Best practices: Migration to the cloud must be done right

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By Karan Kirpalani

In the past two years, the adoption of cloud has accelerated, with many companies adopting an aggressive cloud-first policy. The cloud has become the most preferred platform for scaling digital initiatives. This rapid shift towards the cloud has made Gartner predict that by 2025, 51% of IT spending in application software, infrastructure software, business process services and system infrastructure markets, will shift from traditional solutions to public cloud, compared to 41% in 2022.

As cloud adoption increases, a significant percentage of enterprises are choosing multiple cloud service providers to avoid the risk of vendor lock- in. However, even as many firms embrace the cloud, there are many failed cloud migrations, and many enterprises do not succeed in achieving the full potential of cloud. Gartner has predicted that through 2024, 60% of infrastructure and operations leaders will encounter public cloud cost overruns that negatively impact their on-premises budgets.

From our experience of helping many companies transition their applications to the cloud, we would like to recommend the following best practices:

Ensure top management support: Migration to the cloud can make a big impact on the business model of any company. Hence, top management support is extremely important. If the business case is well articulated, then the support of the executive leadership can be easily gained. For example, the CEO could be convinced if the benefits of the cloud can be explained with clear metrics. Similarly, the CFO would be happy if the company could be shown a path where growth takes place using OPEX instead of CAPEX in a pay-per-use model.

Prepare an inventory of applications to migrate: Decide on and identify a probable list of applications that can be migrated in the first phase. It is also crucial to have clear migration goals. For example, an enterprise can decide to migrate an HR application to the cloud in the first month, and the payroll application in the second. Once firms have sufficient experience and performance gains to showcase in the initial phase, they can move to the next phase of migration.

Decide on the type of cloud platform and strategy to migrate: The next step is to decide on the type of migration. Depending on the application dependencies and urgency to migrate, enterprises can decide on the cloud platform. This could be a public cloud, a hybrid cloud or a private cloud. Every cloud platform has its own pros and cons, and organisations can choose the platform depending on the stage of the cloud journey they are in. This must be complemented by considering options for backup and disaster recovery.

Prepare and test: Post migration, enterprises will face the real test of how applications perform in the new cloud environment. Application dependencies should be tested thoroughly and performance gains measured. It is advisable for enterprises to start gradually and then move more applications to the cloud. It is also equally important to measure and monitor factors such as latency and additional bandwidth required, as it can have a big impact on the total cost of ownership.

Ensure baseline security: While most cloud service providers have the best security controls, its correct implementation lies in the hands of individual organisations. For example, most data breaches on public cloud platforms are due to mis-configurations. A poor cloud governance model is another reason. Hence, post migration, enterprises must look at some of the best practices and frameworks advised by the cloud service providers.

The cloud is a transformational growth model, if executed properly. If you still have legacy applications, it is time you start looking at transitioning these applications to the cloud, before it is too late.

The writer is Cloud Head, NTT Ltd. in India