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Strategies and Techniques for Moving an Organization Forward in Cloud Maturity

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1h 4m

Course Description

In this course, we will learn practical planning techniques for migrating business applications to public cloud services. 

Intended Audience

The course is suitable for anyone wanting to learn more about how public cloud services can be effective in business transformation.  

Learning Objectives

  • Identify the benefits of migrating to the cloud.
  • Describe the six common migration strategies used in cloud migrations. 
  • Explain the stages of the Cloud Transformation Maturity model, and identify where an organization might be in cloud maturity.
  • Implement a framework for assessing an organization's business and technical migration readiness.


I recommend completing the Cloud Computing for Business Professionals learning path as a pre-requisite. While this is a beginner level course, having a basic understanding of the concepts of Cloud Computing will help ensure you gain the most value from the content.

This Course Includes

In this course, we will learn hands-on strategies and techniques for migrating business applications to public cloud services. At the completion of this course, you will have a working perspective on the steps and processes required to build a migration business case and to implement a migration plan. You will also have an understanding of some of the best practices around migration planning and migration execution. 


If you have thoughts or suggestions for this course, please contact Cloud Academy at support@cloudacademy.com.


Once you have identified where you are on the adoption cycle, you can begin to implement a plan for enabling and moving your organization forward into the next stage of maturity. And so, next stage of business value. It's a common situation for a business to get stuck at one of the early stages. It was a situation I would see a lot with partners and with customer engagements when I worked at AWS. So we will discuss and build out an evaluation matrix to help identify and target what activities we can do to move us forward within each of these customer adoption phases. One of the key lessons I have from being involved in cloud migrations is getting a plan in place, is one thing, but getting everyone on board with that plan is quite another. It is often the hardest part, especially if, like me, you are a naturally shy person. You need to ensure that you find and connect with all of the stakeholders who are involved in the process and who may be impacted by a shift or migration to cloud services. A migration plan is nothing without it being an agreed plan. As the cloud ninja, you have to petition and win buy-in from your stakeholders for the migration plan to become a migration plan. But don't worry. I always surprised at how open and enthusiastic people got around this type of project. Just ensure you present the project from each stakeholder's perspective. Focus on how the project migration can benefit them in their role. So, for this reason, we need to temper our enthusiasm for the technology in these first stages of a cloud migration project. While we may all have our own views on tools and technology, and I'm sure we do, you will be more successful with any cloud migration if you can focus on the business and project requirements over the technology in these first stages. We can and should be provider-agnostic. We are focused on building rapport and creating momentum. So we need to maintain a high-level view of the tools and services available at this stage. So you will be able to quickly evaluate, influence, and ideally take a lead in building a bias for action. Moving forward and out from the project stage is often the hardest shift to make. This is where the majority of organizations seem to get stuck. They get a project started, but the opportunity to move it forward is held back by a lack of executive support, budget, or planning. The core component required to move forward is having the business case. The most useful tool in the business case is a proof of concept. Leveraging one or more pilots or proof-of-concept projects to test out cloud services on representative workloads is a really effective way to prove a design concept. The operations team leader ExpertisePlease.com did this by having three key conversations. First, he briefed the executive on the results of a cloud storage proof of concept. Second, he asked the executive for a 10K budget to run a formalized cloud project that would shift some archived images out of the ExpertisePlease.com data center into cloud storage. Third, he asked for permission to host a cloud readiness workshop to increase awareness and knowledge of cloud services within the ExpertisePlease.com wider team. Running a cloud readiness workshop can really help transform and progress cloud adoption. The workshop needs to be an interactive, educational experience where the team can clearly identify business drivers, objectives, and blockers. This format helps you build a cloud adoption roadmap to guide you through the next steps in your journey to the cloud. The sysops team lead also suggested that the exec and CEO attend a series of events run by cloud providers so they could gain a bit of understanding of the business benefits of a shift to the cloud. One of the outcomes of the cloud readiness workshop should be a business value matrix. In this matrix, we want to identify and document all the benefits that we will get from cloud services. They might be, tactical benefits, which would be cost management, prioritization of IT spending, and a system of allocating costs across a portfolio and getting more visibility into those costs. There will be also strategic values, like agility, time to market, having IT infrastructure as a service, and, most importantly, innovation. When we document any plan, we can focus on and prioritize some of these initiatives. With the ExpertisePlease.com plan, the team ran their cloud readiness workshop and they identified that, with cloud services, it would be possible to view specific IT operating costs and system performance data. That meant the business had more visibility into which components were costing what. And so the business will be able to react faster when an issue arises. The ExpertisePlease.com business is not getting this visibility and agility from their current data center solution. Cloud providers also enable allocation to specific business groups of specific applications in near realtime. So what is seen as another major benefit of the business is being able to implement new services and see the cost of those on a day-to-day basis. The last conversations that our sysops team lead had was with the procurement team. He discussed setting up trial cloud provider accounts like his team was currently using and discussed any issues that might arise in setting up and paying for cloud services going forward. This gave the procurement team time to set up the required processes and approvals. So financial and operational issues would not slow down any cloud migration project. The proof of concept is by far the most effective tool for getting executive approval. A proof of concept is a great way of showing that cloud services can do what they say they can do. Most public cloud providers provide support for getting started with a proof-of-concept project. Having the provider involved can really accelerate executive awareness and buy-in. AWS, for example, provides the migration jumpstart accelerator program, along with a number of support programs to provide the end-to-end knowledge transfer with actual workload migrations. You can find out more about these by the websites or attending any of the cloud provider events. As a partner manager, I was able to assist many AWS customers running proof-of-concepts. For more information on becoming an AWS partner or finding one, see the partner funding web page on the AWS website. Once we are in the foundation stages, we want to be looking to build toward establishing a cloud center of excellence within the business. This can become the hub of cloud migration activities and ideally should be built around a core team that will be responsible for defining policies and strategy and building knowledge transfer. Some of the key initiatives for the cloud center of excellence might be providing cloud training and knowledge sharing. It is a crucial success point for all-sized organizations. The organization can only move as fast as the knowledge of its team members. To move forward in the foundations stage, commit a training plan and set rewards and goals around achieving levels of certification or awareness. We can be providing support and guidance to business units who are looking to leverage cloud services in the business. Many teams will be interested but won't know where to start. It is important to provide blueprints, best practices, and expertise to help teams ramp up and quickly adopt cloud services. We can be creating and maintaining security standards. Security policy is a very important factor in any migration plan and subsequent project. Having security standards reduces risks to the business and saves a lot of time and effort. If there is a compliance goal on the horizon, managing and documenting security policies will be a requirement for any compliance audit. So implementing policy and process early should be a priority. We can't be creating and managing common architecture blueprints. This is a very important best practice to help an organization move forward quickly. There is often time lost in the foundations stage by duplicated effort. Two independent teams or individuals may be investing time learning how to do the same thing. The cloud center of excellence should be the go-to place for any cloud project, and a shared library is often also the easiest way to implement standards and best practices, infrastructure scripts, machine images, security policies and roles, all can be stored and made available as time-saving starter packs. We can be creating and managing a consolidated cloud services account, ideally with a consolidated account structure, which enables business units to have autonomy over account services within their corporate security and policy guideline. We need to learn and show people how to structure an account for consolidated billing. How we do that is beyond the scope of this lecture, but please see the recommended next steps for information on how to get started on this topic. So, the outputs we could have for ensuring we keep progressing through the foundations stage could be as follows. Having a clear transformation roadmap. The transformation roadmap establishes a plan, identifies resources, and provides details about migration activities. The roadmap is used to define the priority and process for achieving the goals set out by the cloud center of excellence, your steering committee or even the program lead. It's a must-have. Best practices for security and compliance architecture. A highly scalable best practice architecture design is creating something that supports all policy and regulator compliance requirements going forward. The sooner you have this in place, the better. And we need to have a strong value management plan. Value management determines and describes how you quantify value and change, impacts and improvements, and it identifies the areas where the project teams can and should focus. So how do we shift forward from the migration stage. The migration stage is where an organization has committed to using cloud services, and there is already a bias for action. During this stage, we will have the building blocks such as executive sponsorship, a governance model, and the operating tools in place for managing large-scale migrations. Now, if migration projects are already underway, then your organization is clearly in this stage. However, the migration stage is often where you'll find the most blockers to progress. There is a high level of risk as planning turns to action. Projects and programs can get delayed by unforeseen circumstances, budgets can overrun, and application designs can fail or not work out as expected. So there is a risk, confidence can start to drop at this point in the adoption journey. So our best approach in this stage is to work hard on prioritizing projects and program steps to minimize the risk of failure or impact to the overall success of the migration plan. So the best approach of this stage is try for small steps done often. If you can minimize the amount of scope in each of the steps you take, you reduce the risk of impacting the overall project by having one component fail. The sooner you can start to implement an agile way of working, where we're doing managed sprints and feeding back information from each sprint and informing the next one based on those outcomes, can start to improve your success points. There's a view checkpoints we can use to stop programs running over and causing problems here. Now, the first one is to ensure you have developed an effective and efficient migration strategy. I can't underline that enough. We need to implement a strategy that minimizes risk of project failures and maximizes the return on investment for the business. Most projects fail due to bad strategy and planning. So it's critical to classify, to add sequence, and have an appropriate migration plan for your targeted application workloads. Take small steps, do them often. That's one clear way to ensure success of your overall plan. Another major foul point is not having an agreed or robust migration process in place. So we may have a lot of top-down pressure to start achieving things very quickly, and execution processes need to be put together in a repeatable and sustainable way. So the selection and implementation of proven migration tools and methods is often a key success factor. So that can minimize the risk associated with migrating target application workloads. The more external resources you can include in your planning and architecture stage, the better. If it means bringing in vendors and partners, all the better because they're bringing best practices, they bring in knowledge, and they're gonna help you succeed. Not having the cloud environment set up correctly. So, if we're trying to set things up quickly and we haven't got the right account structure in place, or, for example, accounts doesn't know how to pay the bills, or there's some challenges along the way, those operational roadblocks can really slow down any overall migration plan. Try and leverage the existing tools and processes and to over-communicate any change that's required at the fiscal and financial layers. Pre-warn financial teams that you're going to be setting up a consolidated account, that it needs to be paid monthly, that you pay as you go rather than pay annually, all those things that may be new or unique or may cause blockers when we need to actually execute. Now, the other common one is just going all in. So there's a lot of enthusiasm from the executive just to get started and get in there. This only works effectively where you have top-down sponsorship of all of the components as well as the enthusiasm. So that's the training, it's the best practices, it's setting up the center of excellence, it's setting up security and blueprints, et cetera. All those things have to be done. If they're not, then there's just overwhelming pressure to do things, and if the structures and processes aren't in place already, then there's gonna be technical and project failures, which, of course, undermines morale, and suddenly, the whole project can start to spin out of control. So try small steps done often is a very, very good strategy. Rinse and repeat so that whatever we've done well we do again and we reuse resources as much as possible. And ensure that you do get that executive sponsorship. Ensure that the exec understands it's not just about saying, yes, let's go. You're gonna need resource support to make this program work. Okay, so that brings to a close our lecture on how we can move ourselves from stage to stage. Of course, every situation is unique. If you find yourself challenged and frustrated, then just go back to the basics on what we've covered here today because often there's small problems that manifest themselves later, and getting the basics right upfront can make every other decision easy. Okay, that concludes this lecture.

About the Author
Andrew Larkin
Head of Content
Learning Paths

Andrew is fanatical about helping business teams gain the maximum ROI possible from adopting, using, and optimizing Public Cloud Services. Having built  70+ Cloud Academy courses, Andrew has helped over 50,000 students master cloud computing by sharing the skills and experiences he gained during 20+  years leading digital teams in code and consulting. Before joining Cloud Academy, Andrew worked for AWS and for AWS technology partners Ooyala and Adobe.