Re-Architecting for the Cloud: Optimize Your Migration Strategy - InformationWeek
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5/21/2018
07:00 AM
J.R. Jasperson, Chief Architect, SendGrid
J.R. Jasperson, Chief Architect, SendGrid
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Re-Architecting for the Cloud: Optimize Your Migration Strategy

Re-architecting for the cloud is never easy, but following some key steps can result in an optimized strategy that positions your company for cloud migration success.

Deloitte Global estimates spending on IT-as-a-Service and similar cloud offerings will total $547 billion by the end of 2018. This should come as no surprise — the services offered by public clouds provide a myriad of compelling benefits for virtually all companies that rely on technology.

Yet these same alluring capabilities can also represent a daunting challenge for companies considering cloud migration. The public cloud offers an expansive set of tools that provide numerous ways to accomplish a given task, complete with both virtues and drawbacks.

Developing a clear migration strategy allows a company to drive alignment through all phases of cloud migration in an efficient and repeatable way, maximizing the business’s ROI. Conversely, without the benefits of these processes, it is remarkably easy for your cloud migration to go afoul, resulting in suboptimal outcomes or even outright failure of the initiative.

At SendGrid, we tackled our own cloud transformation journey by re-architecting and rewriting our platform from the ground up to be cloud-native on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Along the way, we learned some key lessons on how to assess, plan, and execute a major cloud migration. If your organization is considering migration to the public cloud, here are three crucial things to keep in mind during your journey that will result in a highly-optimized migration: 

Define Success for Your Organization

When kicking off your cloud migration and formulating your strategy, it’s important to establish what success looks like for your company. This starts with evaluating the cloud computing needs throughout all branches of your organization, and how the public cloud can help solve current bottlenecks or offer new capabilities for your organization. Define company-wide drivers and a set of desired outcomes for cloud migration. Having a clear idea of what you want to get out of a cloud migration will greatly inform the migration strategy you implement.

For us, re-architecting for the public cloud meant reconciling with the unique challenges associated with an incredibly high volume, multi-tenant SaaS email delivery platform, all while attempting to reduce operational costs and improve upon time-to-value, common benchmarks for most companies migrating to the cloud. Still, despite these end goals being almost universally agreed upon, it can be difficult to get all key stakeholders across your business to align on a set strategy and definition for cloud migration success. That’s where the next step comes into play.

Establish a Laser Focus for Goals

It is a virtual certainty that your company’s stakeholders will have different priorities and ideas on how to implement your migration strategy. For example, one stakeholder’s primary goal may be cost reduction, while another wants to prioritize improvements to performance.

While many of these drivers may be empirically measurable, the relative preference between them is fairly subjective. To convert these qualitative properties into quantifiable measures, a best practice is applying a weighted stack rank per stakeholder. Have each stakeholder rank their desired outcomes from top priority to least, and assign weighted values to each. From there, you can get an overall sense of which drivers are most pervasive throughout your company. It’s not a perfect approach, but it is tremendously useful for evaluating tradeoffs and coming to a general consensus that establishes the best business case for your company while satisfying the most stakeholders. 

Develop an Assessment Model

Once you’ve established a methodology that helped to transform these subjective and independent drivers into quantifiable goals, it’s time to address creating a solidified migration strategy. Applying the weighted criteria illustrated above, you can develop an assessment model to help squeeze out an effective migration strategy from all the fruits of your labor thus far.

The assessment model is the final step in optimizing your cloud migration strategy. This involves defining quantitative tiers, or a scaled points system, for your remaining drivers. Doing so will result in a grid known as the Assessment Model, which creates a multifaceted measuring stick upon which you can evaluate multiple drivers and their relative alignment to desired outcomes in a clear, consistent way. From there, you can extract an optimized migration strategy that offers the best path toward success on your journey to the public cloud.

An Optimized Migration Strategy

While the approach outlined above is imperfect, we found success employing it as a means of streamlining the decision-making process, establishing a consistent mechanism with which to evaluate potential migration strategies and, ultimately, aligning technology outcomes with desired business results. Re-architecting for the cloud is never a walk in the park, but following this approach can result in an optimized strategy that positions your company for cloud migration success.

J.R. Jasperson is Chief Architect at cloud-based email delivery company SendGrid.

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