Migrating to the Cloud: Why, How and What Makes Sense?

August 26, 2022

Contributor: Lori Perri

Business impact is the key driver for integrating cloud services effectively.

In short:

  • Successfully migrating workloads to the cloud means delivering maximum benefits with minimal effort and costs.
  • Executive leaders should consider the culture and business priorities of their organization when justifying cloud migration.

  • You’ll likely need just enough private cloud to reduce infrastructure complexity and increase agility while fulfilling compliance requirements.

Accelerating the movement of workloads to the public cloud is key to the kind of purposeful digitalization businesses need to offset rising costs and outmaneuver any recession, but cloud adoption and migration is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The business case depends on both cost savings and the advantages for strategy and operations.

Download now: Cloud Migration Roadmap

Among the benefits of public cloud:

  • By addressing common IT constraints, such as slow time to value, limited resources and incompatible systems, cloud is an enabler of digital business.

  • Cloud can reduce the operational burden of running and maintaining hardware and software.

  • Doing so frees up IT staff to focus on innovation and growth initiatives that are valuable to the organization and can increase the return on investment that comes from IT initiatives, potentially increasing profits and competitive advantage.

The question is how to build a business case and plan a successful cloud migration when the technical and nontechnical elements of every organization’s application portfolio are unique. “Executive leaders must work with the CIO to identify and prioritize IT capabilities that are critical to business differentiation and which deliver maximum benefits with minimal effort and cloud migration costs,” says Gartner VP Analyst Kevin Ji

Cloud-first depends on your starting point

Successful cloud initiatives require organizations to review and revise their existing sourcing processes to deal with different types of suppliers.

Three key steps in cloud migration planning

No. 1: Identify suitable workloads for SaaS migration

Executive leaders who are building the justification for moving to the public cloud, which is a form of outsourcing, must focus on the importance of each application. Critical applications support business revenue and profit, and differentiate capabilities and core competencies from those of industry competitors. 

Some applications are important to maintaining daily business operations, but enterprises cannot achieve business differentiation by strengthening them. Applications such as email, HR and finance systems are not critical to public cloud infrastructure and platform services, but many companies migrate them to software as a service (SaaS) platforms.

Gartner enterprise clients have indicated that they were shifting from on-premises to cloud with the same provider. The top 3 drivers when migrating to SaaS are enhanced functionality, increased usability and a more robust user interface (UI).

No. 2: Align cloud initiative outcomes with business goals

When utilizing public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS), the organization does not own the assets being used, which is entirely different from on-premises data centers, where system hardware and software are capital expenditures. This shifts the expense type from a capital expenditure (capex) to an operating expenditure (opex).

Making an effective case for a cloud migration project depends heavily on citing the right justifications. Executive leaders should consider what would resonate within their organizations based on culture and business priorities:

In addition, executive leaders can align the cost benefits of cloud migration in the following business optimization areas:

  • Increased business system availability
  • Shorter project times
  • Technical flexibility 
  • Security improvement

Executive leaders should work with IT to understand the resources needed for the shift to an opex model. Cloud implementation is technically complex, particularly when transformational outcomes are expected.

Watch now: The Cloud Strategy Cookbook: Find the Recipe for Your Success

No. 3: Maintain just enough private cloud

Private cloud is one choice for traditional business infrastructure modernization, focused primarily on accelerating the application deployment cycle, and improving reliability and availability (especially in highly regulated industries). 

Executive leaders must not plan on building a private cloud with the full capabilities of a public cloud. There needs to be a reduction in the complexity of the private cloud project by avoiding advanced features that do not align with the organization’s strategy or values. 

Justifications for private cloud deployments include the abilities to:

  • Fulfill compliance requirements in highly regulated industries 
  • Reduce data center space and hosting cost 
  • Increase server provision agility
  • Increase reliability and availability
  • Ensure security demand fulfillment 
  • Ensure low network latency

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