With 74% of Tech CFOs saying cloud computing will have the most measurable impact on their business in 2017, it is clear to see that organisations are increasingly realising the importance of cloud technology.
But amid an increase in cloud adoption, much uncertainty still exists regarding this process with organisations struggling to grasp a holistic view of cloud adoption success and how to enable this. It seems that the benefits of cloud adoption are preached everywhere, but the process to get there successfully and actually be enabled to reap those benefits is mostly neglected.
Cloud phobia is real, and in many instances, justified, as cloud adoption is neither simple nor without risk, and it is these uncertainties, coupled with the cost, that serve as the main hesitations towards a move to the cloud.
The problem with cloud adoption and application modernisation is that legacy systems are not always properly documented and the people originally involved in the setup may have moved on, which causes massive hesitations in moving. What will break? What is part of the system, running in the background that no one knows of? Are there connections to other applications? And with core systems, the fear of not being able to bring the system up into a proper working system also exists.
In addition to this, business disruptions in terms of time and resources also need to be considered as markets are increasingly competitive with some organisations fearing that the move could cause massive delays and impact time-to-market.
Conquering your cloud security fears requires information, preparation, and guidance as well as an understanding that moving to the cloud is about much more than just ‘moving to the cloud’ but requires a holistic digital transformation that will enable competitiveness and longevity for your organisation.
Most Prominent Cloud Adoption Hesitations
There are a number of concerns regarding data with data storage, security and access control being the three most prominent factors, and, owing to the introduction of legislation acts such as POPI, the ‘what’ and ‘where’ regarding data retention are critical considerations. Lastly, ownership rights are also a big concern and have resulted in closely inspecting the terms and conditions of cloud providers in different areas.
Compatibility / performance
The questions regarding ‘how to move all those legacy systems into the cloud?’ or ‘what to replace legacy systems with?’ can cause doubts as to whether it is possible or not. Generally, legacy systems that have been in place for a number of years with a lot of customisations in place, as well as additional modules, render a move to the cloud more complex. Therefore, concerns may arise as to whether some legacy systems can actually successfully be moved to the cloud and whether or not it will be as effective as before.
Luckily, compatibility is not usually a major risk for modern applications but one still needs to ensure that performance is not hindered. It is, therefore, critical to understand that the provisioning does take time and ensuring that your bandwidth does not impact your software is critical.
Organisations also hesitate to move to the cloud as they might feel that the costs of migration as well as cost savings are not clear and, therefore, do not want to take the risk of moving and not saving money. With a legacy system, it is easy to understand the hardware required and estimate the costs associated with those servers as IT staff and hosting space costs are very clear. With the cloud, however, the pay-as-you-use functionality may prove daunting to some organisations.
Replace or Migrate Legacy System?
Moving from Legacy Systems to a new system is normally a high risk, complex process but the benefits usually comprise; increase in efficiencies, cost savings, improved productivity and improved the user experience.
Some of the more important considerations are:
- Age of legacy system and impact on the business if the system went down.
- Cost analysis – understand the cost to maintain, cost to move and future costs of the new system. It is also core to understand any opportunity costs. If the legacy system had to go down, what would the financial and other risks be to the business?
- Current and future business needs – Keeping a system and building your business around it is not the correct answer as systems need to change and adjust as business needs change.
- Strategic planning and directions – Business owners need to set the vision and technology should serve as an enabler of that vision.
- Benefits and additional functionality that can come with replacing the system – Additional insights and data may far-outweigh the current system.
Most important considerations during a legacy upgrade
An important factor to note when it comes to cloud adoption and migration is that there are risks and, when approached it the wrong way, can result in significant losses of time and money. But this can all be prevented through planning, planning, and planning!
Businesses need to ensure that they take a strategic approach and make it a core business objective with clearly defined outcomes. IT must have a roadmap around technology; which legacy system to keep, which ones to migrate and what to replace. The plan needs to cover maintenance, impact on people, security risk, impact on business, data security etc.
It also involves the continuous assessment of internal and external environments, coupled with an understanding of whether the systems meet current and future needs; systems must allow a business to operate as needed and provide a competitive advantage.
Clear objectives/outcomes with stakeholder buy-in will allow any team to remain focused and deliver the upgrade as expected. Good project governance and communication is crucial to ensure a successful cloud migration. From product owner to shareholder – everyone needs to understand where the project is tracking, what risks have been recognised, and what possible scope changes have been identified with early and constant communication to all stakeholders to ensure alignment.
To avoid miscommunication and alignment between stakeholders, an acceptance criterion should be compiled during the planning phase of a project. Often underestimated, is the impact that cloud adoption will have on a business; there is a risk of downtime for staff and clients and revenue streams can also be impacted. Costs evolve beyond the cost of the system and extend to staff’s time, training and change control costs, stressing the importance of implementing proper planning to enable adoption and change management.
When will I reap the benefits of cloud migration?
Benefits will come over a phased approached. Once the migration has successfully occurred, the cost benefits will be seen immediately, but the efficiencies it creates in the organisation, however, will take time.
User adoption and change management processes will influence the degree of efficiency enabled by cloud adoption. But as people learn the system and new way of working the efficiencies will start to realise. Coupled with cost savings, cloud adoption is a definite must for any organisation. But it is not a leap to cloud adoption, it’s a journey.