Cloud Migration: Navigating the 4Ps

DQI Bureau
New Update

According to Webopedia, cloud migration is ‘the process of transitioning all or part of a company's data, applications, and services from on-site premises behind the firewall to the cloud, where the information can be provided over the internet on an on-demand basis.' While this definition points in the right direction, it assumes that the organization will migrate everything (data, applications, and services) at once, from their internal premises to a public cloud provider. In layman's language it is like shifting homes. You need to keep 4Ps in mind for that: Platform, Process, People, and Price



Despite the fact that we all know that a company's ICT infrastructure, or a part of it, is moving to the cloud, there are actually different platforms to choose from-chiefly, private cloud, community cloud, hybrid cloud, and public cloud. Private clouds can be massive as described by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) in the Gartner Symposium. Emulating Amazon services, the RBS private cloud has some 300 virtual servers to support application developers soon expanding to 1,200. On the other side of the spectrum, we have a move to a public cloud provider, where we must choose from well-established tier-1 service providers such as Amazon, Google, Rackspace, Dell, or Microsoft, and web-hosting ISP which offer cloud provisioning, and the numbers of qualified candidates are hardly reduced in India. VMware, a leading virtualization provider, announced the addition of 40 public cloud providers in Bengaluru last year. Finally, the hybrid choice is simply deploying privately and elastically expanding the resources to a public infrastructure.



Companies can simply opt to migrate data storage or they can choose to do a full cloud migration involving all computational resources including servers and networking. On one hand, data migration is the simplest choice in cloud migration. It can be a good starting point for any organization as it does not require significant offline operations or costly downtime. However, it does not necessarily expose all the benefits of cloud computing such as the ability to dynamically expand/contract resources to adapt to workloads. On the other hand, full computational resources migration will involve data, computation, networking, and requires careful planning and multiple testing stages in order to avoid service disruption.

Timing is important from corporate perspective as there are a number of non-technological factors to consider. Companies may be under expansion (or contraction), competition forces can be changing, investment shifting, or consolidation happening. Additionally, the organization should identify how the applications and services involved will be hosted and subsequently affected. Careful planning will help to avoid surprises. It is therefore the key to pick the best time of the year to do the initial testing, and involve the right suite of applications within the organizations. Cloud enabled applications should behave like server based ones and extensive testing is never to be overlooked.



By our analogy, we have now defined the postcode, where furniture and goods belong to, and at what time of the year. Then, good advice and right help are, as always, key to success. Most companies often require external advice to deploy a correct migration process as internal IT departments are rarely self-sufficient to take all the factors into consideration. Nonetheless, many organizations are now considering the recruitment of full-time cloud-savvy professionals and develop cloud expertize. Personally, I prefer to have an army of movers to pack, unpack, and tide up all belongings in any house move. It is hardly pleasant to run your IT department' day-to-day operations whilst planning and executing a cloud migration.


Finally, after we have planned moving to the house of our dreams, there come the dreaded question ‘Can we afford it?' It is not unheard that IT projects go over budget and cloud migrations are hardly the exception. According to the Cloud Survey report by KPMG, a number of business surveyed expressed that cloud computing costs are higher than originally expected.

It should come as no surprise that contingency costs can be incurred, but that no financial department is willing to write a blank cheque to start cloud migration. Extensive study and careful analysis of costs must precede any tender process. If at all possible, only the right external suppliers should be invited to quote the provision of cloud migration services and infrastructure. If an open request for tender process is required (eg, most governments require this by law), it is important to explicitly state the evaluation criteria to request all suppliers to consider all costs. Hidden charges and lock-in clauses are always detrimental for any organization.

In summary, cloud migration needs careful preparation then only it can only help organizations to succeed in the competitive IT environment.