Once the decision to move to the cloud has been made, clearly communicate that decision and reasoning behind it to all stakeholders. Explain the gains: boosting innovation, increasing flexibility and controlling cost. Also, prepare the organisation for the pains and the forced changes in processes and ways of working. Articulate the success criteria against which the migration will be measured. This will give the programme focus and will build credibility with the stakeholders.
Preparing for the change is as important as the actual migration. Process transformation and readiness of the organisation to exit the world of customisation, embracing the world of software as a service (SaaS) will determine the success of the migration. So, work with the business leads to getting this going before choosing the service provider and the implementation partner. In fact, choosing a cloud provider is only a small part of the process when migrating to the cloud. Investing in the right change management partner is more critical.
While moving all your applications at once may cause less disruption and will perhaps help you get up and running as quickly as possible, be mindful of the downsides too. You may find out that some applications do not work as well in the cloud, or that your applications work better but at a higher cost.
With all this going on in the background, can CIOs execute a ‘lift and shift’ process and what should they consider when helping their company migrate to the cloud?
Sounds obvious, but it’s essential that CIOs do their research and choose a partner that will support the business and complement the organisation’s culture. Read reviews from industry analysts to determine which vendors are leaders and which services align with the challenges your company faces. Also, look at the vendors your peers and competitors use and their experience with them. This may provide valuable insight that could help you make your decision. Remember ‘service’ is just as important as ‘software’ when it comes to a cloud provider.
If cutting down costs is your priority, look at the systems you already have and see if you can utilise that technology. Perhaps you have an enterprise agreement with a technology provider that could help you transition to their cloud computing services. This existing relationship may help you receive a better deal.
Once you have your shortlist, begin a benchmarking exercise. Compare your top vendors regarding total cost of ownership, functionality, technology, service levels, data protection, security, business continuity and any other features you deem important. Consider their track record. Ask the vendor for case studies, white papers, and references to validate their experience in areas that are critical to your requirements.
Skills are key
After selecting your preferred cloud vendor, you need to decide which implementation partner is best suited to support your business through the migration. As always, do your homework, and thoroughly research and benchmark your prospective partners.
You need to consider whether your partner has the capability, experience and track record in the space and if they have a suitable team with the right resources available at the time to help with the process. Ensure that you have all the details necessary to make an informed decision. However, you can’t leave everything to the implementation partner. You will need your own team to manage the programme, provide them with business requirements, change facilitation, organisational know-how and act as the recipient of knowledge transferred to continue business as usual. Ensure you have this team mobilised.
Put the infrastructure in place
Having chosen your vendor, implementation partner, mobilised your team, developed a pragmatic plan and organised a clear statement of work with deliverables and milestones, you now need to decide how to integrate your existing infrastructure with the cloud. You need to consider how you are going to connect back to the on-premises applications you are hosting and how you can keep that connection secure.
Make sure the infrastructure is in place before you start the programme. You can use your ISPs and service providers to connect directly to the cloud, or you can reuse your existing telecom providers. Moving legacy workloads is like building a data centre, except you don’t need hardware or a physical location. But importantly, you do need connectivity.
Be ready for the long haul
Businesses should be prepared to invest upwards of a year and for most of that time to be spent on testing and planning. Consider backups and disaster management processes; consider storage needs and the costs associated with those (if your legacy app is highly dependent on storage I/O, it could be expensive), and ensure you look at your CPU usage for database requirements – particularly, if you are paying for licenses for on-premises hosting.
Finally, if you’re considering a move to the cloud, be prepared for an increase in resourcing and other reoccurring costs while you get set up. Although moving to the cloud will help with automation eventually, you will need to put in the work first to see results. A ‘lift and shift’ migration might sound like an easy process, but it takes dedication. However, businesses can help to reduce the pain of this transition by choosing the correct vendor and partners, ensuring they are open to change and taking the time to test their systems thoroughly. If companies focus on these steps, they’ll certainly ease the process and make an almost seamless cloud migration.
Arnab Banerjee, Principal Consultant, Thought Leadership & Advisory Services at Cornerstone OnDemand