Considerations for a cloud migration

While it is true that many companies are looking more and more into cloud solutions I must say that there are just a few that really understand what the change implies. It is very common that the none-IT people think that it will just be a change in the way the budget is spent, moving from CAPEX to OPEX (most often commented by the finance department). However, little do they know that with this revolution they have to embrace a complete new holistic view as how the business is delivered. Normally the CTO – CIO – Head of IT will have to evangelize the whole organization and not just those outside the IT department. The IT personnel will have to come out of their comfort zone as new skills and a complete new attitude will have to be adopted with the cloud switch. This will be a good time to upbring skills and see which members of the staff are more suitable in the new – future scenario. This does not mean that you will have to let people go, but you will have the opportunity to see what people are more eager to adapt to a new age, something to consider for the future. Clouding is not just moving data, it is a total different concept as it can include your infrastructure (IaaS or “Infrastructure as a Service”), your platform (PaaS or “Platform as a Service”) and your software – services (SaaS or “Software as a Service”) so a new state of mind needs to be in place.

There are some exercises that have to be taken into consideration when taking this big leap of cloud-digital transformation:

What cloud technology / provider do we use? There are an increasing number of cloud technology providers. Everybody knows the big ones (the likes of AWS, Azure, etc) but there are local providers that may just as well offer you cloud solutions. Not everybody is suited to provide this and you will have to separate the wheat from the chaff: Are you a multinational so you will need multi-country presence? Depending what you are planning to run in the cloud, can this potential cloud provider give you concurrent access to all your users / customers when and from where needed? Do they have already the application in the cloud that I need or will I have to do an extra effort, something that I don’t have to do with other providers?…etc…

Control your costs: Going back to finance, there is a big advantage on implementing the cloud: you can control the costs and implement with inmediate effect. You pay for what you use and, should you need more resources, you just apply the change and off you go, it is working, no more waiting for HDDs or enclosures to arrive, etc. It happens on the fly.

You become LEGAL: Yes, I can see many people raising their eyebrows thinking “I though licenses were free, why do I have to pay for something I have not paid until now?” Sorry (not really) to say this but what you are doing is ILLEGAL and you could / will be in trouble. You always should pay for what you use, or do you leave a restaurant without paying the bill? This is just the same. The good thing is that you pay as you use it and you will have real control of your licenses. You will pay for the utilized resources whether those be Office licenses now in Office365, exchange/email/SQL servers…whatever. This is the time for you to correct your wrong-doing before it is too late. This may bring you into some “questioning” from finance when they see the bill and they ask “why are we now paying so much when, in theory, we were going to save money with the cloud?” The answer is simple: it was never spent and it should have been done.

DISCLAIMER: …of course, I am thinking out loud and this has never / will never happen to either me or any of my colleagues I have worked with or will work in the future…let’s assume that everybody is legal and I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

Eligibility to “application-clouding”: Other factor is when people talk about cloud and they think that it is something that you can get to work instantly. However, can all your applications be in the cloud? Maybe this is the perfect time to assess what is really needed, get rid of the old legacy – obsolete applications and, depending on the size of the company, take the opportunity to standardize once for all the myriad of applications that you have into just a few that can be cloud implemented and used across the board. (“mushrooms” as I call them. There are companies that they have a senseless number of apps for every single task and, after some time, nobody knows what they are, why they are there and who put them)

Security: Do you really want to have ALL your data in the cloud? I’d prefer to keep critical and sensitive data in my premises and put in the cloud, lets say, the frontend for instance (thus implementing a hybrid cloud).

Test before jumping into an empty pool: As you can tell there is a lot of though and planning to be in place before anything happens…if you want to have a somehow happy transition. There will be challenges, of course, but nobody will tell you there will be. You will have to test and try. Before you commit to a provider do a small test, trying to achieve the same goal with different providers (you can subscribe for nothing, for instance, to AWS and Azure-Office365 and do competitive tests between them before you go to a full scale migration). That will save you headaches and time.

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