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How CIOs can use enterprise architecture to guide and de-risk cloud migration journeys

How CIOs can use enterprise architecture to guide and de-risk cloud migration journeys

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Migrating to the cloud as part of an organisation’s Digital Transformation journey has become the norm in the modern world, but doing it safely and successfully is crucial. Michael D’Onofrio, CEO, Orbus Software, discusses how to achieve a successful migration to the cloud and why building a detailed integration architecture from the ground up – taking all systems and technologies into account – is key.

Moving digital infrastructure to the cloud has become an overwhelming imperative for businesses globally. As we continue to experience a large-scale shift to remote working, leveraging modern cloud solutions has been critical to enable this transition, while also offering greater benefits in areas such as maintenance, upgrades and subscription-based pricing.

With this transition in full swing, over two-thirds of CIOs now rank migrating to and expanding their cloud presence as the top IT spending driver in 2021. This is alongside Gartner’s estimation that 45% of all IT spending in 2024 will go towards cloud-based solutions. However, CIOs are still met with transformation barriers, due to how difficult these projects are to execute and how the upfront costs can easily exceed the gains without close collaboration with their cloud vendors.

Ultimately, an effective cloud migration must be fast, low cost and with minimal risk to data integrity and security. Achieving this requires careful planning, clear knowledge of the current and target states, and effective governance – something that Enterprise Architecture (EA) teams and strategic and technology roadmapping solutions can offer. As an example, Enterprise Architecture provides the insights to define the current state of the technology landscape, providing a starting point from which all other plans can emerge. Likewise, an integration architecture offered by EA prevents the unravelling of interconnected systems – a common risk when moving to the cloud.

It’s a risky business (not done right)

What’s clear is that the costs of adopting cloud solutions can easily exceed the gains if not managed correctly. It’s a key risk for businesses and is joined by a variety of risky companions as there are many aspects to consider when migrating applications, data and infrastructure. These processes don’t operate in a vacuum: they are not siloed and their interconnected nature means that any disruption to data flows between them must be avoided. This means that when moving from an on-premise solution to the cloud, the risks are high and costs can spiral out of control; CIOs often remark on how difficult such projects are and how the costs can soar.

Achieving this smooth data flow is even more pivotal in this day and age of ‘always on’ businesses. The modern enterprise is delicately designed, relying on carefully built and rigorously maintained integrations between applications. Even small tweaks to the architecture landscape will send ripples flowing throughout the system, disrupting normal operations and necessitating hundreds – if not thousands – of implementation and development hours to implement. ‘Taking a breather’ is out of the question. All stakeholders, from customers to employees, expect ‘always-on’ businesses. Much will depend on the type of migration: Gartner defines and utilises the ‘five Rs’ – Rehost, Refactor, Revise, Rebuild, or Replace – to encompass the different types. A rehost is relatively simple, but having to refactor or rebuild systems can mean much greater costs.

Even after passing through smooth data transitions, swerving any disruptions and keeping costs under control, more risks are lurking. These come in the form of bugs and security flaws. Here, it’s very much ‘test, or suffer the consequences’. Regardless of the migration method, it is inevitable that issues will arise if cloud services are not rigorously tested beforehand. Companies face the choice of pouring resources into extensive testing, or risking these bugs and security flaws that will take up more development resources and endanger smooth operations. The better a migration is performed, the less testing should be required.

All of these risks should be considered even before initiating the process.

The starting point

When embarking on any cloud migration project, determining the first steps in an ever complex operational landscape is daunting for even the most experienced CIOs. Achieving a successful migration to the cloud requires careful planning, clear knowledge of the current and target state, and effective governance. Without it, migration planning stalls and the jump from legacy technology to a cloud-first solution appears ever greater.

Ensuring a move to the cloud is completed correctly is vital. It is estimated that a single hour of cloud downtime costs enterprises anywhere from US$1 million to over US$5 million – no easy figure when up against tight budgets and perfectly balanced finances.             

Enterprise Architecture teams can support cloud migrations by completing the careful planning and due diligence needed for applications and data to be transitioned smoothly. As modern enterprises run operations that are increasingly complex, an effective cloud migration can therefore be achieved as part of a well managed Digital Transformation programme.

Roadmapping is key                        

Enterprise Architecture teams have many critical capabilities including technology roadmapping – an essential methodology to assess how applications or datasets connect to the organisation. When planning a migration to the cloud, knowing the interlinks between operations, tools and processes is understandably vital for success. Technology roadmapping, in short, offers an organisation the opportunity to fully determine its current technology landscape – a starting point from which all other plans and technologies can develop.

With cloud migration programmes, every CIO must walk before they run. Regardless of their own experiences and knowledge to date, building a detailed integration architecture from the ground up – taking all systems and technologies into account – is the only way to ensure that it all doesn’t fall apart when moving to the cloud. Even without a planned migration to the cloud in the near future, building the capability of Enterprise Architecture teams to underpin all operations is a failsafe action that should be undertaken.

A roadmap to success

In all, the smartest CIOs can always confidently detail where their organisation is right now, and clearly determine where they want it to be and the path to get there. Leveraging Enterprise Architecture techniques and technology roadmapping to plan a ‘target state’ will help to fully consider what needs migrating and how. By simplifying and mapping set criteria against each operational aspect of the business, the modern CIO will be ready to execute their Digital Transformation programmes with the confidence of knowing they are in a safe pair of hands.     

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