Posted on November 24, 2017 by Jonathan White
There’s a simple reason why one in three businesses say their cloud migration was more expensive and complicated than expected. They planned it wrong!
But just because the explanation is simple, doesn’t mean the solution will be. Migration to cloud services like Azure is a complex affair, involving multiple new business paradigms, processes, and variables. All of which is incredibly daunting, and difficult, for a business to straddle – particularly those with little to no cloud experience.
What I’ve discovered working with Softchoice clients is with the right approach, you can develop a much more accurate understanding of what your cloud project will cost you. Avoiding nasty surprises and ending up getting the most bang for your buck.
The first and arguably most important step when planning your cloud solution: Why are we doing this? And why now?
Usually, I find there is a compelling event, something that triggered the conversation around cloud. Perhaps your key hardware is going end of life. Maybe your software agreements are up for renewal. Maybe you had a devastating attack or are onboarding a new team across the country.
Whatever the answer, you need to be crystal clear about why cloud is on the table. Then you can properly consider your options and develop a deep understanding of whether it’s worth the move.
Here’s a little tip: your “Why” is not about cost savings!
Many people in the business world believe cloud is primarily a tool for costs savings. It’s not! In fact, cloud solutions often cost more than your existing on-premise solution, on the surface. The real value of many cloud projects is due to the less tangible impact it has. Things like allowing your team to focus on innovation, shifting to OpEx models and improving productivity or time to market.
Next up, you need a detailed and objective understanding of what your current state costs and usage are. Unfortunately, this isn’t an easy process. It’s something many organizations fail to do correctly – if at all – during this crucial stage of cloud migration planning.
The reason it’s so hard is most businesses don’t possess the right tools to monitor and track their consumption of resources. And costs occur on many levels, across multiple business developments and are managed by many stakeholders.
That said, to create a solid current state profile, you must collect insights across three major categories:
What resources are being used, and how much are you paying. Everything from touching the storage, to the server, networking or your existing IT infrastructure. Note: This isn’t about how your assets are configured – but how much of them are you actually using. On-premise configuration is almost never what you actually use – but hey, that’s why you’re going cloud!
Next, find out how much your data center is costing you from a utilities perspective. Monthly cooling and power costs, and sometimes real estate, all add up to define your pre-cloud expenses. As with the previous step, you will want to know as much detail as possible about your contracts, your monthly costs as well as actual usage. Not all IT leaders have access to this so you may need to brand out to other departments to find these answers.
How much of your IT staff is dedicated to maintenance and infrastructure roles that simply won’t be needed? More importantly, what kind of resources do you need/want in order to tackle your more innovative business priorities? In the last stage you will put a finer point on this, but start thinking now about resource re-allocation in the cloud.
Finally, it’s time to consider all the options to get a firm understanding of what the cloud will cost you – and how it will change your business.
At this stage, you conduct a detailed cost comparison among various solutions, vendors and your existing in-house costs. Be careful: there are many hidden costs, as well as opportunities, you need to be aware of:
There is a long list of costs that catch businesses off-guard when operating in the cloud. For example data egress charges, spike to network bandwidth demand, as well as optimizing your data classification costs (don’t pay for top-tier data for rarely accessed data, for example).
In my opinion, this is one of the most important steps to properly roll out a new cloud solution. You must identify all your dependencies, and understand in which order, and to what extent, workloads and apps should move to the cloud. If you break one app by moving another to the cloud, you’ve just ruined a lot of people’s day!
Getting back to Step 1, you need to align your first move to the cloud with your vision, in order to guarantee the most buy-in from decision makers. What are the low-hanging fruit, or the initiatives sure to make the biggest impact and align with your “Why”? I suggest thinking of cloud projects as clear, concise sniper targets, versus the big and messy shotgun approach.
Now that your business is going cloud, what new skills will your existing team need to gain to keep the engines running? Training and education are much needed, often ignored, expenses. Ideally, you will also free up your team to focus on outcomes aligned to the business. What key priorities can you assign them to and how will that add to the success of your customers and your business?
A blog summary, however detailed, can’t do justice to the vast amount of work and time needed to properly predict how a cloud migration will impact your business. Especially in the second stage, we can’t stress enough how important it is to get data-driven, objective and measurable insights to fully understand your costs today, in order to compare them to what comes tomorrow.
If you had any questions or would like to learn more, always feel free to get in touch.