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A move to the cloud presents a huge opportunity for organizations that want to be more nimble and responsive as their industries and consumers evolve. Before you can reap those rewards, though, you have to get to the cloud, and that can be a pretty big undertaking. It takes months of preparation, including requirement assessments and platform evaluations, to get to the finish line.
Where do you start? How do you know what information to trust? Do you go with a consultant to help guide you? Pick one of the hyperscalers like AWS or Azure and jump right in? How do you build consensus within the organization that you’re heading in the right direction?
It can be overwhelming.
And when you’re overwhelmed, the easiest (and sometimes best) thing to do is not make any decision at all. Better the devil you know, right? If you decide to maintain the status quo, sure, you’ll avoid making the wrong decision but you also won’t be getting any of those benefits we mentioned.
How do you break out of this analysis paralysis and make a decision you can feel confident in?
First, consider why you’re not confident in the decision yet. Maybe there are too many pieces of data to evaluate so you feel like you don’t have the whole picture. Or you’re not sure how to evaluate the potential outcomes based on the info you have. That’s understandable, especially if you’ve never been through a cloud migration before. Maybe you’re getting conflicting information or have forks in the road that you need to consider.
Again, it makes sense to feel like this is a lot to process and pick through. You’re not going to make the decision overnight and you should be considering the short-term and long-term ramifications of the project.
So how do you get to a place where you’re confident in your decision and comfortable enough to move forward without second guessing every step of the way?
Here’s what we’ve found throughout the thousands of migrations we’ve completed with our clients.
Why do you need to change?
Right off the bat, nail down why you’re considering digital transformation (and remember, if you can’t describe the value that an IT project delivers to the business, then doing nothing is a sensible option.) Here are the most common “whys” we see:
- Change triggers. Also known as compelling events, these are typically something that must change or else… Common examples:
- An application is going out of support, so it needs to be replaced
- Underlying data center hardware is due for replacement or no longer supported
- You’re moving out of our building and now’s a good time to confront your technical debt
- You’ve lost key IT team personnel and skillsets and need a new strategy to move forward
- You need new applications to improve the customer experience and new lines of business
- You need a more predictable IT spending model that aligns with business initiatives
What’s preventing you from changing?
Supporting our old IT prevents us from implementing new projects with high business impact.
A few years ago, companies realized that having the IT team maintain email server and all the related applications took a large portion on the IT staff’s time. Office 365 was and is an easy way to predict and manage costs, deliver better email services and radically reduce support required. Companies that implemented Office 365, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and other on-demand IT services have experienced relatively quick wins by taking huge chunks of non-essential activities off the IT team’s plate, freeing some of the IT team’s time to work on projects with more business impact.
Are there more quick wins to be had?
Many companies believe that they’ve already taken advantage of most of the quick wins that SaaS and other on-demand applications bring. But if they need to eliminate more non-essential IT activities and free up more time, how are they doing it?
Surprisingly, the quickest wins often lie with the older, mission critical legacy applications that can’t be – or don’t need to be – replaced with SaaS or with different, more modern applications. These applications are often providing great value to the business by helping employees deliver services, manage resources, and optimize costs. Quick wins are available by moving these applications to an Enterprise Cloud, a specific sort of cloud that looks, feels, and performs like the in-house computing environment. Enteprise Cloud is a form of Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas) that provides the cloud-like benefits like a predictable operating expense model, automation capabilities, high performance, and better security architecture.
How does an Enterprise Cloud deliver quick wins and sidestep your analysis paralysis?
- Migrating to an Enterprise Cloud requires no changes to the application
- Migrations are fast and easy to validate
- Existing IT skillsets are capable of managing an Enterprise Cloud
- High quality Enterprise Clouds automate more difficult jobs like backup, disaster recovery, new server provisioning, and visibility
- The best Enterprise Clouds have built-in features that would often be too expensive or impractical to implement with an internal IT staff:
- Security options like disk-based encryption, network microsegmentation and multi-factor authentication are much more affordable in a consumption model
- Visibility and longitudinal reporting tools that help IT make better long-term decisions
- Support for the additional Enterprise Cloud tools, capabilities and options falls on the service provider, with virtually no increase in non-essential activities for the internal IT team
Many IT professionals try this same process using one of the hyperscale clouds like AWS, Azure or Google Cloud Platform. The difficulty lies in the radically different architecture of these hyperscale clouds, which severely limits lift-and-shift as an option and generally requires rebuilding functionality like high availability, backup, and disaster recovery. It is very difficult to move legacy application to these different architectures without code changes, expensive outside consulting engagements, and cost overruns because of the one-way egress charges common to the hyperscale clouds. Application speed can also be a problem when using hyperscale clouds for legacy applications. A recent study showed that “up to 50 percent of public cloud workloads will be repatriated to private clouds or on-premises infrastructures,” typically because of cost overruns or performance issues. The right Enterprise Cloud eliminates these risks and helps your organization eliminate almost all the non-essential IT activities that are currently occupying your staff.
Do these quick wins limit my future options?
The value in starting small and earning some quick wins is that they’re incremental and you can evaluate them as they come, before you commit to anything that can’t be undone.
There is risk with SaaS that the provider will increase pricing over time and lock you in to their environment by making transition out costly and difficult.
With IaaS, there is similar risk, especially if you use the wrong cloud for your mission critical legacy applications.
So don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Because SaaS and Enterprise Cloud usage is becoming more common, most companies now are adopting multi-cloud strategies whether they realize it or not. SaaS applications can live anywhere, so many reside in AWS, Azure and Google Cloud platform. Couple that with your old in-house data center, Enterprise Cloud usage, and other services like Backup-as-a-Service and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service, and you quickly realize that a multi-cloud strategy is the best way to stay flexible and not limit future options.
Trust Your Gut
After all this discussion, we come to the final piece of the puzzle: intuition. With all the information you’ve processed throughout your research, the different perspectives you’ve heard on what to do and what not to do, and the tests you’ve run to prove efficacy, you’re ready to make your decision. The same instincts you’ve relied on up to now will still work in the current situation. Follow where they lead you. They’ll tell you if you need to take one more look at something you have lingering doubts on or if you’re ready to move forward.
Analysis paralysis is common when you’re facing a big decision and the outcome isn’t guaranteed. But if you do your research, if you take the process slowly and run tests along the way, and if you can build up some quick wins early on, you’ll arrive confidently at the right path. We get it, because we’ve helped thousands of clients who were in the same position.
Still not quite over the hump? Let’s talk.
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