Mindful Migration: Six Steps to Ensure Success

Kenneth Johnson Amazon Web Services, Cloud Technology, Cloud Transformation, DevOps, Microservices, Migration

The first thing most companies consider when considering a cloud migration is, of course, cost.  Doing a Total Cost of Ownership (“TCO”) analysis for current infrastructure and comparing it to the projected TCO for cloud operations is a critical exercise in building a business case.  But simply comparing costs does not answer any strategic questions or add long term business value. Likewise, cost savings alone is not the most compelling reason to move to the cloud. The evaluation process involves a more comprehensive approach involving both an articulation of your business goals and an evaluation of how your IT organization will operate post migration in order to truly harness the potential of the cloud to support and grow your business.  Cost comparisons also do not identify and mitigate risks associated with a cloud migration—risks that could undermine the entire business case for making the move.  So, what else should companies consider when evaluating a move to cloud?

You should know your costs, risks and benefits BEFORE you migrate to avoid unpleasant, post-migration surprises. A thorough Cloud Migration Assessment and Planning process, which Blue Sentry has performed for many organizations, should examine your business from these 6 key perspectives of an in-depth Cloud Adoption Framework:

  1. The Business Perspective—what are the business outcomes I hope to achieve (e.g. agility and speed to market, reliability and security, scalability to accommodate planned growth, etc.) and how can cloud technology align with those outcomes?
  2. People Perspective—What skill sets are needed on my IT team? How do I address skills deficits through training, hiring, and outside vendors? How do I achieve alignment within my organization to this new direction? And, what people-based processes need to change?
  3. Governance Perspective: How do I achieve IT governance in the cloud in the areas of cost control, performance measurement, security and compliance?
  4. Platform Perspective—How will we provision and configure cloud services to align with our objectives?For example, how will our network topology need to change in the cloud? How will we plan for changes in demand? How will we configure cloud services for scalability, reliability and compliance?
  5. Security Perspective—What are the highest probability security threats for my business in the cloud? What will my identity and access management look like? How will I protect my data? How will I detect and respond to security incidents? What controls will I put in place and how will this be achieved?
  6. Operations Perspective—How will I achieve visibility into my infrastructure and workloads? How will I monitor application performance in such a dynamic environment? What is my approach to resource management? How will I conduct release management and change management? What reporting and analytics will I need? What approach to logging should I take?How will I plan for business continuity?

The key deliverables of this engagement are:

  • Clear Business Case, including cost analysis and strategic business objectives;
  • Plan for mitigating skills and alignment gaps;
  • Application Portfolio Assessment detailing technical dependencies and migration risks;
  • Design for the cloud landing zone and network topology;
  • Reference Architectures for key workloads to be migrated;
  • Security Operations Playbook;
  • Recommendations for monitoring, logging, and cost control;
  • Governance Plan and best practices for ongoing operations, and
  • Proof of Concept for the migrated workload.

Research has shown that businesses who engage in this level of thorough planning are more than three times more likely to achieve their desired outcomes versus companies who migrate based solely on TCO forecasts.  When you think about it, it’s obvious: how can you achieve your desired outcomes when you haven’t taken the time to clearly understand upfront what the desired outcomes are?  We often get asked, “Do I really need all of this if my environment is not large and complex?” The answer is that while the value of this process increases with the complexity of your organization and the workloads in your portfolio, even the smallest companies with the simplest workloads find value.

So why are you choosing to migrate to cloud? Because everyone else has done it and you can probably save a little money? Or have you clearly defined the desired strategic outcomes, understood the risks, and have a detailed plan to mitigate them?  The right answer is that you need to properly plan in order to ensure the success of your migration. The good news is that for many companies who qualify, the public cloud provider may provide funding for this process. Providers like AWS want to ensure that you are successful and satisfied. Find out if your company is qualified to receive funding for an in-depth migration and planning assessment.