‘Programming’- like ‘loving’ – is a single word that encompasses an infinitude of activities.

The same can be said of “migration” when applied to moving IT systems into a cloud environment. Variables that include environment scale, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, P2V, V2V, on-premise to cloud, cloud to cloud, “lift and shift”, upgrading software versions during migration and component substitution mean that migration projects can vary widely at the implementation stage.

Although migration projects may differ in terms of what is being migrated and how that transition is accomplished, there are some common factors that need to be considered if the migration is be a success.

Have the business drivers for migrating to the cloud been identified and validated?
Insufficient on-premise capacity, a need for elasticity, a desire to shift budgets from CapEx to OpEx or a lack of IT skills within the organisation are all valid reasons to make the leap to the cloud but I cringe when I hear statements like “Because everyone else is doing it” or “It’s trendy/shiny/cool” or “My CEO/CFO/CTO wants to do it”.

Will the cloud deliver what the organisation needs?
A cloud hosted solution will not necessarily deliver an identical experience to an on-premise solution – it could require some compromises or it could prove much better. Be clear about what your organisation needs (e.g. a “work anywhere” culture; super-fast processing times; customised application instances; handling workload spikes; ingesting huge data sets for big data analysis). With this knowledge, confirm that the positives of the migrated system outweigh any negatives.

Is a cloud based solution cost effective?

In many cases the cloud will offer reduced costs or enable the creation of a superior solution that would not otherwise be within budget but there are some scenarios in which a cloud solution is not always the most cost effective (or perhaps even feasible).

Identify cloud providers that can meet your requirements.
If you have specific business needs, such as restrictions on the countries in which your data can be processed, a “no foreign eyes” policy, mandatory security accreditation/certifications, support for non-internet connectivity etc. then some cloud providers will not be suitable. Beware of “old school” service providers masquerading as cloud providers. There are still some businesses marketing themselves as “cloud providers” that are really IT service providers who have jumped on the cloud bandwagon but not truly embraced the fundamental concepts of the cloud. I once participated in meetings with a large IT company which claimed to offer an IaaS cloud service but, as phrases like “5-year contract” and “change management boards” (for server scaling!) were bandied about, it became clear that this company was not a good fit for the cloud project for which they were being assessed.

In the next post I will look at some of the practical considerations associated with migrations