How to Plan a Pain-Free Cloud Migration

When it comes to the challenges of an IT project, few are more intimidating than a complete migration to the cloud. Fortunately, with the help of some careful planning, a cloud transition can be accomplished successfully with minimal effort and downtime.

The way organizations deal with mass migrations to the cloud is changing rapidly. “Systematic and strategic updates have replaced the accelerated ‘lift and transform’ approach,” says Alicia Johnson, director of consulting, technology transformation, at professional services firm EY.

The ability to compete at today’s required speeds both locally and globally continues to be a driving force for companies moving to the cloud. For organizations looking to the cloud for agility gains, an operating model shift is often required to improve the benefits of the cloud, Johnson notes. “Often organizations that implement product operating model improvement, and change how they operate and operate, reap the most benefits,” she adds.

First steps: Migrate to the cloud

When planning a migration to the cloud, it’s important to work closely with upper management, the entire IT team, and employees who will be directly impacted by the migration, says Jeremy Rambaran, director of cloud solutions at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine and a professor at Toro Graduate School of Technology. “Senior management must be aware of major changes occurring within their technology infrastructure and be prepared to allocate funds to move internal assets and their data to the cloud,” he adds.

Before planning begins, it’s important to resolve several key questions, says Lee Voigt, director of RSM US Audit, Tax and Consulting Services. “Why are you migrating to the cloud? What is your ultimate cloud play? What are your primary expectations for the cloud? How did you solve the cloud technical competency gap? What is your business application plan? How will you manage your cloud assets once they are in place?” Finding Answers For these questions, and other issues that may arise during the planning process, it will help ensure a hassle-free cloud migration, he notes.

Cloud migration should never be treated as a purely technical project. “When that happens, the divide between business and IT often widens,” warns Cindy Huson, chief data strategy officer for business intelligence analytics software provider ThoughtSpot. Infrastructure upgrades without clear commercial benefits are rarely successful. “To realize the full potential of the shift to the cloud, business stakeholders are key to ensuring that cloud migrations drive a real business impact,” she says.

Migration Planning Points

Howson advises to think big but start small. You start with one use case that’s high enough in value and low enough in complexity, she suggests. “Use this as a learning opportunity to show what will change with the cloud in terms of technology, people, and process.”

Johnson says the business and engineering groups should work as a team. When the cloud is treated as an IT-only effort, it can stifle innovation and will usually fail to deliver new capabilities. “Organizations that implement product operating model improvement, and change the way they operate and operate, often reap the most benefits,” she notes.

Avoid cloud migration errors

The biggest mistake organizations make when planning a migration to the cloud fails to produce the desired results or even meet their minimum requirements. “When an organization does not spend enough time planning its intended outcomes, it often ends up implementing a first phase in the cloud for a specific workload that is completely rebuilt when post-migration workloads are planned,” Voigt says. “When an organization does not spend enough time meeting its minimum requirements, adoption is affected when internal and external customers are negatively affected by the migration.”

Another mistake in migrating to the cloud is the belief that operational costs will drop immediately once digital assets are withdrawn to the cloud. “When migrating to the cloud, costs for electricity and cooling needs will eventually decrease as more servers and storage are moved to the online environment,” Rambaran says. “This will ultimately reduce the operational costs of your organization, as you will then be using the cloud provider’s hardware for your hosted solutions.” Just don’t expect change to happen overnight.

Another potentially costly mistake is assuming that data will always be backed up and secured by the cloud provider. This is not always the case because service providers are as vulnerable to attacks as any other organization – perhaps even more so because they are a data-rich target. Rambarran recommends protecting enterprise data with additional firewalls and other robust security safeguards.

ready migration cloud

Planning is just one part of the migration process. Husson says culture, people, change management, and the process are the other parts. It warns that “throwing new technology on employees without giving them adequate time and training to adapt and discover new skills and processes is not effective.” CTOs, CIOs, CDOs and [other] Leaders within the organization also need to develop a plan to improve employee skills to take full advantage of the new technology,” Howson explains.

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