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5 min read

Six cloud migration questions CIOs should be asking

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Cloud migration, so many organisations are doing it these days, and with good reason! With the prospect of corralling sprawling IT costs, improved app scalability and performance, and not to mention the benefits of the cloud's economies of scale—the potential for growth is huge. In fact, it could well be time to swap cloud caution for cloud confidence and jump on the cloud bandwagon.

However, before you take the next step, it's worth putting the time into planning what your migration will entail. Each migration is different and a poorly considered plan, and poor support, can result in a lengthy and confusing migration. To avoid this CIOs need to address a number of questions to plot the best cloud migration route for their organisation.

For many years Adaptavist has been supporting customers across the globe to complete smooth migrations and maximise the business benefits of moving to the cloud. During this time we have identified six key questions that are a great starting point for any cloud migration plan, to help get it right from day one.

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What are your desired end goals?

It may sound obvious, but always keep your end goals in mind as you work on creating and implementing a cloud migration strategy. 

Don’t look at cloud migration as simply installing a set of technologies, but instead, adopting a cloud service to achieve your long term goals. What are the big wins for you and what does success look like? Your migration plan and strategy must always be in line with your original objectives.

If the move to the cloud is driven by cost reduction as a goal, it can mean you need to make different decisions than if your focus is on reducing risk, or enhancing customer experience. 

This step of identifying and documenting your overall migration objective(s) will help everybody in the team see the bigger picture and help you identify clear deliverables for each team, as part of the overall plan.

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Do you have a clear idea of the associated costs?

Let’s face it, cloud migration is a complex process. Determining the actual cost and the value of the eventual benefits requires a strategic, holistic approach, so it’s important to understand and account for all of them before deciding to proceed.

CIOs must have a clear idea of how much they currently spend to run a given workload and how much that cost will reduce when the workload shifts to the cloud. This is the only way to get an idea of whether you can expect to actually gain cost efficiencies by moving.

Cloud server management also includes costs associated with ongoing operations. These costs include industry compliance, security certificates, monitoring application performance, and up-scaling servers, for starters. Savings on infrastructure don’t help if the overall costs to operate go up elsewhere.

Be sure to review your workflows (systems and people) to find ways to maximise efficiencies and determine which of your resources may be eliminated or re-purposed. It is important to correctly model what your cloud costs will be, and then compare those costs across various cloud providers to find out which one can offer the greatest value.

There are now a number of tools – available from major IaaS providers as well as from third-party cloud service brokers and cloud cost management vendors. These tools help you estimate the overall costs associated with your specific use cases, so you can make better and more informed decisions.

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Is your infrastructure cloud-ready?

This is a big one. You should conduct a careful analysis to guarantee the compatibility of the cloud solution you are considering, in line with your organisation’s structural requirements and needs. 

You will need a preliminary sense of the dependencies within your existing infrastructure, applications, and operations to understand your key cloud architectural and integration needs. This exercise will help you gain useful insights into your current status and make it easier to formulate the plans and actions you should take to get your organisation cloud-ready. 

Be warned that many applications might need small adjustments or rebuilds once they are in the cloud and may not do everything they did before. It is important to identify these at-risk applications when you are working on your roadmap. 

End-to-end planning is vital because some of these assets will be more complicated to move than others, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution – each cloud migration is different.

Once you have identified what needs to be moved (and anything else that needs attention), it's time to do your homework on which migration strategy is truly the one for you. For example, lift-and-shift vs rearchitecting, or deployment models (private, public, or hybrid), and service models (IaaS, SaaS, PaaS) – then you can tailor a plan in line with your existing application portfolio and desired migration goals.

Don’t worry, as an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, Adaptavist has the expertise and experience to help you at every stage of your migration planning – from analysing your infrastructure to choosing the right approach. In a nutshell...don’t forget to dive into the details early on – you'll be glad you did.

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Do you have a solid business continuity plan?

You must think about and prepare yourself for potential vulnerabilities and also some possible business disruption. It is important to have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place for handling disaster recovery to keep your applications and processes secure. 

Be sure to probe your cloud service provider on their stance on business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR). Ask them for specifics in service-level agreements (SLAs). Your SLAs should address all questions on what recourse and leverage you would have to hold the cloud provider accountable in case a component, system, or data centre has issues. 

A proven and robust disaster recovery plan is critical, irrespective of how the technology works today – it needs to be continuously tested and retested to keep up with changes.

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What about cloud security?

There is no getting away from it, considering migrating to the cloud also means a major rethink of your cybersecurity strategy. You should create a robust cloud-centric future model for cybersecurity. Why not use this opportunity to re-architect and improve the risk tolerance of your applications?

It's important to understand that cloud security specifically refers only to the security of the cloud service and within the cloud. The cloud provider has no control over how customers use the service. 

For example, misconfiguration of infrastructure-as-a-service can undo provider security measures, which can be easily exploited by hackers to access and locate valuable data. So you must clearly define which parts of the security protocols will be taken care of by the cloud service provider and which ones will be assumed by you. Be sure to ask your cloud service provider about the built-in security tools that are available on the cloud platform, and the visibility and alerting mechanism. 

Equally important is investing in setting up the right internal processes, particularly for staff, to make sure they are continuously updated and trained on best practices for data security and hygiene.

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Does your industry have specific compliance requirements? 

With data protection laws and regulations like GDPR in place your cloud provider must handle your data in line with the governing data sovereignty laws and obligations that apply to your organisation and location.

You may find yourself in a situation where you need to store certain data in a specific region, based on the regulations that apply to your industry and/or country. In some cases, some data may not be deployed to the cloud at all for compliance reasons (e.g the banking sector) meaning you would need to revisit cloud migration at a later date once the required compliance mandates have been received. 

It's important that you make sure that your chosen cloud provider complies with established standards and best practices for their specific industry and region.

Lastly, you need to clarify the difference between the compliance your organisation has on its data, and the compliance that the cloud service provider brings with its environment. Once you have a clear understanding of where the line is, you can work together with your chosen provider to meet your compliance mandate.

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Winning in the cloud 

There are significant advantages of cloud adoption for your data, applications, and cloud architecture, some of which are listed below:

  • Faster software deployment 
  • Enhanced cloud security features (when done right)
  • Less infrastructure complexity
  • Built-in 24/7 status monitoring
  • Automatic data backup
  • Improved flexibility and collaboration across teams
  • Reduced carbon footprint

Modern organisations are likely to move to the cloud eventually, but there’s a lot about it that’s new and changing. Make sure you understand how the cloud is different and ask the questions that are relevant to your business ahead of time to avoid nasty surprises later on.

At Adaptavist, we have years of experience in cloud migrations of all sizes and complexity. In fact, we recently won Atlassian Partner of the Year 2022: Cloud Migration Services due to our Atlassian Cloud offerings. Find out more about how we can help you win in the cloud. 

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