Nearly every enterprise that hasn’t already created a cloud migration strategy soon will – and will grapple with significant questions. How do we migrate quickly but with minimal disruption? How can we make the migration optimal economically? Do we migrate everything, or continue hosting some applications and platforms on‑premises – and if the latter, what stays?
Start-up companies have it easy. They can adopt systems designed specifically for the cloud, and may find little or no need to host anything locally. For heritage organizations with a multitude of legacy solutions, an optimal cloud migration requires careful consideration, which should be informed by the following guidelines.
Start with low-hanging fruit
There’s no need to move everything to the cloud at once. Start with the easy stuff.
To know what’s easy to migrate and what’s not, undertake an inventory and cloud‑readiness assessment of all apps and platforms you’re currently running. Many will prove to be cloud-ready and very easy to migrate. That will certainly be true of Microsoft applications, SD-WAN, or UCaaS solutions such as OfficeSuite UC®.
After a thorough assessment, move those that prove to be cloud-ready first. Now for the harder part.
Economic considerations for less cloud-ready solutions
For applications and platforms that require more effort in migration, it’s best to add economic analysis to the initial technical considerations. Steady-state elements that have hardware depreciation greater than three years may not make sense for the cloud – economics for capital investment and depreciation may point to retaining such solutions on-premises, rather than switching to an OpEx solution and incurring the cost of a third-party cloud service.
Also consider the application or platform’s function and business velocity. For example, testing and training environments typically are cyclical, and it may be advantageous to avoid capital expenditures and maintenance costs for them in favor of the ability to ramp a cloud-based service up and down as needed.
Consider a professional migration partner
Many enterprises find it advantageous to partner with a third party to assess cloud readiness and migration economics. I have experience with Ensono and IBM cloud‑migration services, and they’re very thorough. There are many others with excellent reputations.
Whether you enlist assistance or with DIY, the principles are the same. Begin with elements that migrate easiest, and consider economic as well as technical ramifications for the remainder. While there are finer points to consider, following these general guidelines will put you on a path to the most efficient, least disruptive migration to the cloud and its many advantages.
Lewis Langston is executive vice president and chief information officer for Windstream. Langston joined Windstream in February 2015 and is responsible for the management and delivery of information technology services, including systems architecture, software development, infrastructure and production services.
Previously Langston served as chief information officer at Allied Wireless Communications Corporation from 2009 to 2013. The company was acquired by AT&T Mobility in September 2013. He most recently was an executive telecommunications and technology consultant.
Prior to joining Allied Wireless, Langston was executive vice president of process development and support at Alltel Corp. from 2003 to 2009. He also held a number of senior leadership roles at Alltel from 1998 to 2003 in financial services, operations support and IT service delivery. From 1984 to 1998, Langston held various programming and sales roles at Alltel Information Services.
Langston holds a bachelor of business administration degree in business analysis from Texas A&M University.
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