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Partner Perspective - Uncovering the art of successful cloud migrations...

Fronde CTO, James Valentine, outlines key opportunities and challenges for the channel around cloud migration.
James Valentine - CTO, Fronde

James Valentine - CTO, Fronde

Consumer demands for better experiences, particularly through digital channels, are placing strain on traditional operational models.

According to Fronde chief technology officer, James Valentine, this is forcing organisations to adapt faster, driving them to adopt the rapid provisioning and scaling that cloud offers.

Valentine said that organisations wanting to transform internally are looking to the cloud to gain competitive agility and speed.

However, research by Amazon Web Services (AWS) has shown that 90 per cent of cloud migration programs stall for extended periods, usually at the 20 per cent completion mark, with only 70 per cent going on to recover.

For certain industries, Valentine believes the increasing regulatory and compliance requirements regarding privacy and security mean that organisations struggle to deliver the audit and security levels that are demanded if they do it themselves.

"Many of today’s buzzwords, such as digital transformation, digital disruption, and shadow IT, reflect the fact that organisations are looking to gain agility and speed by modernising the customer experience, operating model, products and services capability, strategic capability, and/or employee experience," he said.

“The cloud is the perfect delivery mechanism to achieve all this, but only if your cloud migration program is well planned and executed."

According to Valentine, there are four common mistakes businesses make when migrating to the cloud: deploying a new cloud application that isn’t integrated with other business systems; only ‘lifting and shifting’ applications to cloud infrastructure; purchasing too many disparate cloud applications; and thinking of cloud migration as just a technology project.

“A siloed application will rarely deliver the benefits that were expected," he explained.

"While a valid strategy for some applications, the wholesale transition of apps without any change or improvement misses a big opportunity to modernise applications.

"And if taken too far, purchasing too many disparate cloud applications leads to a mess of disconnected systems, complexity, and an explosion in licence cost.

"It is also critical to engage business stakeholders early on to help understand the real goals of the migration project, and to help with planning, communications, and implementation."

For Valentine, there are "significant benefits" to transitioning to public cloud platforms, particularly software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.

“The obvious ones are avoiding large capital expense and instead transitioning to a more flexible pay-as-you-go model, removing the internal effort to manage and support applications, and the ability to use most modern cloud applications anywhere, anytime and on any device," he added.

As a result, Valentine identified five key steps for successful migration to the cloud.

A cloud-first policy

When organisations have legacy on-premise investments to maintain, their budgets can get tied up on capital expenditure and software licence lock-in. This prevents organisations from changing direction quickly. Businesses should therefore implement a cloud-first procurement policy for future investments.

Cloud migration strategy

While a ‘lift-and-shift’ approach may be appropriate in some cases, it may not be the right choice for all application workloads. Before committing time and resources to implementation, organisations should do a thorough needs assessment and build a practical cloud migration strategy.

Run a business change project, not a technology project

It is critical to engage business stakeholders early on to help understand the real goals of the migration project, and to help with planning, communications, and implementation.

Agile implementation

If the organisation’s future state is unclear, an agile approach may work best, because the small, iterative changes let the project team course-correct as they learn more. Often, legacy infrastructure has grown organically, so understanding how to unpick it continues well into the implementation.

Establish the new operating model

Often overlooked in cloud migration projects is the need to put the necessary support and management capability in place, post-migration. Cloud technology lends itself to DevOps practices and competencies, so organisations can build these along the way or use specialist providers.

From a channel perspective, Valentine said partners can benefit as they can work with businesses to streamline cloud migration projects, while ensuring the delivery of business objectives.

"Simply reselling cloud licensing is not going to deliver sustainable business results to partners," he added.

"It’s about bringing together a range of different technologies and offerings to solve the client’s business challenges.

"Clients value good advice on which cloud platform to use, and having a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t appropriate.

"What is great for one client isn’t going to be appropriate for another. So it’s important to be able to offer good advice, make it easy to get started and deliver some unique value."