3 steps to a successful cloud migration strategy

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3 steps cloud migrationIf you’re planning a cloud migration strategy, it’s unlikely that the “cloud migration” part is an issue. It’s the “strategy” part that often serves as the stumbling block.

Many organizations have moved to the cloud in fits and starts, without an underlying strategy to guide those moves. If you find yourself in that situation, here are three steps to create a successful cloud migration strategy.

1. Ensure leadership buy-in.

Though migrating to the cloud is a business imperative, too many business leaders and C-suite executives take a hands-off approach to cloud adoption, seeing it solely as a problem to be solved by the IT team. They should rethink this stance.

Shifts to the cloud often involve not only IT changes, but also cultural changes. Cloud migration means thinking about business in new ways and can even drive significant changes in job responsibility. Employees may need to gain new skills, learn new tools and use new processes. Business leaders play a role in alleviating unnecessary concerns by supporting education and training efforts as employees gain proficiency in those areas.

Part of the leadership role is publicly supporting the changes being made by explaining how they will benefit the company, its customers and its employees. IT teams can help business leaders by offering clearly defined use cases or proof-of-concept trials. Successful early projects instill confidence and help leaders visualize the implications of larger migrations.

2. Choose projects based on business impact.

As part of your cloud migration strategy, assess the business impact of the migration. This step involves the most heavy lifting within your organization. First, determine how different workloads are classified (testing, development, production) and how each classification affects migration requirements. Understand how each data workload affects the overall business, as well as which core services each workload touches. Also factor in the relative importance of each project. Mission-critical processes carry more weight than nonessential ones.

Urgency is another factor. Will a move to the cloud improve the speed of processes? If so, would that give your business a competitive edge? It’s important to assess the appropriate cloud type (public, private, hybrid) for hosting workloads, then determine the correct delivery model: software, infrastructure, platform and other as-a-service options. No cloud migration strategy will succeed without performing the hard work necessitated by this step. Build a string of small successes and use those as the impetus to take on larger, more critical projects.

3. Measure it to manage it.

It’s an old business saying because there’s truth in it: you can’t manage what you don’t measure. This step goes hand in hand when choosing projects based on business impact. If you thought the move would make an impact on your business, the only way to know that for sure is to measure the impact.

Part of your strategy should include figuring out what benefits resulted from the migration. For example, you can identify benchmarks that can demonstrate business agility has improved. Choose a few key operational costs and track how the cloud helps you lower them. Evaluate how much time your IT team has been spending on maintenance tasks so you can ensure it’s decreasing after your cloud migration.

Measurement also reveals opportunity. If results don’t come back as expected, make tweaks to improve the results or refine strategies.

Knowing these answers also leads back to step one of ensuring leadership buy-in. When the C-suite sees bottom-line improvement to the business, it’s more likely that support for these migrations will continue.

Looking to start your organization’s cloud migration journey down a well-directed path? Check out our white paper on how using VMware solutions with IBM Cloud can help you create the right strategy for your organization and migrate to the public cloud with confidence.

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