Today, for virtually every business, moving to the cloud is no longer a matter of “if”; instead, the question is, “which applications and when?” There is urgency in the response. In fact, when asked about their adoption and adoption timelines for cloud technology, many IT professionals will say, “Yesterday!”
However, while most executives understand the benefits of moving to the cloud for scalability, operational efficiency, security, or cost savings, many still have understandable concerns. Business leaders not only face the technical challenge of migrating to the cloud, but also the added hurdle of building consensus among business CFOs and CTOs, addressing their concerns and mitigating resistance to implementing critical changes.
Here are three common areas of concern along with ways to overcome them and ultimately build business confidence moving forward with a cloud migration.
1. Understand cloud spend
Moving to the cloud has a significant impact that most CFOs appreciate: it helps conserve more cash. It also makes cash planning more predictable. Rather than dealing with spending spikes when new equipment is needed, maintenance is required, or upgrades are implemented, CFOs recognize that spending is becoming regular. To gain this advantage, it is important to move the right kinds of applications to the cloud.
Typically, cloud costs are based on the use of computing resources, data storage, and data transfer. When you move an application to the cloud, you need to understand if it can use compute resources when needed and release them when idle. If the application uses the same compute resources when idle as when busy, you should consider local hosting.
Data storage and transfer also have an impact on costs. Do you store your data efficiently? Do you have unnecessary copies. and do you compress as much as possible? Data transfer is another place where unexpected costs can arise. Is the application writing and rewriting data unnecessarily?
To avoid unnecessary costs, applications may need to be rewritten or new cloud-ready applications must be licensed. You can also use the cloud service contract to manage costs. When purchasing cloud services, you can get a committed use discount that guarantees reduced prices based on a commitment to use a minimum level of computing resources for a specified duration. As organizations mature in their cloud usage, they can begin to forecast cloud costs and pre-purchase committed compute usage each year at a discounted rate. In this way, cloud costs can be reduced over time and become more predictable.
Optimizing cloud compute spend is an ongoing engineering challenge. Better application design improves efficiency and reduces costs. A distinct advantage over the data center model, the cloud makes application costs visible right down to the very latest application programming interface. This level of visibility enables engineers to continuously improve the profitability of cloud operations.
2. Bridging a potential skills gap
In a data center model, internal IT professionals have a proven grasp of networking, security, data governance, and application deployment. Moving to the cloud will disrupt this status quo. The best way to mitigate disruption is to communicate with and train employees.
Common questions that IT teams and management need to answer when moving to the cloud include the impact of moving to the cloud on these functions, or if they even exist in the same form in a cloud environment. Based on our own experiences in this area, as well as helping our clients meet these challenges, the most successful approach to these issues takes a perspective: “how what we know and do today translates into the cloud?”
The initial investment in cloud training for the workforce is a must. Cloud-specific training will help employees understand how basic concepts translate. For example, for a network infrastructure manager, virtual local area networks (VLANs) become virtual private clouds (VPCs). The training results in superior system architecture because the transition team can design the cloud infrastructure to align with cloud best practices rather than recreating the exact data center infrastructure in the cloud. Additionally, cloud training positions the workforce for continued career growth in an increasingly cloud-centric environment. Investing in training will increase employee engagement and retention, which will reduce turnover.
3. Feel the Pressure: Modernizing the App
While an organization may want to take a measured and methodical approach to cloud adoption, time is running out when it comes to application modernization. Today’s new applications are born and designed for the cloud. Most legacy applications will either move to the cloud or become obsolete. As many applications are business critical, updates may force migration to the cloud to maintain continuity of important applications.
To ease the transition, a hybrid approach often yields the best results. This hybrid scenario involves adopting cloud-native applications to take advantage of cloud-only services; redesign a subset of legacy applications for cloud deployment; and migrating the remaining applications via a “lift and shift” approach – migrating from on-premises VMs to identical VMs running in the cloud.
This hybrid approach requires careful decision making as to which of these approaches to adopt with each distinct application. Although a “lift and shift” approach is the simplest, it is also the most expensive and can result in lower performance and efficiency. Selecting a new cloud-native replacement application may result in the loss of any residual license value on the existing application, the need to transfer existing users and data, and possibly the need to learn a new interface application, service/maintenance and integration points . Redesigning legacy applications similarly drives new interfaces and integration points and creates a heavy workload for IT. Working collectively on a hybrid solution, the IT team weighs the benefits of each approach and decides the right course of action for each application.
As enterprises face the pressure and urgency of migrating to the cloud, successfully managing costs, training employees, and modernizing applications will help alleviate common causes of stakeholder resistance and initiate a transformation. Careful assessment of technology and business needs in the cloud transition process will help foster a courageous corporate culture of embracing the latest technologies to drive innovation and operational efficiency.