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How can you avoid migration failure?

In our recent Journey to Cloud Guide, we discuss critical factors that will ensure a successful Cloud readiness, transformation, transition and migration strategy. For over 10 years, ESyn3rgy has successfully executed complex migrations for public and private sector organisations, and have also salvaged ‘in-flight’ problematic migrations. With this insight and years of tried and tested knowledge, we’ve uncovered the common causes of migration failures that can be avoided.

Why do Cloud migrations fail?

There are many reasons why Cloud migrations fail; it could be a financial challenge, a lack of vision or, the biggest problem – resistance to change. Perhaps the biggest obstacles are the challenges brought on by the digital transformation age:

• The pressures to address issues with “end-of-life” on-premises legacy systems
• Increasing data storage requirements
• Data and cyber security
• Disaster recovery
• Escalating costs associated with improving IT efficiency
• IT budgets out of synch with demand
• Operating in a global environment
• Ensuring seamless connectivity among different technologies, platforms and assets
• Increasing internal and external customer expectations
• The need for an agile, always-on environment
• Transitioning people, processes and tools to a Cloud-powered operating model

12 Strategies to Avoid Cloud Migration Failure

Synergy

To start off with, business leaders championing their Cloud projects must ensure their Cloud strategy is aligned with their business goals. This is the primary tenet of ESyn3rgy’s approach: synergy between IT and business goals. This synergy can only be achieved by having 3 critical factors in place:

1. The right processes (steps);
2. the right people, and;
3. the right technology

For businesses just starting on their Cloud journeys, knowing what’s right can be difficult. Here is where ESyn3rgy steps in with tested and proven best practices for successful Cloud adoption, transition, transformation and migration.

Gaining Strategic Insight with the help of Cloud Transformation Specialists

Businesses with failing Cloud migration projects typically lack several key insights. In the same way that businesses lack insight into their existing infrastructure, many have not fully understood how it is being used.

Data silos prevent most organisations from accurately assessing performance – which makes forward planning an exercise in guesswork, not evidence-based decision-making. In many cases, real-time information simply isn’t available or is incomplete.

This lack of oversight makes strategic decision-making almost impossible in the age of disruptive computing and digital transformation. Increasing real-time visibility will need to be a priority as they transition to the Cloud.

This means they are unable to align services to infrastructure, map out service dependencies, or build an application and service roadmap to plan how Cloud-based systems will affect or improve system usage.
In most cases, data is understood in its primary context, such as CRM for sales and marketing, and finance for accounts. This singular view of data exposes a lack of understanding about unstructured data and its potential. Failure to address this approach limits the scope of Cloud projects, leads to missed opportunities, and fundamentally undermines system design which also increases the cost of re-architecting applications.

Our transformation services have been designed to produce tangible deliverables. We have specifically structured these to differ from traditional consultancies to ensure that clients not only gain from our findings, but they also have clear solutions and recommendations as an output.

Create a Centre of Excellence

The initial steps on your organisation’s ‘Journey to Cloud’ must be focused, and tension or derailment between teams should be avoided. With the Cloud taking away much of the heavy lifting associated with traditional infrastructure, the line between internal teams becomes fuzzy. It’s important to appoint stakeholders to serve on this multi-disciplinary team who are empowered to steer Cloud strategy and ensure that you can cover the non-technical factors too.

Train Employees and provide Executive support

Organisations are likely to encounter a skills gap with existing staff, when dealing with new Cloud technologies. Employees in the organisation may want to stick to what they know, creating roadblocks in the Cloud adoption process. Equipping employees to develop the skill sets required to support the migration is a great way to alleviate their fears.

A strategy for accelerating the journey to Cloud is providing top-down support. A lack of vision from management and staff will have an enormous effect on the success of the project. The CIO/CTO role is always evolving, and now more than ever, technology executives need to be supported by providing clarity of purpose, aligning business and technical objectives on desired outcomes, and making (or breaking) new rules.

Be open to new technology and trust your Migration Partner

Old technology may keep the organisation functioning, but it also severely impedes change. It also consumes budgets and limited resources that should rather be spent on strategic projects. Similarly, inflexible architecture cannot scale to meet changing requirements, so organisations pay for unused redundancy to cope with peaks in demand. Even if there are additional funds available, old technology reduces the scope for new deployments because of congruity.

A strategic approach to Costs Analysis

Without a deep understanding of financial insight, businesses cannot build a TCO. Having an experienced Migration Partner plays a critical role in assisting organisations with their cost planning. In so many cases it’s obvious that IT keeps systems running and finance pays the bills, but neither department knows exactly what they are paying for. Is the organisation making direct debit payments for licenses or contracts that are no longer required? Migration Partners will push for answers to questions such as ‘if we don’t renew, what happens’ and ‘Which resource does that payment refer to’.

Lack of understanding of future maintenance liabilities is another challenge. When considering Cloud migration, many cost-benefit analysis exercises neglect to calculate the future cost of maintaining and supporting existing on-site assets. For example, OEM maintenance contract costs can increase by 25% or more, year-on-year. It’s factors like this that are easily overlooked when performing a cost analysis. To succeed, Organisations need to consider Cloud migration projects in terms of the cost of not making the move to hosted infrastructure.

A future-vision approach to Finance

Cloud adoption is not about enormous cost savings. The bigger picture is a long-term savings which translates to savings in resources, time, and other operational structures. The organisations’ approach to finance will need to change in order to succeed. If it doesn’t, the migration project is likely to fail. The pay-as-you-consume Cloud model changes IT spend from Capex to Opex. However, the transition to SaaS and PaaS will need to be closely monitored and controlled to prevent overspend. What’s more, applications may need to be re-engineered to take full advantage of PaaS so that businesses don’t needlessly consume billable resources.

Existing Infrastructure and Inventory of IT Assets

Knowing IT assets is one thing but understanding how they are used is another. Many organisations who approach us, simply do not fully understand their current infrastructure, which is a significant problem when planning a migration to the Cloud without a trusted partner. They lack a detailed asset inventory for their data centre and do not have a handle on hardware and software maintenance contracts which are often placed in limbo between IT and finance, with neither party wanting to take responsibility.

This makes it harder to understand what you are paying for. As always, the answer is to engineer systems that break these silos, giving teams the oversight they need to better plan and manage operations – both onsite and in the Cloud. Without reviewing existing infrastructure, companies cannot start the Journey to Cloud – or assess progress once they have started.

According to Gartner, 80% of money spent on IT is ‘dead money’, used to ‘keep the lights on’. Why do Cloud migrations fail?

Disaster Recovery

Despite immense improvements in data protection, many organisations are not sufficiently protected. Organisations regard Disaster Recovery plans as an insurance policy, and are never tested or modernised. This is compounded by a fear of change and an inability to reverse what they do if something goes wrong, and can lead to migrations being delayed, down-scaled or even the cause of data loss. Testing DR plans and provisions is essential to establishing confidence, both in DR, and the ability to roll-back if required.

A specialised approach to Cloud Security

Cloud Security is a specialised field, requiring thorough knowledge of all prevailing and emerging security technologies. It also requires a clear understanding of the current threat landscape and the latest defence best-practice. ESyn3rgy’s Cyber Security team comprising of CISSP and CISM certified professionals can provide a fully managed and monitored security service.

Organisations that plan to address Cloud security by simply setting some configuration options after deployment are likely to overlook vulnerabilities that require a more strategic harm reduction approach. Cloud security operations focus on identifying malicious activity, threats or compromises within our client organisation environments and intervening before these become an issue.

Key Cloud security services should cover:

  • Identifying, reviewing and maintaining security policies
  • Maintaining security procedures
  • Maintaining appropriate security measures and mechanisms to guard against unauthorised access to electronically stored and/or transmitted data and protect against reasonably anticipated threats and hazards
  • Oversight and performing on-going security monitoring of information systems
  • Penetration tests

Compliance

Compliance requirements can differ greatly from organisation to organisation, so it is vital that a plan is implemented that is suitably aligned to the prevailing need. This can range from an internal policy, alignment with industry frameworks and standards, or achieving an accreditation in a specific sector.

Legislation, such as GDPR and PoPIA, along with industry regulations affects how data is used and stored in the Cloud. Failure to account for these factors can cause cloud projects to fail.

Some crucial factors to consider when moving to the Cloud are storing data in compliant systems, and within the relevant national boundaries. Information must be secured properly, with safeguards in place to limit sharing only with permitted partners. GDPR and PoPIA give individuals complete control over their data so systems need to enable that control. Immense fines, along with rules regarding data storage and security are complex and easy to breach – this risk can seriously impede any Cloud migration project. ESyn3rgy can assist with these challenges and ensure ongoing compliance through adequate training programmes and periodic security audits.

Innovate and consider all opportunities

Although the initial objective may be linear, there may be other options for migration that benefit from reduced cost, increased performance, or enhanced security. Adjusting the Cloud migration strategy as necessary, is vital so that is flexible to allow for changes to be made as issues develop and solutions are scoped. Just as the Cloud is always evolving, so should the organisation’s Cloud migration strategy.

Not whether, but how, and when

The question then is no longer whether you should embark on a ‘Journey to the Cloud’ to drive transformation for your organisation, but rather what to do and how you should do it. Targeting the right applications to be first-movers and identifying the best migration or transformation path for each application, requires an analysis of workloads, business needs, and technical complexities. ESyn3rgy specialise in Cloud computing strategies, assisting clients in reducing reliance on owned hardware and developing a structured path to adopting Cloud services or hybrid infrastructures.

The key to ensuring success is the focus on the ‘How’ rather than the ‘What’. Cloud computing has never been more accessible, adaptive and advantageous but far too many projects falter due to poor migration practices. ESyn3rgy have tried and tested methodologies that determine migration suitability, identify risks to be mitigated and ensure successful project delivery. We’d like to help make your ‘Journey to Cloud’ easier, so you can experience the cost efficiency, agility and innovation benefits of the Cloud, faster.

Author
Gary Witheat

Gary Witheat

Sales Manager

Gary Witheat has been in IT for nearly 30 years and has always placed an emphasis on understanding businesses and the challenges that they face, specific to the vertical in which they operate. Over this significant period of time, Gary has encountered most of the challenges that face organisations and takes great pride in having delivered solutions that remove restrictions and deliver growth.

Gary is a strong advocate of providing a consultative approach that identifies the correct innovations and solutions for each individual client, respecting the unique attributes of each organisation that he assists.

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