10 Questions to Ask Before You Start Migration to the Cloud
Your first cloud migration project. I’ve been there. A real pain. So many questions and then more questions to discover.
The cloud business in the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region is growing, with total value expected to reach $2 billion in 2020. Today is the best day to start thinking about your first migration. Because now is the best time to use cloud technology to gain a market advantage before your competition does.
I would love to help you here. So I’ve come up with 10 questions that you need to answer before you start migrating your first application to the cloud.
1. Do you understand cloud computing?
In 2016, you can find thousands of public cloud providers on the market. Additionally, there are dozens of private cloud solutions that are recommended by IT vendors. Each cloud type has specific features, architecture, and cost models. Some companies forget about real cloud-computing concepts like pay-per-use model, consumption-based access to resources, and elastic resource scaling. Without understanding these features, it’s very difficult to realize the full benefits of cloud.
Start the learning process in your organization. Use external companies or give your people small research tasks to. Knowledge is an invaluable map on the cloud journey.
2. Do you know which cloud vendor is the best fit for you?
If you understand cloud computing and how it works, then ask yourself which cloud solutions will be best for your organization. Should you use infrastructure as a service or platform as a service? Maybe you should focus only on high-level solutions like software as a service. Maybe you should go for a hybrid solution, or maybe you shouldn’t use cloud at all? Keep in mind that each vendor will try to sell you its own solution.
Work with people who have experience and expertise with many types of cloud solution. Be open about your problems and goals, as this is the only way to choose the best solution.
3. Is your cloud provider ready to support your business?
Each cloud provider has limits. Even the biggest ones will only allow you to set up a certain number of virtual machines, add a certain number of users, or open a certain number of databases at the same time.
Ask your cloud provider about limits before committing; don’t wait until you already reach limits that you need to exceed. Most of the leading cloud providers will provide this information on their websites. Ask about supported services in each region.
4. Do you know your success criteria?
Why do you want to use cloud? It’s a strange question, but you should be able to answer it. Do you want to pay 30% less per solution? Do you want to have 25% fewer support tickets? Do you want to increase your go-to- market speed by 50%? This will be important for choosing your cloud type as well as what solution you want delivered.
Make sure you know what you want to achieve after your migration to the cloud and that you have processes in place to measure the success or effectiveness of the solution (KPIs, etc). A suggested bonus is to reward your employees when they reach metrics goals.
5. What is the actual cost of your application?
Do you know how much your application cost? This is not a simple question, but it is extremely important. Let’s imagine you have a CRM application. Do you know how much do you pay for a single entry in a database or per user? Most companies use cost parameters as the basis of their success criteria. With cloud, you have access to detailed billing per application. Do you have sufficient data to measure the cost of your applications?
Build a list of your applications and start calculating the cost of using them. This will make it easier to manage the process of allocating budget to cloud usage and measuring return on investment.
6. Do you know what vendors think about service level agreements (SLAs)?
In most large, mature organizations, the IT department will have service level agreements (SLAs) in place with lines of business (LoBs). Let’s imagine that, for the application you’re thinking of moving to cloud, LoBs require 99.99% availability. The problem is, each cloud provider offers clients different SLAs, and some may guarantee only 99.95% availability (per month, for example). Some providers may require that you have at least two virtual machines in different zones. Some cloud providers will not negotiate SLAs per individual client. It's a strange situation, but make sure you understand both sides of the SLA issue before you make any promises to business users.
Learn about what kind of SLAs your cloud providers offer. Study them for worst case scenarios and be ready to accept or reject on that basis, as not all providers will negotiate. Also, make sure you can build hybrid architecture to ensure maximum uptime for your applications.
7. Is the responsible staff knowledgeable?
Ask yourself if you have people in your team that will need to learn cloud computing. During your migration process, you will need at least one person who is a cloud generalist. A cloud generalist understands development, architecture, security, and other aspects of a cloud provider’s offer. This person will be mainly responsible for translating from local to cloud and vice versa.
You must also determine if you have the right people to deal with an external cloud provider. In addition to technical knowledge, your staff will need negotiation, legal, and business skills to manage the ongoing relationship with a potentially very large third-party organization.
Get a person on your team who is interested in cloud and understands one type of cloud in many dimensions. Make sure you have at least one person with the know-how to negotiate and maintain a relationship with one (or more) cloud providers.
8. Which application do you want to migrate?
There are many workloads you can migrate to the cloud:
- DevTest Environment
- Web Apps
- Content Management
- Backup, Archival
- Load Tests
- Big Data/Analytics
- Internal Applications
- Line of Business Applications
- And many more…
But what is the best candidate for your first cloud project? It’s a good idea to choose an easy one. That may be an obvious point, but you should select a project that will help with an actual current problem and will help you and your team understand how cloud works in your organization.
Start with a workshop for your team and find the best application that doesn’t have a strict SLA with business owners or a huge impact on the organization. It should also have the potential to demonstrate some quantifiable degree/aspect of success. An internal expert here can help you make the best decision.
9. Do you know who and what is using your application?Another good question to ask before migration. I have seen deployments where, after migration, some core systems had performance problems. Why? Because a simple application that was chosen during a migration workshop had connections to other systems that no one was aware of. This is important knowledge to have, because when you put an application in a cloud, possibly hosted in other country, you add latency to the equation.
Make sure you are aware of all connections that your application has to other systems in your organization. Make sure that latency between your new cloud-based application and users and old systems will match the SLA requirements and users won’t have any problems operating the application.
10. Do you know how to migrate your application to the cloud?IDC research revealed that average company will go through 28 steps in the migration process, which are divided into four categories: assessment, plan, migration, and verification. During this process, you need to be constantly reassessing security, cost management, data migration, and so on.
Find a trusted advisor who can help you with the cloud migration process; someone to give you answers based on experience. Investment in such an advisor has unlimited ROI, because it’s easy to forget a single yet crucial step, and your cloud migration project could fail disastrously.
That’s not all… it’s really only a beginning. IDC’s goal is to help you choose the best solution based on our data and expertise. We strongly believe that our neutrality will also be an invaluable factor in your success.
If, like many other companies, you have problems with any of the above issues, or you have questions we haven’t covered here, just contact Miroslaw Burnejko, Cloud Lead, IDC CEE, at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about our Cloud Migration Strategy workshop.