It’s 2018, and the business landscape is changing. Many organizations now have remote workers, multiple offices, and numerous computing tools and platforms.
While these changes bring greater opportunities, they also introduce new challenges for business leaders, especially IT departments struggling to keep pace to drive effective collaboration and communication.
The cloud offers an enticing solution to many of these business problems.
As the cloud has gained popularity and acceptance in the computing world, more and more businesses are making the switch. In fact, 83% of enterprise workloads are expected to operate on the cloud by 2020.
And it’s no surprise why.
Operating on the cloud has many benefits for companies and organizations, including:
- Increased efficiency in operations and management
- Better support and access for a distributed workforce
- Integration with the IT tech stack
- Reduced costs
However, even as many businesses rush to adopt cloud computing processes, it is not an easy initiative. Cloud migration introduces its own challenges. Whether you are looking to take advantage of cloud infrastructure, platforms, or software services, use these solutions to help you navigate a successful migration.
Challenge #1: Financial cost
In the long run, cloud migration can save money through increased efficiency, lower admin costs, and streamlined processes. But getting there can still feel like an (expensive) uphill battle.
Financial concerns touch on almost every challenge of migration. There’s the immediate cost to make the migration itself in addition to the long-term financial risks of low or slow adoption and training after the migration has occurred.
Top costs of migration include:
- Rewriting application architecture for the cloud
- Investing in people and tools needed to migrate successfully
- Training users on the new systems
- Performance issues including latency, interoperability, dependencies on non-cloud apps, and downtime
- Bandwidth costs
Despite this intimidating list, a successful (and financially sensible) cloud migration is possible.
Companies can keep costs low by implementing these three strategies.
Focus on planning
Preparation is your greatest ally. Invest in a solid change management plan. A well-laid plan will help you manage the scope of the project as well as the level of disruption to the business.
Carefully examine your business objectives and requirements, the current state of your IT operations, and the cloud options available. This evaluation and analysis will help you identify potential issues, opportunities, and needs that you can then prepare for.
Follow a batch adoption process
Another way to manage your financial investment is to migrate to the cloud incrementally. Batch adoption has the advantage of breaking down what can be a financially overwhelming project into more manageable pieces over time.
Additionally, by migrating operations in batches, the organization doesn’t have to invest as much money up front, giving them more flexibility and options.
Migrate to a hybrid cloud
Depending on your computing needs, a full cloud migration may not be the best option. Some organizations rely fully on the public cloud while others prefer private or hybrid cloud options. Understanding the financial risks and benefits can help guide your decision and your approach.
While some IT operations would work well in a cloud environment, others may be less compatible. For example, companies who run applications with usage spikes could benefit from the public cloud because it scales up and down to meet your usage needs and lowers costs.
However, if you have applications with consistent usage, there is less financial incentive or reward to move completely to the public cloud. In these cases, a hybrid cloud option can make the most financial sense. You can migrate applications with varying usage while keeping the rest in your on-premise or private cloud operations.
The financial investment and risks associated with a cloud migration can be daunting. But with careful evaluation and planning, you can navigate those obstacles and map a path to success.
Challenge #2: Adoption resistance
When it comes to migration success, it is often people who pose the biggest challenge. People tend to resist change. And a cloud migration brings a lot of change and disruption—often with significantly new systems, processes, and even leadership.
Bottom line: If the human element is left unmanaged, you will struggle to execute a successful migration.
Fortunately, a change management plan with a few key strategies can ensure organization-wide buy-in and a smoother transition process.
Get leadership buy-in
If you want to drive successful adoption at the bottom, you have to start at the top. Your executive leadership is one of the primary factors influencing employee engagement and adoption, so you need strong executive buy-in right from the start.
Make sure your leadership understands the business need and objectives for the migration and have them communicate the business case to the organization. When people understand the reason behind a change, they are more likely to get behind it.
By demonstrating support, excitement, and the value of these changes, they can create a positive culture around the migration and encourage higher rates of adoption.
Choose intuitive tech solutions
When choosing cloud solutions for your applications, prioritize usability and integration. The more intuitive and user-friendly the tool is, the more likely your employees will adopt it (and stick with it).
Additionally, applications that integrate with your current tech stack are more attractive to users because they can seamlessly connect the new tools to their other work. Integrations not only make the workflow smoother but increase employees’ efficiency. (Just be sure to communicate those benefits when you announce the changes).
Invest in expert training and resources
Although the cloud will ideally make life easier for everyone, the adjustment can still be painful (which could slow down adoption). People may find the new processes confusing, complex, or difficult to integrate. Without proper training and support, they are more likely to keep using familiar tools.
To make sure your users understand your new systems and processes, invest in a robust onboarding program. Employ experts to train and support employees on the new applications. You can even designate internal employee “cloud champions” who can answer questions and offer support on the ground.
User buy-in and adoption can be a frustrating hurdle. But if you plan ahead, communicate clearly (and often), and focus on user education and support, you can execute a successful migration.
Challenge #3: Skill shortage
Despite the many benefits of cloud computing, the complexity of migrating stops many organizations in their tracks. One of the primary obstacles is finding people who have the skills to manage an effective migration.
As more organizations set their sights on the cloud, competition for migration experts has intensified. Unfortunately, the demand for cloud experts exceeds the supply (at least for now).
One report by McAfee found that the skills gap in cybersecurity is responsible for slowing cloud migration for 40% of IT professionals.
That’s a big problem for businesses trying to remain competitive.
A shortage of professionals with the appropriate skill set may be the trickiest challenge to cloud adoption today. If you don’t have the resources (or luck) to hire cloud migration talent, you’ll need to find other solutions.
The best long-term plan is to cultivate cloud skills internally, a strategy that provides several advantages.
First, your current IT employees are already familiar with your legacy technology and existing processes. Therefore, once they are trained in new skills, they will be ready to make meaningful contributions more quickly. Additionally, hiring and onboarding new employees is costly in both time and money. Working with existing talent can save you money and translate into a better financial investment.
This approach isn’t easy though.
The shelf life for cloud computing skills is increasingly short. The fast pace of new releases (AWS launched 1,430 releases in 2017 alone) necessitates a strong commitment to regular training and education in order to maintain and retain top talent.
Applying an incremental adoption approach can also relieve some of the pressure of finding and qualifying talent. By focusing on smaller migrations of key applications, your IT team can learn and master the systems over time instead of facing a full migration all at once.
For a successful and robust internal training program, you will need to:
- Build a culture of continuous learning.
- Align the training strategically with your business goals.
- Make training relevant to each employee’s role and operational environment.
- Be future-minded.
A corporate training initiative is no small feat. However, when done well, internal education can help your organization continue moving forward with a successful cloud migration.
To remain competitive and relevant, you will need to invest resources into your current talent force and make the program a strategic part of your business plan. As you compare cloud solutions, look for vendors that provide dedicated resources to supporting a successful migration. They can be a valuable asset for your IT team and an important tool in your overall training program.
Cloud migration is a big, complex initiative for any company. While this initiative brings many unique challenges, those challenges are not insurmountable.
The key is to recognize those potential risks and obstacles in the beginning and create a plan to manage them. With careful planning and evaluation, you can navigate the complexities of the cloud and reap the benefits of cloud-based IT operations.