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How to avoid a bumpy cloud transformation journey

Some businesses are finding migrating to the cloud tricker than they were expecting – the key to a smooth journey is a carefully managed approach.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated cloud adoption, with homeworking making remote data access a top priority.

But many organisations are finding the move more difficult than they expected. The transformation journey is turning out to be a bumpy ride, especially for late comers that aren’t fully prepared for the risks that come with it.

So, how can you make moving to the cloud a smooth transition for your business?

Recognise the complexities of the challenge

A lot of organisations are finding out the hard way that how you manage applications in the cloud can be completely different to how you manage them in your own data centres. When the pressure was on to get homeworkers connected to all the data and applications they needed as soon as possible, they assumed it would be an easy and straightforward lift and shift operation. But not every application is compatible with the cloud. Regulatory or technical issues can make migration complex – if not impossible. And many applications need optimising or redesigning to make them compatible. This can lead to a hybrid set up, with a mix of public and private hosting.

Unforeseen issues such as these can cause big headaches, including increased costs. A recent survey of global cloud decision-makers shows that an estimated 30% of cloud spend is wasted. Organisations often get a big shock when they dig into their cloud consumption. In some cases, using the cloud can turn out to be more expensive than running workflows on premise. According to 79% of the participants surveyed, managing cloud spend presented a significant challenge. In a recent report by Checkpoint, 94% of organisations are moderately to extremely concerned about cloud. Top threats reported by customers are misconfiguration, unauthorised access, insecure interfaces, and hijacking of accounts.

Many overlook the fact that, without expert knowledge, it can be hard to predict how easy it will be to migrate applications and systems. This can be further complicated if there’s a potential disconnect between senior-level agendas which are focused on innovation and the practicalities of delivering cloud migration. It can also put pressure on the IT team if they’re not prepared for the new technology that comes with a move to the cloud, and may not be able to adapt applications or ways of working.

Consider your network and security

There are certain network and security concerns that your team will need to consider when transitioning to the cloud. You’ll need to think about how to get to your data, what network you’ll use and how many people will need to connect and from where. The internet provides much more scope for this now, but you’ll need to review which ISPs you use and what performance looks like from those services providers into and out of your chosen cloud.

Don’t forget to consider the visibility of this traffic – if you have reporting tools will these stretch into the cloud to gather data? You may potentially decide to extend your current visibility platform with a service that gives visibility of end-user experience and performance to this newly hosted cloud data, so you can report on how successful the project has been for users.

Think big, and seize opportunities

The benefits of a successful cloud migration are tantalising – from being able to drive innovation, upgrade systems and support automation, to improving efficiency and lowering costs. But this all depends on taking a smart, integrated approach to moving to the cloud. It’s about looking at the bigger picture, and having conversations about business outcomes rather than just IT outcomes.

From my experience, it’s well worth thinking through your options before you start. Initially, it might seem easier to stick to a simple lift and shift migration. But adopting new cloud technologies can be the ideal time to optimise your systems and redesign the way your applications function and integrate. For some applications, this is essential and unavoidable, but upgrading your applications is a good long-term business strategy, and so it would make sense to try and take full advantage of this opportunity.

Organisations often tell me how they want to move to the cloud to increase their flexibility, especially with the current focus on supporting homeworking. I’ve noticed that those companies that achieve this are the ones that have fully embraced new ways of working. They’ve adopted an agile and dynamic approach internally, and they’ve looked at things holistically – taking their network, security, IT systems and business practices into account when planning their transformation journey.

The five pillars of your cloud migration journey

In my experience, there are five principles to focus on to make sure your cloud migration journey is a success:

1 don’t be enticed by new technologies alone – think about the business outcomes you want to drive first, and technology can then give you options to achieve them
2 understand that the scope of your cloud migration is wider than IT – involve different business units from your organisation, such as finance, legal, IT, application owners and even HR in some cases
3 consider upgrading your applications design before you move – the use of microservices, for instance, will mean you’ll need to redesign how your applications work and communicate with other services. Consider replacing database servers with PaaS and SaaS equivalents. This will take some time and effort, but it’ll pay off in the long run
4 build in network and security from the start – network and security are critical building blocks, so bring them into the journey at the outset
5 think about repeatability and standardisation – use this cloud migration journey to provide more flexibility and agility in the way you manage your applications portfolio.

Moving to the cloud doesn’t have to be daunting

We can help you bridge the gap between expectation and reality, helping you to become a more agile organisation that can unlock all the benefits of the cloud.

We start by understanding your current application landscape, getting the infrastructure and foundations right for migration and helping you to write a robust cloud business case. Then, our unified management approach gets your different platforms working with the cloud, and manages your applications, no matter where they’re located. We can also take care of optimising your applications once they’re in the cloud. We’re not prescriptive; we give you options to choose from and then work with you to achieve your aims.