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Oaklin's 5 Tips for Cloud Transition

If you are planning to migrate your applications and data to the cloud, most cloud vendors (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud) have frameworks and tools that can help you. However, as each organisation’s journey to the cloud is unique, bringing in a partner that understands the process, the pitfalls, and your specific needs is critical.

"As each organisation’s journey to the cloud is unique, bringing in a partner that understands the process, the pitfalls, and your specific needs is critical."

The benefits associated with managing I.T. applications and systems in the cloud are well documented. A lower cost to serve achieved through economies of scale and pay-as-you-go models typically being the primary benefit, with greater flexibility to scale-up or down services, the opportunity to experience and innovate via wide-ranging cloud vendor products, and up-to-date security features being others.

However, the process of migrating to the cloud can be fraught with challenges and many find it much more difficult than anticipated. This can be due to the complex nature of your own I.T. applications and data, what they are used for, how they are used, and by whom. Similarly, your experience once in the cloud can be material. The degree to which you have had to change the ‘shape’ of your I.T. applications to fit the cloud, how much your I.T. teams are still required to be involved, and how often you access or move your data can result in higher than anticipated costs or team involvement that can ultimately challenge your initial benefits case.

If you are planning to migrate your applications and data to the cloud, most cloud vendors (AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud) have frameworks and tools that can help you. However, as each organisation’s journey to the cloud is unique, bringing in a partner that understands the process, the pitfalls, and your specific needs is critical.

At Oaklin, we offer clients independent expertise and experience to assure their cloud strategy, approach, and plan, with the goal of helping them to complete it successfully. To get started, here are our five critical areas to focus on when preparing for a cloud transition.

1) Be clear on your strategy

List your reasons for migrating to the cloud. For example, is this to reduce costs, to avoid a problem (such as aging on-premise estate), or is it business-led and to take advantage of an opportunity? Does your strategy consider the “6 Rs” of cloud transition (rehost, re-platform, refactor, repurchase, retain and remove) and can you provide a clear rationale for your choices? Have you considered what you need the cloud for – and what you will do in the cloud once you have successfully transitioned there?

Consider the impact on your wider-organisation; your people, business processes, and customers. Does your transition require a future operating model to be defined?

We often see cloud transitions being driven by a desire to reduce cost. Have you calculated the impact on your finances (Capex/Opex) and how you will measure this? More broadly, have you considered how you measure and report on benefits realisation?

If you have not already done so, consider the cloud vendors, what they offer and their differences. Something to consider here is whether cloud ‘lock-in’ (i.e. becoming dependent on a single vendor and unable to switch without significant effort and cost) is important to you or not.

If it is not clear at this stage, confirm who is sponsoring this activity.

2) Set out your approach

We recommend starting with what you have and assessing your existing IT estate. What do you have, how is it used, and by whom? Then identify your candidate applications and data for migration and start to think about the migration process itself. For example, consider moving systems or data you can live without first, in case anything goes wrong and you need to recover. Position this as a proof-of-concept (PoC) to refine your approach and processes. Following the PoC, consider an incremental approach with various checkpoints to assess progress.

Capture your security and regulatory obligations. As each organisation and sector will be impacted differently, this may be a side-consideration or pulled right up front with your approach and planning.

Factor in steps to select and procure cloud services and define how you will utilise your vendor. Select a framework and the tools (software) you intend to use. Lastly, define a governance and reporting model with your sponsor.

3) Plan your migration

Plan out your migration in the form of a detailed runbook. Estimate the plan duration and capture any dependencies, as well as understand any plan constraints. For example, will your transition need to work around month-end processing, busy customer periods, or internal change freezes?

Determine the start, middle, and end of your migration with checks in place to validate the migration has been successful and include any decommissioning or archiving that needs to take place. Use the proof-of-concept to validate estimated timelines and revise, if necessary.

4) Rally your People

Build a team with the right people and the right skills. We sometimes see organisations attempt to carry this out with a single Project Manager, which can do their organisation a disservice. Consider also bringing in a Cloud architect (technical specialist) and a People/Change specialist to avoid the risk of technical and organisational debt, respectively.

Prepare internal teams by engaging them regularly as you develop your strategy, approach, and plan. Make sure you have consulted with relevant representatives from across the business (e.g. architecture, development, security, IT, business, finance) and communicated with individuals and teams that will be impacted. This can avoid the scenario of decommissioning applications or data post-transition that are still in use.

Lastly, rally the team around the plan and ready the vendor before commencing.

5) Use available resources

A useful tip is to utilise the experience of your vendor. Particularly if going with one of the major cloud service providers, there will be an abundance of knowledge, literature, tutorials, and experience available to you. Most vendors will also have Technical Account Managers or Customer Success Managers available to help navigate you through this and to make your transition a success. We recommend drawing on their experience and including them in your team ceremonies from the outset. Where available, take advantage of vendor online training resources to upskill your people to boost their engagement and make the most of what is ahead. Use the right tools for the migration, for monitoring your I.T. estate, and for validating it has completed successfully.

Chris Tuck

Consultant
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"A useful tip is to utilise the experience of your vendor. Particularly if going with one of the major cloud service providers, there will be an abundance of knowledge, literature, tutorials, and experience available to you."

Chris Tuck, Consultant

Chris Tuck

Consultant

Chris is an Oaklin consultant with over 15 years’ experience successfully leading teams and advising on major technology change programmes. His experience spans the entire software delivery lifecycle, with a specific focus on helping his clients get their programmes ‘over the line’. Internally, Chris leads Oaklin’s Digital practice with the goal of consciously helping our clients to shape, and accelerate delivery of, their digital transformation strategies.