3 mistakes to avoid when moving to the cloud

  • Posted on January 8, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
cloud migration

It seems like competition only gets tougher, customer expectations only get higher, margins only get thinner. To gain an edge, companies are moving to the cloud, with its promises of greater agility and lower cost. The cloud’s been around long enough that those who haven’t fully embraced it should feel pressured to do so now, quickly, before it’s too late.

But don’t let haste get in the way of developing a well-thought-out holistic strategy, because that’s when mistakes happen. Many cloud projects get suspended or killed because their expected benefits don’t materialize. Others put their companies in worse positions than before. The fact is, doing cloud the wrong way may increase your risk, not your reward.

What can go wrong when you begin your journey to the cloud—and how do you avoid the pitfalls? The errors we see companies make in their cloud migrations generally fit within three categories:

Mistake #1: Expecting cost savings from lift-and-shift. There’s more than one way to get to the cloud. You can rearchitect or refactor existing apps, build net-new native cloud apps, or lift-and-shift what you have into an infrastructure-as-a-service environment. There will be times when each of these is the right approach—including a lift-and-shift.

But don’t believe the hype that you can cut costs by 20 or 30% by rehosting a legacy app in the cloud. That’s like putting a clunker car in a new garage: it won’t run any better and it will cost you more money with increased rent on your new garage. We find that companies that try this approach often increase their costs because they lack the management, governance and automation that could standardize the environment, mitigate risk, and reduce operating cost. But when lift-and-shift is the right approach, there are ways to do it right, such as using containers to isolate legacy apps, increase density on fewer virtual machines and increase overall efficiency.

Mistake #2: Leading with infrastructure. It makes perfect sense: every app you run in the cloud is going to have to run on infrastructure, so size and build out the infrastructure first, then think about the apps. While it seems to make sense, it’s not the way to maximize your cloud experience. The apps are your workloads, the reasons you’re moving to the cloud, the engines that will drive your innovation and competitiveness. The applications deliver the services to your stakeholders and customers. They are what is important to you. So start with them.

An app-first approach means you focus on app modernization: consider each app and decide whether it should go to the cloud and, if so, how. Many factors go into this evaluation, but one is identifying your most strategic apps, the ones that are core to your business and deliver the greatest competitive advantage. They warrant the most investment up front because they will deliver the biggest return over the long haul.

Mistake #3: Forgetting about your people. Moving to the cloud seems so obviously to be a technology endeavor that it’s easy to forget about your people—but don’t do it. The cloud enables new ways of working—which means you need to prepare your team for what’s ahead. Their roles and responsibilities will change as the cloud supports greater decentralization and faster decision-making. You’ll need to help them find the right balance between greater autonomy with more automation and focus on value-added services. The move to the cloud will require IT staff, for example, to evolve from the guardians of IT to brokers of and guides within IT who partner with and add clear value to the business.

Virtually all your employees may need to prepare for the transition. That preparation will likely include training and collaborative efforts to define new roles, proper governance and plans for success. You’ll likely want new, continuous feedback mechanisms to help guide the services being delivered, the staff supporting those services and the organization they work within.

Enough companies have made one or more of these mistakes over the past few years. We don’t want you to make them, too. That’s why we’ve prepared an exclusive guide, The Six Elements of Cloud Success. It describes how you can start building the business case for modernization, so you can start increasing productivity, accelerating time to market and growing your business. It’s a great next step for any executive looking to move to the cloud or wondering why a current cloud project or move isn’t going as planned.

It could be just the step you need to help ensure your own success in the cloud.

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