Geek Speak

2 Posts authored by: ather_beg

Great! You’ve made the decision to migrate to the cloud. What should be the first step towards that goal? The answer is: defining a cloud migration team that understands the vision, has skilled members to carry out required tasks, and is available to contribute as and when required.

 

The best compliment for an IT team is invisibility. It’s a sign of a well-oiled machine that provides everything that a business needs, anticipates problems, and rectifies them before they occur.

 

A cloud migration team is no different. It typically consists of members from various business units from within the company (although external skilled consultants can also be brought in) who are aligned to very specific and clearly-defined roles. If done correctly, even the most complex landscapes can be migrated with ease and transparently.

 

Think of the whole process as a drama: there’s a plot and colourful characters that play specific roles. There are ups and downs during the whole process. Occasionally, people get emotional and tantrums are thrown. The main thing is that by executing their role well, each team member works towards a happy ending, and by playing their part faithfully, that’s exactly what they get.

 

Essential Roles

The main character of this drama is the cloud architect. Appointing someone to this role early is essential. Leading the mission, this person is proactive, defines the scope and strategy, and identifies the wider team that will contribute towards a successful migration.

 

A great source of contributors is the group of stakeholders from the business, platform, security, and operation functions, who by now are already sold on the idea. That would indeed be the case if management has gone through evaluating the business need to go to the cloud and was part of the approval process. Not only can they provide resources to the project, but they also have the unique view from their own functional groups’ perspective that ensures all important bases are covered.

 

Commonly seen as the villain, the project manager is an extremely important role that keeps the cloud architect and other players on the straight and narrow. This role is not just about making a schedule and keeping everyone on time, but also to help prevent scope creep and foresee resourcing issues.

 

It’s easy to forget the “understudy,” but we are all humans and can fall ill unexpectedly—sometimes for long periods. People can also switch jobs. That can have a major impact on progress, especially if that person held an important role. Once the process starts, it’s important to keep the momentum going. That is made possible by having multiple people shadowing key roles where possible.

 

Skills

Nobody wants a bad actor in a drama. It can annoy the audience and derail the entire performance. Team members not suitably skilled for the role they’re assigned are likely to underperform and drag the whole team to a standstill.

 

That said, everyone wants to be a part of something special, and often, they are prepared to put the extra effort in to learn new skills. Career development and a sense of achievement by being part of a success story is a great motivator too.

 

The key is to identify the gaps early and send team members to appropriate training as soon as possible. The sooner this step is taken, the less pressured they feel when the project starts, and they can provide valuable input to important decisions early in the process.

 

Availability

Imagine what would happen if a character drops out from a performance every now and then. Worse, if more than one does it. Would that play be a success?

 

The same is true for a cloud migration project. While it can be a huge drain on a company’s resources, the commitment to provide the personnel necessary to carry out assigned tasks all the way to the end, is critical before embarking on that journey. Not doing so creates huge dependency issues that are hard to resolve and forces the entire schedule to go out of shape.

 

The day job doesn’t stop with a project like this, but a portion of time should be committed and prioritised. It’s almost impossible to commit resources full-time to a project, but as long as availability issues are communicated clearly and well in advance, the team can work around it.

 

Conclusion

The success of a migration project is highly dependent on the people assigned to the project. It is something that is interesting but also challenging at the same time. Delivery of a high-quality migration with minimal or no disruption requires a skilled team, clear roles and responsibilities, and the time commitment to think and plan properly.

 

Most importantly, we all know the magic that happens when all the characters are having fun. That production always becomes a knockout success.

Public clouds provide enormous scale and elasticity. Combined with a consumption-based model and instant deployment methodologies, they provide a platform that is extremely agile and avoids locking of precious capital.

 

Surely it’s a no-brainer and why every company has plans to migrate workloads to the cloud . In fact, it is so obvious that one actually needs to look for reasons why it won’t be a good idea. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is one of the most important steps you could take before starting on your cloud migration journey.

 

WHY?

Regardless of size, migration could be a huge drain on time and resources. One of the most cited reasons for the failure of a cloud migration project is: “The project ran out of steam.” Such projects typically lack enthusiasm, resulting in slow progress. Eventually, corners are cut to meet deadlines and the result is sub-standard migration and eventual failure.

 

Humans are wired to be more interested in doing something where there is a tangible benefit for them in some way. In addition, they are more likely to remain committed as long as they can see a goal that is clear and achievable.

 

HOW?

Migration is not a single-person job. Depending on the size of a company, teams from different business groups are involved in the process and have to work together to achieve that goal. To ensure success, it is critical to get the backing of all the stakeholders through an honest evaluation of the business need for migration to the cloud. It must be backed by hard facts and not just because it’s fashionable.

 

This evaluation goes hand-in-hand with the problems a company is looking to solve. The most effective pointers to them are the existing pain points. Are costs for running a particular environment too high? Is the company becoming uncompetitive due to lack of agility? It might even be a case of developing the capability to temporarily burst into the cloud when an occasional requirement comes up, instead of locking capital by buying, provisioning, and maintaining own equipment.

 

ANALYSIS

Armed with those pain points and relevant data gathered, analysis can be done to determine if cloud migration is the only pragmatic solution. SWOT is a great framework for such an evaluation, and is used by many organisations for strategic planning.

 

It’s important to have all the key stakeholders present when this exercise is done. This ensures that they are part of the discussion and can clearly see all arguments for and against the migration. Those stakeholders include leaders from the infrastructure and application groups as well as from the business side, as they have the best view of the financial impact of current issues and what it would be if action is not taken.

 

The focus of this analysis should be to identify what weaknesses and threats to the business exist due to the current state and if migration to the cloud will change them into strengths and opportunities. With prior research in hand, it should be possible to determine if the move to the cloud can solve those issues. More importantly, this analysis will highlight the financial and resource costs of the migration and if it would be worth that cost when compared against the problems it will fix.

 

CONCLUSION

Effort spent at this stage is extremely valuable and ensures the decision to migrate to the cloud is robust. Furthermore, the analysis clarifies the need for action to all stakeholders and brings them on board with the vision.

 

Once they see the goal and how it will solve their business problems, the result is a commitment from all teams to provide their part of the resource and continual participation in the project until its successful completion.

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