How to migrate to the cloud with maximum impact

Leon van Heerden

An increasing number of financial services organisations are choosing to move their data capabilities from on-premises to the cloud. This migration, however, does not come without its challenges. 

That’s because cloud migration is about more than just “putting data into the cloud”. It’s also an opportunity for organisations to change not just where and how their data is stored, but also how they work with and manage it. However, as with all technological innovation, improvements are only worth making if they’re done right. 

We’ve talked about some of the challenges of cloud migration before. Today we want to set out how we help organisations to transfer their data to the cloud in a secure, low cost and simple manner, helping them to achieve maximum impact and value.


The importance of a plan 

Undertaking a cloud migration because it is an on-trend technology can lead to a lot of damage being done to an organisation’s data. Data can be degraded or, worse still, lost, if a migration is carried out in a hurry. As many organisations who had jumped on the data lake bandwagon but without really utilising that data will know. If the implementation and fostered actions of data technology are not combined with a clear strategy or supported by specific business use cases, then they have the potential to fall flat and be an extremely costly exercise. 

This might seem like an obvious initial statement, for why would an organisation invest substantial amounts into a cloud migration programme without having an action plan with requisite actions and desired goals? 

It is true, that while unlikely – the very need or pressing desire to migrate to the cloud can fog the reasons for doing so as there are likely to be a variety of agendas at play. An organisation with good intentions can also run into problems if a migration isn’t well planned. When it comes to cloud, we are often fooled by notions that the process will be an easy one. However, in reality, the transition will likely involve an upheaval of legacy systems and ushering in new processes, practices and governance. This is why it is so imperative that a clear data strategy is in place before cloud migration is considered. A data strategy should give the firm an understanding of what it wants to achieve by moving data to the cloud. 

For this reason, a roadmap for cloud migration must begin with a simple question: Why?


Start with why

Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk argues that the reason for doing something – the “why” – is always the key driver behind achieving a successful outcome. His theory can be applied to many fields, including sales (why a consumer buys a product), personal goals (why I go for a run) or professional goals (why a company chooses to migrate its data to the cloud). 

While, on the face of it, the theory threatens to trivialise complex business actions and decisions, when pared back, it is quite clear that answering “why” must be fundamental when considering cloud adoption to avoid what is often referred to in the modern-day business context as ‘shiny object syndrome.’ 

When it comes to cloud migration, an organisation’s “why” usually falls into one of 3 categories: 

  1. Tactical Objectives: e.g. wanting to save costs with minimal disruption.
  2. Strategic Objectives: e.g. wanting to scale its operations.
  3. Transformational Objectives: e.g. wanting to democratise data and drive innovation. 

When an organisation identifies its objectives, better architectural decisions are made, implementation is easier and objectives can act as an anchor for the project scope. Some firms find they are motivated by a combination of all three of these objectives – and that’s fine. All we want to do is find what is driving the organisation towards data migration on the cloud. 


Turning your “why” into a plan 

Once an organisation has defined why it wants to migrate to the cloud, we map out what data capability will be moved and what it will look like in the cloud. 

It is also important to consider the on-cloud vs. on-prem debate when discussing your data storage and capability needs as the two approaches are very different and fulfil distinct roles. It’s not a simple case of replicating on-premise functionality in the cloud. Cloud-based build, design and functionality must be created from scratch. Expecting the cloud to simply offer a scalable solution that matches on-premise is a fast way to data failure. 

Hence, putting the “why” into action means building a cloud data migration solution from scratch, carrying out a fundamental redesign of an organisation’s approach to data storage. 


Putting the plan into action 

Here are 3 priorities we focus on when we’re putting an organisation’s plan into action: 


  • Choose the necessary components to migrate to the cloud

Cloud migration doesn’t mean moving everything. A key part of putting the plan into action is identifying the data items that help an organisation to achieve its objectives. This analysis and identification are critical. 


  • Prioritise the order of components to be migrated to the cloud

What we don’t do is move everything to the cloud in one go. We move in an ordered fashion, which means delivering a logical order of components to the cloud whilst focusing on keeping the migration as simple as possible.


  • Establish technical success criteria in connection to business outcome

A key part of executing a move to the cloud is learning what outcome a migration is to be measured against. We ask, what constitutes success? For example, if the objective of the migration involves reducing costs, we document current costs and then know that we have delivered a successful migration if cloud costs are less than the current costs.


A migration to suit your needs

Finding an organisation’s why and building a plan upon that foundation is how we carry out a successful migration to the cloud. By meeting an organisation’s objectives, we aim to deliver maximum value quickly. 

Ultimately, a successful migration to the cloud occurs because of this objective-based strategy being followed up with first-rate tactical implementation and quality architecture building. That’s how we win value for our clients – and it’s the reason why it all starts with why. 


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