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Everyone on side: how to build confidence during your cloud migration project

Geoff Barlow

Cloud Architect

For many businesses, running a cloud migration project is a daunting prospect, whether that be to a private or public cloud setting. Regardless of the reason for the migration there is going to be significant change in the organisation.

Key areas such as how IT resources will be managed, monitored and consumed, changes in approach when it comes to risk and security or simply the fact the customer is going to be reliant on someone else for its critical systems, can trigger mild panic.

For all these reasons the most important aspect of a migration project is confidence building. Whether your "customer" is the wider business, or you are running a migration project for a different organisation, you are going to need to sell confidence in abundance to ensure a successful migration. I would argue it trumps everything else in terms of priority.

There are several ways you can build confidence in your cloud migration project:

 

1. Keep your stakeholders and end-users informed 

Information and education is a key part of confidence building. Activities such as running workshops with key stakeholders, providing training, producing accurate documentation, or the project team simply being available to answer queries, are invaluable.

This is an ongoing process throughout the migration as you have to appreciate the customer is probably not going to remember a demo, or the new service request process, that was explained in week one whilst they are mid-way through an aggressive migration schedule.

It’s likely that someone senior within the business has put their neck on the line for the migration to occur, so ensuring this person has clear and regular updates will mean they are more likely to fight your corner if the going gets tough. Some of the most successful deliveries we have seen included live migration tracking stats on TVs around the head office or daily PowerBI reports delivered up to the senior management team showing progress.

 

2. Assess everything and plan in as much detail as you can

The migration team and customer will feel significantly more confident if they fully understand the source environment, the migration process and the target state. Building a detailed map of the current environment will help formulate interdependencies which can then be used for post migration testing.

It sounds simple, but a lack of understanding about the platform will mean surprises during a cutover, normally bad ones. What better way to boost confidence than by using this assessment information to create detailed migration run books for each application where everyone understands how the app is put together, how it is being moved and how it can be rolled back? Again, if you're being sponsored by someone in the business, this assessment process will give them a lot of confidence that you've done your homework. 

 

3. Get some face time (the non-Apple kind) into your schedule

Speaking from a service provider perspective, getting the solutions architects, service delivery staff and technical engineers from both businesses together on a regular basis, before and during migration activities, will massively help build confidence.

When you can establish these relationships pairings you will find that blips (and there will always be blips!) can be discussed a lot more easily, as it’s not just the other side of a screen you're talking to.

If you're running a migration internally this could entail getting friendly with your application owners, service desk users or other department heads you are about to request some downtime from. People are a lot more likely to trust someone they have met in person, so use this to your advantage.

 

4. Test everything, test it regularly and make sure the customer is testing as well

Whether it be migration scripts, run book actions, virtual machine failovers or even just testing that conference bridges work, there is no such thing as enough testing.

After any test make sure you introduce feedback loops and review why things failed and what was a success. You might have used the migration method many times before but remember, you're potentially dealing with people who only see that their critical application is about to get taken down. So rather than rely on trust, use evidence of testing and repetition to drive confidence up.

We regularly uncover issues during failover tests and this is fantastic! Problems discovered during testing are good as it helps to reinforce that the process was worthwhile and means there is time to resolve and test again before it really matters.

 

5. Start with an easy win

If you can demonstrate a key application can be migrated simply and quickly, that is going to do a lot for ongoing confidence during a migration project. Don’t pick your monolithic shoestring application or the 20 year old server in the cupboard as your first migration target.

Choose something small but significant that will give everyone some reassurance that its rinse and repeat from there on. The process should have been tested fully by this point, but getting a production service over the line demonstrates a milestone and should be celebrated.

Don’t get too excited though, as now you've proven to everyone how smooth the process is, it’s about to get a lot busier….

Here at Node4, we help customers at various stages of their digital transformation journeys with their cloud migration projects.

Whether you’re looking to modernise a small application or trying to plan an entire data centre migration, we have a range of solutions (as well as custom combinations) to suit your needs. Take a look at the options.

 

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