Five Overlooked Tips for Avoiding Cloud Migration Failure: How to Gain Buy-in from Employees and Set Realistic Expectations for Stakeholders

By Robin Morrison, Head of Agile Solutions and Michael Ryan, Director of Engineering

  • Tip 1: Gain momentum by addressing others’ points of view up front
  • Tip 2: Paint and communicate a vision for the future
  • Tip 3: Proactively manage expectations of business stakeholders
  • Tip 4: Integrate DevSecOps into your structure
  • Tip 5: Adopt agile now — even before cloud migration

Tip One: Everyone is Not as Excited as You are About Adopting Cloud

  • Communicate early and often about training programs for all affected roles.
  • Emphasize that cloud technologies often result in better application performance and almost no downtime — which also means no late nights or weekend work trying to bring up systems that have crashed.
  • Stress how learning new technologies make employees more valuable in the marketplace.

Tip Two: Paint a Vision for the Future that Includes Benefits to the Company AND the Employees

  • Describe how, when managing a public cloud rather than a virtualized data center, day-to-day work will change for employees — but it will be something exciting for them and their careers.
  • Talk about new roles that will be needed, like SRE (Site Reliability Engineering).
  • Ensure the cloud journey plan includes skill and role development training, and share widely that skills training is part of the cloud journey plan.

Tip Three — Proactively Manage Expectations of Business Stakeholders

  • Help VPs and business owners understand that simply moving workloads to the cloud will not automatically save money or achieve improved velocity. Changes in architecture and engineering practices will likely be required to achieve the full benefit of cloud technologies.
  • Help business stakeholders understand the difference between the various paths to cloud:
    Rehost means doing a “lift and shift” now and modernizing later. This strategy may result in minimal saves, or no savings at all, because existing applications haven’t been architected to truly take advantage of the cloud. Lift and shift efforts are best used as a precursor for future migration efforts.
    Re-factor / Re-architect means redesigning the architecture and code to build a cloud-native application. In this approach, you are essentially rewriting all or part of your application. An example would be moving from a monolithic application to a microservices architecture that can more easily take advantage of the cloud.
    Re-platform (sometimes referred to as “lift, tinker, and shift.”) means moving from on-premises to cloud with only modest enhancements to the application. These enhancements can include things like making specific pieces of your application more horizontally scalable.

Tip Four: Integrate DevSecOps into your Engineering Processes

  • Beacheading is important. Trial and error can be expensive. You’ll need an initial team who understands the cloud to develop best practices and implement a good pipeline. Make sure each successive round of teams who join the migration know how to leverage it.
  • Implement devops processes by organizing your teams in a way that testing and deploying so that their work can be fully automated. Engineering time spent on wonky, one-off manual processes is time taken away from developing new features, infrastructure, and automations. This sort of work is de-motivating and frustrating for engineers.
  • What your organization receives for investing in DevSecOps is the ability to quickly respond to customer demand by rapidly and securely making changes to your infrastructure and applications.
  • Just as important as financial and competitive considerations is the ability to recruit top technical talent. Most technology workers want to work on the cloud! These skills are relevant to building their career. Offering work on cloud-native applications is a big recruiting tool if you want to attract top talent to your company.

Tip Five: Adopt Agile Now, Even Before Cloud Migration

You don’t have to learn through trial and error.

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