Move your Data Center to the Cloud?

Someday soon, someone is going to challenge you to move your entire data center to the cloud. Enough case studies have emerged to entice CIO’s (Chief Information Officers) to explore the promised cloud economics. After all, who can resist the dangled carrot to reduce costs, simplify deployments, and improve business agility?

No one.

And marketing departments know that. The reason is simple: IT (Information Technology), despite all the claims to the contrary, remains a cost center.  Turning this cost center into a value generator often ignores the complexity and legacy that defines Enterprise Information Technology services.

It would be easy to discuss all of the reasons why you shouldn’t move to the cloud. But that’s not why you’re reading this. So let’s complete the thought experiment exercise and discuss what you need to do to move that data center into the cloud.

Prepare a Budget

Nothing happens without money and you’ll need some fuel to complete your data center migration to the cloud. Unfortunately, the cloud has no mature economic models that you can simply plug in your information and arrive at a number to pitch to your CFO (Chief Financial Officer). If you are moving to the cloud, you are by definition, entrusting your working applications to others. Your budget needs to reflect the labor required to engineer an application migration and in some cases a re-architecture prior to that migration.

Application migrations are not new events in the lifecycle of most Enterprises. Therefore, moving these applications to the cloud requires the same discipline, the same use-case testing and certification, and the same skilled project management that was required in the past. The Cloud has not yet suspended the laws of how complex engineering projects are completed successfully. Don’t overlook the cost of educating and re-tooling your internal staff and users for the changes the Cloud will bring. Budget for the security testing required to be confident that your data is secure in its new home.

Dedicate a Team

IT (Information Technology)  projects fail for lots of reasons. Sadly, most of those reasons are well known lessons learned but not lessons remembered. Expecting your IT staff to do their normal jobs while at the same time moving your operation to the cloud is a mistake you can avoid.  A dedicated team will focus on the challenges, overcome them, and provide you with the best chance of success.

Clearly Define the Scope and Milestones

Like every exciting project, a move to the cloud will ignite the demand for other projects to ride along. Some of these will be compelling, some will be silly. Discipline up front with clearly defined scope and expectations for completing the move will be rewarded. Trying to please everyone also has it’s own reward…likely a new job.

Identify the Alternatives

If you haven’t considered alternative solutions to moving to the cloud, you are missing the opportunity to understand what you are doing. The Cloud hype is loud and proud. Believe all of it at your own peril. Being grounded in the alternatives allows you to effectively manage a move to the cloud with a realistic expectation of what you are buying before you buy it. The cloud is not magic and by understanding the alternatives, you will learn what cloud components make sense for your organization.

Performance Matters, Disaster Recovery Matters

Understand the end user performance before you begin the migration. Do you know what performance you are experiencing now per application you want to move? What additional costs are required to maintain or improve that performance? Have you dedicated an experienced architect to review your disaster recovery in a cloud environment? Carefully re-read those cloud case studies and you’ll realize that heavy lifting is involved.

Your IT Staff suffers from Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is the practice of enhancing information that supports a preconception and rejecting information that opposes it. CIOs need to understand that their staff suffers from confirmation bias.  And when it comes to the Cloud,  that confirmation bias can keep a CIO out of the Cloud with misinformation collected through the lens of confirmation bias. How many of these do you recognize?

  • We already are our own cloud.
  • There is no security in the cloud.
  • There are no use cases for us to use the cloud.
  • It’s too expensive.
  • It’s unproven.

Clearly, you’ll need to overcome your staff’s confirmation bias against the cloud if you want to explore its benefits.  Moving your data center to the cloud should begin with you solving this problem first.

What Everybody Ought to Know Before Moving a Data Center

I wrote this book to strip the mystery from a data center move, and to:


  • jump start project managers who want to understand the WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) category foundations
  • inform Executives about their budget process and cost model
  • warn Stakeholders to get Governance right
  • slice the Gordian Knot of decision paralysis
  • arm Human Resources to recognize key contributors versus the lazy, blanket recognition that demoralizes technical staff

Written in plain language, and organized to accelerate everyone’s understanding, the book is particularly useful for on-boarding others as your data center move progresses.

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