Last week, I was speaking with a business leader who expressed a concern I’m hearing pretty frequently. She told me she wants to move her organization to the cloud, but they feel daunted by the logistics of such a move. What are the right questions to ask a cloud services partner? What do you migrate first? What are best practices and what mistakes have others made that her organization can learn from? These are all good questions, and she’s right to be asking them.
In this post, I am going to prep you to be able to ask the right questions of the cloud services partners and providers you are considering for your cloud migration.
5 Questions to Ask A Cloud Services Partner
#1: Where are we going?
First, and possibly foremost, don’t think of the cloud as moving from point A (your servers) to point B (the cloud) because this will create a mindset that will slow you down and cost you money. People who see their migration strategy this way tend to do what we call “lift and shift,” where they simply move everything they have from point A to point B. That’s using the cloud without using the cloud’s advantages, and it’s moving a lot of legacy data and processes that you may wish to sunset in this move. As the saying goes, Junk In, Junk Out. Don’t take any existing broken workarounds and re-create them in the cloud. It’s important to plan your journey just as you would a cross country road trip. Your cloud migration strategy should be just that – a strategy – to make this transformation in phases, with a clearly articulated plan, using clean data.
#2: Who is my guide?
To help you understand where you are going on this journey, it’s helpful to have a guide – someone who has done this before and knows the way. And let me emphasize this: There are many paths to choose from when migrating, just as there are many paths to a cross-country drive. The guide you select, or cloud services partner, should be equipped to show you multiple migration strategies or choices for your journey. There should be discussion and alignment with your team to best fit your various short-term and long-term business objectives. This way, you can decide together if you need the super highway for speed, or if taking the scenic route and a longer drive makes sense for your business.
Each of the three major public clouds offer as many a 100 new features and services a month. Some of these you will want to use and others you will actually want to avoid. Your guide should be part of cloud-certified team that keeps up with all of this, so they can help you make the right choices for your cloud services and configurations. Look for deep experience in your cloud services partner. Certifications, security risk assessments, and logos of companies you recognize should be non-negotiable, “must-haves”. It will also benefit you to ask your guide about their partnerships – do they have a strong relationship with any of the public clouds? Do they have 3rd party partners for those special projects that may extend beyond the scope of their products and services so they can continue to support you by bringing in certified partners when needed rather than you having to search for those tools yourself? To understand this, ask about what managed services this potential partner offers for the entire migration, implementation and ongoing support after deployment.
#3: How are we getting there?
Your partner needs to integrate with your business and IT leaders and bring you a plan, complete with reference architectures, that show you several different choices based on velocity, size of workloads, applications interactions, security tooling and more. Look at project timelines and scrutinize these together to see where you can use your existing team and resources in tandem with the force multiplier of your partner’s team of experts. Make the choice that is best for your unique business strategy. If they show you a one size fits all solution, end the conversation and keep looking for a better partner. You’ll also want to be clear on what happens at each stage of the journey. By knowing the expectations of your team members and how or if they will be engaged, and to what capacity you’ll be better prepared. Cloud migration is about change, it is not about surprises.
#4: What are we bringing?
I touched on this earlier. You wouldn’t drag a moving van with everything in the house behind your truck if you’re going camping for a week. Cloud migration is not all or nothing, overnight. You may want to do a full-scale migration, or you may start with smaller experimental workloads to be able to be agile and pivot quickly as you learn and your team skills up. You may have a new product/app launch and you want to build it as cloud native for improved scaling, security and agility as well as version control. In addition to picking your first workloads for early wins, talk with your partner about metrics. You want to learn to measure what matters so you can make informed strategic decisions about costing models and growth opportunities. One of several strengths the cloud offers is the ability to scale quickly and cost efficiently if your workloads are properly optimized.
#6: What will it look like when we get there?
There are many considerations your partner will be bringing up based on which industry you are in. If, for example, you are in healthcare there are stringent regulations and guidelines for privacy, security and compliance you must ensure you meet through proper configurations and processes. Your partner can help you get that right the first time and keep it that way. Finance has its regulations. Understand what you are building and how it is protected. The cloud has security tooling deeply embedded into its apps, services and infrastructure now, so be sure you are taking advantage of that. And, at the risk of repeating myself, make sure you have hired a partner with deep cloud expertise. The Wall Street Journal quoted research firm Gartner as saying they estimate “that up to 95% of cloud breaches occur due to human errors such as configuration mistakes, and the research firm expects this trend to continue.” Work with a firm that does this work all day, every day. When you are thinking about what your workloads are going to look like, remember your migration strategy is likely a journey over time so you can effectively and cost-efficiently grow your business as you grow your cloud footprint.
The Cloud is the Smart Choice for Your Business
In closing, I urge you to keep top of mind that the cloud is the smart choice for the future of your business. Yes, configuration, migration strategies and security concerns are complex and different from previous technologies. This is why you want a cloud certified partner with deep relationships with cloud vendors and other third-party providers. Your partner should offer you multiple choices for your journey at various scopes and costing models so you can pick what works for you. And the great news is if things change, your partner can pivot with you. You may be mid-migration and become part of a merger and acquisition. The cloud can work to bust silos and integrate data in ways you could never do on-premises, leading to better collaboration across business units, whether new or existing. And that leads to better business insights.
At Quisitive this is the work we do all day, every day. We do it for names you know including Inform Diagnostics, Stewart Title, Essilor, Builders First Source and Omnitracs and we can help you. Our cloud expertise, combined with our business acumen gives you a full spectrum partner to support you at each step of the way. In addition to our suite of products, we offer a wide array of managed services for before, during and after your migration.
So, whether you’re just starting your cloud migration, or you started and got stuck, Quisitive is here to help. Reach out today for a free consultation.