With Forrester predicting that more than 50% of global enterprises will rely on at least one public cloud platform in 2018, the question of cloud migration has changed from why, to when.
The cost savings, agility and opportunities for growth and innovation are all clear business drivers for the cloud. Unfortunately, there is also a great deal of anxiety and hesitation surrounding cloud migrations. The costs and time required to implement the migration itself are a concern for many businesses and confusion over true cloud migration ROI makes it difficult to justify the upfront implementation costs.
A cloud assessment is crucial to getting a better understanding of your cloud requirements and creating an accurate migration plan. As a low-hanging fruit approach to answering a myriad of questions, many companies will consider using a cloud calculator as a determining factor in their preparations. I would advise companies however to look beyond the calculators, which only give a rough estimate of potential costs and savings, but don’t factor in all costs and dependencies associated with an IT environment, and aren’t tailored specifically to your infrastructure and data needs.
To consider all apparent (and not so apparent) factors for your migration, these five elements should be part of your company’s comprehensive evaluation before deciding to move to the cloud:
1. Thorough Data and Usage Analysis
Unfortunately, few companies have a complete understanding of every part of their infrastructure and usage. Your cloud assessment should begin with taking inventory of all your application and inventory environments, collecting data usage information and gaining a complete understanding of all your assets and requirements. Make sure to run the usage analysis for at least a month to gain a complete picture of your data usage including any variances in workloads during peak and off-peak times.
2. Cloud Migration Cost/Benefit Analysis
Once you understand data usage and needs, it’s important to understand your business needs to create an accurate cost/benefit analysis. There are three costs to get a better understanding of:
Established Base Case: What it would cost to run your environment in its current state, including any necessary remediations or refreshes?
Cloud Cost Estimates: What it would cost to move your environment to the cloud and the consumption costs associated with running on the cloud?
Retained Cost: These are the costs that still exist from your base case, which will still exist even after you move to the cloud.
However, only taking these costs into account won’t give you an accurate picture of your actual cloud consumption costs. It’s also important to interview key stakeholders and conduct a design analysis to identify potential improvements that can be made to your infrastructure, and implement them during the cloud migration to create the most cost-effective solution.
3. Cloud Migration Plan
Using the above analysis and your cloud migration ROI model, the next step is creating a detailed cloud migration plan. Based on my experience, I would recommend a three-year period be used as the base length of time when performing ROI analysis and creating a cloud migration plan. This helps plan far enough ahead without relying on too many future predictions. Your cloud migration plan should focus on three stages:
Change: Define the problem, estimate the impact of a change and define the value of a cloud migration.
Ideate: Explore and discover your options and based on the earlier stages of your cloud assessment, define the right solution.
Act: Design a cloud migration specific to your infrastructure and data needs.
4. Existing Architecture Analysis
As was mentioned during the cost/benefit analysis, a cloud assessment is a good opportunity to analyze your entire environment and identify potential optimizations that can be implemented as or after you move to the cloud. There are a number of benefits the cloud offers that your existing architecture may not be designed to take full advantage of. Examples may include standardized server images, useful SaaS (News – Alert) applications, data structure improvements and other opportunities to maximize the value of your cloud infrastructure.
5. Executive Business Case
One of the hardest parts of any cloud migration is getting executive buy in. A cloud assessment isn’t complete if it doesn’t provide the deliverables you need to sell your initiative to the C-level decision makers. Presenting a business case and ROI for a cloud migration should include a comprehensive and clear breakdown of everything involved in the cloud assessment in formats that are easy to present.
Armed with valuable data, key business and stakeholder objectives and a clear roadmap for success will make migrating to the cloud much less daunting and more valuable for your business today and into the future.