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TechnologyJul 31, 2020

Cloud Adoption Pitfalls to Avoid Part 3: Complexity, Dependencies, and Competing Priorities

JW Walton and Brittany Wadsworth

Migrating your organization to the cloud can present many challenges. But we’ll help you ensure a successful cloud adoption while facing a high degree of complexity, a web of application dependencies, and competing priorities within an organization.

This is the third of a five-part series focused on cloud adoption and common pitfalls organizations experience in this journey. In part one, we discussed as-is lift-and-shift to the cloud and how it can bloat cost. In part two, we discussed how designing around the first workload and the ease of click to provision can lead to painful consequences.

the challenges

One of the most challenging aspects of adopting cloud technologies isn’t deciding to move to the cloud or actually migrating workloads to the cloud, it is managing and aligning teams on cloud adoption strategies, cloud usage, and migration efforts. Moving to the cloud should not just be an infrastructure and network endeavor; all teams across IT and the business should have a voice and understand how the management of their systems, workloads, and applications can and will change.

missed expectations and misaligned priorities

When the competing priorities of departments, teams, and functional silos are not considered and integrated into planning, this often leads to misaligned visions on what the organization’s goals are in adopting cloud technologies. If this prioritization and alignment is not clearly articulated to technical and business stakeholders at the start of a cloud adoption process, organizations often end up with very different and disjointed expectations. They may also end up with environments that are hard to manage and fail to deliver on the stated goals.

As Adrian discussed in the previous blog post, cloud governance can help from a technology standpoint, but technical constraints can lead to frustration and confusion for teams. This is especially true if they don’t understand the larger goals for cloud adoption and they also need to prioritize their goals for the business in competition with cloud migrations.

planning for a journey instead of a race

In addition to managing expectations, another common pitfall we see is teams attempting to cram their entire cloud migration into the same project. Migrating applications and workloads into the cloud takes time to understand dependencies of the application, limitations of systems, and the bandwidth of IT personnel. Cloud adoption should be a journey rather than a race. The journey should start with the creation of a plan for overall policies and controls and a guide for individual teams to use as they start to plan their journey. This means that teams must work together to identify dependencies, prioritize systems, and be willing to change and adapt as the environment is migrated into the cloud.

missing dependencies and application topology

Dependency mapping and an accurate understanding of network and application topology is critical in cloud adoption scenarios. Without these items, a cloud environment may be over- or under-provisioned when it comes to network capabilities which may lead to out of control costs or a cloud environment that is so complex that it is hard to manage or worse, simply does not work. If legacy systems (relying on out of date software or platforms) are involved, it is critical to understand what limitations exist and what additional steps need to be taken to ensure application resiliency and reliability requirements are met.

how to avoid the pitfalls

So how do we work toward a successful cloud adoption and avoid the pitfalls mentioned above? Through our experience partnering with clients to move workloads to the cloud, we have noticed the following trends of successful cloud adoption projects:

executive support and shared vision

Executive buy in and adoption of a shared vision across teams for cloud adoption is a critical component of a successful cloud migration. This vision should be crafted with input from key stakeholders across teams, ratified by executive leadership, and communicated at the start of cloud migration projects in clear, concise language. This vision should define priorities including how migration efforts will integrate with other business objectives and outline key goals and outcomes for cloud adoption. It should highlight what the cloud will bring to the organization as well as individual teams to foster buy in and end goals that people will want to work toward. Another benefit of executive buy in and shared goals is that it reduces the “why, when, how, and who” questions that will inevitably be asked as priorities shift.

change management

Transformation initiatives always involve people, process, and technology. One of the most common mistakes organizations make is to focus on technology and process and forget about the people. IT teams can execute a technically flawless cloud adoption and/or cloud migration, but if users and middle managers are not properly engaged and prepared for the change, then the effort is often still deemed a failure by the organization.

Some organizations already have a playbook for large changes that include utilizing change advocates as first responders, announcements on the company portal, live and virtual Q&A, virtual training, and targeted email communications. Other organizations don’t have experience with large change initiatives or don’t yet have the tools or expertise to execute a sophisticated organizational change management program. In these cases, Credera partners with our clients by supplementing our technology experts with management consultants versed in organizational change management practices. Our management consultants work shoulder to shoulder with executive leadership, human resources, and line of business leaders to ensure that all stakeholders feel like they’ve had a voice in the process and their expectations are managed. Technical and management consultants also work together to conduct training for infrastructure, operations, and service desk team members prior to the changes to ensure the IT team can maintain and troubleshoot systems and respond effectively to service desk requests.

mapping dependencies

Application and system dependencies should be identified and documented prior to a cloud migration. Using tools such as Movere and Azure Migrate, organizations can identify and visualize what systems are communicating with one another or have critical dependencies on one another. It’s rare for support teams or product owners to have the complete picture of everything that interacts with their systems or applications, so they are often surprised to find undocumented or unknown dependencies during this critical mapping exercise.

Documenting these dependencies prior to migrating applications to the cloud will lessen the chance that workloads will experience more downtime or service degradation than necessary during migration. These processes also help build the backlog and migration wave plan that determines which systems will migrate first or together. This should also take some of the politics out of migration planning as it provides technical reasons for migration order and timing.

people, process… and technology

Cloud adoptions are a complex undertaking but as we’ve seen above, managing people, process, and technology changes can help streamline the adoption process. Communication and an in-depth understanding of the organization’s IT environment will bolster the success and limit the pain points of moving to the cloud. By following the trends mentioned above, organizations have a greater chance of a successful cloud migration that does not add an unbearable burden on IT personnel. These efforts will result in a modern cloud environment that enhances application performance and agility while making administration and management of the cloud sustainable. In the next blog post in this series, we will discuss how to avoid over-provisioning, data sprawl, and the best way to understand cloud costs to avoid runaway costs.

Do you need help planning your cloud adoption strategy or implementing cloud governance in your existing cloud environment? Credera has experience helping organizations across a variety of industries migrate, secure, and modernize their cloud workloads. Please feel free to reach out to us at findoutmore@credera.com.

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