Many organisations run into trouble when they embark on cloud migration projects without a properly formulated strategy and business case, meaning they have little clarity about where the business value lies and why they are making the move in the first place.
The hype surrounding cloud over the past few years has seen a significant level of uptake of this platform, and many companies have been lured into making hasty cloud migrations by the promise of both business and IT benefits.
Andre Schwan, deal solutions manager at T-Systems South Africa, explains that from a business perspective, companies often face pressure to gain business agility, or the ability to change their products faster to match evolving market requirements.
“The base architecture of cloud enables rapid change, and this is actually the main underlying driver for most companies to go to cloud, as it offers opportunities that they wouldn’t have on their current platforms.”
From an IT perspective, Schwan says that enterprises tend to embrace the cloud to reduce infrastructure spend, with many companies increasingly choosing to move from a capital expenditure to an operational expenditure model.
However, many soon discover the pitfalls with cloud migration, especially if they don’t drive consistent cloud adoption strategies from the outset, or if their IT specialists do not understand the limitations and security structuring of the cloud.
“With multi-cloud strategies, customers have a variety of options to choose from, which is often confusing, and they don’t necessarily anticipate the complexity that comes with different cloud vendors.
Grant Somerset, specialised sales executive at T-Systems South Africa, adds that companies are often unaware of the hidden costs associated with cloud adoption, such as the cost of bandwidth and network traffic, which has not been factored into the total cost of ownership.
“Then there is also the cost of rewriting applications so they are cloud-ready. Often these costs can be so high that it’s not feasible, so companies opt for private cloud solutions to keep these applications on premises.
“It comes down to identifying the correct applications and understanding the workflow and the business processes behind moving them to the cloud – it’s not just a case of lift and shift and business goes on as usual.”
Schwan and Somerset both agree that a poorly planned cloud migration, where an organisation has not spent the time upfront to devise a proper business strategy for it and then supported it with an architecture that takes into account the business requirements, could result in the organisation becoming “stuck” in the cloud.
“When applications are migrated to the cloud, it’s not so simple to repatriate them. It’s not just a lift and shift to put them back on premise and expect them to run the way they did before. You must consider the technicalities behind moving applications into the cloud and the proprietary nature of some of these cloud environments,” says Somerset.
“It is also easy to get ‘locked in’ with a specific vendor due to the sheer weight of your migrated applications. It becomes difficult to get that data out and to change your solution halfway through a project if you didn’t design for a multi-cloud environment from the beginning,” says Schwan.
An experienced partner is valuable in assisting businesses to extricate themselves from these scenarios, as they have the expertise and knowledge required to assist.
“Access to knowledge and experience for customers setting out on their cloud journey is the biggest asset. For those already on the journey, the expertise of a partner to change their strategy gives them better options, and quicker access to the right skills,” says Schwan.
For organisations that need to perform a cloud “fix-up”, there are a number of points to consider, but the most important is having the right skills to identify what is wrong and why the migration failed.
“Take a step back and define a positive outcome. Only then, with the right skills that can design the changes, can you start implementing them. Make sure you have the right people who can do it and do it for the right reasons,” says Schwan.