Your organisation already relies on cloud services: if you use Office365, Google Workspace, Slack, SalesForce, LinkedIn. Click Up, Calendly or any of the many thousands of online business services and apps, you are using the cloud.

And there are even bigger opportunities to get more from today’s digital technologies.

Organisations rely on servers to manage their computer workloads. These servers store data and run crucial applications. But building and owning such servers is not as appealing as it once was.

“There was a time when you had to own servers,” says Amit Sakalle, GM: cloud technologies at Sithabile Technology Services. “Everything from your email to your spreadsheets and backups lived on those servers.

“Managing them requires time and skilled professionals, and you need to upgrade them often, or they will become slow. That means your business also becomes slow.”

Replacing old tech with cloud hosting

Cloud infrastructure provides an alternative: “Using cloud technologies, you can run virtual servers on someone else’s hardware or even migrate the software and data to platforms so that you don’t need servers.

“If you want to keep your servers, hosting them in cloud data centres ensures uptime and stability. You also reduce upfront capital costs, managing budgets case-by-case and month-to-month.”

Cloud is not all or nothing. Most organisations use a hybrid cloud model, blending cloud services with internal systems. Many others offload everything they can onto cloud systems. Your business should use the cloud. But getting there is not always straightforward.

“Cloud migration is the dark horse of modern technology. You don’t flip a switch and start using the cloud. You must align the cloud with your business requirements. Since every business is unique, there isn’t a universal cloud migration blueprint. Too many cloud migration projects stumble or fail because they underestimated the migration.”

Migration blues

There might not be a universal migration blueprint, but there are insights to draw from previous cloud migrations. Here are the top reasons why cloud migrations fail or underdeliver:

* Unclear strategy: Cloud migrations need a clear strategy based on business objectives, priorities, risks, performance indicators, and timelines.

* Complex Existing Architecture: Customised and elaborate business systems, software and processes can make cloud migrations tricky.

* Long migrations: Cloud migrations happen in multiple stages, including testing and compliance. Lengthy migrations may also surprise business stakeholders who expect quick results.

* High costs: Without proper cost management, cloud services can create surprise costs and bill shock.

* Security and compliance: Proper cloud migrations incorporate security from the start. The same applies to compliance and other risk-management measures.

Cloud migration done right

Every cloud migration is bound to be a complex and bespoke project. The best move is to work with an experienced cloud migration partner, who will help you consider strategic elements such as:

* Assess and prioritise applications, workloads, and infrastructure for migration.

* Identify stakeholders in the business who will benefit from the migration; include them, determine priorities, and manage expectations.

* Determine the interdependencies between different systems and services.

* Create a cloud architecture design that fits business needs.

* Create migration and post-migration KPIs to track success.

* Map business data to determine priorities and risks.

* Prioritise governance, compliance and security to reduce risks.

* Consider if the migration will require staff to learn new skills.

Your migration strategy will depend on your organisation’s needs, priorities, budgets, and expectations. These variables make cloud migration complex, so finding a reliable migration partner is crucial for success.

“You can’t delegate or offload a migration to a service partner, but they can help take care of the details,” says Sakalle. “Think of it like planning a big dinner party at a restaurant. The staff will take care of the nitty-gritty stuff, but you want to check the menu, ensure you like the layout and table decorations, prepare the guest list, and so on.

“Otherwise, it’s not really your dinner party, is it? So, find a good partner you can lean on. They will create the space to think about strategy, stakeholders, and business requirements.”

The cloud is the most powerful and valuable technology investment organisations can make. Enlist a partner who listens, offers advice, and helps keep things on track. Then, you are a big step closer to embracing the power of the cloud for your business.