If someone comes to you and declares cloud migration to be as easy as A, B and C, someone wants to sell you the moon.
The reality is that for all the benefits of cloud computing – its scalability, elasticity, the ability to not worry about hardware becoming obsolete or where to get the staff to manage your IT infrastructure – there are many factors that will dictate how easy or hard your cloud journey will be.
Daniel Ong, director of solutions architecture for APAC at Digital Realty, suggests thinking of cloud migration as more “constant evolution” than “final destination”. He explained that the job is not necessarily finished when migration is complete. This is because not all IT workloads are going to be cloud-ready – some need to be replaced or continue to survive on-premises as hybrid cloud workloads.
“Hence, it is important to consider the need for users to have the ability to move workloads in and out, with the flexibility of changing providers or exchanging data with ecosystem partners."Daniel Ong
Why migration fails
Ultimately the technology will work. Sooner or later, it will do what it’s supposed to do. The real challenge is people. So noted, Daniel Flynn, Roberts Group Consulting’s director for Asia-Pacific.
“The challenge lies in getting people to change the way they work, understand the differences that the cloud brings as well as setting up an organisation that can live up to the promise of the cloud,” he continued.
He opined that up to 70% of cloud migrations fail to meet their objectives and blames it partly on leaders who are too head-down in the tech missing the crucial part of managing the organisational change.
People aside, Digital Realty’s Ong suggests keeping three areas under scrutiny: migration completion timelines, alignment between business and IT, and cyber security concerns.
Cloud migration challenges
In addition to the lack of effective cloud change management, Flynn pointed to having enough people with cloud skills as a problem afflicting Asia (and the world).
“Companies often underestimate the effort and focus required to manage the impact (of a cloud migration) across the organisation. This leads to loss value,” he added.
He called a lack of agility as contributing to slow decision-making, long procurement timelines, and inconsistent vision. Companies spend too much time wrapped in red tape and not enough time experimenting.
Not a proponent of the Big Bang Theory, Flynn suggests starting small, seeing what works and then growing from there. “The reality is other companies are getting ahead while you plan that mammoth project that you will never start. Your overall migration will take years and you can’t hope to have all the answers on day one. Start small and grow from there,” he suggested.
Key milestones in a cloud migration
According to Digital Realty, a cloud migration must have these four key milestones in the journey. Organisations need to benchmark themselves against these during their journey.
- Total costs (including man-hours, post-migration support)
- Speed of deployment/delivery (Time)
- BU satisfaction score (intangible internal customer satisfaction)
- Availability/Uptime. (quantifiable performance)
What matters most in a cloud migration
Ong believed that having a carefully detailed plan provides a clear idea of the journey toward the destination. A good cloud migration plan, he posited, would include the following:
- Profile and rationalise what should be done for each application – the seven common migration strategies for moving applications to the cloud are: Re-host, re-purchase, retire, re-factor, re-platform, re-locate and retain
- Identify key migration methodologies and execution teams responsible for the move
- Build up specific and context-driven options analyses
- Define what the target will be and when check-ins should happen. It’s important to map out early on how the cloud journey will proceed and what the timeline will be to manage risks
Flynn believes that the single most important factor in ensuring cloud migration success is finding the right cloud vendor that matches your organisational needs, strong and committed leadership with a clear vision is crucial.
He suggested being clear on key questions: Why are we doing this? Why will it be better? What do I need to do differently? What will the hurdles look like? How long is the road?
“As a leader, if you can answer all these questions with coherence and transparency, you’re well set to manage the most difficult pillar of a cloud migration… your people! Remember… technology and processes are predictable. People are not! Have a solid people and change methodology, build a solid change plan, and use it… but be ready to course correct if priorities shift!”Daniel Flynn
While planning and process are key, Ong does agree with Flynn on one thing: having people with expertise and experience in similar migration projects can help mitigate potential risks.
“While technology today is relatively commoditized, there are pockets of special capabilities that each provider offers so it is important to choose the right partner and provider to smoothen the process,” concluded Ong.