Often, when a business embarks on a cloud migration strategy, one of the most challenging elements for consideration is what to do with the applications. When transforming the environment, is a “lift and shift” approach of everything always the right way to go, or is there the opportunity to be more strategic in your approach?

One common example that we see is that clients often have Microsoft 365 and SharePoint online on-premises. But they’re paying for SharePoint in the Microsoft 365 license. So, as we often ask our customers: why would you want to shift your SharePoint Online Server from on-pre to the cloud, when you can leverage the existing Microsoft 365 subscription?

The Telstra Super Example

It’s possible to lift and shift most applications as part of a cloud migration strategy but being more strategic with the opportunity can yield better results. For example, during our work with Telstra Super, rather than shifting 250 virtual machines directly to the cloud, we instead were able to consolidate the environment, put it a different type of system and deliver long-term efficiency and scalability benefits.

As part of the consolidation process, it may become clear that one single critical application can’t be moved to the same cloud environment as the other applications. That’s fine with modern IT, as hybrid cloud environments are often the result of most cloud migration strategy programs of a large size.

That hybrid IT approach is what we applied to Telstra Super. One of their main applications would not run-on Azure, so, rather than go to the massive expense of rebuilding the application, instead we maintain the legacy application on a private cloud, while the Azure environment runs everything else. The challenge with hybrid clouds is protecting against waste and redundancy, which is what our carefully architected solution avoided.

Overcoming the challenges

There is the perception that a cloud migration strategy can be achieved quickly, especially with a lift and shift approach. But often, in the rush to transform the environment, businesses don’t consider why they are making the transformation, and the benefits that it will achieve to their business.

One of the most famous statistics about transformation (of which cloud migration strategy forms a part of) is that around 70 per cent of transformation efforts fail to deliver the expected value back to the business. What is fascinating about this number is that it doesn’t seem to change over time. Digital transformation has been a hot topic for almost a decade now, and yet, the failure rate remains steady in just about every research effort.

It’s not the technology – the technology that leads a successful transformation is, at this point, mature, and the vendors behind the hardware and cloud services understand their role in aiding transformation.

The challenge is in the business strategy. If your goal with transformation is simply “to undergo digital transformation,” then the project will, ultimately, fail to deliver. For one example of our own, we helped a customer move their enterprise data warehouse to the cloud. The challenge that we came across wasn’t technical in nature. Rather, it was actually getting the customer to rethink how they could utilise the cloud environment rather than doing it in a traditional way.

We had to ask them: how do you leverage the cloud services to get a benefit without reinventing the wheel? There was change management involved to have the customer fully aware of the reasons for why transformation is right for them. Once they realised the benefit of the cloud migration strategy, (that on-premises took 6.5 hours to process data, and by moving to an efficient cloud environment they halved the time), the customer was motivated behind the strategy and the technology decisions that would drive that.

Understanding that this can take time

With most enterprises, the legacy environment may have technical debt, and there’s both a financial and time cost that needs to be factored into the migration.

Here it’s important to make it clear you may have to shift some of that debt from on premise to a cloud environment first, then transform it from there. It’s all about setting realistic timeframes to achieve this. For example, it might take us 12-months to push an application from an on-premises environment to a cloud environment or a SaaS Application.

The benefit of cloud is that you can predict those costs upfront. For example, modelling can predict what the monthly costs will be. That number is also scalable (i.e. you can bring it up and down as you need it). This brings us to the final benefit of transformation – by consolidating, you typically pay less once your applications are in the cloud, and those costs are far more predictable. This then frees up further budget for investment into additional applications and services as they might need them.

The pressure will always be on the IT team to deliver immediate benefits, and even with organisational buy-in, a 12-month time frame for a project to start returning value can stall a project before it starts.

This is why we’ll deliver the overall transformation project, and the cloud migration strategy, as one that focuses on agile methodology. By executing on projects, application migrations and outcomes in an incremental manner, it is possible to deliver value quickly and then continue to build on the foundations across the entire project. Once completed, the agile work can continue to deliver value into the future too, as the business adjusts to new trends and opportunities.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about lift and shift projects, their role in the broader transformation strategy, and the results that an organisation can expect from the project. As with anything else to do with transformation, the ultimate success comes down to strategy and planning – understanding what you’re looking to achieve from the project up-front, and then having the right partners and technology in place to execute on the strategy. Contact NovaWorks for more information – we have assisted many Australian organisations, of all sizes and scales, with their cloud migration strategy.

Talk to our experienced team about how we can help kick off your cloud migration strategy. Contact Us.