Six Key Steps to Assess Your Cloud Readiness

June 25, 2020 | by Anjana Ramesh | Posted In Cloud, cloud migration

For organizations looking to migrate to the cloud, pre-migration planning can be as critical as the implementation work itself. Cloud readiness assessment is an essential first step that can provide a solid footing before moving forward with plans. A cloud readiness assessment is a process where you examine your applications and data to determine if they can be moved to the cloud with minimal impact on operational continuity. The assessment will help you gain a good grasp of what you should do to ensure a seamless cloud migration. In this blog, we discuss six essential steps you should execute to assess your cloud readiness.

Identify the business objectives for your migration to the cloud

Before you can devise your cloud migration strategy, it is imperative to understand why you want to move to the cloud. If you do not have a crystal clear answer, then it’s like throwing darts in the dark. The most common business objectives for migrating to the cloud can include:

  • Avoiding maintenance costs that come with data centers
  • Achieving increased scalability
  • Improving resiliency with better failover capabilities
  • Increasing remote collaboration

Another point to remember is to gain consensus about the business objectives from the entire team to ensure that the purpose is clear to everyone. Once you understand the business rationale behind switching to the cloud, you will be able to determine what to move to the cloud. Furthermore, there are a lot of other decisions to make in your migration journey such as choosing the right cloud service provider, picking the right migration strategy, opting for the best deployment model, and so on. Only if you have well-defined and realistic goals, you will be able to make the right decisions along the way.

Assess the potential of your team and identify the skill gaps

The next important step is to understand what your in-house IT team is capable of. To do so, you need to find out the answers to the following questions:

  • Does your team have the required skills to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud?
  • Does your team have prior experience in cloud migration?
  • Are they equipped with the necessary migration tools and technologies?
  • Are they fully available to execute cloud migration or are there competing priorities?

Once you have the answers to the questions above, it’s essential to fill the skill and resource gaps immediately. For instance, if you have identified the shortcomings of your IT team’s knowledge base, you can probably set up a training program to educate them or opt for a strategic partner who can help your team with the end-to-end execution of the migration. As the skills and resources are the prerequisites for executing cloud migration, it is ideal to address these gaps before you can take a step forward in your migration process.

Scrutinize your current IT infrastructure

This step takes the forefront of your cloud readiness assessment as it helps you determine the feasibility of your cloud migration initiative. It involves examining the applications that you want to move to the cloud as well as gathering sufficient information on your storage, network, data collection, operating environment, and on-premise hardware. You will need to understand a host of things that include, but are not limited to:

  • The purpose of the applications
  • The volume of usage and the number of users
  • The consumption level of resources (hardware, network, storage, etc.)
  • The costs associated with the resources
  • The technologies used (database servers, frameworks, software libraries, IT management tools, etc.)
  • The integration capabilities and limitations of the applications
  • How easily can the applications be modified
  • The networkdata, and application dependencies

With this knowledge, you will have a better understanding of the complexity of your applications and the underlying infrastructure that supports them. Consequently, you will be able to determine what applications, workloads, and data can be moved to the cloud, what can be retained in your on-premise infrastructure, and what can be eliminated. Furthermore, this will also help you decide if you can take a forklift (otherwise known as lift-and-shift) approach to move the applications to the cloud or if it requires re-architecting or replatforming to make them compatible with the new cloud environment.

Identify your security requirements

Security has always been the topmost concern for many organizations that are contemplating migrating to the cloud. Therefore, it is critical for any organization that shifts to the cloud to assess their current security mechanisms and identify what their security and compliance requirements are. This is to ensure that you choose the right cloud platform that adheres to all your needs. Some key items you should include in your security assessment checklist are:

  • Identity and access management
  • Compliance requirements
  • Disaster recovery mechanisms
  • Firewalls and endpoint security

Based on the assessment, you can evaluate the security offerings of your cloud service provider and compare them against your requirements. For example, organizations in specific sectors such as healthcare or insurance may need to opt for a more niche provider that can better support compliance requirements such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). As a part of this activity, you will also identify the potential vulnerabilities that the cloud infrastructure may pose, and plan ahead to address them to mitigate the associated risks.

Assess your operational readiness

Despite the advent of cutting-edge technologies and tools, cloud operations have always been a monumental challenge to deal with. In this step, you will determine how ready you are to manage the operational aspects of the cloud. This involves answering a bunch of questions that include:

  • Who will own the operations of the cloud-based applications and the systems?
  • What is the operational model for deployments and updates?
  • Have you gained consensus from all the stakeholders on the roles, responsibilities, and operational model?
  • Has your team envisioned and documented how operations will work in the cloud?
  • Have you implemented any operational best practices to accommodate running on the cloud?
  • Have you crafted the plan to address business continuity or disaster recovery in the cloud?

The answers to these questions will help you decide if your team can handle the post-migration cloud operations or if you need to leverage a cloud managed service provider to perform the tasks for your organization.

Determine the budget

Many organizations decide to move their applications to the cloud for compelling reasons such as scalability, performance, resiliency, cost-cutting, etc. However, when asked about the budget they typically say, “We haven’t determined our budget yet.” This is not a good practice. One of the biggest challenges in cloud migration is to determine the total costs associated with it and the timeline to complete the migration.

Without adequate planning, a cloud infrastructure can surpass the costs that your on-premise infrastructure incurs and also exceed the estimated timeline. Therefore, it is important to calculate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the cloud in order to deduce the required budget. Some of the key parameters to consider when calculating the TCO are:

  • The average resource unit size (resource can be a virtual server, storage unit, etc.)
  • The estimated growth rate of your workload
  • Infrastructure overhead and management requirements (maintenance, automation, training, etc.)
  • Usage per month
  • Security requirements

You can also use cloud cost calculators and estimation tools to deem the overall costs of the migration such as AWS Total Cost of Ownership CalculatorMicrosoft Azure Pricing Calculator, and Google Cloud Platform Pricing Calculator.

Summary

To conclude, cloud migration is not just a lift and shift operation. It is a challenging task that involves a lot of intricacies. Hence, it is important to evaluate your cloud readiness considering all possible contingencies in mind that include the ones discussed above. Many cloud providers offer tools and services that are designed to help organizations assess their cloud readiness. For instance, AWS has the Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool (CART) which is essentially a questionnaire that asks a total of sixteen questions to gauge the current state of your IT infrastructure and generates a downloadable report on your cloud readiness based on the factors discussed in this article and more.

Given the complexity of cloud readiness assessment, some organizations even offload the process to a strategic partner. Cloud readiness assessment not only helps you gain a complete understanding of your current IT infrastructure and the potential pitfalls that come with cloud migration but also enables you to scrupulously plan the subsequent steps to make the migration process successful.

Planning to assess your cloud readiness? We’re right here to help you!