The rise of cloud has resulted in a technological gold rush. Businesses are taking quick strides to claim their stake and reap the rewards. Fortunately, ample opportunities are available for those ready to take the leap today.
However, despite its numerous advantages, rapid migration to a cloud foundation can pose challenges if you fail to recognize the risks. Technical debt, architectural differences, and the constantly evolving landscape of cloud service offerings make it difficult to execute a smooth digital transformation.
The path to success may not be evident without an experienced partner to lead the way.
Continue reading as Trianz outlines the factors you need to consider before migrating to the cloud, checkpoints as you execute the migration, and follow-up steps to validate the success of your transition.
Rapid cloud migrations enable businesses to harness the power of cloud at an accelerated pace. Even so, the rush for cloud adoption can cause enterprises to overlook critical risks that threaten the success of a migration.
In the CIO Pulse: 2023 Budgets and Priorities report, 600 Chief Information Officers were surveyed to gain insights into their priorities and challenges with cloud migration:
72% say they are falling behind on their digital transformation timeline.
51% think the complexity of their legacy IT systems is a primary challenge.
92% are expected to complete a digital transformation that generates revenue for their business by EOY 2023.
38% believe rushed cloud migrations during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to technical debt.
31% mention failure to optimize their workloads before cloud migration.
It is worth mentioning that IT application modernization is a major factor in the success of cloud migration.
Legacy systems and applications that have reached their end of life (EOL) or are outside the support window may not lift and shift to the cloud.
For business-critical legacy applications, refactoring or rearchitecting can be a costly endeavor that demands specialized software development skills.
Most legacy IT workloads will lack native integration with modern cloud services.
Data transfers from legacy to cloud environments pose a risk to data integrity unless checkpoints are in place during the ingestion process.
Legacy IT policies and access controls need to be replicated in the cloud.
Sensitive IT services such as government, healthcare, or financial workloads heighten regulatory compliance risks (GDPR, HIPAA, HITECH) without a careful migration approach.
Legacy services may not achieve optimal performance in the cloud without additional configuration and the implementation of scaling rules.
Misconfiguration of auto scaling and load balancing rules could lead to over-provisioning or under-provisioning, potentially causing financial inefficiencies and compromising the quality-of-service delivery.
The lift and shift approach is fast but may lead to resource wastage when a more efficient option is ignored in pursuit of rapid migration.
Employees accustomed to provisioning and monitoring legacy applications on-premises may lack sufficient cloud knowledge and training.
A lack of employee knowledge and training in cloud environments may threaten operational stability.
All migrations cause downtime and disruption. However, rapid migration without thorough planning could lead to extended downtime as unexpected challenges need to be resolved.
A lack of quality control and validation procedures may result in persistent issues with IT operations in the new cloud environment, nullifying the benefits as IT teams spend resources on fighting new fires.
A rapid migration without a business continuity plan exposes enterprises to vulnerabilities in the face of IT disasters.
No business continuity plan means no consensus on the procedures to follow in the event of a disaster, delaying remediation and service restoration.
Without a disaster recovery plan, service failures in the cloud could lead to data loss, service unavailability, and revenue loss.
Rapid migration often translates to reduced time spent shopping for cost-effective licensing agreements with vendors and cloud service providers (CSP).
Without ample attention to contractual or licensing terms, enterprises can find themselves in a sticky vendor lock-in situation that reduces IT agility and drives up expenditure.
Hasty migration without establishing a robust monitoring foundation prevents IT teams from detecting and resolving cloud IT incidents.
The rushed implementation of visibility and monitoring tools might result in misleading or inaccurate reporting data.
Without an organizational consensus on cloud adoption, stakeholders and employees may resist change and struggle to adapt their approach.
A sudden transition from legacy to cloud workflows may cause technological whiplash, leading to decreased productivity and heightened stress among employees as they strive to keep pace with the rapid changes.
The speed of cloud migration is not inherently the cause of these risks and subsequent challenges. In fact, rapid migrations can indeed be highly successful and beneficial.
It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation; rapid cloud migrations increase the likelihood of rushing through the planning process, fumbling the technical aspects of digital transformation from legacy to cloud, and potentially skipping over the IT best practices that mitigate risk.
For a rapid migration to the cloud with minimal risks and challenges, it is essential to consider these pillars of a successful cloud migration strategy:
What do you want to achieve by migrating to the cloud?
Better performance? More reliable services? Enhanced technical capabilities?
To determine your level of success, establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that allow you to compare your pre-migration and post-migration states. This will provide clear insights into the impact of the migration on your organization's objectives.
What is the current state of your IT infrastructure, business applications, and data sources?
Make sure to map out dependent services for each business department. For example, migrating a financial management system may impact sales, customer service, and finance teams.
You can calculate the current expenses in your IT environment – including licensing costs, hardware running costs, people-hours spent on maintenance, and estimates for potential business losses due to technical limitations. This will enable you to determine the return on investment (ROI) after completing cloud migration.
Once you have a full portfolio of assets in your IT environment, prioritize the migration of each asset based on business value versus effort required; focus on low effort high reward at the start for a faster time to value (TTV).
What cloud providers and services are available?
How much will it cost to run your workloads? Check whether the provider offers cost management and spending limits so you can adhere to a budget.
Are there specific services that offer a clear migration pathway to streamline the migration process?
Cloud architecture is also important:
Function-as-a-Service (FaaS or Serverless)
Choose services and architectures that fit your requirements.
For example, IaaS offers hardware with greater software flexibility, while SaaS is an all-in-one package that reduces the IT management burden.
Developing a security and compliance framework before migration is crucial to protect and encrypt data, monitor and restrict user activities, safeguard IT infrastructure, and establish effective monitoring and auditing processes.
Create a disaster recovery and business continuity plan that outlines the following:
System, application, and data inventory
Backup and recovery methods
Replication and redundancy protocols
Testing procedures to validate the plan works
Roles and responsibilities
Choose the migration method for each asset based on your system and application assessment.
A brief list of options includes:
Lift and shift
Hybrid cloud integration with the on-premises environment
If your IT team does not have experience and knowledge of cloud technologies, train them first by offering:
Online and eLearning courses
Intensive training courses
Documentation and reference materials
As a rapid training option, consider designating and upskilling an IT champion per department who can disseminate knowledge to other employees.
Consider creating a sandbox or staging cloud environment to test migrated services. Choose a non-critical application and monitor the process to identify bottlenecks, errors, and unforeseen challenges.
Many cloud platforms offer tools and services to simplify and automate the migration process. Trial these tools to identify pathways to expedite your migration.
Once you are confident to start the migration, adopt a phased approach.
A phased approach is a prudent strategy to control the variable. If you migrate multiple services simultaneously, you might struggle to identify the root cause of errors or malfunctions.
Start migrating the workloads that take the lowest effort for the highest reward.
Test as you go and monitor for:
Expected functionality versus actual functionality
Real world feedback from stakeholders and employees
Make sure to refer to your KPIs and objectives to monitor the success of your migration efforts.
You can consider the migration a success when all target systems and services are operational, free of errors, and capable of meeting stakeholders' requirements across the business.
Your cloud migration initiative has been successfully executed. However, the technology landscape is continually evolving. Like your legacy systems, this cloud environment won’t stay new forever.
A plan for continuous improvement alleviates and distributes the acute stress associated with digital transformation for your IT team. It also enables you to remain at the forefront of progress and benefit from the latest technologies as they emerge.
Don’t wait until your IT environment becomes obsolete. This will only increase the complexity and risks associated with migration. Not to mention the negative impacts on the bottom line as services become slower, less reliable, and harder to maintain.
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