AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Navigating the Cloud Migration Bubble: Turning Your Bubble into a Blip

There is no doubt that the cloud has revolutionized how businesses operate, offering unparalleled scalability, flexibility, and innovation capability. However, amid the excitement of embracing the cloud, organizations often encounter a phenomenon known as the migration bubble. This bubble represents the initial surge of costs, complexities, and challenges that can temporarily disrupt transitions to the cloud. But fear not; there is an opportunity to transform this bubble into a mere blip on your cloud migration journey.

In this blog, I will explore effective strategies to shorten the bubble duration, reduce or offset your costs, and deliver value faster.

Shorten the Duration

It may seem obvious, but shortening the duration of cloud migration is one of the most powerful ways to overcome the migration bubble. Plan to move as quickly as possible through the costly period of managing your new cloud environment while continuing to run on-premises—but do so thoughtfully and deliberately. I suggest the following approach:

Clearly Communicate the “Why”
Clearly communicating the vision and purpose behind the cloud migration is essential to enlisting everyone in the transformation. I cannot tell you how many times I have spoken with AWS customers who are unclear why they are making a change or have failed to broadly communicate that reason to their organizations. Explain why the transformation is necessary, how it aligns with your organization’s strategic objectives, and the potential benefits it can bring to individuals and the collective. When people understand the transformation’s purpose and envision the future state, they become more invested in the journey and are motivated to overcome potential challenges—all things key to expediting your transformation. Knowing the “why” also creates guardrails for your journey; it helps everyone in your organization evaluate current and newly proposed approaches by asking, “Is this furthering our objective to deliver the ‘why?’” If an approach does not further objectives, workers should be empowered to question it and consider alternatives. This is key to not only moving swiftly but ensuring you actually deliver on the “why.”

Create a Sense of Urgency
Setting firm deadlines creates a sense of urgency and importance around the transformation. It conveys that change is not just a vague, distant goal but a tangible and time-bound objective.  A deadline compels individuals and teams to prioritize their efforts, make timely decisions, and take action. The sense of urgency generated by a deadline helps overcome complacency and ensures that the transformation remains a top priority for everyone involved. Like communicating the “why,” creating a sense of urgency creates additional guardrails by constraining employees to activities that achieve the objective within the goal timeline.

Empower Everyone
A successful cloud transformation requires the active participation and commitment of every individual within your organization. By enlisting everyone as a part of the transformation process, you foster a sense of ownership, collaboration, and alignment toward shared goals. You also bring in a diverse range of thinking and experience that drives innovation, personalization, and success. By enlisting everyone, you get their help in the transformation when speed and scale matter.

Empowering everyone to take ownership and action is crucial to making it all work. When I talk to organizations, I often advise them to mind relying solely on the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) to make decisions. As a leader, you cannot be everywhere; you do not know everything, and you cannot make every decision. Operating as a solo force introduces delays by making people wait for meetings where the decisions can be made. Enlisting everyone as change agents and empowering them to take ownership of the transformation is crucial. I dive deeper into how to create accountability and empowerment in your organization in my blog Two-Pizza Teams Are Just the Start, Part 1: Accountability and Empowerment Are Key to High-Performing Agile Organizations.

Train Your Team as Fast as Possible
I wish I had trained my teams earlier in my cloud migration. In my experience, training is a key differentiator between those who flourish and quickly unlock the value of the cloud vs. those who struggle or receive only marginal benefits. By providing formal training early in the process, you ensure your employees are well-prepared to handle challenges and can swiftly solve problems during the transformation. AWS has an extensive series of training and certification programs and tools. I encourage you to build them into your cloud migration plan, but I also encourage you to make sure your teams have active projects to work on where they can apply those newly learned skills; otherwise, they will go stale.

Accelerate your Cloud Migration with AWS MAP
I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP). MAP offers a comprehensive and proven framework to accelerate your cloud migration journey. It provides you with a wide range of tools and resources, tailored training approaches, and access to the expertise of AWS Partners. Additionally, MAP offers financial incentives to alleviate migration costs, enabling you to achieve your migration goals efficiently.

Streamline Migration with Collaborative Partnerships
Collaborating with experienced cloud migration partners is a game changer for your migration process. These partners bring invaluable expertise, best practices, and specialized tools that navigate the complexities of migration efficiently. By leveraging their knowledge and experience, you minimize risks, accelerate the timeline, and increase your chances of success.

Ensure Alignment and Support from Security and Compliance Teams
Make sure to enlist the support and alignment of your security and compliance teams early in the migration. Doing so will prevent them from rightfully halting your progress and delaying your transformation while they work through myriad issues and concerns.

Reduce and Offset Costs

Migrating to the cloud brings many benefits to an organization. The cloud allows you to conduct rapid experiments without dealing with the large consequences of failure; it also allows you to scale winning ideas quickly and leverage new and innovative technologies to drive value for your organization. But the cloud also changes many traditional cost and licensing models, and you need to gain a clear understanding of them. Migrating to the cloud frees some existing assets you can use to offset some migration costs. I recommend that companies focus on three areas:

Assess Current License Requirements
When migrating your infrastructure, assess your current software licensing agreements and understand the specific licensing requirements of your on-premises setup. This evaluation will enable you to identify which licenses can be smoothly transitioned to the cloud and which ones may need to be reevaluated.

As you evaluate your current licenses, consider which ones may become obsolete or could be replaced by more cost-effective alternatives in the cloud. This is an opportunity to optimize your licensing portfolio and eliminate redundant or underutilized licenses.

Reach out to your software vendors and discuss your migration plans. Inquire about any licensing options or cloud-based alternatives they offer. Some vendors may have specialized licensing models designed for cloud deployments.

Utilize Data Center Buybacks and Divestment
When migrating to the cloud, organizations often have existing data center assets that will no longer be needed. By selling or repurposing these assets, it is possible to recover a portion of the initial investment. These funds can be used to offset the expenses associated with the cloud migration bubble. Make sure to capitalize on opportunities to eliminate or reduce your maintenance and operational costs for your existing data centers by migrating out of them and into the cloud.

Unleash the Hidden Value of IP Address Buybacks
During the cloud migration process, organizations often overlook the value of IP address buybacks. IP addresses hold inherent value, particularly in industries where specific IP ranges are in high demand. By selling unused IP addresses, you can monetize some of your intellectual property assets, offset migration costs, and generate additional revenue.

Provide Immediate Value

You can overcome the migration bubble by seeking quick wins that provide immediate value for your organization and emotional wins that help your team maintain its momentum on the transformation journey. To accomplish this, focus on:

Optimizing the Timeline through Workload Prioritization
To maximize your migration timeline, prioritize workloads based on factors such as business value, complexity, and dependencies. Focus on migrating workloads that offer significant benefits or have lower complexity. This approach allows you to achieve early successes, gain momentum, and build stakeholder confidence. Balancing migration and modernization efforts ensures a smooth and efficient transition.

Driving Business Value
While migration challenges may arise, make sure you achieve business returns rather than just move infrastructure. It is too easy to get caught up in counting the workloads that have been migrated, lose focus on the “why,” and fail to deliver actual business value. Make sure to align your cloud initiatives with key business objectives and communicate tangible benefits to stakeholders. Emphasize how cloud adoption improves scalability, productivity, collaboration, and time-to-market. Highlighting strategic advantages and delivered value will help overcome resistance, instill confidence, and garner stakeholder support.

Advance Through the Migration Bubble

Companies are often afraid to start migrating because they fear a migration bubble. But if they use strategies like the ones I describe, they can turn that bubble into a mere blip.

Tom Godden

Tom Godden

Tom Godden is an Enterprise Strategist and Evangelist at Amazon Web Services (AWS). Prior to AWS, Tom was the Chief Information Officer for Foundation Medicine where he helped build the world's leading, FDA regulated, cancer genomics diagnostic, research, and patient outcomes platform to improve outcomes and inform next-generation precision medicine. Previously, Tom held multiple senior technology leadership roles at Wolters Kluwer in Alphen aan den Rijn Netherlands and has over 17 years in the healthcare and life sciences industry. Tom has a Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University.