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April 24, 2017

Cloud migration is essential, but it’s a marathon not a sprint

There are countless examples where businesses have resisted or delayed taking their operations to the cloud and paid the price.

By James Nunns

If your business isn’t planning to move to the cloud then it’s time to pull its head out of the sand before a ‘cloud native’ potentially starts eating away at your market share.

Around 90 percent of businesses now use the cloud in some fashion. However there are countless examples where businesses have resisted or delayed taking their operations to the cloud and paid the price.

Blockbuster, the American-based provider of home movie and video game rental services, had 60,000 employees across 6,000 stores worldwide at its peak, but in 2010 filed for bankruptcy. The downfall of Blockbuster was largely in part to competition from companies that were much smaller at the time like Netflix and Redbox, but as cloud natives they were able to capture the market through cloud.

The travel industry is another sector which has seen major changes in recent years. The days of picking up brochures and booking holidays at the local Lunn Poly have long gone. We can now customise every aspect of our trip from inflight meals to excursions through a few easy clicks.

Taking the step into the cloud for medium and large size businesses can seem daunting, but moving away from legacy solutions brings with it a wealth of benefits that can transform a business. The CFO sees moving to the cloud as an opportunity to reduce capex, while the COO might see the transition as an opportunity to improve operating efficiencies. But cloud also allows businesses to become more agile and flexible when reacting to changes in the market.

For any medium or large size business making the moving into cloud, they must understand that the process in a marathon not a sprint. Undertaking a cloud migration project isn’t just a big technical initiative but also a massive communications campaign that needs to be carefully planned. Key stakeholders need to be involved in the planning from the beginning, setting out clear achievable objectives, identifying challenges and addressing the cultural changes that may affect the business. By delivering large number of cloud projects for some of the world’s biggest companies, NIIT Technologies knows that cloud can be a long game for customers and here are our top five reasons why.

Reaching your original business objective: Whether your business objectives are to provide your customers with a better level of service – say through improved internal communications that increase productivity – working practices and workflows must change alongside it. Delivering change through sprints akin smaller projects e.g. migrating a department at a time, reduces risk and allows teams to regularly review progress to ensure that the cloud migration is meeting the needs of the business.

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Stakeholders Experience: During the planning phase, it’s crucial to bring the appropriate stakeholders in to ensure the smooth running of the project. There are legal, financial and operational factors that are unique to each individual business and these will need to be integrated into the plan from the beginning. Having the expert advice and insights from your company’s CFO, CTO, COO will ensure that any potential challenges are identified early on and addressed. Secondly understanding current service from on premise or COTS infrastructure can help in managing experience when user is consuming services of cloud environments.

Having adequate documentation: As part of the review process, it’s important to have accurate documentation in place so that your IT partner can smoothly migrate legacy applications onto the cloud. If these industry specific applications haven’t been well documented in the past, your IT partner will need to work with the relevant developers to make the transition happen. This may only take a couple of weeks to resolve. However if you’re rolling out a similar process across a large company, these specialist applications can prolong the project. Leveraging tools can help to address impact of knowledge gap and provide real time dependencies.

Company culture: Changing work processes that may have been in place for over 5 years can be difficult for any business, however avoiding change can put the company at risk. Carrying out cloud migration projects in smaller chunks gives the leadership team time to communicate the changes across the company and identify any training that may be required. Taking this approach also allows project leads to test new cloud platforms with individual teams, and receive their feedback before integrating cloud applications across the business.

 Getting the right balance of cloud and legacy: The senior management of a business will probably understand that they need to make the step into the cloud. However, it’s likely there is going to be some legacy hardware and applications in place where it makes sense to keep them running locally. Before a business can become a pure cloud company they may have to have a hybrid configuration for some time until it makes sense from an economic and operational standpoint to move everything to the cloud.

Every business is different and the level of cloud migration must be tailored to fit the needs of the company. That’s why it is crucial during the planning phase to get insights from the various business stakeholders so that potential challenges can be spotted early on. For projects to run smoothly, it’s also important to have more than just technical expertise on board; partners need to have a depth of experience that is gained by working with clients from many different sectors. This knowledge is invaluable, because it ensures speed of delivery by overcoming challenges before they arise, and prevents budgets from being overstretched.

Once a company has made the move into the cloud, it then has the resources to review its overall business model, so it doesn’t become the next Blockbuster or Lunn Poly. The shift to the cloud provides businesses with the flexibility and agility to scale their operations up and down as required to respond to market conditions. If you are preparing for cloud migration and want your cloud investments to work, get your organization aligned and supported by Agile/Scrum methodology to sprint as a delivery mechanism to realise benefits faster.

 

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