On 17 November, I attended the IDC Cloud Applications Conference in London to meet, speak and share ideas with some of the best minds in the cloud industry. Looking back on the day, I had a number of fascinating discussions with my peers, but one stood out. At the ‘Cloud migration and integration’ roundtable, the conversation turned to some of the most common reasons cloud migrations run into dead ends. Of all the causes we came up with, there was one that resonated with the table more than any other: lack of clarity.
Cloud migrations are tricky, clarity is required
Cloud migrations are a tricky business. Technical challenges aside, many cloud journeys succeed or fail based on a lack of clarity surrounding what the enterprise is looking to achieve. This will often hinder or even halt the endeavour’s progress, sapping time and resources better spent elsewhere. It is therefore critical that a business establish a clear picture of where they are now and where they want to be whilst accepting that strategic adjustments to their plan will have to be made along the way.
First, work out where you are now
The first order of business is to understand where you are now. Like any other journey, you could head in the completely wrong direction if you don’t get a fix on your current location. Few would contest that this makes sense; the same strategy that would work for a greenfield project may not work when the objective is to remove a 15-year-old legacy system. Despite this, enterprises will all too often rush into large scale migrations without enough information, leading to delays, dead ends and lost money. A detailed and accurate current state assessment is vital to ensure that you start heading in the right direction, with the right knowledge and the right tools.
Understand the reasons for making the journey
My second piece of advice would be to understand why you are making this journey in the first place. During complex programmes like cloud migrations, it’s easy for businesses to lose sight of their goals and become lost in the execution. Extra features and new ideas have a way of distorting the initial project and hindering its development. This pitfall is easily avoided.
By defining and understanding the precise reasons why you’re undertaking this venture, whether it be global reach, increased agility or another mission-critical advantage, a reference point can be established from which all new proposed functionalities can be evaluated. Does this new feature support or complement your key business objectives? If not, it’s likely not worth the effort. Tacking on new features means extra time and costs, so making sure they add sufficient tangible value before committing to them will ensure focus remains on the most vital elements of the project. Don’t be afraid to move the goalposts if you need to (more on this later), but only do so with a clear purpose. A trusted partner can be of assistance here, helping you sift through possible additions and assess the value they are likely to bring to your business.
Have clear objectives
Equally important to having clear objectives is constantly evaluating them in context. Cloud technology, and the industries that employ it, are constantly evolving and your business should always be prepared to adapt its project plan. Changing market conditions, regulatory change, new disruptors and other external influences can all force a business to shift its strategy. A static initiative that doesn’t evolve along with the market is destined to deliver sub-optimal results. Instead, strategic adjustments must be made as the project proceeds, ensuring it remains relevant to its context and delivers maximum ROI.
The best cloud strategies are those that understand that a cloud journey is not a simple A to B, but a series of waypoints. A plan like this allows an enterprise to remain agile and adjust to real world conditions, new technology and market demand whilst not veering too far off course.
The cloud is transformative
A cloud journey can be transformative and eye opening for a business, but it is also fraught with distractions that can impede its progress and reduce its overall value. Understanding where you are, where you’re going and what you want to get out of it is critical to a smooth transition.
As the market changes, adjustments to your strategy will have to be made. As long as they are done with a clear purpose, your cloud journey will do more for your business than you would ever have thought.