How to successfully migrate to the cloud

Engage business stakeholders early on to help them understand why your business should migrate to the cloud so they can help with planning, communications and implementation.

Small businesses wanting to transform their operations are looking to migrate to the cloud to gain competitive agility and speed. However, new research shows that 90% of cloud migration programs stall for extended periods, usually at the 20% completion mark. Only 70% of these go on to recover, according to research by Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Many of today’s buzzwords, such as digital transformation, digital disruption and shadow IT, reflect the fact that businesses are looking to gain agility and speed by modernising the customer experience, operating model, products and services capability, strategic capability and/or employee experience. The cloud is the perfect delivery mechanism to achieve all this but only if your cloud migration program is well planned and executed.

We have identified five key steps for successful migration to the cloud:

  1. Cloud-first policy

When organisations have existing on-premise IT to maintain, their budgets can get tied up on capital expenditure and software licence lock-in. This prevents organisations from changing direction quickly. Businesses should therefore implement a cloud-first procurement policy for future investments.

  1. Cloud migration strategy

While a “lift-and-shift” approach may be appropriate in some cases, it may not be the right choice for all application workloads. Organisations can choose a number of other ways to migrate to the cloud. In fact, evidence is emerging that “lift-and-shift” may even be a key factor contributing to migration stalls. Before committing time and resources to implementation, organisations should do thorough needs assessment and build a practical cloud migration strategy.

  1. Run a business change project, not a technology project

Technology-led projects are less likely to succeed. The role of applications is to automate business processes, so any changes in applications will affect stakeholders. The business will be less inclined to support changes if the benefits are unclear. It is therefore critical to engage business stakeholders early on to help understand the real goals of the migration project, and to help with planning, communications and implementation.

  1. Agile implementation

If the organisation’s future state is unclear, an agile approach may work best, because the small, iterative changes let the project team course-correct as they learn more. Often, legacy infrastructure has grown organically, so understanding how to unpick it continues well into the implementation.

  1. Establish the new operating model

Often overlooked in cloud migration projects is the need to put the necessary support and management capability in place, post-migration. Cloud technology lends itself to DevOps practices and competencies, so organisations can build these along the way or use specialist providers. This is critical to ensure the IT team can provide end-to-end support to the business.

These five steps can help small businesses avoid a costly cloud migration stall. Organisations should also consider working with an experienced partner to streamline their cloud migration project and ensure it delivers on business objectives.

James Valentine, Chief Technology Officer, Fronde

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