Regardless of industry, moving to the cloud is part of digital transformation. Sooner or later, every company will do it. The questions are, when and how? You can’t just decide, “Ok, today we’re going to move everything to the cloud.”
Of course, no organization really does that. But at my company, Jade Global, we've seen many companies try to move to the cloud without adequate preparation. Without a plan in place that anticipates and provides methods and tools for addressing the inevitable challenges — and there are many — cloud migrations create more work and take more time.
As I often say to clients, “It’s the cloud, not heaven.” That means there are a lot of benefits in moving to the cloud, but there will also be many operational challenges.
There’s a right way to get there and a wrong way. The right way includes having clear expectations, a precise vision, specific return-on-investment (ROI) goals and a well-defined path to reach them.
Just like with big data, artificial intelligence, blockchain and many other technology trends, there's been a lot of hype about the cloud. It is so easy to get tons of benefits, everyone is told. So, it’s not surprising that people expect miracles from it.
But while the cloud is essential to running a modern business, moving to the cloud is no simple task. And when organizations don’t achieve the ROI they expected, they are quickly disillusioned. They discover that their ROI expectations were unrealistic and they underestimated the work required to manage the move from on-premise to the cloud.
Part of setting realistic expectations is understanding that moving to the cloud is not just a one-time activity. It’s a process, with steps that stretch into the future. Of course, it includes your business applications, but it also involves sizing, integration, technical architecture, operational readiness and change management.
Jade Global specializes in helping organizations that are invested in Oracle applications. But regardless of whether the scenario involves Oracle or not, I've seen firsthand just how important planning is for ensuring a successful cloud migration.
Our Cloud 360 methodology framework provides companies that are invested in Oracle applications with a practical path to the cloud, which stresses preparation and realistic expectations, so you can reap the benefits sooner and gain more improvements overall.
Cloud 360 begins with a robust assessment phase. Often customers hear “assessment” and they think "money out the window." But the amount of planning you do early on will return two times, three times, even four times the benefits you’ll gain without it. And this is true whatever environment you’re in.
In the remainder of this post, I’ll briefly go through what our assessment phases include and the reasons why. Subsequent posts will go more deeply into several of these topics.
As I said, moving to the cloud is usually not one big-bang operation. You may already be operating in a hybrid environment. And if you have a complete enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you need to look at multiple options for migration and that will drive the road map.
In road map services, we team with your organization to review your primary business needs, with a particular focus on the consolidation of business applications and the reduction of total cost of ownership. In the case of Oracle, for example, not all the products in Oracle Cloud are at the same level of maturity.
The road map will take into consideration your use of on-premise and cloud applications and your need for integration. In most cases, the road map will recommend a phased approach to cloud migration.
Business and IT users want to see things in action before committing. With our Cloud 360 framework, we work in partnership with Oracle to offer generic and custom demos that fit the migration scenario.
For example, not all cloud versions of on-premise applications are as full-featured as their on-premise counterparts, especially with large suites such as ERPs, supply chain management and financial management.
It’s important to test these applications in a proof-of-concept (PoC) to see if they will work within an ecosystem of partners and business processes. There may be performance issues, such as system latency. Or the data may require a lot of transformation before the new system can accommodate it. All these potential issues need to be explored and PoCs and demos are the best way to do it.
To reach your business goals and get the best ROI possible on your cloud investments, it’s very important to have the right technical architecture in place. The architecture provides a framework for applications, processes, integrations, customizations and reporting.
Reporting is a critical aspect of the architecture because reports can aid decision-making across strategic, technical and operational areas. These are the things that need to be thought through when developing the architecture.
This is where Dell Boomi makes an essential contribution. As you move to the cloud, it’s preferable to have a cloud-based integration platform. It doesn’t make sense to use an on-premise integration layer if your data source and target are in the cloud. With on-premise, your single point of failure then becomes your data center.
There are a lot of cultural changes required when you migrate to the cloud. Database managers, infrastructure and application admins, and business analysts need to learn new ways to do their jobs with the cloud. It’s important to recognize and confront this before it derails the migration initiative.
Change management is a very large component of operational readiness and in successfully achieving the migration project goals.
Security also takes on new dimensions in the cloud. In on-premise environments, people can have different levels of security. Likewise, in the cloud there are options for integrating security into applications, functions and data levels.
Most importantly, the cloud provides an opportunity to achieve cross-application single sign-on. Implementing Sarbanes-Oxley controls in the cloud is also an issue that demands attention.
All of these things must be considered from the operational readiness standpoint.
Unlike in on-premise environments, application mapping and sizing are significant aspects of moving to the cloud. Cloud vendors vary in the way they charge for use. So, you want to make sure your apps can economically scale with your business. The same holds true for platform-as-a-service functions and integrations. Again, this is a critical part of the assessment phase. Don’t leave on-premise without it!
Jade's Oracle Cloud 360 framework runs in a series of parallel tracks. Each track has a special purpose. When they’re completed, Jade Global produces an assessment report that details the components and activities required to meet your project, technology and business goals for the cloud migration.
Our framework includes a technical architecture diagram. It explains the gaps, considerations, dependencies and risks of the migration. The report provides an implementation roadmap and integration platform recommendations. And, very importantly, we specify the many transformation opportunities created by moving to the cloud.
So, when your CFO asks why you want to spend millions of dollars to move to the cloud, you’ll have a ready answer!