Cloud migration journeys typically begin with a sense of urgency.
Financially, the data center is not prepared to scale without major new investments and the services bundled with public cloud offerings like AWS can offer dramatic decreases in the time to market for new features and functionality.
Yet, just getting started doesn’t appear to be the best course of action. A cloud migration project is akin to a rollercoaster ride: it’s a thrilling experience you’ll be glad to have completed, but not without unforeseen turns and drops.
You might ask: what kind of drops are we really talking about? According to management consulting firm McKinsey’s 2021 analysis of cloud migration pitfalls, your stomach better be strong enough to handle some major financial impact. They report that cloud migration projects run over budget 75% of the time and behind schedule 38% of the time.
Don’t worry, there’s good news. In the same study, McKinsey revealed that executive involvement is a key driver of project success. But what exactly should these executives have planned before the cloud migration begins?
We decided to gather together 5 cloud migration experts and ask them exactly that:
"When it comes to migrations from a data center to the public cloud, what is the one thing an executive must have completely sorted out before the migration begins?"
We were fascinated by many of the answers, ranging from the technical to the strategic, but all carrying heavy business implications. When reviewing responses together, we hope every cloud transformation leader can be best prepared for their roller coaster ride.
We have modified some of the comments for brevity and grammar.
Schedule projects to align with upcoming data center costs
“While your primary goal of a cloud migration should be to modernize your application, it's important to get your TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) in place first. Timing needs to be aligned. In the best case, your data center infrastructure will have a huge investment coming up, making this a great time to move. If your data center is running well without needing new investments, your company may not benefit from a lift and shift right now.”
Rearchitect sparingly under experienced leadership
“There are two things that need to be done. The first is to ensure you have a capable and experienced cloud technology leader in your team. Experience in the team will remove the typical roadblocks often encountered by people starting the cloud journey. Secondly, determine what will be re-architected and what will be a simple migration. Strategic applications should take advantage of cloud technologies, whilst legacy apps should have less time spent on them. This includes how you maintain and deploy, automated vs manual.”
Set up project reporting to match corporate goals
“What are the business benefits your organization expects to realize by moving to the cloud? Is it financial savings? Agility? Speed to market? How will you measure the success of cloud migration in a meaningful way? A simple count of servers migrated to the cloud is an easy to report metric but is simplistic at best. The cultural and governance aspects of cloud adoption are much harder to get right than simply importing your company’s flavor of an AMI. As is always the case technology is the easy part.”
Iron out the cutover plan completely
“There are dozens of things that should be sorted out prior to a cloud migration, but one thing that always seems to cause issues is understanding the network connectivity requirements. If you're doing a basic lift-and-shift to the cloud, it's relatively easy to do so, but planning how your organization, 3rd party applications, and end users will connect to the new environment always seems to create more problems than it should! Having all of that documented, defined and tested prior to the cutover will make life much easier!”
Adjust talent and expectations to the new cloud mindset
“The vital part of the organization that will enable the cloud consumption and the parts that will execute on the migration to the cloud or start utilizing cloud services needs to shift the mindset and upskill before the actual work begins. There are many things that are handled in a new way when we talk about the public cloud, so having the old legacy IT mindset will be a big blocker and you will adopt new tech with an old way of working. It´s like letting a horse drag your new Tesla you are sitting in: it will move forward, but not the way Elon Musk designed it.
So to get things to move faster and keep the energy level up it is important to do the homework before. And don´t be afraid to get help and work together with partners that have done this before.”
In reviewing the series of recommendations as a whole, we can see that it’s important for executives not to focus on the migration itself as the intended outcome.
In fact, most successful cloud migrations focus on creating the vision for the business state and operation once the migration is complete, and then backtrace the planning from there.
Perhaps even more importantly, leverage partners to help you push your perspectives beyond the operating norms you’ve established from years in the data center. Implications of this mindset shift can carry real speed and cost impact.
We’re grateful for all the tips shared by these cloud migration experts and are hopeful they help encourage you to get off the boardwalk and onto the rollercoaster.
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