Gaining the benefits of cloud computing relies on an effective migration strategy. We’ve put together a comprehensive 4-step process that will help you mitigate risk and achieve the best outcome for your business.

Australian companies are increasingly turning to cloud computing to power their businesses. In an Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) report, they found that one in three Australian companies now use paid cloud services and this usage increases for larger organisations (60% for companies with more than 200 employees).

The report also revealed that Australian businesses most commonly turn to cloud technology to run software applications (85%) and for storage capacity (60%).

In the past, business leaders have seen cyber security as the chief inhibitor for the uptake of cloud computing, however, these days, this is much less a concern. Instead, the report showed that insufficient knowledge (18%) was the top factor that blocked business leaders from shifting to cloud services.

To overcome this barrier of perceived 'insufficient knowledge', businesses should arm themselves with an effective cloud migration strategy that's based on a deep understanding of fundamental business needs. We have created a comprehensive four-step checklist to help organisations understand the requirements they need to consider and how to set the framework for a successful cloud migration strategy.

Preparation

Selecting your cloud environment

The first thing you need to get clear when developing a successful migration strategy, is which type of cloud environment suits your business: public cloud, private cloud or a hybrid.

The key difference, says Mark Peoples of Superloop, is how much of your IT function you want to move to the cloud.

“If you are migrating to the public cloud, you’d be moving maybe 20-50% of your IT function to a public cloud provider,” Peoples says. “However, once you come onto a managed private cloud, you can move 100% of your IT function to the cloud.”

Hybrid cloud, as the name suggests, is a combination of the two. It uses both private and public cloud services to perform different functions.

(Read more about the benefits of hybrid cloud here)

Setting a migration timeline

Setting a cloud migration timeline depends largely on the maturity of your current IT operations.

Sometimes businesses with a mature in-house IT department wait until IT infrastructure is due for updating as the trigger to engage in a large cloud migration project. However, smaller businesses without complex on-premises IT infrastructure could benefit from a more immediate migration.

“If you don’t have a large IT department, it doesn’t make sense to try to hire a guy who knows storage, a guy who knows network and so on,” Peoples says. “Trying to run it all on-premises is not as cost effective as migrating to a managed private cloud.”

The 4-step cloud migration process

Step 1 – Consider business outcomes along with financials

It is critical to understand your business’ strategic business and financial drivers before purchasing any cloud service, in order to define the appropriate deployment and sourcing model.

What are your IT and business goals? What are the associated enterprise architecture guidelines and preferred commercial models? Have you considered your capital expenditure (CapEx) versus operating expenditure (OpEx) needs?

(Read more about the benefits of shifting your IT spending from CapEx to OpEx here)

It is important to note that, while the ability to reduce upfront investment by shifting IT spending to monthly fees is a draw card of moving to the cloud, it shouldn’t be the only business driver. The true business value of the OpEx model is more about agility and utilisation than cost consideration. You need to ensure you can scale your IT resources up and down according to the business’ needs.

Step 2 – Assess the suitability of applications

Conduct a thorough inventory of your existing application portfolio. This will identify any potential constraints and establish the right deployment model across private, hybrid, or public cloud.

Your IT team should assess each application or workload on a case-by-case basis to determine the best fit, based on cost and performance requirements. While newer software applications tend to experience few compatibility issues, some of your older legacy applications may not migrate as easily, and you may need to reconfigure them to connect to your new cloud infrastructure services.

Step 3 – An opportune time to rethink business processes

Implementing a cloud strategy will impact your organisation’s operational and business processes, so it’s important to identify those that will be affected. In particular, determine where the dependencies are for legacy infrastructure and operating technologies.  

This is also a good time to review current processes to see where efficiencies can be made using cloud resources. Back-end core business functions can be automated or reconfigured using IaaS and front-end applications can be replaced with SaaS solutions.

Step 4 – Insourcing or outsourcing?

The final step is to answer the question of sourcing. This will be determined by how much of your migration and ongoing cloud management will be handled in-house and which components will be outsourced to a managed IT service provider.

This question will be answered by your organisation’s appetite to upskilling or acquired new skills, as well as your ability to hire or enhance these capabilities with external partners.

With the rapid growth in cloud-led services, there is already a huge gap in the market around qualified talent with hands-on operational expertise across areas like architecture, design and technical support. Collaborating with an external cloud services provider can help you plug any gaps, while also reducing costs and enabling a faster route to market, as you can tap into the skills and talent of others where necessary.

With a strong understanding of which cloud environment is best aligned to your business needs and an effective cloud migration strategy in place, you’ll be well placed to take advantage of the many benefits of your cloud transformation.

What to read next:
Beyond cost savings: 3 lesser known benefits of moving to the cloud
Best security practices for companies using cloud service providers
What are the benefits of hybrid cloud?