The public cloud is nothing new, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) now over a decade old (and the original AWS platform over 15 years old). But for some organizations there’s still the need to take their first steps in moving some of their applications and workloads to the cloud, even if it’s not their first attempt to understand how public cloud services work and how best to exploit them. If your organization is looking to migrate some or all of its IT services to the public cloud, then this blog will help – offering up 10 tips that will help with migration.So, what are 10 key things that need to be considered and addressed when migrating to the cloud?
- Create, and get business agreement for, a formal cloud strategy backed by funded migration plans. Otherwise, if you take a less formal, piecemeal approach, then it will probably end up costing your organization far more in time, money, and both migration and future cloud-management headaches.
- Don’t assume that your organization needs to go it alone. Cloud migration good practice requires relevant knowledge, skills, and experience which are unlikely to be found in-house. So, find an experienced and successful advisory service provider/partner – hopefully through peer recommendations. This could be the cloud service provider itself, the providers of cloud-management software, or third-party consultants who will come in, do their job, then leave.
- Understand that cloud will not always be “the right answer.” This understanding is on multiple levels – starting with the corporate drivers for cloud adoption, the limitations with existing applications, and the total cost of ownership (TCO) for public cloud. Cost management is the biggest challenge facing cloud users today according to a 2017 survey of cloud computing trends.
- Research the pros and cons of different cloud service providers. There are obviously the large global providers – such as AWS, Azure, and Google – but there are also regional providers that might be better suited to your organization’s needs. A key here – in addition to needs related to data sovereignty, security, cost, and support – is to understand the maturity of the provided, native, cloud-management capabilities.
- Assess which applications/IT services will be better off in the cloud. Once your organization understands the parameters that make applications and workloads “cloud-suited,” the existing IT service portfolio can be assessed relative to expected performance levels, required security levels, ongoing running costs, governance needs, etc. Also take the time to undertake “housekeeping” as part of the assessment – to identify applications that serve similar purposes and offer scope for retirement.
- Ensure that your organization has access to the necessary cloud skills. This will be from enterprise architecture, through app dev and security, to the ongoing service management needs (including cost management). Plus, don’t forget to consider and address the implications of cloud migration on existing staff and their skills (using organizational change management tool and techniques).
- Choose your initial cloud projects carefully. As your organization finds its feet, seek out relatively straightforward migration projects, i.e. those that offer limited adverse impact and are highly likely to succeed. Then prioritize as you would any other business project based on the expected benefits versus the associated risks.
- Take a phased approach and don’t automatically try to “lift and shift.” A big-bang approach to cloud migration can be risky, dependent on the size of the cloud-migration effort and the business risks of things not going to plan. “Lift and shift” in the context of cloud migration is where on-premises applications and workloads are just ported over to the cloud as-is without the design changes necessary to take full advantage of the spectrum of native cloud capabilities (and thus benefits).
- Assess, and get business sign-off for the business impact of cloud migration. For each IT service to be migrated, understand how long it will take and the expected impact be on business-critical operations. And seek to minimize, or even eliminate, this accordingly. During migration, continually monitor progress to ensure that everything is happening as planned; with back-out plans and workarounds in place just in case the real business impact looks to be unacceptable.
- Define policies for cloud use and management. Moving applications and workloads to the cloud is just the first step. Once cloud is an accepted and potentially preferred service delivery model, there’s the possibility that – if left uncontrolled – the expected benefits are eaten away by suboptimal use. So, ensure that cloud isn’t offered up as an unlimited resource without the necessary focus on approved use case scenarios, an understanding of the costs involved, and invoked controls that help to ensure that cloud use is optimized.
So there you have it, our 10 tips for anyone looking to migrate to the cloud. Would you have included any others? Please let us know in the comments.