Key considerations for a successful cloud migration

The drive towards digital has meant that change has become ‘business as usual’. Cloud has been instrumental in this shift, acting as a critical enabler for innovation, customer experience and cost reduction initiatives across the business.

In fact, Forrester research commissioned by Rackspace, identified cloud advancements as the driving force behind most businesses’ digital strategy, with over four-fifths of business leaders indicating that the migration of existing workloads into private or public cloud environments as a critical or high priority business initiative.

However, while adoption is accelerating, many businesses still struggle to understand the requirements and limitations of cloud consumption. It is rarely straightforward to introduce new cloud-based operating practices across an enterprise, as for any change that involves processes, people and their relationship with technology.

In fact, despite nearly three-quarters of businesses now being two years or more into their public cloud journey, the reality of the migration projects has not always met initial expectations. Some of the challenges were recognised upfront, such as the lack of skills or compliance challenges, but frequently the scale and impact were far greater than predicted once organisations were running production workloads in the cloud.

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For a successful cloud migration, organisations need to start with an accurate perspective of their company’s maturity, capability and mindset. Business and IT leaders can then work together to plan and deliver a migration project that is robust and addresses these concerns.

To help an organisation identify the potential hurdles they may face and build a roadmap for a successful migration, here are five key considerations for business and IT leaders:

1. Align business and IT early

A lack of alignment between business and technology was identified by one-third of respondents as impacting their migration process. A further 39% reported that the issue was then compounded by poor change management or an inflexible corporate culture.

2. Put security first

Security, privacy and compliance were the top concerns for our respondents regarding their cloud infrastructure. Losing operational control of data can lead to external security threats, while regulations – including GDPR and The Network and Information Systems Regulations – could result in greater penalties for the misuse, abuse and loss of personally identifiable information (PII). Therefore, it’s little surprise that security and privacy issues present a challenge both during (31%) and after (38%) migrating to the cloud.

3. Take a realistic view on cost and complexity

Many companies are still under-forecasting cloud migration costs, with two-fifths of businesses reporting that they were higher than expected. Upgrading, rationalising and/or replacing legacy business apps and systems was where the greatest cost disparity arose, with 60% of respondents identifying it as higher than estimated.

When planning and executing the cloud journey, data issues, workload management in the cloud and strategy for the transformation were the key three challenges cited – each by more than 30% of businesses. And problems persist post-migration, with respondents highlighting the challenges of a lack of adequate user training, cultural resistance to cloud migration and inadequate change management programmes to the success of their project.

4. Mind the skills gap

Architecting, securing and managing cloud migration requires specialist skills, which nearly half of organisations realised they lacked during their migration, in turn increasing the time-to-value of their cloud programmes. An additional 27% commented that the skills gap posed challenges after completion.

5. Create and share a strategic vision

One of the biggest things that can undermine a cloud migration project, no matter the effort put in, is a lack of clear strategic vision. It’s very easy to focus on the technology and processes that need to be implemented, without considering how they will fit into the business – both from a practical point of view but also culturally. It’s essential that companies outline their end goal(s), define what success looks like and build a roadmap to get there that considers potential pitfalls along the way.

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These are just five areas to contemplate before undertaking a cloud migration, but they are by no means the only things to consider. Cloud migration is complex and that’s why we’re now seeing many organisations seek help outside of the business, notably turning to cloud service providers (CSPs). In fact, 78% of respondents say they rely on service partners to help them run workloads in the cloud.

Having experts on hand that have the knowledge, skillset and experience in both identifying and managing cloud migration projects and enabling the realisation of an overarching digital strategy, eases the pressure on organisations trying to ‘go it alone’. It’s therefore no surprise that two fifths of respondents said if they could turn back the clock and start again, they would increase the assistance they get from advisory and consulting services. It’s a no brainer.

Written by  Director of Professional Services, Rackspace
Written by Adam Evans, Director of Professional Services, Rackspace

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