Over the past ten years, perspectives and opinions surrounding cloud migration have seen a significant shift. There are new opportunities for organizations to reduce project delivery overheads, remove sunk costs and abolish waste that is associated with their traditional, on-premise operating models. With more information detailed and released every year, IT leaders have a greater understanding of the benefits of cloud technology and the value it can drive for their business.
Cloud service providers have continued to expand their suite of offerings and innovate their platforms with emerging technologies. Ten years ago, provisioning additional compute and storage was a costly and time-consuming effort, but now, organizations have access to a whole scope of tools and services, all housed within an ecosystem. This has allowed organizations to instantly scale their IT infrastructure and leverage powerful tools to improve data insights and differentiate their business by offering enhanced experiences for their customers.
The events of the COVID-19 pandemic have also aided in shifting perspectives surrounding the cloud. When maintaining business-as-usual operations became impossible and workplaces were disrupted, causing burdens on IT infrastructures across the globe, the cloud was seen as a way to provide remote access for all workers.
In this guide, we will be exploring all aspects of cloud adoption and aiming to answer all of the questions that you may have about your cloud adoption journey.
What is cloud adoption?
In layman’s terms, cloud adoption involves shifting the software and services that your business uses from local computers and on-premise servers to remote servers that are hosted and operate on the Internet. We will go into more detail on how cloud adoption works and why you should consider it for your business below. For those of you interested in finding out what cloud migration really looks like, we have a wealth of experience in this field.
Cloud adoption is an all-encompassing transformation that will influence your business well beyond your IT organization. We are not just talking about a technological change, but a full business transformation that will have a profound impact on people and processes. As such, your internal conversations about adopting cloud need to involve a variety of stakeholders to be successful.
Cloud adoption is not a straightforward journey. It is an incremental and iterative process. Companies will begin their new cloud adoption initiatives at different stages of maturity. Some of you will be taking your first steps into the cloud, defining your strategy and assessing your business. Others may have previous experience working with cloud environments, but now want to take it to the next level with advanced tools, services and automation.
How do I choose the right cloud provider?
The cloud market is vast and there are a whole host of providers that offer an even larger number of services. It can be an overwhelming process and there are so many options to choose from. The answer to selecting the correct cloud(s) is a defined selection and procurement process that takes your business needs and goals into account. Here are seven areas of consideration to factor in when selecting your cloud provider.
- Data locality
You should review the locations of your provider’s regions and availability zones to ensure they are geographically close to your center(s) of operation. Ensure you are building and deploying specific applications as close as possible to where end-user need them to reduce latency.
- Data sovereignty
A key part of your selection process may be considering the location that your data resides in and the local laws that may affect it.
If you are planning on hosting your estate across multiple availability zones and multiple international regions then you need to be extra careful when it comes to complying with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems (NIS Directive).
- Service ecosystem
Research the strengths and weaknesses of the providers’ service ecosystem to help ensure that you have access to the services and tools best suited to your cloud objectives. Do you need the widest range of services, or do you have very specific needs focused on key applications?
As is becoming increasingly common, you may decide to adopt a multi-cloud model, providing you with the ability to leverage the strongest offerings from each cloud provider.
- Reliability and performance
Check the performance of the cloud provider(s) against their SLAs for the last 6-12 months. This can give a clear indicator of reliability and performance standards. Downtime for the major cloud providers is very rare, and they generally guarantee 99.9% uptime as part of their SLA.
From a physical perspective, the CSP’s data centers are very secure. The majority of CSPs do not disclose the exact locations of their data centers and security is the top priority for those operating them.
When considering cybersecurity, major providers like AWS, Azure & GCP are highly secure, all of which are releasing new security-focused services and solutions each year. However, the main source of breach in the cloud comes from misuse and misconfiguration from users. When choosing your provider(s) be sure to research the security, compliance and access features available and, if you can, include your security and compliance teams in the process to ensure your provider meets your requirements.
Public, multi, private or hybrid cloud?
You also need to consider whether you want a public, multi, private or hybrid cloud. Each has its own benefits that would appeal to a range of businesses in various stages of maturity.
This is the most common type of cloud computing deployment, and are owned and operated by third-party cloud providers. All the hardware, software and any other supporting infrastructure or services are managed by the cloud provider and delivered over the Internet. You will share the same storage, hardware and network devices as other organizations or tenants, and everything is accessed via a web browser.
This type of cloud has several advantages, including lower costs, no maintenance, high reliability and near-unlimited scalability.
Multi-cloud involves the use of several public cloud platforms in one architecture.
A multi-cloud estate allows users to access the strongest offerings from several cloud providers and distribute workloads across different infrastructures. This means you can get access to best-in-breed tooling, save on costs, and mitigate the risks associated with vendor lock-in.
A private cloud is made up of a platform and services that are used exclusively by a single organization. A private cloud can be located in an organization’s on-site data center or hosted by your service provider, but the infrastructure is always maintained via a private network. This means that any hardware and software used are completely dedicated to your business and makes it easier for your business to meet specific IT requirements.
The advantages of using a private cloud include more flexibility when customizing the cloud environment, more control over privacy and more scalability.
A hybrid cloud is a combination of an on-premises infrastructure found in a private cloud with a public cloud. This allows data and apps to easily move between the two environments. This type of cloud allows businesses to take full advantage of on-premises technology investments and meet regulatory or data sovereignty requirements. It can also provide greater flexibility, higher security, more deployment options and more value from your existing infrastructure. It also provides a cost-effective way to scale to the public cloud, giving you the option to pay for extra computing power when needed.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to selecting the right cloud platform, so careful consideration and exploring the business needs in detail can inform your final decision.
What are the stages of cloud adoption?
Before you can begin your cloud adoption process, it is essential to establish the maturity of your organization and assess which stage it is in. This will inform the correct framework to put in place to help drive your business value and achieve your goals. Wherever you are in your cloud journey, we can help.
The goal here is to create organizational alignment through building a case and strategy for cloud adoption. With proof of concepts and assessment of your operating model across people, process and technology, you can determine your path for cloud-readiness and gain a better understanding of what you need from cloud.
Creating solid a foundation for your cloud migration is essential for operating securely and effectively. With correct skills, governance framework and technical design, your business can obtain new capabilities and begin experimenting. Decommission legacy technology and deliver agile applications by effectively scaling cloud adoption across your business. Adopt a responsive culture and find the right advocates for change whilst migrating applications at an accelerated pace.
Manage & Optimize
By optimizing your cloud implementations with automation, improved processes and cost optimization, you can achieve the goal of governance and rapid application distribution. Optimize your cloud capabilities in a way that suits your business needs for a more agile cloud management.
Continue to improve and explore new business opportunities by developing cloud native applications, automating business decisions and using AI or machine learning. Data-driven insights should also be used to achieve previously unreachable goals and attain business innovation through technology.
For more information about how cloud adoption can be utilized to help your business across a range of frameworks, take a look at our blog post.
What are the benefits of moving to the cloud?
There are so many benefits to cloud migration and overall, it has the potential to bring huge wins to your business. All of these can be harnessed with a robust strategy and a sound plan for adoption and utilization.
Cloud adoption provides unmissable opportunities to increase operational efficiencies, especially relating to technology and costs, reducing the amount of hardware needed and costs to purchase on-premise solutions. If your goals include improving efficiency and optimizing performance, you can use cloud adoption as a chance to modernize your existing applications and enhance their business value. With the correct authority and cost-management processes in place, cloud can also provide the opportunity to be more cost-efficient.
Enable scalable growth
In traditional, physical environments, it can take weeks to scale up a system. In cloud, vertical-scaling adjustments can be made in minutes, creating a more efficient process. Cloud platforms are designed to be responsive to you and your customers’ needs, growing or shrinking as required to ensure optimum application performance, while offering high reliability, regardless of scale. In many cases, you can even benefit from elastic services, which automatically respond to sudden spikes in demand for certain workloads.
Improve business agility
To stay ahead of competitors, businesses need to respond quickly to changing market conditions and be prompt when handling crisis responses. The ability to innovate at scale and at a rapid pace is a benefit that all businesses will want to access during their cloud journey. From an IT perspective, agility involves moving away from traditional waterfall models that are characterized by dependability, maintaining operational integrity at all costs and long, drawn-out release cycles. Many organizations will want to embrace a DevOps model, empowering their development teams to make key decisions, as well as experiment and adopt a fail-fast mentality, allowing them to develop, launch and rescind products quickly.
Increase customer focus and innovation
A move to the cloud means new opportunities to modernize your existing applications and the chance to remove technical debt with software-embedded cloud services. It will also allow you to experiment with new ways to create value from your data and differentiate from your competitors. Your Cloud Service Provider gives you access to a new toolkit that can be used immediately, so you can start innovating from the beginning. At a relatively low cost, you can investigate, evaluate and develop new products and services, and this can be done in a matter of hours in a low-stakes environment.
If you need any more information about how your business will benefit, read the benefits of cloud adoption for more details on efficiency, scalable growth, agility and innovation.
Common challenges of cloud adoption
Change within businesses, especially large and complex enterprises, is always going to be difficult to navigate. Even if you have a competent understanding of cloud myths and benefits, your cloud adoption journey is going to face a few common challenges along the way. Here are some of the typical problems faced by businesses as they mature in the cloud.
With a new system and new processes comes the need for new understandings. Cloud engineers need to be multi-skilled and are required to perform tasks, such as cloud migration, machine learning and AI, cloud operations and cloud security. This hurdle can be tackled with cloud skills and training and acceptance that while your team may have knowledge of on-premise processes, cloud platforms offer new scenarios and challenges.
Moving from on-premises processes to a modern, cloud-based solution, there is a cultural shift from legacy thinking towards a more agile approach of working with the cloud. To fully reap the rewards of cloud and creating new value for your workstreams, change needs to be managed at technical and operational levels to shift into this new approach.
Cloud transformation won’t just impact your IT team. The effects of moving to the cloud are likely to ripple out to other teams and departments, like Human Resources, Finance, Procurement and Legal. This requires businesses to work alongside these departments and ensure that every member understands how the new models and processes impact them.
Implementation of security
The introduction of software-driven security can cause disruption as it involves revisiting regulations and security policies, and embedding security into your DevOps practices. However, it is important to take this step and integrate your new processes into the security measures within the business.
While the democratization of cloud could be seen as a positive enabler in more agile working practices, it can lead to ‘shadow IT’ and potential issues surrounding security, reliability and effectiveness associated with technology not centrally authorized by the organization’s IT team. If you wish to remove friction for users of your cloud environment, it is crucial that the system is carefully governed and managed to avoid any risks.
Cloud waste can be caused by idle or over-provisioned resources, as well as through a failure to successfully adapt your governance around the different finance and procurement models that exist in the cloud. This can become a limiting factor to success and overestimating the amount of cloud resource that a business needs can damage an organization. Encourage a culture of financial accountability within your organization to help ensure cloud costs are managed.
Building a business case for cloud
While cloud migration promises to reduce capital expenses, increase security and help businesses to become more agile, it still needs a strong business case, like any other major IT project. The COVID-19 pandemic has, in a sense, perfectly captured the business case for cloud adoption:
- The sudden need to scale IT operations and critical business functions with speed and agility as remote working became the norm and many business interactions went digital.
By providing a solution that can be accessed from across the country or even the globe, the cloud can make almost any aspect of a business accessible for agility and quick reactions.
- Eliminating challenges related to maintaining a physical data center, including disruptions in the hardware chain and the infection risks for employees who need to report to work in a data center.
In the COVID-19 landscape, entering physical spaces that aren’t the home are not advised, so creating a software-based data center eliminates any posed risks to health.
- The need to adapt quickly to new market realities to stay competitive.
The pandemic has brought a barrage of challenges for businesses and shifted the way that consumers and clients view markets. With cloud technology, businesses have been able to adapt to new market realities to keep their fingers on the market pulse whilst reacting to changing environments.
Valuable cases for COVID-19 cloud adoption aside, there are also several other common drivers for migration to consider, including:
- Significant IT events
This could be the end of a data center hosting agreement, software licensing audit showing under licensing, addressing DR or BCP needs, or out of support hardware or software.
- Major business events
Large business events such as a business merger, divestment or a business purchase are crucial when considering cloud adoption.
- Business competitiveness
The need to stay competitive as a business is a major driver. To create new products quickly, collaborate more with customers and suppliers, meet location independence and field force requirements, and support multilocation product development teams, cloud adoption is vital.
For more information about building a business case for cloud, please read our blog post for details on Cloudamize, wider migration planning and finding success with your business case.
How do I create an effective cloud strategy?
Just as it is essential to have a blueprint before building a house, a cloud strategy will form the foundation of your cloud adoption journey and define your Cloud Operating Model. To align the business towards a common purpose and set the principles by which cloud should be adopted, a thorough strategy needs to be organized and set in place.
The process of creating a cloud strategy should be taken as an opportunity to do some soul searching as a business and question why you want to make the transformation in the first place. Without a clear vision as to why you are adopting cloud and what value it will provide for each area of your business, you will not be able to address your on-premise challenges and maximize the potential value of the cloud.
By forming a clear understanding of the position of the business and what you want to achieve in your cloud journey, you will be able to create an effective strategy. We recommend building a framework that maps your key objectives, how they will develop over time and who is responsible for overseeing their development.
Your strategy is guaranteed to adapt and evolve as your business matures in the cloud, but it will remain the central source for all stakeholders to ensure that your transformation remains on course to meet your objectives.
The strategy needs to involve input from stakeholders who are all directly and indirectly impacted the migration to the cloud. This should include a range of stakeholders, from the CEO/CIO/CTO to the FO and HR teams to make sure everything is aligned. These conversations can not only help you gain opinions on areas that need to be explored, but also help you to define key business drivers, such as the problems that need to be solved, the success indicators and overall objectives. It should also consider which people, processes and technology will be able to help form your cloud operating model. Try exploring these questions to form your objectives:
- What do you want to achieve?
- How will your cloud adoption help you achieve this?
- What is your success criteria?
Interested in learning more? Read our Five Cloud Governance Best Practices.
If your objectives are built around business transformation, then your goals depend on the ability of your organization to adopt an agile mindset and an open approach to new processes. If you are focused on enabling innovation, increasing efficiency and encouraging quicker delivery, then your IT organization will need to feel supported and empowered to make responsive decisions and welcome experimentation on the new platform. As the people within your IT team upskill and work in a more innovative way, you can begin to take full advantage of your cloud transformation and reap the benefits.
Outside of your IT team, it is advisable to work closely across other departments and with various individuals to align goals, understand the impacts and how best to respond to problems. Not only will this help you to mitigate the impact of change, but it can also help you to redefine and invigorate your working culture. Cultural transformation towards a more agile environment will accelerate with the right guidelines in place, resulting in a collaborative organization where teams feel confident to make decisions for themselves.
It can be very easy to lose control when you are trying to embrace a more responsive and decentralized way of working, especially if you are in a scalable environment with rapid deployments. This can introduce a number of risks relating to security, compliance and finance, so to prevent this from happening, you will require an authority model that supports and manages your assets as they grow bigger and more complex.
To begin defining your cloud authority or governance model, you must undertake a capability and risk assessment to understand the gaps in your current model. Once you have collected the data needed, you can build a compliance plan that aims to leverage your cloud platform and ensure effective policies are in place. The cloud enables the optimization and automation of authority within an organization, which will help to speed up the response to market changes or risks. This requires the correct processes to be in place to be able to establish governance within the cloud.
Many businesses approach their governance model and management of the model by developing a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE). This is a central unit of pioneers who are responsible for encouraging change across the business and incubating best practises related to cloud architecture. Their focus is on urging cloud use while minimizing risk and costs.
How do I start my cloud migration?
When it comes to cloud migration, precision equals performance. The only way to accurately and cost-effectively match your needs to the most suitable cloud configuration and realize the full potential of the cloud is to adopt an analytical approach.
Before moving to the cloud, you need to assess your existing infrastructure and applications – what you currently have, your performance profile as well as the nature and quantity of related storage. When that is complete, you will also need a means of performing apples-to-apples comparisons of how various cloud vendor offerings and related pricing models will serve your requirements.
Adopting a data driven approach will give you a clear understanding of the total cost of ownership (TCO) for moving to the cloud and how you proceed with your migration.
Using powerful software (like our Cloudamize platform) accelerates this process. By automatically receiving an accurate tactical view of your estate, and the application dependencies within, you can dramatically speed up the time to the execution of your cloud migration and avoid delays due to human error.
How much does cloud migration cost?
The cost of moving to the cloud is a complicated topic and there are several factors at play that can affect the overall cost. Ultimately, it is the pay-as -you-go nature of public cloud and the shift from a traditional CapEx focused model – where costs and hardware lifecycles are consistent – to a variable OpEx, that causes the most trouble.
Cloud infrastructure costs
The largest factor in your cloud adoption price is the estimated cloud infrastructure cost. By assessing the data, applications and systems that your organization utilizes, you can make a rough estimate on the total cost of ownership (TCO) e.g. the amount of network, database and storage capacity that you will need in the cloud. The cost of infrastructure also depends on which cloud service provider you choose to go with, as pricing will differ between vendors and the services they offer.
Once you have chosen the provider that will work best with your business model, you will have a clearer understanding of the cost structure that is available to you. This will inform you and help you to calculate the cost estimates that factor into the cloud infrastructure and potentially compare prices across providers.
There are several costs associated with the process of moving to the cloud after you have secured your infrastructure. This can depend on the strategy you choose to take, the length of time that the migration will take, any new software that you purchase and any additional help that you choose to hire.
It is especially crucial to be mindful of the labor cost, as this is a costly element in cloud adoption. The more that you need of it, the more you will end up spending, including consultant fees and outsourcing fees. While gaining the specialist knowledge to aid with your migration will cost you more in the initial stages, it will be beneficial in the long run.
The final cost that you will need to factor into the overall pricing of your cloud adoption journey is the pricing of post-migration management. You need to ask how you plan to maintain and improve your cloud platform, and consider the future growth of your IT team. You may be considering outsourcing some of your management and training your current employees to the new system will also create a cost.
In addition to this, there can be a number of Unexpected Costs of Cloud Migration you might not originally associate with the process. For more assistance with costing and managing the pricing of your cloud adoption, please do not hesitate to contact us.
How long does cloud migration take?
Cloud migrations aren’t easy, especially when time is of the essence. Typically, a large-scale migration program can take 12-18 months to complete. This is while the organization tackles their data center exit strategy and understands the intricacies of cost, security and governance within the cloud. Post-migration, you have to wrestle the wider impact that the migration has on your teams and their processes.
While the process can take some time, there are several ways to accelerate the migration without reducing success. This starts from the ground up, beginning with engaging the right people in the project. People are instrumental to any success, so by engaging stakeholders and a dedicated team, you can empower those who will benefit the migration. You can also build a migration framework with guiding principles and migration goals, as well as communicate consistency and unify your program management tooling. Take a look at our accelerated cloud migration blog post for a full explanation.
Throughout Cloudreach’s 10 years of experience within the cloud industry and helping clients to adopt the cloud, we have accumulated a wealth of knowledge on how to quickly deliver the cloud journey without compromising on cost or success. To find out more, read our case study that details how we helped an International Hospitality Leader migrate 50+ applications in four months.
What is a cloud landing zone?
To put it simply, a cloud landing zone is the underlying core configuration of a cloud environment. If you think of your cloud environment as a city, the cloud landing zone is the infrastructure that makes sure the city develops in an organized way. Having this essential blueprint ensures that as new sections are added and services are increased in the city, you know where they go and how they are set up in relation to everything currently in place. It may seem like tedious work to carry out in the beginning, but by establishing this foundation, you will find it easier to solve complex problems in the future.
There are four key aspects that your cloud landing zone should cover:
- Security and compliance
Centralize your monitoring, logging and security approach by implementing data residency policies in your Cloud Landing Zone. This will ensure a base level of compliance over multiple environments or tenants.
- Standardized tenancy
Implement tagging policies across multiple cloud tenants and offer standardized tenants for your various security profiles, including staging, development and production.
- Identity and access management
Enforce the principle of least privilege by outlining roles and access guidelines. Identify your user ID configurations and password specifications across tenants.
Offer firewalls, IaaS network configurations and other networking frameworks that you want to have in place.
Each cloud product is different and may advantage different services, so the key is to establish the Cloud Landing Zone, so that you can focus on designing an organized and well-orchestrated platform. For more information, read our post on why a Cloud Landing Zone makes building a cloud platform easier.
Key considerations for cloud migration
Cloud migration is hard work and, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to achieving success. It is only natural to experience set-backs and false starts as your strategy develops and your organization begins to elevate its competencies. This is why it’s essential to recognize failure is bound to happen, but to be prepared for it and to continue to encourage experimentation to find the appropriate outcome.
With correct research and a robust strategy, you can embrace a modern, cloud-first mentality for your organization. You can alleviate any challenges that come your way, learn lessons quickly and, ultimately, enhance and speed up your cloud journey. Here are four things to take away and consider for your cloud migration.
- It will change the way you view your IT organization
Cloud migration will see a shift in the way that IT is positioned and viewed within your organization, as it places the IT department at the helm for delivering innovation and differentiation. However, it is a new framework and should be treated as such, and so, although your business will require full training in the cloud and its services, IT will require more attention to ensure they understand the platform in full.
- Culture is key
Cultural change needs to be inclusive and transparent with a clear direction and execution plan in order to be successful. There needs to be an element of management that comes along with the cultural change and the transformation to embrace a collaborative, responsive culture. Every decision that you make regarding your people, your tooling and your governance must reinforce these ideals.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of governance
If one of your aims is to achieve a culture that enables swiftness and empowers originality, then you need to set the appropriate guidelines. Effective governance and authority within your cloud platform will allow you to maintain control without reducing the speed of transition.
- Cloud is a catalyst for change
After migrating to the cloud, you should see your business elevate to meet all of your goals and notice new opportunities to respond to the market. You will be able to differentiate your business and continuously improve how your organization operates, both internally and within the market.
If you are interested in other key points for cloud migration or want to address any myths that you may have encountered, read our blog post about cloud adoption myths and misconceptions that every enterprise should be aware of.
Cloud migration key term glossary
The serverless computing concept is to write application codes and disregard the infrastructure that makes the platform work, providing backend services on an as-and-when basis. Despite the ‘serverless’ names, physical servers are still used, but your developers don’t need to worry about them.
This is the most dominant cloud computing model that provides a complete software solution that you purchase on a pay-as-you-go basis or as a subscription. With SaaS, hardware and operating systems become irrelevant to the end user because the application is usually accessed through a web browser on their PC, tablet or phone. The service provider manages all underlying infrastructure, middleware and app software in their data center, allowing you to start your organization with an app.
This is a form of cloud computing that provides virtualized computing resources via the web that can be rented. This can include web hosting, web apps, test and development, and big data analysis. It reduces ongoing costs, helps to improve business continuity, encourages rapid innovation and enables you to respond quickly to shifting business conditions.
Cloud Operating Model
A Cloud Operating Model represents how an IT organization operates to execute its cloud strategy and deliver value to customers. It provides the building blocks across People, Process and Technology, enabling you to elevate your culture and continuously assess and evolve your critical cloud capabilities as you mature.
This is a form of cloud computing that offers the tools and software that is needed to run, manage and develop business applications, including infrastructure, middleware, database management systems and much more. It allows you to avoid expenses and complexity of software licences, and offers you the chance to manage the applications and services that you develop, leaving your provider to manage everything else.
A cloud consisting of resources used exclusively by one organization that is either located on-site or hosted by a third-party provider. The services and infrastructure are maintained on a private network, and all software and hardware are used solely by one organization.
A Multi-Cloud approach to cloud adoption involves using multiple public cloud providers. This approach suits organizations that want access to the strongest offerings from several providers, to distribute workloads across different infrastructures, and to address concerns of vendor lock-in.
A cloud service that is owned and operated by third-party providers that deliver support over the web. All software, hardware and supporting infrastructure are owned and managed by your chosen provider, which means you don’t have to maintain the platform yourself. It also creates lower costs, near-unlimited scalability and high reliability.
A combination of on-premises infrastructure and a public cloud. This allows businesses to control privacy, take advantage of flexibility, easily move apps between the two environments and scale to the public cloud in a cost effective way.