Skip to main content

5 tips for designing a cloud-smart transformation strategy

Being smart is more important than being fast when migrating to a hybrid cloud architecture.
3 cloud migration problems and solutions

Photo by ElasticComputeFarm on Pixabay

Cloud migration continues to increase because of its many advantages for organizations. These advantages include increased automation and agility, improved customer experience, higher rates of return, cost savings over time, and the ability to enable remote workers with access to the cloud. Cloud computing is the most viable option for businesses to maintain stability and increase efficiency in a rapidly evolving business environment.

[ Managed services vs. hosted services vs. cloud services: What's the difference? ]

Many cloud providers' services have helped organizations expand their business, secure their infrastructure, and manage products better. According to Markets And Markets, the global cloud computing market will grow at a CAGR of 17.9% between 2022 and 2027, from an estimated $545.8 billion to $1,240.9 billion. Despite widespread cloud adoption, some enterprises still struggle to embrace the cloud fully.

Whether you're in the midst of a cloud transformation or just getting started, it's essential to stay on top of what's working for others, what's holding you or your peers back, and which changes in your cloud strategy can help you excel or fall behind.

What is driving the move to the cloud, and what’s holding organizations back?

According to IDC's Worldwide Whole Cloud Forecast, 2022-2026, cloud spending now outpaces spending on platforms, infrastructure, and applications. By 2025, 60% of infrastructure, security, data, and network offerings will need cloud-based control platforms to satisfy enterprise demands for automation and operating cost reductions.

It's essential to know the reasons your organization is moving to the cloud at the outset. Lack of agreement on the reasons can cause a sizeable portion of the pain involved in cloud migration. While there could be several drivers, your main objective needs to be obvious. These might include retiring a datacenter to reduce costs or enhance business continuity, modernizing applications to boost revenue, or introducing new cloud-native architectures. Our primary reasons to move to the cloud were to decommission a datacenter and modernize applications.

To fully benefit from cloud computing, organizations must overcome numerous procedural, technological, and organizational barriers. The main people-related challenges are skills gaps and internal team collaboration. The most frequent process difficulties include missed deadlines, failing to meet business objectives, cost overruns during cloud migration, increased cloud operations costs, and trouble managing governance, compliance, and risk. Technology issues include slow operational performance, cybersecurity incidents, lack of insights from data on the IT landscape, under-optimized infrastructure to support growth, and longer recovery times.

[ Learn how to build a flexible foundation for your organization. Download An architect's guide to multicloud infrastructure. ]

1. Create cloud leaders and build cloud competencies

Despite the rapid rise in cloud migration, not enough people have the necessary cloud experience. These skills are in high demand, so many organizations struggle to find the talent they need to finish their cloud transformations. An organization's ability to develop its cloud infrastructure and realize a return on its technology investments is directly affected by access to people experienced with cloud technology.

Organizations must invest in skills-development initiatives to reach a critical mass of cloud fluency. This helps overcome future challenges and sustain the transition to cloud maturity. Leaders need to not only move their applications to the cloud but also migrate their workforce talent. The responsibility for creating an education strategy and selecting the best learning environments should fall to the organization's IT, cloud, and security leaders.

Cloud leaders are essential for formulating and disseminating the cloud strategy and road map. This inspires teams to make a planned migration to the cloud and look for ways to support a self-service culture.

It is a good idea to start a community of practice (CoP) for cloud computing because it brings important players together and encourages cloud collaboration. This helps the organization adapt to cloud adoption by promoting member interaction. It also helps support cloud-related training and skills development. To grow our core architecture team in our Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), we hired and trained team members to embrace and adopt cloud technology.

2. Use cloud architecture and design patterns

Architectural patterns are an effective way to apply common methods to related tasks. Once you have selected an appropriate pattern, you can apply it to the target component to build the foundation for a more detailed design for implementation.

Our CCoE made several architectural and cloud patterns accessible for cloud migration. Our CCoE is primarily focused on fostering collaboration with cloud computing stakeholders across the organization by bringing together representatives who are directly involved in cloud-related uses and issues. Our CCoE messaging is intentionally business-friendly and emphasizes business-related benefits in the most creative and engaging ways possible.

[ Check out Red Hat Portfolio Architecture Center for a wide variety of reference architectures you can use. ]

3. Take a cloud-smart approach

Don't just "lift and shift" everything as it is during your transition to the cloud. This approach might seem easy but it risks keeping previous mistakes, blunders, and problems in your program. Instead, reconsider everything. Keep what works, replace what doesn't, and discard the rest. Then migrate only the components that your business requires.

We have retired (and continue to retire) many workloads in our transition to a hybrid cloud. The traditional practice of "lift and shift" is giving way to a more methodical and strategic approach to modernization. It's a move motivated by years of hard lessons learned and tears shed during previous cloud implementations.

Recognize that workloads are inextricably linked and have highly complex dependencies. You can't just move any job to the cloud at random because that might break something. Even if the long-term goal is to move all workloads to the cloud at the same time, containerization and orchestration provide a useful hybrid option for achieving reasonable levels of flexibility and performance.

[ How to explain orchestration in plain English. ]

It's crucial to develop an integration strategy that considers the sequence of each workload within the context of the larger ecosystem pipeline. Focus on splitting up very small units of processing and data to transfer them one pipeline at a time to the cloud.

Moving applications to the cloud is often more complicated than it first appears. Most problems are related to accessibility, performance, and security, and hybrid cloud infrastructure—where some of the application is hosted in the cloud and some is kept in an onsite datacenter—can add complexity. To handle these complexities, you need a parallel automated testing framework. Such a framework can run an application benchmark on existing infrastructure and compare it to the transferred environment. This also allows decision making to be quick and scalable.

4. Optimize workloads

After a migration, workloads must be optimized for the cloud environment. The cloud has made it possible for workloads to be scaled on demand to accommodate horizontal infrastructure scalability. With auto-scalability, there is a significant chance of using more capacity than required, which drives up costs. Implementing code governance and infrastructure testing helps avoid this type of budget increase.

Adopting a modern quality-engineering strategy is another factor in confidently embracing cloud technology and opportunity. For example, we are implementing intelligent workload placement across our hybrid cloud platform. This helps identify the best location to run the workload, alleviate resource contention, and improve the performance of applications and infrastructure by balancing existing workloads inside a container. IT leaders can make sure applications and workloads are deployed where they most effectively support the overall business. They can do this by concentrating on the key drivers for workloads like latency, security, customer experience, cost, and availability.

[ Related reading: How we designed observability for a hybrid cloud platform

Validating business processes after migration helps ensure that automated controls generate the same results without impeding standard business operations. Data integrity is crucial, and risks must be properly identified to eliminate the possibility of data loss.

5. Establish governance and transparency

An organization's inability to adopt a modern technology ecosystem is largely due to poorly managed cloud usage and outdated IT infrastructures. This often increases costs, makes flaws more obvious, and amplifies inefficiencies. IT leaders should consider those issues when looking for efficiencies, enhancements, and cost savings. The chance of overspending on cloud computing rises along with the cloud environment's complexity.

IT leaders must prioritize creating a transparent culture by identifying internal systems and processes for finance, IT, and other departments. Encouraging a culture of transparency helps organizations improve collaboration, visibility, and to envision future uses.

Additionally, the CCoE (or CoP) must put safeguards in place to lessen exposure to risks associated with the cloud. The CCoE should create policies to encourage "doing the right thing."

Final takeaway

Knowing your organization's motivations for moving to the cloud is critical. Since moving to the cloud requires a change in perspective and operational processes, adopt a cloud-ready strategy to get the full value from cloud services. Organizations need to create an adaptable architecture to support multicloud and hybrid cloud deployments. 

Invest in upskilling programs, implement a CCoE, create a transparent culture, and take a more systematic approach to workload migration. An approach towards optimization can be used to overcome people, process, and technology challenges.

Focus not only on reducing IT costs, but also on using the cloud to provide platforms for next-generation services that add value to your business. Using the cloud is a requirement to be competitive and successful today. Improved automation, agility, and customer experience—not rapid cloud migration—are the true indicators of success.

This originally appeared as Why “not cloud first, but cloud smart” must guide your hybrid cloud migration on Hybrid Cloud How-tos and is republished with permission.

Topics:   Cloud   Strategy  
Author’s photo

Pimmi Malhotra

Pimma is an experienced business development, product development, and transformation leader. She currently serves as the Hybrid Cloud Center of Excellence and Governance leader. More about me

Navigate the shifting technology landscape. Read An architect's guide to multicloud infrastructure.


Privacy Statement