Cloud Migration Strategy & Planning

Efficiently plan and execute your cloud migration with a comprehensive strategy.

5 Priorities for an Effective Cloud Migration Strategy

Public cloud is a readily available answer to IT challenges, but there’s a real need to temper the ease of spinning up public cloud solutions with a gut-check on your readiness to execute a successful migration.

Migration readiness often starts with a reluctance to repeat past mistakes. Many cloud 1.0 adopters have war stories they’d rather not rehash with cloud 2.0. Public cloud efficiencies have become an undeniable draw for business managers who rely on technology but don’t want to manage IT.

Too many organizations signed up for the promise of cloud 1.0 without reading the fine print about fully-burdened costs. The reality of consumption-based pricing (standard storage rates, retrieval rates, and uploads rates) complicate the basic budgeting question: “How much do we need to budget for storage?” Cloud can be very expensive if teams don’t do their due diligence to understand migration factors.

Infrastructure and operations (I&O) teams are leery of ramping up public cloud spend without first ramping down or re-purposing on-premises (on-prem) equivalents.

Of course, organizations migrate to the public cloud for good reasons: financial and operational agility, scale, avoiding distractions from an organization’s core competencies, and more. These reasons can be validated with a robust analysis of the total cost of cloud migration. Teams must trade-off the expected savings from a public cloud migration against the costs of doing the migration itself.

Cloud migration is an incremental process. Fingers—and bridges—get burned when CIOs and IT leaders do not identify and communicate migration strategies to the business, including how (and why) prioritization is key to success. 

#1 Define your cloud migration roadmap and prioritization around inflection points

You face forks in the road when it comes to evaluating and renewing on-prem platform and infrastructure investments. When assets reach the end of their life, there is a sweet spot between the completed depreciation schedule (no more hit to OpEx) and no significant performance degradation driving up support costs. It’s not a permanent state, but this opens a window of opportunity to make a change and an optimal time to migrate.

A data center lease that comes up for renewal, scheduled tech refreshes, dev/test workloads that need more elastic capacity, and fully depreciated assets reaching end of life are all points of inflection to adopt public cloud.

#2 Limit your duplicate capacity footprint​

There may be organizational pushback to execute a cloud migration strategy if you are already committed to on-prem spend. The arguments for public cloud (and those arguments were won years ago) easily get derailed if you are signing up for redundant capacity.

A full cloud migration needs redundancy during a transition (for disaster and recovery alone). But once migration is complete, organizations must decide between remaining on-prem infrastructure and platform footprints (e.g., switch off, decommission, or repurpose and optimize them until end of life).

#3 Prioritize virtualized infrastructure migration​

An existing virtualized solution simplifies the transition to the cloud. VMWare vSphere is available with VMWare Cloud on AWS—with extension capabilities to an existing virtualized footprint.

Connectors like these ease the adoption of public cloud by extending direct hybrid support and reducing the challenges of change management challenges. If you have virtualized infrastructure in place, you can execute that part of the cloud migration strategy more efficiently than attempting a total lift-and-shift of applications.

#4 Identify on-prem infrastructure and platform spend already committed​

The cost savings from public cloud are undercut if you have already committed to expanding on-prem capacity. In-flight projects on infrastructure or platform capacity need to be evaluated for scope, deliverables, and projected success before you build a business case for your cloud migration strategy.

#5 Define excess capacity​

Industries with seasonal demand (e.g., retail) build on-prem infrastructure and platform capacity to satisfy peak demand—leaving excess capacity dormant for the rest of the year. This scenario is tailor-made for public cloud adoption.

Even if you use on-prem infrastructure and platform resources for normal capacity, surges in usage are better served by the pay-as-you-go option of public cloud. These bursts of usage need to be quantified prior to public cloud adoption. By defining on-prem excess capacity (and the time it’s used), organizations can include peak utilization costs into the TCO of public cloud services.

Today, organizations are using lessons learned from their own cloud 1.0 adoption and the experience of their industry peers to develop a robust cloud migration strategy. Cloud migration has to be incremental and (for the good of everyone) prioritized, allowing IT leaders to build credibility with quick wins and effective change management.

3 Challenges when Developing a Cloud Migration Plan​

From a personnel perspective, cost-efficient cloud practices aren’t just a technology team challenge alone. Business and financial leaders need to get involved and see the right kinds of cloud cost and usage data that can help start the right kinds of discussions toward making better cloud decisions. Teams must be aware of the top challenges with developing their cloud migration plan.

#1 No success metrics for cloud migration​

A migration strategy is financially successful when organizations show that the TCO of public cloud services is less than the TCO of on-premises alternatives. But hybrid or cloud environments that deliver improved business outcomes, delivered at a higher cost, make a pure financial ROI comparison between cloud and on-premises incomplete.

Quantifying measures of success is one of the key cloud migration challenges. Software development teams adopting Agile on cloud solutions delivers more code commits, higher quality, and faster release cadences. What price for that innovation? What price for the improved business outcome? Migration decisions that deliver surplus capacity, or retires assets that aren’t fully-depreciated, may cost more in the short-term yet pay-back over the long-term.

Success cannot be measured solely by financial ROI. That’s the minimum bar you must get over. But there are other measures to consider too. Your migration plan must present all these considerations. C-suite buy-in for cloud migration wavers if the rationale is described as “It will cost us more, but look what we get in return.” That doesn’t pass the smell test with the C-suite. One of the biggest cloud migration challenges is to present the holistic benefits in language non-IT stakeholders understand.

#2 No consideration of cloud migration costs

The costs of adopting the public cloud cannot be assessed just by comparing the TCO of public cloud with the TCO of on-premises alternatives. You must also include the cloud migration costs too. For example:

  • Labor costs for planning, execution, and follow-up support.
  • Sunk costs to determine early termination costs from decommissioned on-premises services.
  • Overlapping costs to support transitional-hybrid (ex. duplicate environments in on-premises and public cloud during migration)
  • Consumption-based charges from duplicate capacity deliver unexpected high-charges from applications requiring high CPU utilization and disk I/O consumption. This is not a cost to perform the migration, but organizations incur (possibly unplanned) public cloud charges when they are delivering two application portfolios in tandem.

#3 Determining the best cloud migration tools​

As cloud takes up a greater portion of your spend and time, you need cloud migration tools to manage it all. Cloud billing is often undecipherable. With many services just an internet connection and a credit card swipe away, cloud usage can quickly get out of control leading to cloud sprawl. And, with procurement, vendor management, and the like are looking to spread risk by utilizing the right clouds for the right workloads, they are employing multi-cloud strategies, working with many different IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS vendors. Fortunately, there are a host of new cloud management tools hitting the market that provide cloud leaders and stakeholders with the insights into capacity, utilization, and spend that they need to manage, benchmark, and justify cloud usage and budgets. Evaluate cloud migration tools with the following questions:

  • What cloud migration tools are available today to manage long-term private, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments?
  • Based on my long-term cloud strategy, what tools do I need to be successful both in my journey to cloud and future state?
  • Knowing my future state, how do I minimize the number of interim cloud migration tools (and cost of those tools)?
  • Which tools have value for multiple groups/teams/departments vs. tools that sit in a single team or department?

5 Reasons Cloud Migration TCO Analyses Fail​

Your cloud migration strategy relies on the data-driven insights of TCO analysis. Learn about common TCO analysis challenges—and how to avoid them.

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