AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Cloud Migrations: Some Tips From the Accenture AWS Business Group

I get by with a little help from my friends. -The Beatles

Earlier this year, we (AWS) launched a program to help enterprises looking to migrate meaningful portions of their legacy IT portfolio to AWS. There are many elements to this program, which I will continue to describe in my upcoming posts, but few are as impactful as the partners that are helping our customers migrate faster. Today I’m delighted to host a post from Chris Wegmann, who leads the Accenture AWS Business Group, on what he’s seeing as his team helps enterprises migrate to AWS.

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Enterprise Cloud Migration: A View from the Trenches

By Chris Wegmann (chris.c.wegmann@accenture.com), Managing Director of the Accenture AWS Business Group

Enterprise-level public cloud migrations are becoming more and more commonplace, and its vendors more and more visible. Yet, despite all the work that’s been done in this area, there are lingering questions about the best way to achieve a seamless migration at scale and how to make the business case attractive.

Despite how obvious it may sound, our advice is to start from the finish line and work back. Look at your business goals, your targets — your most important outcomes, and then decide on what migration approach you want to take. Each business has unique objectives, and determining what they are represents the epitome of a more assured cloud journey.

For example, is your organization dealing with a physical challenge, such as exiting a data center that needs to be refreshed or a data center lease expiring? A technical debt issue, such as end of life on your OS or hardware? Or do you want to re-architect your applications completely, so that they gain greater elasticity and agility within and outside your organization? It’s clear that public cloud can be the catalyst that drives true business transformation. How you get there, however, will vary and evolve based on your business needs.

First Steps

Planning a transformation journey is complex. There is more than one way to migrate to the cloud and leverage cloud capabilities once there. Getting started and migrating to the cloud is a multistep process that can take different paths. But every path requires planning.

Because migrations are a complicated affair, the more you plan by charting the course, the more prepared you’ll be to navigate complexities along the way. Planning should not be confused with being agile. If you want to run your migration as an agile process, you still need to have a high-level plan for the migration.

You also do not need to make a dramatic move at first. Some companies are experimenting with cloud capabilities by moving one application at a time and seeing how these applications fare in the cloud. These companies are optimizing applications for cloud and unleashing new business value through new application development for cloud.

Whether it’s a wholesale lift-and-shift or the simple migration of a few business applications, after the planning process is complete (or, ideally asyou plan), it’s critical to ensure that you have buy-in and sponsorship from the top. Each organization is different, but high level support from your CIO, CEO, CFO and CTO — as well as the rest of the C-Suite and possibly your board — need to align with the business goals they hope to achieve by migrating to public cloud. And they must articulate these goals clearly and repeatedly — the “why we’re doing this” is as critical as the “what we’re doing” and “how we’re going to do it.”

The power of speed

When it comes to public cloud migrations, speed is of the essence. To migrate effectively, it’s incredibly important to adopt an agile approach. That entails, among other things:

  • Building seasoned, diverse leadership and management teams.
  • Prioritizing strategic decisions and speeding up the decision-making process.
  • Preparing business ecosystems to act quickly — including suppliers, customers and third-party partners.
  • Investing in data and analytics to run the business.
  • Thinking in terms of days, not weeks, months not years — what used to be acceptable waiting periods are no longer valid.
  • Learning to fail early and adjust accordingly.

Common missteps

What should you avoid when making a cloud migration? Perhaps the top challenge we’re seeing with our clients is making the migration a wholly internal exercise. Time after time, companies fall into the trap of believing they can go it alone, under the misguided principle that public cloud is too expensive, not secure — or both. They quickly learn the true complexity and cost of private cloud, and then turn their attention to a public cloud migration.

We’re also seeing fundamental FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) challenges, especially among middle managers who mistakenly believe their jobs are at risk. There is a persistent fallacy among IT managers that if they move to public cloud, instead of managing a data center, their job will largely entail writing code — or they will be looking for a new job.

In fact, moving to cloud frees them up to do more interesting, innovative work, ultimately adding more value to the entire business.

The final planning stages

As you approach your journey to public cloud migration and narrow down the final steps, there are a few key measures to keep in mind:

· Take a two-speed approach: Attempting to move your entire ERP system first, for example, might not be the best place to start and learn. Instead, go after low-hanging fruit, even applications that are already in production. Starting with a simple application allows people to see the value of what you’re doing more quickly, while still moving your broader migration strategy along.

· Invest upfront: A keen awareness of potential issues saves many headaches down the road. That’s why it’s wise to invest the time and resources upfront to ensure you have the right architecture in place. This helps you avoid having to come back and fix more complex — and costly — mistakes down the road.

· Depend on the experience of others: It’s also wise to rely on the expertise and acumen of people who’ve been down this road countless times. Carefully select a vendor with the experience to weed out the inessential and the wisdom to push you toward your goals — faster and more economically. Their knowledge and skill will help smooth the bumps, saving you time, costs and resources.

Acclimating to public cloud quickly is certainly no easy feat. But with the right partner, your business can be on the road to greater outcomes in relatively little time. Seek a partner who’s been in the trenches, a shepherd who understands how migration is done — one that takes a public cloud-first approach and recognizes that migration is a necessary step to toward digital business transformation.