5 Steps to Overcome Top Challenges in Cloud Migration

Why going back to the basics is the key to success.

By Sue Dunnell

5 Steps to Overcome Top Challenges in Cloud Migration

COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of how businesses operate. For many, this has meant having to accelerate their cloud adoption plans despite having a lack of resources with cloud expertise. Even now, many businesses struggle to ensure security, control spend, maintain governance, and implement processes and best practices to stay on track and stay competitive.

In fact, the 2021 State of the Cloud Report, recently released by Flexera, reveals details of top challenges in cloud migration faced by 750 global cloud decision makers and users on all aspects of their public, private, and multi-cloud use, adoption, cost, security and governance.

And what topped the list?

Both enterprise organizations and SMBs identified the same top two challenges of cloud migration:

  1. The ability to understand application dependencies
  2. Assessing technical feasibility of migrating on-prem apps to the cloud

As long-time practitioners we have planned, managed and executed hundreds of highly complex data center and cloud migrations, and are are not surprised to see those top the list. That’s because these two items are critical capabilities, fundamental to making good decisions at every stage of a migration to mitigate risk, and drive the results that businesses expect from a cloud migration.

Is there anything businesses could have done to prepare for the unexpected, even during a global pandemic that disrupted everything?

Turns out there is: Going Back to the Basics

Identifying relationships across apps, services, databases, hardware and networking devices is the fundamental first step to understanding what assets exist, how they work, and how they are interrelated across a hybrid landscape.

Without this basic insight, it’s difficult to make any decisions about migrating to a new data center or cloud platform, simply because you don’t know which business services could be disrupted when assets are moved. It’s high risk!

Here are 5 steps we recommend to overcome the top challenges for cloud adoption:


1. Create a single source of actionable data – and give everyone access to it

Actionable data is accurate, current, normalized, and relevant to the project at hand. The average IT organization has 3-5 CMDB, DCIM, auto-discovery tools, databases, and file systems. Many have 12 or more. So while there is no shortage of data, it’s duplicated across multiple systems, not normalized and each system is accessible by different users. Nobody has access to a single set of relevant data for the project at hand.

The fundamental first step toward building a foundation for good decision making is to create a consolidated source of actionable data from all your systems, and provide access to all project stakeholders. Transparency also helps build trust across teams.

We recommend being able to visualize the data so it’s easier to identify how apps, services, databases, devices, and other assets are dependent upon each other.

2. Keep your data current

IT is a highly dynamic environment where change is constant (Gartner states that the average firm makes 10,000 changes annually to its IT environment).

Once you have an actionable set of data, it’s important that it remains actionable. Regularly schedule data updates, and put a process in place that automates the ingestion, normalization, and consolidation to eliminate human error.

3. Collaborate across IT and business teams

Decision making can’t be done in a silo, especially in IT. There are just too many critical business and technical requirements that need to be considered at each stage of a cloud migration.

A critical first step is identifying these important business facts. For instance, what are the RTO/RPO and SLAs for each asset? Which assets have regulatory compliance, security, privacy and other requirements?

Getting insight from business owners further builds trust and establishes true cross-silo teams.

4. Align your app portfolio with strategic business goals

Assessing the feasibility of migrating an app to the cloud is easier when each app has been ranked for its criticality to business, linked to business capabilities, and categorized against criteria such as AWS 7Rs (Amazon added ‘relocate’ to the 6Rs). Each organization should also incorporate its own criteria when making these decisions.

Once there is a disposition or plan for every app, it becomes much easier to identify which apps should go to which cloud by evaluating each disposition against the key business goals business.

5. Iteratively plan and test, and then plan and test again. And again.

Migrations are dynamic, ongoing processes. Teams need to be able to assess the anticipated metrics, and evaluate options against each other to determine which scenarios will produce results that best align with business goals.

After migrating applications, an ongoing assessment should be done to determine if the right apps were moved to the right cloud, if the expected ROI or other metrics are being achieved, or if a different “R” option is necessary.

Migrating workloads to the cloud can save organizations money, improve security and compliance. And, it helps eliminate technical debt tied to maintaining older apps running in traditional data centers. With increased agility, cloud adoption accelerates an organization’s ability to rapidly adopt new technology and deliver on the promise of digital transformation (DX.)

Want to learn more? Check out how we helped BMW Accelerate their Cloud Adoption to Drive Innovation and Agility

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