Choice is generally regarded as a good thing and migration to the cloud certainly provides choice. Choice in the way different technologies can be combined to deliver a given outcome and choice in how you transition from previous platforms to a cloud-based solution. The problem is that choice requires decisions. Any migration is accompanied by many decisions and that is only amplified with cloud migration. Each decision needs information and time to evaluate and it is often the case that you do not have one or both of these to be confident in your decision. Inevitably, we often find ourselves having to make compromises or assumptions.
Making a compromise is an assessment of risk. Typically higher degrees of compromise are acceptable the lower the associated priority and impact. This assessment is built on knowing where you are, what you want and understanding what good looks like:
- Where you are in terms of your application estate
- What each application delivers to the organisation
- Who interacts with it and how it interacts with other applications
- What you want with respect to short and medium-term reasons for the migration, be that compelling events such as data centre closures, end of life infrastructure or the need to deliver new functionality, performance or scale for example
- What good looks like represents your ideal end state if you were not bound by technical debt, time or skills shortages
Our expertise lies in helping customers make best use of their cloud investments by providing visibility of usage trends, identifying wastage, highlighting anomalies and matching this with unique ways of leveraging cloud vendor pricing models, discount schemes and development funds. As different customers have made different deployment and operational decisions the options our Financial Solution Architects have at their disposal to help them vary. Potentially, had the impact of those choices been better-understood upfront different priorities would have been assigned and different approaches adopted. Even if other priorities mean the target end goal cannot be reached immediately knowing that end goal can ensure decisions made along the way move you closer to that goal rather than inadvertently moving further away and making it harder to adapt later. Our white paper on cloud cost management and optimisation provides our experience of what good looks like with steps to achieving that. We use this with our customers to help them with the assessment of priorities and the impact of decisions they make in their cloud adoption journey.
When considering a cloud migration strategy it is often a balance between effort, speed and risk of migration versus extent to which deployment is “cloud-native”. Being cloud-native is essentially the ability to quickly leverage cloud capabilities, flexibly and at varying scales to meet demand and requirement. The more cloud-native you are the greater the opportunities for efficient, scalable and agile cloud usage that can generate value whilst also minimising costs.
Typically the path of least short term effort is to take a “lift and shift” approach. This involves making the least amount of change, replicating what ran outside the cloud in the cloud. With fewer changes comes less risk, lower potential to be locked into a specific cloud provider and shorter migration timeframes as the changes do not need to be developed, tested and staff upskilled to accommodate them. The tradeoff here is that this is the least cloud-native approach, is less likely to realise all the potential cost savings (in fact could be operationally more expensive) and limits the use of wider cloud capabilities and the value they can bring. For these reasons some adopt a “lift and refine” approach in which the core of the migrated workload remains similar but the lower risk/high benefit changes are factored in. This affords some immediate cloud-native benefits, paves the way for future ones and controls the level of portability between cloud providers. At the other extreme, some seek to maximise the immediate value of cloud-native operation by making the migration a more significant transformation. This may be in the form of significant re-architecture of an existing workload or entire redevelopment. Naturally, this is likely to come with greater effort, lengthier migration and higher migration costs but on the expectation of these being offset and surpassed in the medium term. As with the further alternative of replacing a legacy solution with a service delivered by an external provider, this increases the level of lock into the provider which is also an important consideration point.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with you in the context of your plans. If you would like to continue researching this in the meantime we recommend you do review our white paper on cloud cost management and optimisation but also consider our Treasure Hunting service. This is a value-add delivered through our Financial Operations, “FinOps” service suite. Through it we match proof of concept, migration and new product funds and discounts the cloud providers available at any given time with the activities and requirements of our customers. Where a match is found we then maximise the chances of successful applications for such funds and discounts. You may find this beneficial in justifying a more transformational migration approach that widens your options once you are operating in the cloud. In the technical evaluation of where you are and what good looks like you may find our Teaming Partners will be able to provide useful insight and support.