Everyone around you is moving to the cloud—to reduce costs and to gain flexibility and innovative capabilities. The Wall Street Journal noted that spending on public cloud services has been rising despite an overall contraction in global IT spending. This spending is driven by large enterprises moving major percentages of their apps to the cloud. AT&T says 80% of its apps will live in the cloud by the end of this year, and Johnson & Johnson aims to have 85% of its apps in the cloud by 2018.
If you're contemplating a move to the cloud but are worried about disrupting business as usual, I've put together a six-step guide to avoid some common hiccups.
- Map Your Portfolio: Compile a list of all applications used across the enterprise and identify the ones that are critical to the business. Bear in mind that this might take much longer to do than you would imagine. Be pragmatic and allocate sufficient time: It's a vital building block to successful migration.
- Modernize Your Application: If you steered away from using out-of-the-box applications and customized them or used applications developed in-house, they will probably be outdated by now and maybe poorly documented. To move them to the cloud, you'll need to allocate sufficient time to re-architect them.
- Move in Phases: Find and group applications used by each team and move them all at once to avoid disrupting each team's workflow.
- Manage Your Applications: Identify cross-functional applications such as the ones linked to the ERP or CRM tools. Move these applications along with the respective tools to minimize disruption.
- Mind the Laws: Applications on your cloud might be used in different geographies where data laws may vary. Ensure you include a regional lens and are able to review and comply with all relevant laws before providing access to users in different regions.
- Measure Performance: When applications are upgraded, moved to the cloud, and linked to an on-premise network, they might not work efficiently. Plan to test them before releasing to all users.
Read more about managing your move to the cloud and avoiding disruption in my essay, 'The Sure but Winding Road to the Cloud', in the latest edition of our consulting journal Perspectives.
Technical scalability, business flexibility, and economic opportunities are key benefits of the cloud, but it is up to you to help your organization fully harness its power. Part of your value as an IT professional is to ensure that the process of moving to the cloud does not break systems and processes that work, or disrupt the workflow of your various divisions.
Do not underestimate the need for formal change management as you embark on your cloud journey. At the end of the day, business focus coupled with good change management will de-risk your cloud adoption.
By following the steps I've laid down – based on lessons learned by our teams on projects with many organizations in multiple business sectors – you can successfully move some or all of your IT infrastructure to the cloud without disrupting your business.