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Cloud Migration Is No Drama – Or Is It?

Level 10

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.


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.


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.


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.

Level 14

Thanks for the article. 

You wrote:

"The best compliment for an IT team is invisibility."

     I agree, if your team does its work so well that no one know they're present and needed means you're doing the support & planning part of your job well.  Let's hope Management doesn't decide your team isn't worth keeping anymore, since everything magically works fast and reliably 100% of the time in the cloud, and you all lose your jobs

"The main character of this drama is the cloud architect. Appointing someone to this role early is essential."

     True.  However, how is your cloud architect qualified to do the job well?  Not by appointing them to the task.  You need to provide them excellent cloud architect training.  That won't come free, so budget for it and plan for that person's time to be consumed by the training and preparation.  Don't just drop this new title and set of responsibilities into someone's lap without training them to succeed in it.

"Commonly seen as the villain, the project manager . . ."

     I respectfully and gently disagree with that thought.  We have 17,000 employees spread across several states and countries, and 600+ people alone in our I.T. Support teams.  Eight of them are certified and qualified and experienced Project Managers, and rather than thinking of them as villains, we find they are the heros.  They help keep us focused, help get the right people together in time to stay with the projects' schedules.  Occasionally unsung, they remain the driving force for positive outcome, and I salute project managers for their excellence.

"Nobody wants a bad actor in a drama"

     Amen to that!  We've learned that it's better to hire someone with friendly people skills and teach them the technical abilities we need (if they don't have those already) than it is to hire a very high-end technical person who has poor people skills.  When people ask me what we're looking for in a new hire I always say "We need someone who's fun to work with, who can take instruction, and who can be relied upon.  Certifications are nice, but not at the expense of hiring a person who doesn't get along easily with others."  It's a team, not a group of prima donna's who can't (or won't) bend and conform and get along with others happily.

Level 10


Firstly, many thanks for the great comments.

I agree and hope that the Cloud Architect is also considered one of those who may require training, especially if that's the next step in their career. Nobody is born a Cloud Architect!  Typically, a person who is trusted technically is automatically assigned that job but even the most technically brilliant people may require help handling a project and/or people properly.

Personally, I value project managers very much because of the difficult job they have to do, as is evident from what I wrote. You are absolutely right about them and I am glad that you quite rightly appreciate them.  That said, I have also seen many that don't treat them with the respect they deserve and hence the slightly tongue-in-cheek portayal. 🙂

Level 20

We're putting a lot of focus on this these days.  It's not without drama though and sometimes weird unexpected outages.

Level 13

Good Article. Thanks

Level 13

Good post.  Thanks.  Totally agree on the invisibility.  I've said for years I want to do my job so well that no one knows my name.  The best compliment I ever received was from our New York Ad Sales office - one day the network wasn't working and they couldn't believe there was a problem.  They thought it must be something else because no one in the office had ever seen the network being down. They were sure it must be something else.

Level 16

Great write up, thank you.

The best compliment for an IT team is invisibility - unless the company is making cutbacks. Then you may be perceived as non-essential until you are gone.


Thanks for the article

Level 14

Training ?   What's that.

At my last place we had a project manager who used to watch movies on his laptop (including having headphones on) DURING meetings.  A complete waste of time who would then throw the blame around when projects went wrong.  It was never his fault in spite of constantly being told where he was going wrong, why and how to fix it.  You need the right people for the job, not someone who is mates with the top brass.

Level 10

df112 There are countless people doing a great job in IT and while there was a time when it was not recognized at all, I think things are changing and companies are realizing the value of a skilled IT team.

Level 10

Hopefully not and at their own peril! 🙂