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More and more businesses are migrating to the cloud to achieve benefits such as major cost savings, boosted efficiencies and access to new technology (e.g. IoT and AI). For example, migrating from the legacy Microsoft Dynamics AX to D365 in the cloud can save businesses £6.1 million across the board. But before you can achieve all those benefits, there are some things you should consider before you begin your cloud migration.

  1. Your goals for the migration - are they clear and flexible?
  2. Do you know what should and shouldn’t be migrated?
  3. Have you considered the applications that might need to be rewritten or replaced?
  4. Can you meet compliance and regulatory standards?
  5. Have you bridged any skill and learning gaps?
  6. How will you manage costs?
  7. How will you manage the project?
  8. Have you got a business continuity plan?
  9. How will you manage your new cloud environment?

1. Your goals for the migration - are they clear and flexible?

Successful cloud migration

It’s the same for any major business decision - you need to align them with your overall business goals. So, for a cloud migration project, you should consider how your company would benefit from it. Perform risk analysis to understand how the migration would align with your overall business strategy and create some clear goals the project should help you achieve.

Those goals should also be flexible. As you move through the migration, there may be learnings to take onboard. So, your goals should be flexible enough to accommodate for those.

2. Do you know what should and shouldn’t be migrated?

Decide which resources you want to take with you to the cloud and which you don’t. Of the resources you’ll take with you, analyse whether you’ll need to make any changes to them (e.g. rearchitecting or rewriting them so they’re suitable for the cloud). If so, you should consider adding an additional stage to your migration project for this.

Tip: Don’t forget to document these decisions and share them with anyone who needs to know - such as your cloud migration team and end users.

3. Have you considered the applications that might need to be rewritten or replaced?

In an ideal world, you could literally lift your business architecture and shift it to the cloud in basically a like-for-like fashion. Also known as the lift-and-shift cloud migration approach.

But most migrations aren’t that simple. You may need to rewrite or rearchitect your applications (or parts of them) before you can move them to the cloud. If this is the case, you should break your migration down into phases. Although this will lengthen your cloud migration timeline, it can significantly reduce the risk and complexity of the project.

4. Can you meet compliance and regulatory standards?

Data security in the cloud

Two of the most important concerns for any CIO. Reputable cloud providers have robust security frameworks in place and will follow industry best practices to ensure data security. But it can still be daunting to migrate your data from servers you own to another company’s servers.

On the other hand, do you think these big-name cloud providers could have earned their reputation for being the best of the best if they couldn’t ensure data security? Or if they couldn’t help their customers meet compliance and regulatory requirements? They have teams of high-quality experts protecting your data round-the-clock which would be costly and time-consuming to handle in-house.

When you’re choosing your cloud provider, vet your options by evaluating their security measures and how they can help you mitigate any security or compliance risks.

5. Have you bridged any skill and learning gaps?

With cloud migrations being such complex projects, it’s wiser to not be overly optimistic about your team’s skills and capabilities. You might already have employees who seem to be experts on the cloud but is this level of knowledge consistent? The cloud can be a broad and ambiguous term to anyone but those who work in the field, day in and day out.

This is one of the main risks of cloud computing - not all businesses have the right or enough expertise and resources when it comes to cloud migrations.

To truly bridge the gap and ensure a smooth, risk-free migration, you should bring in more talent. Whether that’s recruiting new employees or working with consultants/partnering with a cloud migration agency.

Identify these gaps by drawing up a matrix of responsibilities for the project and matching them to the people within your team who can do those tasks. Fill the gaps before you start migrating.

6. How will you manage costs?

It’s easy for cloud migration projects to spiral out of control, budget-wise. In fact, in 2020, one of the top challenges of the cloud was handling “growing cloud spend”. Businesses went over budget by 23% and they’re expecting this spend to increase by a further 47% over the next 12 months.

Try and keep a lid on your costs by monitoring them as part of your weekly (or daily, if it’s an Agile approach) migration update meetings. And make sure you have a well-thought-out escalation and approval plan for if you do go over budget.

Tip: Working with a cloud migration consultant or partner would be particularly useful here.

7. How will you manage the project?

How to migrate to the cloud

As well as having clear and flexible goals in place, you should also have regular meetings (involving relevant colleagues and employees e.g. your migration team, stakeholders, management etc) to gain updates on progress and blockers. You should also have a roadmap in place to reference and update often - weekly or daily, for example.

Both of the above can help you keep a handle on progress and jump to action if things do fall behind or challenges occur.

8. Have you got a business continuity plan?

One key benefit of the cloud over on-premises legacy systems is the minimal risk of downtime. Despite this, you should still have a disaster recovery plan in place to ensure business continuity. And you should start thinking about this before you start your cloud migration.

Your Service Level Agreement (SLA) with your cloud provider should provide the specifics.

9. How will you manage your new cloud environment?

Once your cloud environment is up and running, it doesn’t mean the journey’s over. Here are some reasons why you must make monitoring the environment an ongoing responsibility:

  • If you implement new technology
  • If you rewrite existing solutions
  • To ensure your new environment is meeting those goals you set before your cloud migration
  • To ensure your new environment aligns with your overall business strategy

Most cloud environments and providers offer built-in, customisable dashboards so you can quickly gain a snapshot view of the analytics/data you want to see.

Benefits of the cloud

Next step: Developing a cloud migration strategy and going ahead with it

If you’ve made it this far into this post, your next questions are surely along the lines of ‘how do I create a migration strategy?’ and ‘where do I start?’. Luckily for you, we have a guide on cloud migrations where we walk you through the before, during and after regarding such projects.

Click the button below to read more.

How to ensure a successful cloud migration

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