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Workload migration: Staying calm when it's more than just lift and shift

To no one’s surprise, the world’s migration to the cloud is continuing to ramp up in both speed and volume. According to forecasts from Gartner, the worldwide public cloud services market will grow by 17.3% this year. Revenues are expected to total $206.2 billion, up from $175.8 billion in 2018. Yes, we’re seeing a stampede to the cloud, and the logic behind that stampede is unassailable. Everyone wants what the cloud has to offer. When you consider the cost savings, flexibility and agility of the cloud, along with its ever-growing suite of services — seriously, why would anyone not want to be there? The answer, in a word, is fear. Companies that were born in the cloud have nothing to worry about. But for companies built on legacy apps that are still chugging along on-premises, these are anxious times. For one thing, nobody wants to pull the plug on applications that are still running in production. And nobody is looking forward to unraveling the mysteries those applications might contain. In many cases, the engineers who designed those apps left those employers years ago, taking their understanding of the source code with them. So, the anxiety is understandable and it should definitely be acknowledged. But it shouldn’t be obeyed. What follows are some guiding principles that will allow you to begin your workload migration with maximum predictability and minimum risk. First of all, it’s important to be clear about business factors driving the move. Are you doing it to cut costs? To make your business more agile? Is it because you’re merging with or acquiring another organization? If you’re clear on your objectives, you’ll be that much clearer in preparing the strategy for your migration. Your next step should be to analyze what’s in your application portfolio. Here, you’re trying to determine which of your apps will be the least risk and highest business value to move. The obvious candidates are the apps that manage data mining, business intelligence and AI. Other applications pose more of a challenge. Systems of record and marketing applications (such as CRMs) tend to be hard-coded, operationalized and entrenched in the enterprise. You’re better off saving those until you’ve experienced some success with moves that are closer to being lift and shift. The best overall advice is to proceed in baby steps, limiting the factors you’ll have to consider should something go wrong. For example, it’s smart and cost-efficient to migrate each app as-is and to delay any changes until after the migration takes place. That way, you’ll eliminate any uncertainty about whether a problem is with the app or with the architecture. However you plan your migration, you’ll need to pay attention to the people and processes responsible for its success. Easing your people into this transformation will yield more comfort and good results than a wholesale pivot. And an investment in staff training will position your most loyal employees to keep on contributing to your growth. If you’ve read this far, it may be that your current systems don’t lend themselves easily to the kind of large-scale transformation that cloud computing is now making necessary. But take heart. In recent years, even an organization as large as BBM has migrated its massive IT infrastructure to the cloud, with no downtime and very little disruption. A properly executed plan worked for BBM, and it can work for your business, as well. Pythian can help make your cloud migration smooth, painless and cost-efficient.

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