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The Cloud Journey, Part 3: Why A Cloud Migration Factory Is the Catalyst for Cloud Enablement

The initial push to the cloud is often driven by cost savings or efficiency opportunities to keep up with demand, while at the same time software vendors have pivoted to a SaaS delivery model over the traditional on premise perpetual licensing model.

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The initial push to the cloud is often driven by cost savings or efficiency opportunities to keep up with demand, while at the same time software vendors have pivoted to a SaaS delivery model over the traditional on premise perpetual licensing model. However, while moving to the cloud can be another step towards service management and operational improvement, cloud migration is not simply a one-time, big bang data center exit event.

“Migrating to the cloud is where cloud strategy rubber meets the digital road,” says KPMG director Corey Jacobson. “If you’re not prepared, you can veer off the road and end up trudging through the ditches.” A cloud migration factory provides the guardrails for execution of the cloud strategy — moving workloads or applications to various cloud deployment models across various cloud providers. “The factory allows an organization to set up a cloud ecosystem that can reliably and securely deploy workloads to the appropriate cloud service at a speed to meet business demand, while also continuing to improve operational efficiencies and performance as part of business-as-usual capabilities,” says KPMG principal Pierre Champigneulle.

A holistic view and visibility into the cloud

Although organizations are making progress in moving workloads to the cloud, they often lack visibility into the value they’re creating, Jacobson explains. “They move infrastructure services to the cloud, but they may not have laid out a clear business case for why they’re moving, what the expected benefit is, and how that enables the company’s strategic objectives,” he says.

Typically, organizations start out small with highly cloud-suited workloads to migrate, or with a new application or service, before moving on to larger and more complex workload migrations.  However, these separate cloud migrations are not always coordinated at a program level or governed at a strategic level, so each migration may not be sure of what the other is deploying and how they may positively or negatively impact one another. “The cloud migration factory with governance oversight provides a holistic view into and coordination of various cloud migrations across different initiatives that are enabling the organization,” he explains.

For some, the biggest challenge — and value — of using a cloud migration factory is helping shift the organization’s mindset. An organization may be very adept at migration, but use their existing support models and ways of working, which may prove to be inefficient and too slow to meet business demand.

“The cloud migration factory helps organizations evaluate how the operating model must change and prove out the new ways of working as they migrate,” says Jacobson. “If you don’t utilize this type of approach, you run the risk of migrating workloads to the cloud, but quickly realize you are not fully-prepared to effectively manage and govern provisioning, usage and performance.” This approach also aligns with the business case and shows how changing ways of working will help organizations achieve the expected cost savings, he adds, as well as other objectives such as improved responsiveness to business demand for IT services while maintaining security and reliability.

There are three important steps to implementing a cloud migration factory framework: 

  • Migration Strategy & Planning. Stand up a robust cloud migration program that securely and reliably achieves the objectives and expected value of moving suitable workloads to the cloud. The migration approach should be tailored to the frequency and types of migration (e.g., big bang vs. incremental and application vs. end-user computing vs. collaboration vs. security). The organization has to set up the new cloud provider to accept the applications and associated data, and then move the data and images to the new provider while establishing configuration and performance settings. “This step is about developing the migration methods and sequencing migrations to deliver value based on the cloud strategy, the business case and the cloud suitability analysis,” says Jacobson. In addition, adds Champigneulle, “Part of the planning effort also includes sourcing required migration services, validating migration readiness, and preparing the infrastructure.”
  • Factory Execution. With the migration plan in hand, the factory needs to be set up with migration services established as well as their service providers, tools, resources staffed and trained, and oversight in place. “Once the migration strategy, plan, and factory are set, you need to simply start executing a repeatable, efficient, flexible process that can provide provisioning, migration, testing, rollbacks, training and cutovers with monitoring and reporting,” Jacobson says. Depending on the application’s readiness for the cloud, a certain level of application remediation will need to be performed prior to the migration adding to the complexity, duration, cost and risk, adds Champigneulle.
  • Transition & Run. The migration team works with the application, infrastructure, and operations teams to provide hyper care and sign-off on operational readiness. “Organizations must validate that capabilities are set to monitor performance, security and capacity; manage service incidents; request services and changes; backup and recovery files and systems; schedule and execute jobs; perform routine maintenance; and make sure disaster recovery plans are in place,” Jacobson explains.

Depending on the volume and complexity of migrations progressing through the cloud factory migration, a third party that provides services, execution resources and subject matter insights may be brought in to provide some combination of setting up the factory, running the factory and or overseeing the factory. “Some organizations choose to incrementally move to the cloud based on refresh cycles, building and deploying new services and sun-setting the legacy services,” Champigneulle says. “Nonetheless, the factory approach is still of value — providing a blueprint and process for moving to cloud in a secure and reliable manner that is linked to providing value to the business.”

Metrics and measurement for the cloud migration factory model

The cloud migration factory model relies on a set of well-defined activities, steps and associated performance measurements that provide visibility into how the workload migrations are conducted, how many there are, and how the types of workloads are being executed by the factory in terms of speed and scale. Another metric is the quality of the migrations, says Jacobson: “Are we getting the expected value based on the business case, such as improved responsiveness to business demand, auto scaling a workload to optimize cost and performance, and use of self-service and automation to improve requesting and provisioning times of cloud services?”

Within any IT organization, however, all metrics lead back to the reliability, stability, availability, and resiliency of workloads. Can services be designed, built, deployed, and decommissioned to meet business demands?  Is the service up and running? Is the service available when it is supposed to be? Is the service accessible by authorized users? Is the service performing as expected? Is the response time with range? Can the service scale to meet transaction peaks? Is the service secure and compliant?  All of this together demonstrates the value of moving to the cloud. “If I can do all of those things in cost-effective and efficient manner at the speed of the business, only then is the cloud delivering value,” says Champigneulle. “Organizations need to monitor that value is realized and aligned with the initial business case and adjust as needed.”

The cloud migration factory is not only about efficiently moving workloads to the cloud, but is also the catalyst for instilling new ways of working in a cloud ecosystem. As the factory moves workloads to cloud providers, organizations are learning how to be a cloud services broker, integrator and orchestrator of services that are moving and running in their cloud ecosystem.

“The cloud migration factory model helps establish how to manage workloads within a cloud ecosystem that provides best balance of cost, performance, and risk,” Jacobson explains. “It also allows them to systematically build a foundation based on successes and lessons learned for moving and managing workloads in the cloud.”