Successful Cloud Migration for SMEs: 10 Crucial Parameters

10 adjusting screws for a successful cloud migration

Cloudification occupies medium-sized companies like hardly any other IT topic. We show you which parameters need to be taken into account during planning and implementation.

In collaboration with various experts, our colleagues at gridscale have worked out the 10 levers for successful cloud migration in SMEs, or simply “cloudification”. We can only endorse the resulting white paper and would therefore like to give you an overview of the key points below. You can request the complete study free of charge here.

The 10 adjusting screws for a successful cloud migration

There is no one right way when it comes to the cloudification of midmarket IT. The following merely highlights various parameters that need to be taken into account when planning and implementing cloudification – including the associated challenges and options for action.

Strategic adjusting screws

1. Need for cloudification
Cloudification of internal IT makes sense in principle in order to be able to guarantee a sufficient level of fail-safety, scaling, speed and flexibility. However, cloudification should not be pursued at any price. The decisive factor is the extent to which the company in question succeeds in finding an adequate solution for its current challenges. Cloudification should therefore be driven forward pragmatically and with a sense of proportion.

2. Cloudification strategy
Companies should be aware that the range of cloud models is diverse – a thorough analysis of the application landscape is essential for a sound cloudification strategy. In addition, the cloudification strategy should be derived from the company’s business and IT strategy. A deep understanding of the company’s own applications and their importance for business operations is therefore also essential.

3. Dealing with public clouds
A complete shift of all workloads to a public cloud seems neither economically sensible nor feasible in the short term for most SMEs. However, private cloud solutions generally lag behind public cloud platforms in terms of performance, scaling and innovation.
If companies enter into a business relationship with a hyperscaler, one of the large cloud service providers, they have to reckon with strong lock-in effects and, as a consequence, with major dependencies. Therefore, it should be checked in advance exactly which workloads are to be moved to a public cloud and to what extent.
In terms of provider independence, it is worth taking a closer look at the public cloud provider market. In addition to the international hyperscalers, numerous providers have now established themselves that are trying to differentiate themselves by supporting muli or hybrid cloud scenarios.

Technical adjusting screws

4. Creating conditions
Cloudification of internal data center IT first requires a transformation of the application and server landscape and associated processes. Techniques must be aligned to the extent that Rz operations can be managed in a value-added, cost-optimized manner and as close as possible to cloud methods. Of course, this means immense effort, which is why short-term and cost-effective cloud transition solutions seem tempting. In the longer term, however, these can entail risks and thus additional expense.

5. Technical planning
Virtualization of computing capacities is a good starting point, but it is far from being a private cloud. In addition to the data center expansion, technical dependencies such as network or security requirements must also be taken into account. Integrated management is also essential to ensure high performance and scalability of the overall system – if possible, cross-platform so that hybrid or omni-cloud scenarios can be supported and external providers can be effectively controlled. If necessary, IoT strategies and the integration and management of edge components must also be taken into account in cloud planning.
The next logical step in the direction of cloudification could be understood as the implementation of a so-called hyper-converged infrastructure (also Hyper Converged Infrastructure or HCI for short). Such a software-defined architecture, which integrates server, storage and network components as well as virtualization and management software in one system, offers great advantages in terms of data management, scalability, availability, among other things. However, HCIs are associated with considerable investments and are often oversized for medium-sized companies. Hosted or managed private clouds provided externally represent a more cost-effective alternative.

6. Managed Cloud
As described, the effort required to set up and operate a private cloud is enormous. Outsourcing options in the private cloud environment should therefore be seriously considered and carefully examined. The selection of experienced service providers and suitable offers is essential here.
One option would be to procure Managed Private Cloud Services largely via an external service provider. Alternatively, individual components could either be procured directly in the as-a-service model or implemented internally and left to operate in the managed service model. The second approach offers more flexibility, control and possibly also cost advantages – however, it also requires significantly greater expertise on the part of the company than the first approach.

Cultural and organizational adjusting screws

7. Repositioning of the IT
Successful cloudification must not only be viewed from a strategic and technical perspective – it must also be lived by the employees. Flexible structures and agile methods can only develop their effect if they are accepted by people, properly classified and used in a targeted manner. Therefore, sufficient time and resources should be planned to actively promote and accompany the change in the minds of the workforce.

8. Realignment of processes
Cloud technologies force new methods and ways of working that meet existing organizational structures in the company, which also serve a purpose and cannot simply be replaced. Pragmatic solutions must be found here to reconcile both sides. Process reengineering is usually unavoidable – but this should by no means be seen as a one-off project. Rather, in view of the complexity of the topic and the dynamic cloud development, it is necessary to establish a continuous improvement process in the company.

9. Design of the external cooperation
As already explained, cloudification is usually accompanied by increased use of external services. The basis for this is a clarification of responsibilities; the goal should be a long-term partnership at eye level.
The more responsibility is transferred to service providers, the more they become strategic partners. To enable them to perform this role, it makes sense to involve them in internal communication and decision-making processes.
The more comprehensive the outsourcing, the greater the dependency of the company on the performance of the partner. This can only be prevented by the company itself assuming the role of consultant – which, however, requires a high level of competence in the cloud area. Additional resources are needed for cloud sourcing and outtasking as well as for active (multi-) provider management.

10. Human Resources Development
In the course of cloudification, the areas of responsibility in IT are changing. The crucial demands placed on employees depend on the type of cloud or outsourcing model the company has chosen.
If the majority of the work clouds are to be provided in-house via a private cloud, additional personnel resources are required who must have the appropriate specialist knowledge – and are therefore difficult to recruit.
If (managed) cloud services are to be procured predominantly from external partners, employees are needed who are able to think and act holistically: They must anticipate the impact of their work on the different areas.

Source: gridscale