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How to Migrate (Successfully) to the Cloud

  • Alyssa Dolan 
Businessman holding mobile phone which on the top of phone has u

If only you migrate to the cloud, says the salesperson, you’ll need umbrellas for all the money you’ll save. Great, we say. And we make for the skies. Yet, lo and behold, the budget didn’t budge. Our umbrellas stayed dry. It turns out it wasn’t that migrating to the cloud was a mistake – there was just more to it.

After all, trading our Fiat 500 for a Ferrari won’t automatically make us race car drivers. There’s a whole process involved.

Cloud migration is the same. We can’t simply move our local servers to the cloud and expect to be dazzled. It’s only one step of many, and we need to finish the entire cloud-native transformation process before we get those umbrellas out. But once it’s done, it will rain. To give you an idea of the potential precipitation, Gartner claims that enterprises saved an average of 15% on their IT costs by migrating services to the cloud. That alone makes the migration worthwhile. However, cost savings are far from the only (or even the primary) reason to go cloud native.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a closer look at the steps needed to complete a cloud-native transformation.

  1. Set the goals: start by figuring out what the goals are. Where do you – the entire organization – want to be tomorrow or a year from now? What about five years from now? And make sure these goals align with the company’s business needs and objectives before you begin.
  2. Set a strategy and timeline: Set a strategy that aims at achieving the goals you’ve just established in a realistic timeframe. Also, don’t forget that the strategy must align with your business’s overall purpose and, most importantly, include a customer success period for your people.
  3. Research the technology: You know your goals and strategies, which means it’s time to choose the tech. Be diligent and do the research, but ultimately your shiny new goals and strategies should determine which tech, platform, and provider to go for. Also, remember that this is a long-term change, so keep an eye out for solutions that offer agility, scalability, and value over time.
  4. Pick the right people: It’s time to delegate. You have a brilliant project with clear goals, an excellent strategy, and the right tool already added to cart. It’s time to choose your champions. Ideally, they’ll all be super-popular geniuses who love cloud solutions, but failing that, a mix of qualified and eager colleagues will usually do (the former can be motivated and the latter can learn). If speed is high on your list of priorities, cloud experts or managed cloud providers will turbocharge your transformation journey.
  5. Optimize processes: The team’s first order of business should be to decide which processes and applications to optimize and automate in the cloud for maximum ROI. Why not migrate all of them, you ask? Unfortunately, not every single process and application will be more efficient in the cloud. If you’re unsure which ones are and aren’t, reach out to and work with experts on cloud optimization. They know their stuff.
  6. Time to migrate: Goals set, strategy ready, tech chosen, A-team assembled, processes and applications identified for migration; you’re ready. All that time you spent on steps 1-5 pays dividends in the form of a rapid and smooth transition, especially if you decided to include experts in the process. 
  7. Manage: Don’t forget this step! The world of technology evolves at a blistering pace, and you need to keep testing, experimenting, and optimizing your stack to ensure you meet your objectives. Remember: it’s a lifestyle change, not a fad diet. If your costs aren’t falling or your other (likely more valuable) objectives aren’t being met, reach out for help to experts in the field.

And there you have it! Ready the umbrellas. The next step, now that we are wise in the ways of cloud transformation, is to spread the good word. We must let the world know that the migration itself is but a part of a greater process of modernizing and optimizing our data, analytics, and security. Without goals, strategy, tech, team, and process, our umbrellas will catch only the lightest of drizzles – and worst of all, the full potential of the cloud will go unfulfilled.

Kevin Davis is the global CTO of AWS at Atos, a leader in cloud and digital workplace. He previously served in the same capacity at Cloudreach. He is a passionate technical leader who delivers high-quality, customer-driven solutions leveraging DevOps and public cloud technologies