What is Cloud Migration?
Cloud migration moves data and applications from an on-premise environment to a cloud environment, which allows for more flexibility and adaptability. Migrating to the cloud allows you to grow and innovate your business and processes without being limited by outdated resources.
There are two common types of cloud migration: the “lift and shift” method and the “transformation project” method. While these methods are very similar in their development processes, there is a major distinction between the two. The lift and shift method takes the current processes surrounding the business application and moves them to the cloud without any change. The transformation project method uses the migration to the cloud as an opportunity to not only make the shift to the cloud, but to re-engineer business operations. Knowing the pros, cons, and steps of migrating to the cloud can help you determine which method would be best for you and what it could look like at your organization.
Should My Business Consider Migrating to the Cloud?
There are many benefits of moving to the cloud, including the increased reliability, simplified integrations with other business applications, and the financial improvement that businesses experience. However, change management and scope creep—adding additional features or functions that were not originally accounted for—tend to be hindrances of cloud adoption. You will have to take a close examination of your own business and operations to determine if it is the right decision.
Cloud applications are self-healing, as they don’t require the business users to repair them in the unlikely event of system failure. Your cloud service provider takes care of the recovery process for you. This provides your business with the peace of mind that your application is always monitored in the background of your day-to-day operations, so uptime and user access to the application will not be impeded. In addition, during implementation, multiple iterations of the application are built and tested. These iterations are pieces of the application built by developers and tested by users to gather feedback and address concerns during the application development process rather than only at the end. This ensures that your new system is fully capable of the business requirements it needs to execute.
Cloud services have a variety of integrations with other business services available, making it easier for organizations to conduct daily operations. Some of these include point-of-sale systems, project management systems, team chat apps, and more. In addition to the simplification of operations, having multiple aspects of your business tied together with integrations can save your organization time and money.
Is there a financial benefit to cloud migration? This is a common question asked when determining whether or not to migrate to the cloud. As with any major business decision, you will have to justify (financially) to the rest of the organization why this change will benefit your business. Financial savings from migration typically come from three areas:
- The infrastructure savings from moving application infrastructure to the cloud
- The cost of keeping up with software upgrades in the cloud vs. on-premise
- The indirect cost of disruptions that a business endures during on-premise application upgrades
Once you have taken a look at these three areas of your current application management processes, you will be able to see just how large the financial benefit would be from cloud migration.
There will be members of your organization who are resistant to change, and it will be a challenge to persuade them and train them to use to the system. But there are some strategies you can proactively employ at your organization to better manage and prepare for this change. To start, always gain the support of C-level leaders in the organization. When the company leadership is supportive of the change, it is easier for that same level of support to trickle down into the other levels of the business and across all departments. Another significant piece of gaining support is by communicating the message clearly. Help all members of your team to understand what will be changing, why it is being done, and who is taking ownership of the change. This will eliminate the fear of the unknown, and bring everyone onto the same page of what is happening within the organization. A well-managed cloud migration project should take input from business users without using up all of their time, and good cloud consulting and migration companies will help to mitigate challenges as you and your team adjust to the change.
Before you begin the implementation of migrating to the cloud, you will first determine the requirements and capabilities that you want the system to have. However, as you begin implementation, scope creep can become a major concern. When your application is already partially built, it is difficult to make additional features and functions that were not originally intended. This is not to say that you should dismiss all additional functionalities brought to your attention, but evaluate each one carefully to determine if it is really needed. If it is essential or will add immense value to a majority of users, then add it into the development process. Otherwise, leave it out.
Impact of Cloud Migration Across Business Departments
Often times, the IT team is spearheading the implementation of the cloud system, but the results experienced from the migration span across all departments in an organization, not just the IT department. The departments that tend to see the most impact are HR, Finance, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, and CRM Automation.
Though departments may experience unique benefits, there are many overlapping benefits as well. The unification of processes, reduction in human error, improved scalability, increased productivity, and reduction in maintenance costs are a few of the many improvements that departments experience after migration.
There is a burgeoning number of success stories of businesses who have migrated to the cloud, and in most instances, significant cross-departmental benefits are present. From universities to Fortune 500 companies, organizations have been able to exponentially increase their flexibility, reduce paperwork, simplify reporting, streamline performance management, and refocus resources on more strategic work.
What is the Cloud Application Migration Process?
As previously stated, there are two types of cloud migration processes that will allow for a successful migration: the “lift and shift” method and the “transformation project” method. The difference is that the lift and shift method takes the current processes surrounding the business application and moves them to the cloud without any change, and the transformation project method not only makes the shift to the cloud, but also re-engineers business operations. The following three steps are used for both the lift and shift method and the transformation project method.
The planning stage is when you and your team assess if you are ready to migrate to the cloud and determine a cloud migration strategy. You’ll examine three parts of your organization: business process readiness, technical readiness, and people readiness. First, are your business processes ready for the cloud? This includes aspects such as hiring, payroll, financial reporting, CRM workflows, and other key processes that keep your organization ticking. Second, is your organization ready from a technical perspective? Consider how many applications will need to be integrated, how data can be extracted and imported, and how the reporting and analytics processes at your business might change. Finally, is your team ready for the migration? This includes all members of the organization, especially the day-to-day users of the platform—not just the IT department. How can you prepare them for this change?
After you discuss these three points with your team, you can then determine a timeline for implementation. This timeline is different for all companies and cloud projects, but commonly chosen timeframes include a 3-month, 6-month, or 9-month implementation
In the implementation stage, the application is built using a mix of both waterfall and agile methodologies. During the implementation phase, your organization will host an interactive design workshop. In this meeting, you’ll collect the requirements and determine the capabilities you want the system to have, which will control the scope of the project. If your business is using the transformation project method, these design requirements will be much longer and more detailed depending on how many operational changes you plan to make.
Also during this stage, you will go through two to three iterations of the application. In each one, a piece of the application is built and then tested by users to gather feedback and ensure that your team is comfortable and happy with using it.
The third and final stage is dedicated to the stabilization and adoption of the cloud application. This includes not only being able to use the basic functions of the new system, but to ascertain how to drive the most possible value and use it more effectively.
This stabilization is done through a series of trainings, often put together by your cloud service provider. In-person trainings are often done shortly after the final version of the application is completed, and ongoing support is often provided as well.
Making the Most Out of Your Transformation
Avoid Common Mistakes
Although each experience with cloud migration is unique, there are some common mistakes to avoid. To highlight a few, don’t assume that all cloud environments are the same, sufficiently test your application throughout the development process, and ensure that your security policies are in place for the new environment.
Each cloud application is dependent on the specific design requirements and scope that your business decides. Understand that your use and experience with your cloud application may be very different than another business’s experience.
Throughout the entire process, ensure that you are sufficiently documenting the process. Most importantly, test everything. Record the design and testing of the processes, challenges that occurred, and how you were able to overcome those challenges. Create a backup software and disaster recovery plan, and then test it to ensure its functionality. Documenting details and validating your results of tests is critical to the migration process.
Double check that your security policies are in place for your new cloud environment, as moving your infrastructure to the cloud can lead to inconsistent or incomplete security policies. Establishing standards for user access, system and application configuration, and monitoring within the new system should be added to the scope of the project during the planning phase.
One of the greatest resources to getting more out of your transformation is the support from your cloud service provider. When the system initially goes live, there will be a lot of questions and concerns, which is why it is so important to have a support team ready to help you train your team and solve issues that arise. The provider can not only help you to stabilize your use of the new system, but give you the keys to success, and help you get more value out of migrating to the cloud.
Drivestream provides extensive support to enable organizations of all sizes to migrate to the cloud through its Oracle cloud consulting services and solutions. To learn more about Drivestream’s services, request a consultation today!