The benefits of cloud computing – cost reduction, flexibility, almost limitless scale – are well documented. But the process of migration isn’t quite as simple as it is often made out and needs careful planning. Clients we have worked with who have successfully navigated a cloud migration do however preach loudly about the benefits of implementing a clear business strategy for cloud migration to ensure their organisation is set up for the future. This blog brings together real-world experience of these enterprise cloud migrations, from all-encompassing migrations to a phased approach of just moving core databases or selected applications.

Cloud migration mistakes can quickly wipe out, or significantly reduce, any expected increase in agility, as well as speed and cost savings. If your Board fails to see the outcomes promised, the result could also be a drop in confidence in your cloud strategy, possibly causing a slowdown in cloud adoption.

Whilst you cannot mitigate every risk, there are some common and potentially damaging pitfalls you should work to avoid. We’re happy to share key lessons learned and some of the biggest benefits and pitfalls of performing a cloud migration.

How you run your business in the cloud is different than how you run it on premises. There are changes in both the processes and the skills needed. It’s important to comprehensively analyse your current systems, data and processes – and get employees ready to embrace the move.

Analyse your applications before the migration

The first mistake is failing to analyse your applications before considering what to move. Don’t try to do too much – start the migration with a small set of applications. During the analysis there are key questions to ask. For instance, do you need your apps to run cheaper or faster in the cloud? And how can you optimise your apps so they will run cheaper and faster? What resources does each app need compared to what it’s currently using? You don’t want to request a terabyte of memory when you don’t need it.

At G3G we will help you run a portfolio analysis to determine what apps are well suited for the initial migration.

  • Splitting your applications into two distinct groups is a good first step – apps that will be migrated and apps that will be replaced. It generally doesn’t make sense to migrate an on-premise HR application for instance, when you could simply start using a cloud-based app such as SuccessFactors, but it’s a good idea to analyse what your users need day-to-day from the old system and then make sure the relevant processes are at least replicated. Engaging and listening to end-users at the earliest stage is key to successful adoption.
  • The cloud is a safe place to run compliance-sensitive workloads, but don’t make your most sensitive data or applications the place to start your migration.
  • If an app tends to have workloads that drop and spike, then it’s a good candidate for the cloud, from an infrastructure, where it can easily be scaled up and down. This will allow you to take advantage of cloud pricing so you aren’t paying for hardware when it’s not being used.
  • You will obviously do a lot of testing when moving data to the cloud but it’s essential to test the whole process in the way it would actually be used. Pay particular attention to interfaces, which may be difficult to test if only your current production system contains the processes.

Move beyond ‘lift’ and ‘shift’

Moving beyond legacy thinking can help avoid a major pitfall of cloud migrations – it is much more than just picking up an application or data and dropping it in the cloud. There are significantly new and better ways to do things in the cloud. The real benefit to the enterprise is taking advantage of cloud services, like mobile back-end services and performance management services. Using the cloud shouldn’t be just about cheap storage, G3G can help you maximise the benefits of migrating to the cloud.

Get the training you need

Some of your IT team may not know a lot about the cloud, especially if this is their first migration. Finding cloud-savvy people can be difficult and often costly but without that cloud knowledge, a migration can take longer than expected and run into more problems. And, possibly even worse, once the migration is over, IT might find they’ve simply moved their old on-premises mess to the cloud. At G3G, we help your IT team not only understand how using the cloud works but how to modernise applications, so they can take full advantage of cloud services.

IT teams will be given the opportunity to stay current and fresh in the industry. By enabling more mundane, routine applications to be run automatically in the cloud, your IT team are freed up to use their skills on more innovative and rewarding activities.

In the end it’s unlikely that you will be able to avoid every pitfall when it comes to cloud migration. Each application and instance is going to be a little bit different for each organisation. Some problems you can anticipate, some you can’t, but by using G3G’s proven methodologies and experience you can mitigate known pitfalls and deal with any issues that do come up.

If you would like some help from the experts at G3G, or just some more friendly advice on your move to the cloud, please get in touch.