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Cloud Application Migration: Developing a Focused Roadmap

Cloud | Posted on October 11, 2017 by Jonathan White

If you already know which workloads to move to the cloud and in what order, then you are ahead of the curve!

For everyone else, the question remains: How do you get moving on cloud application migration in a material way? And where do you start? While it is tempting to pick from a branch of low-hanging fruit, you need to do your research first. Only with due diligence and the proper methods can you create an effective cloud roadmap.

What businesses get wrong with cloud application migration planning

Many businesses plan their cloud application migration simply as a change of location for servers and infrastructure. Your business apps used to run in-house. Now they don’t! But there’s a flaw in this approach.

This narrow focus does not take into account anything about the specific technical requirements for the software you want to move. It does not consider how the transition will affect the user experience, performance, or the long-term vision of the business. All of which, if ignored, will cause value-destroying side effects during cloud execution.

Focus on applications, instead

When you take an application-focused approach, you solve all these oversights. The approach forces IT to profile and understand each application, before you even get started on the cloud. In the process, you will uncover potential roadblocks, dependencies and business goals to create an effective plan for cloud application migration.

Step 1: Profiling your applications: First things first! You need a detailed accounting of all your applications, on a multitude of dimensions. This will help you understand which applications are dependent on which, which pose the greatest risk of failure and which are the strongest candidates for cloud migration.

To arrive at that high-level view of your applications, you need to get as granular and detailed as possible. When we conduct this survey with our clients, we often cover the following (as a starting point):

  • Risk rating: is this application nearing end of life? Are there known issues with it already?
  • Complexity rating: how many moving parts are there? How much configuration is required to get it right?
  • Topology and dependencies: where do the applications reside physically, right now? Which ones depend on which in order to function properly? What network ports are being used for what apps? If you move X, does it break Y and Z?
  • Operating costs: current costs to operate versus quick estimate of costs in the cloud.
  • Suitability rating: is this the right workload for the cloud, or is it too sensitive or critical to risk as a first step? Not everything is suitable.

If you would like to see a detailed template, please download our Cloud Application Roadmap Worksheet.

Understand the costs and risks of the cloud. Check out our FREE Public Cloud Assessment.

Step 2: Defining business impact and risks: Here you need to illustrate why the businesses is considering cloud, which users it will affect and what SLA’s and services must be upheld to avoid egregious interruptions. There is only one good way to do this. Meet with business stakeholders to learn what they need and run them through cloud migration scenarios.

When you engage stakeholders, it is crucial you understand the specific needs, worries and objectives of each team. If marketing needs the ability to spin up new websites quickly, this will help you choose this use case as a starting point in your roadmap. IT often overlooks “gotchas” and interruptions to the business when they are plotting out big changes. So you also need to do a good job of walking your internal customers through the migration journey, telling them about the potential for pain and interruption. How expensive is it to the business if sales loses email for a day?

Step 3: Phasing your cloud roadmap: Now it is time to put your insights into action. Based on the technical requirements, application inter-dependencies and business feedback, you can now pinpoint where to start, what is next, and why!

The point here is to get moving. Too many businesses become stuck in the “analysis paralysis” phases, and fail to ever begin. Others start too timidly, with no view to what comes next and the cloud project grinds to a halt. You are now able to create a target for the first app you will be moving, all the way down to the final phases of your journey. Having early wins is motivating. Having a long term, well thought out vision is priceless!

Common cloud starting points: where to begin

Once you’ve done the hard work, you want to choose the most effective cloud initiative, with the most chance of success.

Need help developing a focused roadmap for the public cloud? As the most experienced cloud organization in North America, Softchoice is uniquely positioned to support you. Learn about our cloud migration services here.

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