Planning A Cloud Migration Strategy that Delivers Business Benefits
June 28, 2021
It’s amazing that over 90% of enterprises worldwide will use a mix of hybrid, multicloud, and legacy platforms by 2022, according to IDC. But the success of those approaches in terms of ROI for your business will hinge on the planning and execution of your cloud migration strategy.
Important upfront work requires determining how you expect the cloud to drive the business in terms of people, processes, technology and market impact among other aspects. By taking a strategic approach to cloud migration, your enterprise can maximize the potential benefits of the cloud even as business needs change.
The development of a logical strategy and its execution depends on having the answers to many questions that revolve around what to move where, why, how, and when. Having answers for each question helps you plan a detailed migration strategy and plan that sets the stage for desired outcomes for present and future business agility, growth and cost containment.
Your cloud computing migration strategy must deliver elasticity, agility, and scalability to help your organization take advantage of emerging opportunities and pivot to address business and industry changes. Achieving these goals will broadly employ a mix of software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) cloud architecture layers. You may employ these across hybrid and multi-cloud environments based on business needs and best practices.
It’s best to take an integrated approach to your public cloud migration strategy where hybrid and multi-cloud models improve agility, security, costs, operations and user experience for customers and end users. Every cloud migration strategy should be about aligning business needs with application, workload and database migration options that deliver:
- Lower Capex
- Increased capacity, elasticity, and scalability
- Create new services and revenue streams
- Improve application access for a remote and global workforce
- Maximum application performance
- Agile and responsive DevOps and Application Lifecycle Development
- Increased security and control
- Streamlined and adaptable Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR)
- Improved compliance, governance, efficiency, operational management and time to market
Your cloud strategy has to cover immediate and long-term attributes such as accessibility, security, portability and scalability. This informs decisions about the use of hybrid and multi-cloud approaches along with strategic use of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS. But the first step in fleshing out a detailed cloud migration strategy is understanding exactly what is a cloud migration strategy?
What is a cloud migration strategy?
Most organizations understand that a cloud migration strategy is the foundation of their near and long-term plans for operation efficiency and business innovation. The strategy guides pre- to post-migration planning that determines how the cloud changes current and future business operations and outcomes.
It’s important to understand that this migration strategy is a long-term living document that considers current and future application and workload migrations. This is true whether you create a migration strategy that happens in phases or through a big bang approach. Your migration strategy should focus on four broad areas:
- Security that determines application and data access controls, data security at rest and in transit and backup and data recovery
- Governance and Compliance that makes sure you meet regulatory compliance and all aspects of data security to go beyond the limits of shared security models of cloud services providers
- Cost Management that looks at immediate and long-term cost savings that guide where and how you migrate, manage, and monitor applications and workloads
- Accessibility, Resilience, and Scalability that are driven by customer and workforce UX needs, service enhancements and innovation
Although these are broad areas, they come into more granular focus when you view them through a template of your business strategy of cloud migration.
Building a business case for migration
It’s vital that you build a business case for migration with a clear vision of what you expect to gain. There are many post-migration expectations of gains that a company may have that include:
- Cost savings
- Opening up new business opportunities
- Greater agility
- Entering new markets
- Reaching and fulfilling customer needs faster
These reasons can push the need for better application/workload management and development, security and lower Capex by eliminating hardware investments and maintenance /upgrade costs. Once you’ve made the business case for your cloud migration strategy, you can begin laying out the steps for the process.
Cloud security and governance
Security and governance are top priorities for your infrastructure, applications, workloads and storage on premises and in the cloud. That covers everything from securing data at rest and in transit to identity access management and effective governance and compliance tools based on clear rules and policies. But the complexities of cloud security require expertise that may go beyond that of your current team. You will need to understand the limits of the shared security model by cloud services providers. This helps you to create a solid, zero trust security framework with the best tools and policies to minimize risk and maximize value from cloud migration.
Assessing cloud migration costs
Companies will spend a collective $1.3 trillion towards cloud migration by 2022 according to Gartner. We associate cloud migration with multiple benefits such as dynamic scaling and cost reduction, effective execution requires a robust cloud migration strategy. But to move forward, we have to assess migration costs and potential savings for stakeholders.
A migration strategy is financially successful when organizations show that the TCO of public cloud services are less than the TCO of on-premises alternatives. There are many ways to optimize this balance. But it’s challenging to determine the costs versus ROI of cloud migrations for hybrid or multicloud environments across several cloud providers.
Some aspects are clearer, such as the loss of Capex expenses versus their replacement by lower Opex expenses for hardware eliminations, maintenance and SaaS model cost improvements for licensing. Reducing Capex and Opex expenses such as hardware, data center space, cooling and power costs, maintenance and others are all potential drivers for cloud migration.
You may find it complicated to make cost saving choices and TCO predictions about hybrid and multicloud based on provider and needed architecture platforms. Your team needs a current understanding of everything providers offer, how it works, and how that plays into optimizing your needs. This requires having an IT team with the right expertise to deliver the desired outcomes of the cloud migration strategy.
Assembling the right migration team
There are two important questions with the staffing needs for a successful migration:
- Do I have the expertise to handle all aspects of cloud migration?
- Do we have enough staff to manage the task at hand without putting other IT projects at risk?
The most salient point to consider is whether you have the staff compliment that possesses the right skills to handle the process. A full 40% of your peers are uncertain if their IT team has the skills to meet IT and migration needs, according to an IBM study. Three out of four survey respondents to the study say they’ll turn to a trusted migration and managed services partner to bridge the skills gap and support their migration strategy.
The right partner like NTT can provide expertise and personnel where needed so your team can complete other important projects and tasks on time alongside the migration.
That includes support in helping the people across your enterprise prepare for the positive changes that cloud migration will deliver and the experience to help make cloud provider choices.
Steps in a cloud migration strategy in a cloud migration strategy
The success of your public cloud migration strategy will hinge on a variety of factors. These include assembling the right migration teams within the IT organization to handle the IT and OT aspects of the migration and an enterprise team to help guide business cultural and operational changes at all stages of the migration.
By treating the cloud as an extension of your business, you can take advantage of migration and optimization solutions that continually improve your application portfolio, services, costs, and UX. That requires development of first and second phase migration timetables for applications that will require refactoring as well as the initial lift and shift workloads. This enables strategy development for moving the right applications to the right cloud at the right time.
When to migrate what
Most businesses will start migrations with applications that deliver the highest benefit with the least number of challenges, but that’s not always possible based on business needs. Another reality is that the migration strategy from on premise to cloud may involve different approaches depending on the application and the outcome goals.
Whether your cloud migration is a big bang or phased approach, your migration team will need to carefully plan implementation, rollout, training and testing to ensure optimum performance. This also means focusing resources so they can minimize downtime and inconvenience for users. The goal is to minimize or eliminate team member distractions from day-to-day operations or more strategic tasks and IT project and business process interruptions that inhibit a seamless transition.
Faced with the long-term demands on IT staff, many organizations are turning to migration partners that have the right experience, cloud migration services, resources, skills and automation tools. This gives you the control needed to complete projects quickly and efficiently in line with the industry’s best practices. This type of partner can be crucial in the cloud migration strategy development phase where business goals, outcomes, and applications targeted for migration must be matched to the right cloud providers and cloud architecture layers.
Cutover and post migration optimization
One of the most important aspects of cloud migration is to make sure that operational downtime is minimized or eliminated. This starts with testing your migration before it runs by cloning it to run in the chosen cloud provider environment that you create. The goal is to make sure there are no problems without disrupting business operations. Then comes the cutover process where you switch from the on-premise application environment to the cloud environment. This process may be scheduled during weekends or overnight to avoid downtime.
The next phase of server and application validation involves checking if migrated server/Application/DB are functioning correctly. If so, you can allow the use of the application for the business and end users. The last steps involve any remaining optimization procedures for the application and workload based on end user needs and decommissioning any temporary environments in the cloud, such as sandboxes for testing and any on-premise servers no longer in use.
While a clear and detailed migration strategy will inform the development of a sound migration plan, automation tools, services and a cloud migration services partner are all key to mitigating risks and making sure you have the desired business outcomes.
Having the right managed services and migration partner will bring a cohesive approach that integrates the change management processes. This makes sure that you have prepared your entire enterprise for the changes and opportunities that come from the cloud migration.
The right migration partner like NTT can bring the expertise, consulting implementation teams and managed cloud services that can help you reach migration goals, successful outcomes and business impact in ways that lower costs and risks while setting your enterprise up to be competitive in the digital transformation era. Further enrich your knowledge with our comprehensive guide on cloud migration.