Best practices for cloud migration amid Covid-19: From implementation to delivery

There is a meme circulating on social media which jokes that the biggest driver of digital transformation is Covid-19. This may be a little contrived, but it is certainly the case that the global pandemic has raised the priority of cloud migration projects to the top of many CTOs’ to-do lists. Indeed it has been predicted that 83% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by the end of 2020, so the implementation of a robust cloud migration strategy will allow organisations to best reap the rewards offered by the cloud, while making the process as efficient and straight-forward as possible.

What to migrate and at what cost?

When starting a migration plan you need to look at what business systems you currently have in the cloud and what is still left to migrate. Once you have full visibility of what you have, you can start to analyse which systems should be migrated first. We recommend using a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) process to determine this and using the benefit-cost ratio of each cloud migration project to rank the order in which you should approach these projects. This should ensure that if you only complete the first migration project on the list this year, you have tackled the one that will bring the biggest benefit vs financial outlay to the business.

When producing the benefits of a migration for the CBA, consider your current bottlenecks or service issues during this crisis. For example, has your internally hosted helpdesk system proven to be a hindrance to flexible working? Although this may not continue to be the case when we return to a more normal office environment, the proven lack of flexibility should be given serious consideration and weighted accordingly.

There is still a place for hybrid

While a complete cloud-based environment is the goal of many companies, there are still times when a degree of local resources has a place. For some firms, security and governance will dictate that certain items need to stay within the control of the corporate network – although this is becoming less of an issue as CISOs and CTOs discover that a well secured public cloud should be at least as secure as their in-house hosted equivalents, and often more-so.

Similarly, having local resources available opens up the possibility of caching or resilience for offices where the data link may not be optimal for full cloud working. Being open to the possibility of re-using some physical equipment, as long as it’s in warranty, kept secure and up to date, is a sensible mindset to have during the planning stage.

Who is migrating you?

Depending on the scale and scope of your cloud migration project you may be able to manage your migration using your own IT resources, otherwise you will need to look for

assistance with the project or up-skill your own team to manage this. If you’re thinking that you may use your own staff, ensure you’ve fully costed the training and time required to handle the migration project and that this was factored in to your CBA process.

Unless you have numerous similar migrations to undertake, it’s likely to be the right time to engage a consultant or Managed Service Provider who are experts in this type of project and have the staff and tools to make it a success.

Before putting the project out to tender or approaching third-party consultants and service providers, speak with the software vendor to understand if they have their own migration specialists or a recommended consultancy team. Some larger enterprise software vendors will only provide on-going support and licensing for migrations performed by their service partners.

Make sure SLAs are in your favour

Although it is disappointing to hear about from our perspective, large scale cloud projects often overrun – either in time, cost, or both – and sometimes fail completely.

Take the example of Cheshire Constabulary – a UK based police force – who have just tendered for a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system only 12 months after going live with their current Oracle based system, following a three-year migration project.

While you should always plan for a successful cloud migration, you also need to ensure that the project holds the vendor and partners to a tight SLA to ensure you are financially compensated for any slips in the delivery schedule.

Be aware that the delivery of a successful cloud project is a two-way process, so you need to ensure your key stakeholders are engaged, understand the timescales of the project and that they know what is required from them and at what points.

As such, the SLAs will often work in both directions to keep the project on track, so having a clear plan in place avoids you being penalised for delaying the migration project through last minute changes.

Stick to the plan Once you’ve worked with all the required stake-holders to build a cloud migration plan, and the project is underway, resist the temptation to ‘move the goalposts’ unless you absolutely have to.

We often see projects that start out with a tightly defined scope of work but slip into a spiral of delayed delivery, increased costs and change requests due to the customer requesting amendsto the scope of work during the delivery phase.

Where possible, aim to get the migration completed as planned and then make the additional changes as a second project phase. This way you will ensure you receive a working platform that should be delivered on-time and within the planned budget.

Plan the end

When focusing on the different facets of a cloud migration it is easy to overlook what happens once it is all completed. It is crucial to plan the internal roles and responsibilities ahead of the start of the actual migration work.

You should plan key teams and personnel, such as who will be responsible for monitoring the cloud platform, and detail who the key support escalations are in case of future issues – including external contractors

Plan time to review the migration to learn what could be improved and if there are any further actions that may be needed which did not make the original plan.

Ensure key processes are captured and documentation is completed from the people that performed the migration, and that your own teams can understand both.

Lastly, once your migration project finally completes you may well have a stack of IT hardware that you no longer require. Ensure you have considered how to dispose of this in a safe manner – both for the company’s data security, legal governance requirements, and for the environment.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences and use-cases? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

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