By Stuart Nielsen-Marsh, Director — Microsoft Cloud Strategy, Pulsant
In the haste to capitalise on the benefits of cloud, one of the most overlooked considerations is cloud readiness. While there is the general expectation that cloud can solve all business ills and transform an organisation in terms of cost, flexibility and agility, the reality is that it’s not always beneficial to move everything to the cloud. But having an aspirational goal — like complete migration or adopting a cloud-first mentality — is a good starting point to determine what you need to do and how you go about doing that. A cloud readiness assessment takes that goal and works backwards to determine the best way forward, the changes involved and the impact on all areas of the business.
The move to cloud is often much more complex than anticipated, and this can be complicated even further if the readiness assessment is overlooked. Typically cloud readiness looks at both technical and business elements and covers three main areas: technology, people and processes.
By analysing what your organisation looks like today, in terms of applications, workflows and infrastructure, you can determine the cost and benefits of migration. Here you, alongside your chosen cloud provider, gather insightful data on how these various aspects are used, when they’re used and how frequently. This helps you build a cost model to see what can be moved and where it should be moved to, as well as what shouldn’t be migrated.
Looking at applications, as an example; if they are too old, they will need to be re-developed or re-architected if they are moved to the cloud — often at great time and expense. These could remain locally, or what may work better is moving the server that runs those applications to the cloud so that they will sit on infrastructure hosted in the cloud, but effectively remain the same.
What this example illustrates is that while there are benefits to moving technology to the cloud, they are not always straightforward and may not always be worth it. It’s important to identify the best candidates for migration, as well as how to effect that move. If you push too hard for migration, or try to make it happen to quickly, something is bound to break — sometimes that’s the technology and sometimes it’s the people responsible for that technology.
Often moving to the cloud results in changing the ways a company does business. It’s almost always better – because it’s faster, easier to operate, and offers a quicker time to market — but from a people point of view you may encounter some resistance. As a result, you need strong executive sponsorship to drive that journey.
Moving to cloud effectively means that a lot of functions will also move to the cloud. In areas like service, support and operations, the work these teams do in terms of building, managing or maintaining technology could change. This may result in some insecurity when it comes to possessing the right technical skills to support this new technology. A cloud readiness assessment will help you identify the current strengths of your staff, as well as skills or training gaps.
As a cloud service provider, for an example, failure to understand how your customer’s business operates and the people who manage that operational process can often stunt or stop a cloud migration. For the business itself, it’s not simply a case of extolling the benefits of cloud, you need to take your staff on the migration journey as well, guiding them through the change.
It stands to reason that the move to the cloud will result in a lot of process change. While cloud itself may be technically less complex, the chances are that your operations and processes will become more complicated. This is especially true in a hybrid environment where you’re not just looking after tangible assets that can be physically seen, changed and monitored, but instead you’re managing something that is remote.
Your cloud readiness assessment will also look at these operational and business processes, and the willingness of your organisation to change. You also need to consider vital aspects like access, security and the change process when thinking about cloud migration.
Assessing cloud readiness is vital to ensure a successful migration. From a cloud service provider perspective, the Pulsant point of view, we work with our customers to ensure they have realistic expectations and ultimately get the most value and benefit from a migration. The migration itself should be phased, and undertaken in a measured way that considers the people involved, what can and can’t be moved, and the processes behind managing both staff and the changes to the business that cloud will bring.