Why businesses must move to distributed IT architecture and how to ensure maximized returns right from the strategy phase
Cloud technology is the new normal for companies of all sizes, with the public cloud services market expected to reach USD 383 billion by 2020
Companies are exploring various migration strategies and environments (public, private, hybrid, and multi-cloud), yet struggling to find the best-fit solution
There’s no one-size-fits-all model as a cloud migration pathway depends on results derived via individualized and thorough assessments
Cloud-based SaaS products can offer 1.7 times greater RoI than on-premise platforms
Migration success and ROI efficacy hinges on a careful and astute understanding of cloud maturity, impact analysis, security reconfiguration, and SLA outlining
Introduction – Cloud is the New Normal
Global businesses are not unfamiliar with digital transformation; what began with converting paper-processes to simple digital formats and later moving online, is now looking at the next bend. Continuing this transition towards distributed, flexible and easy-to-access IT environment, the cloud is positioned to be a game-changer. What’s unique about this technology is that it impacts more than foundational IT processes, changing sales, marketing, CRM, and core business activities. To take advantage of this wave of digital transformation, companies across the globe are eager to invest in cloud adoption. From USD 209 billion in 2016, the global public cloud services market will reach USD 383 billion in 2020. This is powered by major advancements from cloud providers, including Google, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft – catalyzed by innovative system integrators, and ISVs who accelerate the deployment of these environments. By leveraging the cloud, businesses would witness:
Heightened agility as applications are decoupled from rigid software
Lower operational costs, with no need to maintain in-house servers or data center facilities
Greater portability via anytime, anywhere access to boost global reach
Rapid scalability by eliminating new investments for every additional location/business unit/site
Attracted by this bouquet of benefits, businesses tend to try out new technologies without adequate due diligence – as a result, a large number of users consider switching cloud vendors, in just six months. Now, this not only counters the intended impact of cloud adoption but the lack of sustainability also negatively affects ROI margins. This makes it vital to carefully formulate a cloud migration strategy that factors in available technology resources, human talent, security paradigm, resilience requirements, and future adaptability among other parameters. Understanding these in greater detail is the first step towards inking a cloud migration strategy in today’s crowded marketplace. From the global giants mentioned above to clusters of local providers, there are a variety of options to choose from, which is why finding the right methodology aligned to a particular business is so critical.
Let’s now take a closer look at the parameters which define an effective cloud migration strategy.
10 Key Parameters on Your Cloud Migration Checklist
1. Data Center Location
A country might have explicit laws around data sovereignty which prohibit the transfer of specific data types to offshore locations. In that case, a locally available data center will be required in order to avoid fines and penalties in the longer run. This is a critical factor determining vendor selection but is often overlooked at the assessment stage, if more weightage is given to cost and infrastructure components.
2. Storage and Archival
How fast and accurately business data is received will underline the success of any cloud migration. Every provider will have their own governance rules, as well as archival features for data recovery, during disaster events. In fact, robust data archival capabilities are among the biggest motivators for moving to the cloud, making businesses immune to infrastructure attacks.
3. Security Ripples
Detractors of cloud implementation often site security vulnerabilities as a major reason for holding on to on-premise systems. Taking sensitive data and core business applications to a distributed, always connected environment means there could be more vulnerabilities and additional touchpoints for cyber attacks. Before migration, therefore, it is important to conduct an end-to-end impact analysis, assessing for any disturbance in business workflows, and security checkpoints.
4. Resilience Objectives
24/7 service availability is among the primary motivators for adopting cloud technology, however, this isn’t always the case. Consider, the 2017 global outage when Amazon Web Services suffered a prolonged downtime impacting thousands of businesses around the world. Not only should uptime requirements be mentioned in the SLAs, a provider should be validated for high resilience, response times, and the ability to recover before making the shift.
5. Solution Component Set
There’s no one-size-fits-all cloud environment that’s ready to take on any use case. The cloud service provider mix available will also differ accordingly, bringing a wide set of solutions and services, as well as scalability and resilience features, to the customer. Expectations must be clearly communicated at the get-go so that services can be aligned to the required environment type – multi-vendor, public, or a private-public hybrid scenario.
6. Unique Configurations
Depending on the size and nature of a business, customers may look for specific configurations and a high degree of adaptability from their cloud provider. A healthcare major, for example, may look for dedicated tenancy and greater security controls, to help operate as a pseudo-private cloud. The solution should also be ready to support the common SaaS products (Salesforce, SAP, etc.) which are likely to be part of most technology stacks.
7. Vendor Lock-in
The inherent flexibility of the cloud is what’s drawing both small and large businesses alike, to this new environment. In this context, a customer must be able to easily opt out, switch providers, or return in-house at relatively short notice. This means that applications developed on the Cloud (cloud-native) shouldn’t be coupled to a specific provider, and this needs to be incorporated into the SLAs.
8. Operational SLAs
When initiating any digital transformation project it is essential that the customer’s existing Service Level Agreements are not compromised. The assessment stage should identify any provider constraints that could influence business SLAs and hold back improvement targets. The migration strategy should take all of this into account, and prescribe independent service dashboards which can be used to resolve any post-implementation conflict around SLA adherence.
9. Accreditation Due Diligence
With so many cloud providers available in the market, it is imperative that organizations carefully audit prospective partners before finalizing their migration strategy. To take from our earlier example, a healthcare business (whether its a clinic or a hospital chain) would likely store Personal Identifiable Information on the cloud, making specialized certifications mandatory, in addition to the more widespread GDPR.
10. CI/CD capabilities
To ensure implementation is rapid and agile, quickly adapting to emerging requirements and testing results, the cloud service provider should offer Continuous Improvement/Continuous Delivery capabilities. This will help complete the entire project on an agile mode, completing the transition within set timelines and ROI targets. Simply choosing a basic application install and set-up, without any cloud-native development competencies is not recommended.
The ROI Argument for your Cloud Strategy
At first glance, the time and effort involved in moving to the Cloud could appear formidable. This, coupled with the costs of transitioning an entire business ecosystem to a fresh hosting environment often deters cloud implementation. In reality, an expertly calculated cloud migration strategy will always balance the technology costs incurred and FTE investments with the potential gains derived from the cloud. Research suggests that cloud-hosted SaaS applications can help generate 1.7 times greater ROI than applications on-premise – this is largely because the provider offers upgrades and improvements over time as part of original SLAs, without any additional spends.
Therefore, even as sunk costs syndrome remains a major challenge for businesses looking to embrace cloud technology, the ROI argument speaks for itself. In the near term, there is minimal upfront costs for hardware, or infrastructure while in the long run, operational efficiencies will continually increase. This combined with benefits we outlined at the start is exactly why the cloud is emerging as the new normal, transforming businesses across sectors, size, and IT maturity levels.
To explore cloud possibilities at your organization and how to formulate an individualized migration strategy, talk to our experts at Cloud Migration Services here