As a senior manager, you are expected to lead and establish the role cloud computing should play in your firm. But, what are the roadblocks to that expectation?
- You face an ocean of choices from sellers of cloud computing.
- You face a skeptical staff who will be burdened with any path you choose.
- You face the deafening din of marketing noise designed to make the problem so complex that you might defer your decisions or succumb to a vendor-led roadmap not necessarily optimized for your needs.
- You face the unchallenged expectation of immediate cost savings.
- You face an underfunded project with an urgent completion milestone.
Cloud migrations can be complex, but they are also nothing new in the life cycle of information technology projects. Let’s examine the typical prescriptions presented by sellers to prospective buyers of cloud computing. Then we’ll examine what you should consider doing next.
A Typical Engagement
- Assessment – Typically consisting of multiple phases where the deliverable is a clear understanding of your application inventory.
- End-state Design – The application inventory is parsed into appropriate end-state targets in the cloud. This phase will engage all of the “as a service” models and almost always fails to deal with the entire application inventory portfolio. It is common to be told you have applications not suitable to the cloud.
- Business Case – A phase typically dealt with superficially because it’s difficult to quantify with accuracy the business case for moving to the cloud. The economics of the cloud depend on you actually eliminating the existing on-premise costs. Most firms fail badly and end up with duplicate carrying costs.
- Deployment Playbook – Not all vendors complete this step because migrating applications anywhere is complicated and requires discipline as I outline in my book “What Everybody Ought to Know Before Moving a Data Center.”
There are countless variations to this typical engagement including organizational maturity assessments, pilot programs, and “low hanging fruit” approaches. Before you engage, recognize that if you make some early decisions, you’ll have a better engagement experience with your chosen vendor.
What do you already know?
As a senior leader, you already have some idea of your low hanging application fruit that is cloud-ready. You also have a good grasp on the funding available and the intuition to understand that what a business case promises, it rarely delivers. Finally, since most cloud savings depend on slashing on-premise labor, on-premise data center costs, or cost-shifting components elsewhere, you have to ask yourself: Does the organizational courage exist to address workforce reductions required by a cloud migration?
Before engaging, make some decisions.
Make some decisions before you engage a seller and you’ll be better prepared to collaborate with them to implement a cloud adoption roadmap.
- Why are you moving your application inventory to the cloud?
- Does your organization have the courage to address workforce reductions and shutter on-premise data centers?
- If you have applications that can not be made cloud-ready, do you still carry similar costs for these left-behind applications? If so, do the economics justify moving until you solve for these stubborn application beasts?
- Do you have enough resources (skills, time, money) to complete a successful migration?
- Have you modeled what your increased costs in training, additional bandwidth, security compliance, and organization workflow will be in your new cloud world?
- Are you biased against outside help that speaks truth to power and illuminates gaps in capabilities?
- Is your timeline feasible for an orderly migration or have you already been dealt a non-optional milestone with an underfunded budget?
Before you dive into the technical alphabet soup of a cloud migration, decide the parameters of the project. Clouds aren’t magic. You absolutely can be mired in techno-speak overwhelming purposeful decision-making. But, as a senior leader, you already know cloud migrations require a fiscal discipline and project governance to establish financial controls and what success in migration means.
Before you run the meter with vendors, make some early decisions and frame your project. Most importantly, assess your firm’s willingness to change, fund, and embrace the cloud migration project.
[This post originally shared on the LinkedIn platform.]