6 Questions You Should Ask Before Migrating Your Business to the Cloud

Look for these signs to avoid damaging your org in a failed cloud migration.

Written by Lee Voigt
Published on Oct. 27, 2021
6 Questions You Should Ask Before Migrating Your Business to the Cloud
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So you’re planning to move to the cloud. 

Perhaps your organization has started its cloud journey, but you’re hearing about the problems that others are experiencing trying to migrate existing technology assets. What signs should you be looking for to avoid being yet another failed cloud migration?

6 Questions That Can Help Avoid Cloud Migration Mistakes

  1. Why are you migrating to the cloud?
  2. What is your cloud play?
  3. What are your core expectations?
  4. How have you solved the competency gap?
  5. What is the plan for your business applications?
  6. How will you manage your cloud assets?

Answering these questions will improve your odds of cloud migration success.


Why Are You Migrating to the Cloud?

Have you identified the benefits you expect from your move to the cloud? Is it solely an exercise in converting capital expenditures into operating expenditures? Is it intended to be an outsourcing measure? Are you looking for the elasticity and scalability that the cloud can provide? 

If you’re not sure what you expect to gain from a move to the cloud, it may be time to stop and formally define your intent. How can you be successful if you haven’t defined what success looks like?


What Is Your Cloud Play?

“Cloud” is a vague term for a wide set of architectures and capabilities. From an infrastructure perspective, are you looking to use the cloud to supplement or replace your data center (i.e. a hybrid cloud)? Are you comfortable living in a multi-tenant, shared cloud (i.e. a public cloud)? Or are you looking for cloud benefits in your own dedicated environment (i.e. a private cloud)? 

From a technology capabilities perspective, are you looking to outsource your database and other platforms (i.e. platform-as-a-service)? Do you want to eliminate the need for data center facilities and equipment but manage everything else (i.e. infrastructure-as-a-service)? 

What will the compliance standards for your industry even allow? Have you done your due diligence, and is your CIO in alignment with the rest of the executive suite regarding these questions? Clarifying these expectations up front may prevent a number of issues going forward. 

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What Are Your Core Expectations?

The cloud allows for a range of architectures that range from very robust on one end of the spectrum to very simple on the other. What level of architecture and capability are you looking for? Performance, availability, recoverability, continuity, security, compliance: What are your expectations across all of these measures? Have you investigated the costs associated with these expectations and balanced them against the benefits? 

Many organizations tend to start too near one end of the architecture spectrum and are then frustrated by the reduced benefits or increased costs that result as they move toward the middle. It is important to set expectations up front so that you’re not answering to stakeholders later.


How Have You Solved the Competency Gap?

Is your information technology team ready for the cloud? From a design, architecture and implementation perspective, the worst thing you can do is treat the cloud like a data center. The days of buying excessive compute and storage capabilities to accommodate expected growth and peak periods are over; the cloud requires a new mindset. Ongoing administration of cloud assets requires different thinking as well. 

Spend management, security and governance look a lot different when you’re dealing with an environment that’s constantly in flux — compared to when you were buying equipment every four years or so. What is your plan for building, acquiring or outsourcing the cloud competencies that you need to be successful?  


What Is the Plan for Your Business Applications?

Building an infrastructure foundation with the cloud can be complicated. Migrating business applications adds yet another level of complexity. 

Are you looking simply to move your legacy applications to the cloud (rehosting or “lift-and-shift”)? Are you looking to simply leverage cloud platforms like web services or database services to support your application needs (replatforming)? Or are you looking to gain the full set of cloud benefits available through a complete overhaul of your application architectures (re-architecting)? 

What options are available to you with your existing applications? If you’re looking to re-architect, do you have the DevOps and containers skills needed or do you need to build or acquire them? You get the biggest benefits from the cloud when you migrate your business applications — but there is no more difficult task in this journey.  


How Will You Manage Your Cloud Assets?

Many people presume that a move to the cloud will eliminate their information technology administrative burden. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. It is important to understand the division of responsibilities between the organization and its cloud provider. 

For example, ownership of patch management; antivirus and antimalware protection; security monitoring; disaster recovery testing and other core responsibilities are often retained by the organization. 

Beyond these traditional responsibilities, a move to the cloud adds a new layer of spend management and governance responsibilities. Many organizations have been rudely surprised when their typical cloud invoice doubled from one month to the next because of revised usage patterns. Have you created a roles and responsibilities matrix for the future state of your information technology organization?

Migration to the cloud can be difficult, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Clear answers to these questions — agreed upon at all levels of the organization — can simplify your cloud journey and improve your odds of success.  

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