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Three steps to cloud migration success

Cloud adoption is a journey, not just a destination. Many large businesses go through several iterative stages as they transition away from in-house, legacy infrastructures and move to the public cloud, and there are important steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that this shift is a successful one.

In Australia and New Zealand, the stakes are set. Cloud migration is already taking place at a faster rate than anticipated, as workloads increase exponentially. Take giant supermarket chain Woolworths as an example. According to The Australian, total online sales across Woolworths rose 34%  to $817 million, while digital traffic in March more than doubled to 38 million visits and active app usage increased to 1.2 million users.

Earlier this month, Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said it would bring forward investments in digital and online operations at a time when consumers are isolated at home due to the pandemic.

In general, any organisation that is more than 5-10 years old will have a significant amount of their infrastructure in on-premises data centers - the older and larger the organisation, the more they have. Often the first step to migration is to move these workloads to IaaS before progressing to modernisation of their environment and leveraging many of the cloud native PaaS services.

According to the New Relic-commissioned CIO Edge research, IT investments and initiatives that drive operational effectiveness, build a data-driven organisation, and acquire and retain customers are key priorities for Australian CIOs. Given the long and complex process that digital transformation involves, how can organisations ensure that migration is efficient, painless, and successful?

1. Secure buy-in early

An initial assessment involving discovery and inventory should be part of building the business case for cloud migration. C-suite buy-in is vital: there is a need for the elevation and understanding of technology at the board level. The CIO needs to have a seat at the board table and the appropriate reporting lines into CEOs. Over half (56%) of CIOs surveyed as part of the CIO Edge Report indicated that they struggle with interdepartmental communication and collaboration.

A business case should clearly spell out the total cost of ownership. Achieving rapid payback is vital to maintain momentum, as is having real-time oversight to stay on-time and on budget.

2. Leverage data as a unifying force

Providing all teams involved with access to different views of the same underlying data is critical to the success of a cloud migration. For example, having visibility into the performance of end users experience ensures an organisation can maintain at least at the same level of performance while the migration occurs.

It's essential to detect potential errors with application architecture, scale, or performance early in the migration process. End-to-end instrumentation and out-of-the-box integrations can help keep a close eye on what's happening everywhere, throughout the entire process. Open instrumentation is defined as the collection of open source or vendor-specific telemetry data from an application, service, infrastructure host, container, cloud service, serverless function, mobile application, or any other entity that emits data. It provides visibility to the entire surface area of business-critical applications and infrastructure.

But creating this visibility doesn't necessarily have to be a slow process. A Forrester Total Economic Impact Study that surveyed 350 people found that once businesses completed their initial migration to the public cloud application availability, reliability and scalability improved. One organisation noted that their migration process was cut down from eight hours to half an hour on average.

3. Embrace a dynamic approach

Digital transformation involves moving from a static to a dynamic approach, and cloud migrations are an excellent example of why embracing this approach is so important. Fixed directional business cases are replaced by live cost management reporting, and instead of relying solely on network discovery to baseline critical workloads, migration velocity is increased with confidence, using observability to map application performance and architecture.

This involves a mindset shift in organisations, which can otherwise hinder progress. In the CIO Edge study, it was revealed that 69% of CIOs said that legacy mindset and processes were a business barrier impeding the delivery of IT initiatives. Embracing a dynamic approach as part of a cloud migration will no doubt have a huge impact across an entire organisation, and help to combat traditional mindset barriers in the future. True cloud adoption is a cultural evolution as much as an architectural change to the technology stack.

Organisations that rest on their laurels stand to lose out. The world is changing fast, and the technology innovators within organisations need to be preparing for migration if they are to propel their IT operations forward and reap the rewards that digital transformation can offer.

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