Don’t have a Cloud Strategy? You should still migrate one app to the Cloud

“Cloud computing is in its beginning stages and will only continue to grow,” Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on June 28th, 2022. All organizations should be prepared for the ongoing growth of cloud computing. Even if your organization currently doesn’t have a comprehensive cloud strategy, regardless of the reason, there is a justification for doing a “proof-of-concept” (POC) in the cloud for at least one application of significance in your app portfolio.

To understand why, let’s first discuss a few reasons companies cite to not move to the cloud. Of course, there could be many others, but these are popular.

  1. Costs, including both the cost of the cloud service plus implied costs like network connectivity.
  2. Your applications are antiquated and based on mainframe or mid-range servers.
  3. Security.
  4. “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

In many cases, these are valid reasons to stay on-premises. But a cloud POC might make sense, even if your organization is not planning on moving to the cloud wholesale. Here are some reasons why.

  1. A cloud POC familiarizes your IT team with the cloud in case of a change in strategy in the future. Things change, companies merge, companies are bought out, new executives come and go, world politics change incentives, etc. The point is that the cloud is a legitimate IT strategy and if certain factors change, it might be more viable in the future than it is today. So, all organizations of size should investigate new technology options as part of an ongoing modern IT strategy. Even if you don’t have a legitimate reason to go “all in,” you should at least be familiar with the cloud just in case things change. In this Gartner article “6 Steps for Planning a Cloud Strategy,” the author outlines some of the things you can do now to prepare for an eventual cloud migration. This includes thinking about a hybrid cloud strategy where some IT assets remain on-prem for various reasons.

  2. If your organization is more traditional, doing a POC in the cloud will give the IT team a chance to enhance their skills. Talent retention is a significant concern, so doing the cloud POC will allow everyone to gain knowledge and experience. A 2022 Pluralsight report that polled over 750 technologists and a Udacity/Ipsos poll of 6,000 tech managers and employees found that training opportunities were very important to employees. One-third of respondents to the Pluralsight report cited a lack of opportunities to develop new skills as a reason for leaving, and four in ten cited a lack of room for career growth. Almost half of the employees polled said that training opportunities would encourage them to stay in their jobs. A cloud POC could provide these training opportunities.

  3. Doing a POC in the cloud will reveal the “true costs” of what it takes to support one application, which can then be used as a factor to estimate a larger cloud footprint in the future. For example, in addition to the cloud service, networking costs to connect your on-prem to the cloud service must be factored in.

  4. A cloud POC will help reveal any issues regarding security, data sovereignty and control. You may discover that the cloud has more and better security options than what is currently on-prem. In the article “Key Points to Compare Cloud vs On-Prem Security,” the point is made that cloud is just as secure as on-prem, and in addition, cloud vendors provide tools and methodologies to scan for security vulnerabilities. For example, Microsoft Azure provides “Security Center” to help assist with a variety of security vulnerabilities. Your team or leadership might feel differently about cloud security once they work through a POC with their own hands.

  5. A future path to the cloud might be revealed as part of the cloud POC. A hybrid cloud approach is the potential first step. Lift and shift the core application as-is. Isolated services like application file storage are good candidates to be moved to native cloud-based services, and this approach would minimally disturb the original application architecture. Tiny steps are your friend!

Migrating a single secondary application to the cloud will help reveal all your current “unknowns” about the cloud. Preconceived biases and assumptions might be disproven or proven. By doing that single project, you’ll have something you didn’t have before. You will have actual data.

I’ll leave you with a final quote from Adam Selipsky’s interview with CNBC to think about: “Essentially, IT is going to move to the cloud. And it’s going to take a while. You’ve seen maybe only, call it 10% of IT today move. So it’s still day 1. It’s still early. … Most of it’s still yet to come,” he said.

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