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August 03, 2017
5 biggest cloud migration risks and how to avoid them
By: Sara Echeverry

While the cloud offers compelling benefits, migrating to the cloud has its share of challenges that carry risks that could torpedo your cloud journey. Based on our experience with hundreds of cloud migrations, we’ve identified the five biggest migration challenges you’re likely to encounter, as well as the risks involved and what you should do to avoid them. Importantly, only one risk involves technology—most challenges are process related.

#1: Identifying the applications that are the best candidates for the cloud

In our experience, companies often don’t fully know what questions they should ask to determine whether or not an application should go to the cloud. Thus, many end up in a cycle of wasted effort—spending weeks on activities to get ready to move an application, only to find that it shouldn’t be in the cloud to begin with.

This is why it’s helpful to work with an experienced third party, which will have a comprehensive list of questions developed over many migrations. This can save you lots of time and prevent you from spinning your wheels.

#2: Figuring out what it takes to modernize applications to work in the cloud

If you don’t get this right, you’ll likely find that the applications you’ve spent time and money modernizing for the cloud won’t be fully fit to take advantage of the cloud capabilities or, worse, just won’t work at all. In both cases, you’re not getting the ROI you’ve counted on.

An application migration “factory”, such as the one used by Accenture, can help you avoid this trap. These factories leverage different automated tools and specific skills that identify the specific components in an application that need to change—architecturally as well as at code level. This enables you to truly transform your existing hosting location to take advantage of cloud economics instead of simply lifting it to a different environment.

#3: Understanding the complexity you’ll face when migrating and appropriately estimating the effort to get it done

Failing to assess the complexity involved in the migration can lead to an unachievable migration plan that continuously gets pushed out and, thus, a delay in realizing the benefits of moving to the cloud. It also could raise the ire of unhappy and skeptical application owners and business execs who are more than ready to say, “I told you it wouldn’t work!”

To avoid these risks, take advantage of an effort estimator. For example, Accenture’s estimators cover all the different types of migration—from “like for like” all way to modernization. It will help you plan for some of the easier migrations first to recognize early benefits and build confidence. And it will help you set the right expectations with the business up front and save you a lot of time, money and frustration.

#4: Resolving key infrastructure and application dependencies

If you don’t fully vet the dependencies, you run the risk of leaving a piece of application behind in the legacy data center. This can lead to poor latency—i.e., it doesn’t work as well as users need it to—or, in extreme cases, the application won’t work at all. Then you’ll need to bring the application back to the data center.

To avoid leaving anything critical behind, many companies find it helpful to use discovery tools that identify each application’s interfaces—where applications are “talking” and what they are talking to. This dependency intelligence, which subsequently feeds into a migration planning tool, drives the rest of the migration processes to ensure the components that must be in the cloud together actually get moved together.

#5: Getting business support for migrating at scale

If you don’t get sufficient support from company leadership to make migrating at scale a business imperative, the company won’t gain the agility it needs to respond to changes in the marketplace as quickly as competitors do.

Being able to define the business case in a way that’s clear and compelling to executives is key to removing doubt about the cloud’s value. A proven methodology is also critical to not only showing how a large-scale migration is done—thus, helping to break down resistance—but also to ensuring it gets done in a formal, structured, and disciplined way. That’s critical to managing the myriad moving parts inherent in large-scale migrations. A migration factory also plays a major role, supplying the full complement of capabilities to overcome the resources constraint.

* * * * *

Migrating to the cloud—especially more than a handful of applications—can be daunting. But with the right approach, and the right partner, you’ll have what it takes to overcome the major challenges you’ll encounter and mitigate the risks that could befall less-prepared companies.

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