The Financial Times’ recent special report The Cloud included an excellent article by Nicholas Fearn, How cloud automation is changing IT: repair, replicate and correct. It covered various perspectives on cloud automation and focused on the benefits that online greeting card specialist Moonpig has enjoyed.
According to Moonpig’s chief technology officer, Peter Donlon, the business has cut the development time for new features from ‘several months’ to ‘a few weeks’. By automating certain cloud processes, the business has enabled changes to happen incrementally and far more frequently. This reduces the risk associated with each release and creates a positive ripple effect.
“We have significantly reduced the chance of any bad releases, negating the need to do things like rollbacks, increasing the productivity of our engineers.”Peter Donlon, CTO, Moonpig
Moonpig has transitioned from a handful of releases per month to several hundred. It’s an impressive achievement that may seem like an impossible goal for organisations just starting out on their cloud journey. But with a considered approach to cloud adoption, it is perfectly attainable.
We believe three simple steps can help any organisation that’s migrating to the cloud lay foundations for sophisticated cloud-based automation which delivers tangible business benefits.
Three steps to better cloud migration
1. Understand your ‘why’
If you’re migrating from an on-premises environment to the cloud, make sure there’s a good, clearly defined rationale for the move. It’s important to make sure all stakeholders have a shared understanding of why the migration is happening and what the goals are.
Potential benefits of cloud adoption range from reduced total cost of ownership (TCO) to improvements in employee productivity, operational resilience and business agility. Consider what the priorities are for your organisation and what ‘good’ will look like. This will help shape decisions along the cloud adoption journey, as well as impacting the ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ of migration.
Check out Colin Barker’s blog on five common mistakes that skew cloud migration TCO estimates.
2. Begin from where you are
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to cloud migration. Every organisation making this transition has its own technology landscape and (probably) technical debt to contend with. That’s why it’s so important to figure out your cloud readiness status before you get started in earnest.
A few months back I wrote about how you can achieve a better migration using AWS’ Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF). Evaluating different parts of the organisation in relation to the six CAF perspectives (business, people, governance, platform, security and operations) reveals any gaps in existing skills, processes and capabilities which might hinder success in the cloud. The best migratory path for your organisation will depend on where you’re starting from and what you want to achieve. You need to gather enough information to determine the scope of the migration without falling into the trap of analysis-paralysis.
3. Start small, but make it count
While there are no predetermined roadmaps for cloud adoption, there are frameworks to guide progress. The AWS Well-Architected Framework offers best practice guidance which can be interpreted according to your organisational goals and circumstances. Consulting frameworks like this enables more informed decision making and helps ensure cloud adoption doesn’t put the organisation at risk related to wider factors such as security and cost control.
The secret is to start small, identifying pilot workloads that are good candidates for the early phases of cloud migration. As these workloads are moved, new learnings will emerge to address any unanswered questions about how the new environment may impact performance. This enables incremental improvement of the plan for migrating to the cloud. As knowledge accumulates, and confidence grows, mass migration becomes more predictable and manageable. Ensuring these initial workloads quickly derive tangible value from the cloud also helps reinforce the business case for the organisation.
The cloud is multifaceted and everchanging
Everyone talks about ‘the cloud’ as if it’s a single, cohesive entity. In fact, it’s an everchanging collection of services and technologies. Its nature is different for every organisation that embraces it, and the best way to migrate is dependent on where you’re starting from and what you want to achieve.
To return to the FT article, Richard Smith, Oracle’s senior vice-president for technology in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says: “Many companies have already started moving parts of their business to the cloud. By automating much of this they will accelerate their digital transformation. It boosts efficiency and allows for better management of business operations.”
We couldn’t agree more. And by following the simple cloud migration steps outlined here, any organisation can go on to achieve business benefits on par with those of Moonpig.