Avoid these 5 mistakes when moving to the cloud

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Shifting workloads to the cloud can aid the transformation of a business into something more efficient and more agile, yet cloud migration projects can and do go wrong, overrunning, under-delivering and coming in over-budget. So, what mistakes should CIOs avoid?

Failing to align their cloud and business strategy

It’s crucial that CIOs align their cloud strategy with the wider business agenda, and define clear and measurable goals. This encourages buy-in from the business and ensures that you have the right priorities, while making it easier to measure the success of the migration.

As Fatuma Mahad, former director for technology and operations at UCAS says, one way to measure this success is "to revisit your original strategic intent, but also look to what other benefits have you had. Have you had an improved customer satisfaction result and can that be linked back to you adopting cloud technologies?".

Not understanding the complexity and risks of IT

Alex Denley, director of innovation and transformation at London South Bank University, thinks it is crucial to get to grips with your IT systems, and understand how new factors like connectivity or bandwidth might impact your workloads post-migration. As the CIO, you need to know who is doing what, why and when before you start.

"Don't rush, understand your landscape, understand your environment in as much as you can," he advises.

Going it alone

Cloud migration has a steep learning curve, but vendors, partners and your peers can help. Finding a good partner won’t just inform your choices and your strategy, but also help you throughout your migration journey.

In Denley’s experience, their help in selecting and migrating the initial workloads can ensure your IT teams get a handle on the process. Plus, as you move to unfamiliar cloud architectures, your partner can help you with the complexities of data flow.

Underestimating costs

"One of the things to bear in mind when you're moving to the cloud is that a lot of it is very difficult to budget for," says Alex Farr, a veteran CIO of difficult migration projects. "There are a lot of moving parts."

Building applications that scale up and down can mean unpredictable costs, though working with a partner can help you reduce them, eliminating redundancies and helping you predict and manage your ongoing cloud expenses.

Failing to integrate and test

Testing is a pillar of successful cloud migrations, and it needs to happen before, during and after. For instance, Fatuma Mahad’s team at UCAS tested key systems during migration to ensure they’d cope with four times the previous peak demand. This testing doesn’t just indicate whether the migration process works, but also gives the team the chance to step back and assess any defects found, and whether it’s time to slow down or rethink. After all, halting a migration can be difficult and costly, but not as disruptive as a critical failure down the line.

Testing is a ‘key’ part of the end-to-end cloud migration process

David Traviesas, European director of IBM’s Cloud Migration Factory, says testing is a ‘key’ part of the end-to-end cloud migration process, as it ultimately enables organisations to get insights into how the move is unfolding, and to stop or rollback the migration if errors start to occur.

"We perform testing before, during and after the migration, and we perform testing on the source data centre on the client side, and we perform testing during and after migration on the target cloud data centre."

"If the testing is okay and the number of defects we are getting during migration are not critical, and are not going to disrupt the business, it can be a key indicator and trigger to say ‘we continue’, or that we have to discuss and make a joint decision with [the] client to continue, to stop or to slow down the migration to understand what is going on."

Find out more about how these CIOs approached their cloud migration journeys in the new CIO and IBM podcast series ‘Cloud Innovators’. You can listen to the series here!

Alternatively, click here to watch the IBM Services webcast ‘Planning Cloud Migrations: It’s all about the Destination’.

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