It is expected that senior management take the lead and establish the role cloud computing should play in their organization. The emergent problem is that buyers face an ocean of choices from sellers of cloud computing. On top of these choices is the marketing noise designed to make the problem so complex for buyers that they either defer a decision to tackle a cloud migration or succumb to vendor-led roadmaps that are not optimized for migration.
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 the sellers to prospective buyers of cloud computing.
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.”
As a senior leader, you likely 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, is rarely delivered. Finally, since most cloud savings depend on slashing on-premise labor or cost-shifting it elsewhere, you have to ask yourself if the organizational courage exists to address workforce reductions.
The problem and solution rests with you. Make some decisions before you engage a seller.
- 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?
- Do you have enough resources (skills, time, money) to complete a successful migration?
- Are you biased against outside help to speak truth to power?
Before you dive into the technical alphabet soup of a cloud migration, decide the parameters of the project. Clouds aren’t magic and they require a fiscal discipline and project governance to establish what success in migration means.