I like the following quote by one of the most influential strategy thinkers and no1 best-selling author of Strategy Execution, Jeroen De Flander: “Strategy is thinking about a choice and choosing to stick with your thinking”.

With the overwhelming need for businesses to migrate their applications to the Cloud as part of their digital transformation there has also been a sense of being overwhelmed when it comes to where to even begin with this cloud migration.

The major cloud service providers, and other technology bodies, have defined patterns that seek to be a guide to this cloud migration strategy.

AWS outlines 6 Application Cloud Migration Strategies (the 6R’s) (Stephen Orban‘s blog makes for an awesome read on this). These 6R’s build onto Gartner’s cloud migration strategies of the 5R’s (read about these here).

AWS 6 Application Migration Strategies (6R’s)

Now onto my second quote….

What do you do when you have assembled the best cloud migration strategy and yet are not able to successfully execute this?

What are some of the blockers that exist and how do you circumvent these?

  • Governance — This is easily one of the top blockers to cloud migration. Highly regulated industries which include financial services, health, etc. tend to not be able to migrate to the cloud without first acquiring support from the applicable regulator(s). This becomes even more challenging to co-ordinate when the organization is a multi-national, as it then becomes necessary to acquire this support from the regulator of each applicable geographical location. It is vital that engagements with the relevant regulators are conducted very early on in the process, and that there is full transparency in order to gain this support.
  • Data — Data is now a strategic asset. Data has become key to decision-making. Organizations that may have neglected proper data classification and proper definition of data policies definitely cannot carry on in this manner once in the cloud. A data migration plan which includes classification of data and definition of data policies is key; but definition of this plan may introduce delays to execution of cloud migration strategy.
  • People — Easily the most important contributor to successful execution of a cloud migration strategy. Challenges here include resistance to change; change can bring on anxiety caused by a fear of the unknown and this can result in resistance to adoption of this change. It is key that there is proper change management in place, to address the fears that arise. Lack of skillset can also be a blocker to successful cloud migration. Without teams that understand the cloud and all it offers it will not be easy to successfully migrate to the cloud. It is imperative that a training plan is devised, and that there is support of this plan throughout the organization.
  • Legacy — What does my current estate look like? Not understanding what your current estate looks like makes it impossible to decide which of the 6R’s to apply. It may become necessary to perform an application discovery exercise, in order to gain an understanding of what currently exists. This application discovery exercise can delay the execution of the cloud migration strategy.
  • Security — as in, “my data is more secure on premises”. There tends to be a sense of security around data that is hosted on premises. We are a lot more comfortable with things that we can see and touch so to speak, data that is hosted in the cloud feels so out of our control somehow. A very realistic fear also exists around security of this data, as it can now be accessed via the internet — making it more vulnerable to attacks and unwelcome access. It helps to understand allocation of responsibility when it comes to securing data in the cloud — AWS Shared Responsibility Model provides a very good guide here.
  • Operating Model — Cloud migration significantly alters numerous operating models that exist within an organization. How does finance, procurement, engineering practices, incident management, change control, etc. — adapt to align to cloud adoption? The iterative process of redefining this new operating model can introduce delays to cloud migration.
  • Lack of business support — A cloud migration strategy that is set up to succeed has full support of business, else it stands to fail.

In closing, it is important to remember that execution of a cloud migration strategy is meant to be iterative. Learnings from the first set of migrated applications can help inform how this strategy is refined. Cloud migration is a huge undertaking with long-lasting implications for the business, how exciting it is to remember that cloud is central to digital transformation of a business — keeping your eye on this ultimate goal can be the motivator that is needed when challenges arise.