After working with many customers over the last 6-7 years with cloud migrations, we’ve seen what makes a successful migration strategy, and more importantly some common traits in the migrations that aren’t so successful.
A key consideration for cloud migration is the business expectation – cloud brings an expectation of agility, flexibility and rapid evolution. Any strategy that spends a long time going through design or validation before turning on any features is viewed poorly by the business, and as a result undermines the trust that IT has in that organisation.
We see two main strategies that drive a successful cloud migration:
- A new workload being deployed to the cloud
- A datacentre migration to reduce complexity or costs.
The third, and most common strategy we see for cloud migration, is to review all workloads and transform them into the cloud. This strategy tends to lose steam and stall, and the business perception is a long running, poorly delivering IT project.
This article explores the differences and how to ensure success for your strategy to the cloud.
Success Scenario 1 – New Workload
A new workload brings the opportunity to do things differently, and demonstrate the agility, flexibility and rapid iterative approach promised by cloud.
The advantage of this approach is it removes the requirement to clean up house before you begin anything new. Many of our customers have deployed successful production workloads leveraging entirely new capabilities in the cloud, whilst still maintaining old environments on premises. Whilst not ideal, it removes the common IT habit of building dependencies into a project that delay the delivery of a business outcome.
Success Scenario 2 – Datacentre migration
A compelling event around the existing datacentre is often a catalyst for a great cloud migration. Common examples of this are the expiry of an existing hosting agreement, or capacity limitations requiring a capital investment to purchase new equipment.
The solution in these scenarios is to ‘lift and shift’ the environment to the cloud, which often reduces the hosting costs by leveraging the extensive investment of the major cloud providers compared with existing hosting capabilities. Migrating the environment as is can avoid purchasing additional on premises infrastructure, instead paying on demand in the cloud op-ex model. Once the environment is migrated, systems can be tuned down to just use resources required, further reducing the operational costs.
Once migrated to the cloud, it is far easier to transform the systems to the new technologies by leveraging the new capabilities available in the platform. An example of this is the ability to rapidly duplicate the environment in a test bubble for evaluating the new features.
Modernise, transform and migrate – proceed with caution!
This scenario is the common approach, where each application is reviewed, analysed and redesigned for cloud.
Whilst this seems the most comprehensive approach, it is also the one that is most difficult to maintain. The business doesn’t see benefits from this approach until much later in the delivery phase, but in the meantime the challenges that are associated with the successful scenarios previously presented remain. The business still requires new capabilities, and the IT department are still managing resources for the existing environment. As soon as capacity is reached, purchasing additional infrastructure on premises tends to be the final nail in the coffin for the modernise, transform and migrate approach.
The alternative is to re-frame this approach to focus on a single workload that is in the business strategy for updating or implementation instead. By breaking this approach into a series of New Workloads, the business sees solutions being delivered by the cloud faster, which builds trust and support for future workloads.
There is a different way to get to the cloud and it’s faster than our clients imagine. Download our case study on how we worked with Save the Children to migrate to Azure in record time, or download our latest white paper, 3 Perspectives to Maximise Your Value from Azure.