How to make your cloud adoption successful? Follow these five steps! Cloud migration project plan

A lot of organizations want to move to the cloud. It’s scalable, secure, and gives many possibilities. However, I often see companies rushing into it with no clear strategy.

As a result, many attempts at cloud migration projects fail because time and money are wasted, and people are frustrated. For some, opportunities and challenges connected with cloud migration are still a totally unknown territory.

Key points

  • What’s the best way to get started with the cloud?
  • What do you need to be prepared for to make your cloud migration project plan successful?

So, what’s the best way to get started with the cloud? I prepared for you 5 points that, if introduced, will help you not to break your cloud migration project (skip to graphic summary). Let’s dive in!

Five steps to make your cloud migration project plan successful

Step 1. Make sure you know the goal of your project

The goal of cloud migration is not the technology itself. It’s a change in the organization.

In the past, there was a business, and there were supporting IT services, but they worked separately. Over time, they started to overlap a bit – IT became a part of the business.

But now it’s time to merge them together because every business is on the path to becoming a technology business. Cloud is a way for you to leverage the technology for your organization, making sure that you are not spending time figuring out how to do it. It allows you to use ready-made services.

The digital transformation process

The digital transformation process

Step 2. Introduce cloud governance

Why do you need it? Because over time, you will just have more resources. We have clients who have more than 70 subscriptions in a single organization. To manage all of them, you need a proper process in place.

This process is called cloud governance. Cloud governance is a foundation stone for a successful cloud migration project plan and subsequent management of the cloud in your organization.

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In the Azure cloud, organizing resources means that you are putting the right structure of accounts, subscriptions, management groups, and applying a consistent strategy of company-wide policies on those resources. This way you’ll always know who the owner of a given subscription is, and how it is configured.

Key lessons for organizing resources in your cloud:

  1. Avoid multiple hierarchies in a single organization. Keep it simple.
  2. Use a single identity source (if possible). If someone tells you there are limitations in Azure AD and you need multiple tenants to handle your Azure, challenge them!
  3. Determine the owner of the hierarchy and policies in your organization. Be it your cloud team or Center of Excellence – you need someone to keep them under control.
  4. Specify how you classify subscriptions and resources into different types of environments (PROD, DEV, TEST). Different rules apply to them and you want to keep them separate.
  5. Integrate the cloud resource management process with your ITSM (if you have one in place), but don’t let this step slow you down.

No time to read? Watch the video instead!

Step 3. Prepare your environment for your resources

Once you start to onboard the resources into your organization’s cloud, you don’t want to figure out, on the fly, how to connect them to the network, how to control the traffic between them, how to provide the basic services like a DNS, time service or backup. You want to be prepared beforehand.

Key lessons for preparation of your environment to onboard your resources:

  1. Invest in the proper design and creation of a “landing zone” – it will pay off. We see many organizations struggle to do it at a later stage, trying to bring order to the existing chaos.
  2. Standardize basic environment setups. Use templates, prepare designs for common workloads. You will need it.
  3. Rethink how you manage access and roles in your cloud environment. It might turn out that the process doesn’t have to follow the on-premises model. Use RBAC to implement it in a standardized way (for common roles).
  4. Network is difficult. Think about how to make it right, involve your network people.
  5. Cloud network traffic might cost you money. It is different than on-premises. Understand your cloud cost model and make it right to avoid costly surprises.
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Step 4. Implement DevOps practices

People think that cost savings in the cloud come from cheaper resources. It’s not true. The resources might actually cost you MORE, but you can save a lot on operations and automation.

To operate and automate your cloud correctly, you need DevOps. Bring it up board early on. Implement a proper process to manage the cloud as a code, and to deploy your solutions reliably on the cloud.

Once you have DevOps in place, you can move to different areas, optimize your costs with FinOps, implement data model operations and security practices.

Speaking of security – I cannot stress enough how important it is, especially right now, when we are seeing a spike in cybersecurity attacks on organizations. Adding security to the DevOps creates a DevSecOps process, where security is a part of your cloud management process, deployments, it is automated and enforced on the workloads which are going into the cloud.

Key lessons for implementing DevOps practices:

  1. Don’t treat DevOps as a technical CI/CD solution. It is a way to communicate about the product or result of delivery.
  2. Invest in automation. Early! It will pay off.
  3. Don’t forget about security as it will hunt you down later. Sort it out early and it will benefit you in the long run.
  4. The CI/CD infrastructure is a CRITICAL part of your environment. If it breaks – you lose the benefits of automation, but what’s more important is the SECURITY aspect. This infrastructure holds the keys to your kingdom in many cases. Be sure to guard it well.

Step 5. Understand your cloud cost model

The biggest difference in the cloud (versus on-premises) is that everything you are using, every service or resource is increasing your cloud bill. You need to get to know what is affecting your cloud bill to avoid getting surprised by the high cloud costs.

We can help you with your cloud costs for free. Click to get started.

Key lessons when it comes to cloud cost management:

  1. Define your cloud cost accounting model as part of your governance. Even if you treat it as a single bucket now, soon you will have to be able to allocate costs to specific projects.
  2. Keep things simple. You can always build upon them later. Start with simple resource tagging, then think if you need anything more advanced.
  3. Do not rely on people or tools doing the tagging. Make it part of your automation and use Azure policies to enforce it.
  4. Understand the cost model of your cloud and update your knowledge at least every quarter. It will pay off, in most cases, in direct cost savings.
  5. Cloud cost optimization is a constant process. Do not treat it as a one-time job. Make architecture and cost review part of your cloud maintenance process.

And here they are! 5 steps to make your cloud migration project plan successful – see the summary below.

5 steps for successful cloud migration project plan infographics

5 steps for successful cloud migration project plan (click to view full-size)

Cloud migration project – additional tips

Cloud is about the change, the change on the technology side, but more about the change on the organization side. What do you need to CHANGE in your organization to make your cloud migration project plan successful?

Focus on users’ needs.

It sounds obvious, but make sure that you know for whom you are doing your cloud deployment and what problem it needs to address. Understanding your user means you can better apply a cloud solution.

Rethink your approach to procurement and budgeting.

Cloud is about fast iterations. So, instead of having a year-long project, you might have four projects for three months, and then you need to budget every quarter for changing projects in the cloud.

Learn how to use and work with an open-source.

Open source and the cloud come together. Learn what kinds of licenses you can accept, what does it mean that the cloud open-source project is good for you and how to manage its security. You will have to live with open source for years to come. It is time to learn it.

Adopt DevOps as a practice.

It is not about automating your deployment pipelines. It is about the practice of working together on the common short backlog of the items to be delivered, building it, delivering to the cloud as a single process. Involve different people in this process. DevOps is the way for you to make most of your cloud deployment.

Do not focus on avoiding vendor lock-in

You should not design your architecture to avoid vendor lock-in. Instead, you should actually benefit from the solutions and services the vendor puts in front of you.

Rather than trying to avoid vendor lock-in, make sure that your architecture is ready for the rapid changes.

Create an architecture ready for iterations and changes

Why? Because you will have to change it a lot. It might come with a change of business requirements; it might be because your cloud vendor will introduce new services. Make sure that you know how to iterate on their architecture quickly.

Do not treat your cloud as another data center. Be wise. Use the cloud to maximize your benefits.

Everything evolves

Your organization will evolve. Your knowledge of the cloud will evolve. Your solutions will have to evolve. Make sure that you are ready for that.

In the past, your IT department was there for the IT expertise. Then there was another part of the organization, which was there for business expertise. Right now, you are working together, and you are becoming a technology-enabled business. It is very important for you to adapt and to become an IT organization, supporting the business needs.

This change will affect a lot in our industry. It will affect the organizations, how they are built, how they operate. Some providers will go out of business. There will be new cloud providers emerging, and it will affect the careers, yours, your team’s, because you will be building new skills and onboarding new tasks.

Any questions?

Familiar with the above lessons? Or are they new to you? Is there anything, in particular, you are struggling with right now?

Comment below, which of these areas is most interesting for you and where you struggle the most. What do you need for it:

  • Specific tools?
  • Proven case studies and tactics for a specific industry?
  • Knowledge exchange with people in a similar industry and positions?
  • More resources in a form of links and documents?
  • …something else?

What is THE QUESTION that keeps you awake in the context of those topics?

I’m here, waiting for your answer.

Key takeaways

  1. The clear purpose of your project, implementation of cloud management and DevOps practices, preparing your environment for your resources, and understanding the cloud cost model are the KEY points of the successful cloud migration project plan.
  2. Keep in mind the possibility of ongoing evaluation and optimization of cloud costs. It is in your best interest to follow the changing services and their costs in the cloud.
  3. You have to be aware of changes in your organization. Focus on users’ needs, reconsidering your approach to procurement and budgeting, working with an open-source and DevOps practice are inevitable in a cloud migration project plan.
  4. Make sure you are ready for the evolution of your organization, solutions, and your knowledge of the cloud.

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