Given the complex considerations involved in most cloud migrations, we could probably cover the whole alphabet and beyond!
Read next: Best Cloud Migration Vendors & Services