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When moving IT infrastructure to the cloud, it’s essential to have a strategic plan to guide you. Here are a few things you should consider.

First of all, setting expectations for everyone involved in the process is important, particularly when it comes to the costs of migration and any cultural adjustments needed.

Next, you should begin by focusing on company leadership. Because your leadership should drive your cloud move, their buy-in alone is probably not sufficient for your cloud migration to succeed—they have to own it.

If leadership is driving your move to the cloud, it may be useful to set expectations about “simple” subjects like cost forklifting (if this is not a greenfield effort) and subsequent effort to move to “cloud native.” Additionally, more abstract notions around employee retraining and the hiring of new employees (and/or consultants) to assist in the effort should be addressed. It’s also important to set expectations about the length of the entire process.

Points your cloud strategic plan will need to address

    • A discussion and comparison of Capital Expenses (CapEx) vs Operational Expenses (OpEx). This should lead to a broader cloud-economics discussion to determine what works best for you financially to meet your IT goals.
    • Can your home-grown workloads be replaced by an *aaS vendor? Or do those workloads contribute to your uniqueness/competitiveness in the marketplace?
    • What is the state of current workloads? Are they in a state that will allow you to forklift to the cloud without refactoring?
    • Can they be triaged (evaluated & prioritized)?
    • Can a rough ordinal list be made to prioritize workloads, taking into consideration the results of triaging and all dependencies?
    • Has an on-premises DevOps culture been established and, if not, what will be the effort and cost to get there?
    • Have your development teams adopted some flavor of Agile, Scrum or Kanban?  If not, what will be the effort and cost to get there?

After addressing the above points, the first iteration of your strategic plan should be reviewed by senior leadership, being led by the sponsor of the effort, and perhaps with architectural support. Subsequent iterations of the roadmap must be evaluated by all leadership (more or less in order of title). Start at the top and drive the conversation downwards to broaden it: vice president, then directors, then managers, etc.  When this has been completed, allow senior leadership to review and revise the roadmap.

If your strategic plan is thorough and comprehensive, the learnings and insights will likely hold true until a new factor (e.g. unexpected budgetary restraints) comes into play.

Finally, be mindful that the biggest mistake companies make when migrating to the cloud is underestimating the amount of cultural change required. This, of course, leads to an underestimation of the project timeline. It’s important to realize how difficult it may be for the employee who has spent the last twenty years building servers, to adjust their skill set to a mass-production environment.

Photo: MP_P / Shutterstock

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Dave Christian

Posted by Dave Christian

Dave Christian is a Cloud Architect at Anexinet, and boasts over three decades of technology experience across many industry verticals, from start-ups to the largest enterprises. He has managed products, developers, operations, support desks and has worked on quality assurance. For the last decade, Dave has specialized in cloud operations, working hands-on with organizations like Nokia, Boeing, Yahoo! and Comcast on their initial forays into the cloud. Further, he helps clients set management standards including their cloud security, implements governance based on those standards, has written code for SaaS automating ERP systems into the cloud, has devised and implemented multi-region and containerization strategies, and has helped firms dramatically reduce costs by migrating from cloud to cloud-native infrastructures.

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