Migrating to the Cloud:
How to prepare your organization
for a move to the cloud
By Richard Iwasa
Table of Contents
- Executive Summary
- Plan & Execute
When making the transition onto the cloud, companies are faced with many
decisions. Among these decisions is determining what applications to move to
the cloud and what to leave as is. It may be tempting to move everything to
the cloud, but outdated or irrelevant applications may take up valuable space.
If only select items get moved over, employees may find it frustrating trying to
find applications scattered over the cloud and other locations.
This whitepaper will go through four steps to help you determine what should
be moved to the cloud. The steps are:
Prepare: Familiarize yourself with cloud concepts and capabilities, while
gathering information about your corporate business and technology landscape.
Identify: Take an inventory of applications and see how core businesses and
technological characteristics match with your corporate landscape. Filter your
move-to-cloud inventory to a shortlist.
Assess: Analyze business and technical issues, develop high-level architecture
mapping and determine total cost of ownership. This brings you to your final
list of candidates to be moved.
Plan & Execute: Effort and timeline are determined, architecture designs are
completed and migration begins.
When first considering a move to the cloud, one decision you need to make
is whether to use it for new projects or existing ones. In the latter case, it can
be difficult determining which existing applications or systems are suitable
candidates for migration. Having a structured evaluation process can help
clarify the situation and provide input to business cases to justify the move.
At a high level, there are four main phases in any evaluation:
In the Prepare phase, you want to become familiar with cloud concepts
and capabilities, and gather information about your corporate business and
technology landscape. This includes both constraints and objectives.
In the Identify phase, you take an inventory of applications and for each, see
how the core business and technological characteristics match up against the
corporate landscape. You use this information to filter the inventory down to a
shortlist of candidates.
In the Assess phase, business and technical issues are analyzed, a high-level
architecture mapping is done, and total cost of ownership is examined to arrive
at a final list of candidates.
In the Plan & Execute phase, effort and timeline are determined, detailed
architecture designs are drawn up, and the applications are migrated.
If we take a closer look at the Prepare phase, the first thing to do is make sure
you have a solid understanding of cloud computing concepts and knowledge of
the capabilities and limitations of whatever cloud platforms you are considering.
You also want to know all the business constraints you might have in your
company, such as budget, resources, business cycles (e.g. business peaks
during the holiday season) and legal/regulatory/compliance requirements.
Knowing the business objectives is also important. This includes objectives such
as cost reduction, better resource utilization, improving customer service or
service delivery and better integration with partners.
Finally, you should have an idea of the IT strategy and landscape, including
preferred technologies, architecture principles and integration points.
All of the above information helps to define risks and critical success factors and
help you to assess the business value of an application and its migration. This
enables you to focus on those that will have the highest value and/or biggest
impact on the organization.
In the Identify phase, you want to start by creating an inventory of applications
that should be considered for migration. Then for each, determine the
core business attributes such as the value or impact (e.g. mission-critical,
departmental) and the functions performed (e.g. HR, finance, inventory).
Also gather the technical attributes for each system, such as the components
used (e.g. web sites, web services, databases, file shares), technologies (e.g.
Windows, Java, .NET), and interfaces (e.g. HRIS, ERP, EDI).
After you have assessed each system, determine how well each aligns to the
business and technical constraints and objectives from the previous phase. For
example, you may have a legal requirement that data must be stored locally,
but customer service can be improved through the ability of the cloud to scale.
By now, you should be able to reduce the inventory of applications by
eliminating systems with business constraints or objectives that can not be met,
or technical issues that can not be overcome. This leads you to a shortlist of
candidates. Tools such as decision matrixes or scoring systems can be used to
help quantify decisions.
In the Assess phase, examine each shortlisted candidate in greater detail. Look at
each business and technical issue that has been identified, and determine if the
issue can be resolved. For example, if data can not legally be stored in the cloud
(i.e. data-at-rest), can it be retrieved from a local store and displayed in the cloud
as long as it is not persisted there (i.e. data-in-transit)? If there is an intractable
issue, you can eliminate the system from further consideration.
For any applications that remain, come up with a high-level architecture plan for
each. Consider if you want to move the entire application into the cloud (all-in)
or leave some components on-premise (hybrid). For those components that will
move, determine if you will minimize changes (lift-and-shift) or if you will make
modifications to try to take advantage of all the capabilities the cloud platform
Performing a high-level total cost-of-ownership study can be beneficial at this
point. TCO might help make a business case for a migration, indicate that some
components need to be re-architected to lower costs or might disqualify the
system from further consideration.
Plan & Execute
Create a detailed migration plan for the remaining applications. To help in
determining effort and timeline, look for case studies that might provide insight
on the experience of other cloud customers in migration. Many have migrated
in a matter of days or weeks, while others have chosen to re-architect some or
all of their applications which takes far longer.
Consider whether to do a big-bang approach to migrate everything at once, or
perform a more gradual process where individual components or subsystems
are migrated one-at-a-time to help isolate potential issues or incompatibilities.
Both have strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered.
Often times, planning for technical spikes or proofs-of-concept can be
valuable in working out very specific technical issues and gaining a deeper
understanding of the cloud platform.
Ideaca is a Canadian based consulting firm helping customers from strategy to
solution through a portfolio of management consulting, implementation and
support services. With more than 10 years of experience and over 350 satisfied
customers, Ideaca’s 280+ employees across the country deliver innovative
solutions around Enterprise Resource Planning, Business Intelligence, Portals
and Collaboration, Cloud Computing, Custom Development and Integration,
Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Application Infrastructure, and
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