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November 01, 2017
Cloud Migration: Finding your path to value with the cloud
By: Miha Kralj

Part 1 of 3: A phased approach to cloud adoption

Is the successful adoption of cloud mostly about the wholesale migration of legacy systems? Many companies have discovered, to their dismay, that that wasn’t the right choice—or, perhaps more accurately, it was the right choice at the wrong time. They viewed cloud as just another hosting environment where they could offload their out-of-date legacy systems. The result: the same old problems, just on a different platform.

Remember the “Think different” advertising campaign from Apple in the late 1990s? That’s what companies need to do when it comes to cloud. Legacy migration is part of the picture, but it’s not the whole picture.

Accenture recommends a different path to when it comes to cloud, one that passes through four stages.

Stage 1: Prove it

Large organizations first need to grasp the cloud’s power and how it differs from legacy systems by pursuing small proof-of-concept projects—concepts such as artificial intelligence, machine learning or predictive analytics. These projects can enable organizations to understand the varied ways that cloud can create business value. They’re a way that companies can experiment and learn, and can be the start of a development pipeline.

#CloudMigration can go smoother if divided up into smaller pieces—@mihak explains in a new blog series:

 
 

Stage 2: Mix it up

Next: After the company has spun up and absorbed these new concepts and developed a portfolio of cloud-based capabilities, it needs to integrate them within the portfolio itself and across the organization’s legacy environment. Both the cloud portfolio and legacy operations will ultimately interconnect and thus require strategies to work together effectively.

This is an important “push through the obstacles” phase of cloud adoption. Integration can be challenging given the different pace and tempo of change in the new cloud area versus legacy. Some companies have taken their foot off the gas at this point, abandoning the cloud and focusing on what’s left of the known and comfortable legacy operations. The resulting organization ends up running parallel IT operations that it never truly attempts to integrate, effectively blowing away its cloud aspirations.

Stage 3: Don’t lift and shift ... Shop and drop

Companies use different migration approaches, some of which may resemble the movement of truckloads of data center “stuff” onto the cloud. The least effective approaches are “lift and shift” exercises, which just transfer legacy processes to the cloud—along with all the organization’s current IT problems.

Instead, companies should “drop and shop,” which means dropping selected legacy applications and shopping to replace them with more effective solutions designed and developed for the cloud. In many cases that means focusing on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) plays first, with the goal of enabling as much net new capability as possible in the cloud.

This approach can help organizations leapfrog different generations of applications and deployments and land squarely on state-of-the-art solutions.

Stage 4: Make sure cloud and legacy get along

Companies moving to the cloud need to recognize that they will operate in a world with both cloud and legacy capabilities in play and adjust to the reality of multi-speed IT operations. Businesses will draw from both legacy and cloud for extended periods. Legacy operations can benefit from IT automation and other cloud-based innovations which can streamline legacy areas and make them more effective.

Here’s how one telecommunications company with an aging infrastructure handled the cloud/legacy relationship. It first highlighted the gaps between a cloud environment and the company’s traditional data centers to create urgency within the organization to move. It then lined up the new capabilities and contrasted them with the current legacy systems so that as the company made investments in the legacy side, the spending would reflect cloud innovations such as IT automation, thus infusing legacy systems with leading-edge technology.

Four major scenarios for cloud realization and IT optimization

How organizations use cloud to drive change in their technology environment.

Four major scenarios for cloud realization and IT optimization

At this point, a company’s path forward will depend on whether the move to cloud is application-led or infrastructure-led. We’ll address that topic in Part 2 of this blog series.

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