#10things for faster cloud migrations for organisations

Unless organisations take a long view on migration to the cloud, they may not capture the larger constellation of the $1 trillion value potential of the cloud, warns McKinsey

Unless organisations take a long view on migration to the cloud, they may not capture the larger constellation of the $1 trillion value potential of the cloud, warns McKinsey. Lack of attention to cloud foundation by IT departments looking to realise initial gains, could have long term consequences on profitability. “Building a solid cloud foundation as part of a transformation engine does not mean delaying financial returns or investing significant resources. It just requires knowing what critical steps to take and executing them well. Our experience shows that companies that put in place a solid cloud foundation reap benefits in the form of a potential eightfold acceleration in the pace of cloud migration and adoption and a 50%  reduction in migration costs over the long term—without delaying their cloud program.” These are McKinsey’s 10 actions for faster and more profitable cloud migrations:

1. Optimise technology to enable the fastest ‘idea-to-live’ process

Whether their workloads are in the cloud or in traditional data centres, many companies have outdated and bureaucratic work methods that introduce delays and frustrations. Your cloud foundation should be constructed to enable an idea’s rapid progression from inception to up and running in a production environment, without sacrificing safety and security. Since the cloud offers unique tools that make automation easier, and because the move to cloud leads organisations to rethink their entire strategy, the beginning of the migration process is often the right time to change how IT operates.

2. Design the cloud architecture so it can scale

If companies do it right, they can build a cloud architecture based on five people that can scale up to support 500 or more without significant changes. As the cloud footprint grows, a well-designed architecture should be able to accommodate more components, including more application patterns, isolation zones, and capabilities. Support for this scaling requires simple, well-designed interfaces between components. Because this is difficult to get right the first time, cloud-architecture engineers who have done it before at scale are a big advantage.

3. Build an organisation that mirrors the architecture

According to Conway’s law, the way teams are organised will determine the shape of the technology they develop. IT organisations have a set structure for teams, and that can lead them to build things that don’t fit the shape of the cloud architecture. IT needs to design its cloud architecture first and then build an organisation based on that structure.

4. Use the cloud that already exists

Many companies operate in fear of being locked into a specific cloud service provider (CSP), so they look for ways to mitigate that risk. A common pattern is an overreliance on containers, which can be expensive and time consuming and keep businesses from realising the genuine benefits available from CSPs. The root of this issue is that companies still tend to treat CSPs as if they were hardware vendors rather than software partners.

5. Offer cloud products, not cloud services

It is common for companies to create internal cloud-service teams to help IT and the business use the cloud. Usually these service teams operate like fulfillment centers, responding to requests for access to approved cloud services. The business ends up using dozens of cloud services independently and without a coherent architecture, resulting in complexity, defects, and poor transparency into usage. Instead, companies need dedicated product teams staffed with experienced cloud architects and engineers to create and manage simple, scalable, and reusable cloud products for application teams. The constraints imposed by aligning around cloud products can help to ensure that the business uses the correct capabilities in the correct way. By establishing the cloud products, the teams to support them, and the model by which application teams can engage with product teams, the business has the mechanisms in place to thoughtfully scale its cloud strategy.

6. Application teams should not reinvent how to design and deploy applications in cloud

When organisations give free rein to application teams to migrate applications to the cloud provider, the result is a menagerie of disparate cloud capabilities and configurations that makes ongoing maintenance of the entire inventory difficult. Instead, organisations should treat the deployment capabilities of an application as a stand-alone product, solving common problems once using application patterns.

7. Provide targeted change management by using isolation zones

Isolation zones are cloud environments where applications live. In an effort to accelerate cloud migration, CSPs and systems integrators usually start with a single isolation zone to host all applications. That’s a high-risk approach. As a rule of thumb, a company should have from five to 100 isolation zones, depending on the size of the business and how it answers the following questions:

  • Does the application face the internet?
  • What level of resiliency is required?
  • What is the risk-assurance level or security posture required for applications running in the zone?
  • Which business unit has decision rights on how the zone is changed for legal purposes?
8. Build base capabilities once to use across every CSP

Most companies will be on multiple clouds. The mix often breaks down to about 60% of workloads in one, 30%t in another, and the rest in a third. Rather than building the same base capabilities (for example, network connectivity and routing, identity services, logging, and monitoring) across all the CSPs, companies should build them once and reuse the capabilities across all isolation zones, even those that reside in a different CSP from the base.

9. Speed integration of acquisitions by putting in place another instance of the base foundation

During an acquisition, merging IT assets is difficult and time consuming. The cloud can speed the merger process and ease its complexity if the acquiring company creates an “integration-base foundation” that can run the assets of the company being acquired. Using this approach, companies can efficiently operate their core cloud estate as well as the acquisition’s using the same software with a different configuration. This typically can reduce integration time from two to three years to closer to three to nine months.

10. Make preventative and automated cloud security and compliance the cornerstone

All software components and systems must go through a security layer. Traditional cybersecurity mechanisms are dependent on human oversight and review, which cannot match the tempo required to capture the cloud’s full benefits of agility and speed. For this reason, companies must adopt new security architectures and processes to protect their cloud workloads. Systems running in the cloud can be evaluated against security policies to prevent changes that move the system out of compliance.



Main image credit: Pixabay.


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