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Cloud Migration - Anti Patterns

iamrahulus profile image Rahul Rahul ・4 min read

I have worked with all sorts of organizations - big and small - with different criticality of workloads in variety of business domains, assisting them in their digital transformation journey through cloud adoption. I can count with my one hand number of orgs that are serious about actually transforming the business. The key to success? Almost everywhere the common pattern I found was: 1. A clear vision and goal across organization, 2. communicated and driven by executive levels.

This is not to say that some of them fail even after being driven and sponsored by C-level. I have observed these 6 anti-patterns (Pretty much each one linking back to first point of lacking support) and why the adoption/migration on large scale fails:

Executive level support (lack of):

Enterprises where cloud is adopted at a business unit/developer/shadow IT levels cannot go far unless they have enterprise wide endorsed, fully funded and supported cloud strategy. I have worked in companies where even strategy was created by enterprise architects but never got fully endorsed and accepted by C-Level executive simply because they themselves are not on-board. There could be various reasons. Perhaps they are not familiar with the cloud computing benefits within their organization. Or they are too scared to continue and would rather maintain status quo of "keeping the lights on". They do not understand the increased risk of maintaining the status and not progressively adopting competitive business enablers. Within this kind of environment, the resulting outputs will be:

Unnecessary artefacts/waste creation:

Loads of documents and power points, unnecessary approval seeking activities with no ground results.

Employees with no to little authority:

Its a dreaded culture of fear where people are ready to blame others and being extremely fearful of their superiors. After all, the superiors will have a final say mostly without any logical reasoning.

Deluge of Vendors:

Vendors and consultants will get an opportunity to make some money here by executing "analysis" and put hours and hours of discussion and presentations with NO business values.

Any attempts to adopt cloud under this situation will fail miserably resulting in even more operational problems, vendor dependencies, technical debts.

Remedy for this is for executives to identify the gaps in fulfilling their business strategies and goals, have discussions with other C-level within the same or even other industries on how they are achieving the targets using tech, have discussion with cloud service providers of their choice (based on the independent research papers) on how their businesses can benefit from the cloud computing, map these benefits to their business objectives, analyze risk of funding the cloud migration program, analyze risk of not funding it. Finally, if they logically think that adopting cloud is the answer to their business problems, start full-fledged support of cloud migration. If not, just prevent the employees from launching or migrating any cloud related workloads.

Unchanged org structure:

Organization structure is based on the model that the enterprise operates. With an enterprise-wide cloud adoption strategy, comes with a new ways of interacting with technology. This, in effect, can and will transform the roles and responsibilities of most of the employees. If an enterprise does not re-structure/re-imagine a transformed structure and cultural aspect, the cloud adoption effort is all but doomed.

Delivery practices:

This anti-pattern is closely related to the point above. A "traditional" structure is hierarchical where business loses its message by the time it hits the developers with so called "requirements". Worse, support personnel have no clue what problem is the software solving and all they are concerned about is getting a "proper handover" from dev team, and keeping the lights on.

Cloud enablement means you first need to look at the structure, culture and delivery approaches. In order to become "cloud-native" and utilize cloud, you need to automate automate and automate. This will need some drastic cultural changes within the org if its still following the old model of business -> IT (cost center) -> Development -> Support.

Tech focus:

Too much technology focus and the purpose/business value is lost. Everything needs to be mapped to the organizational strategic objectives. If something not making sense, funding needs to be re-allocated. This links back to the delivery model and org structure where agile practices are encouraged and waste creation is reduced.

Technology should be adopted and governed at the enterprise level that directly generates business values. A tech strategy and roadmap needs to be available that links back to the org strategy, and communicated to each and every employee.

Cloud as a Data Centre:

Many organizations, due to lack of knowledge/skills/strategy/vendor support or other tech or non-tech constraints considers cloud as yet another data center. Consequently, their approach is mostly "Lift and Shift" of existing workloads or subscribing to infrastructure services with same old delivery and operating model.

Too much outsourcing:

If the organization cannot develop in-house skills and relies on outsourcing to develop its core competencies, then agility is lost. The key is to outsource any commodity while in-source the key business differentiators. The entire value proposition of cloud computing is that it eliminates undifferentiated heavy lifting. You can abstract away not only the infrastructure but also many technology platforms such as DevOps pipelines, storage, compute supporting several languages, servers and middleware, network. The more you abstract, the better chances there would be to innovate rapidly and fail fast. However, to do that, you need to identify the differentiating factors of your business, re-structure your org, change delivery model, train employees, need executive support .... you get the idea.

Thats most of my rambling .. Happy to hear what you think and whats your experience here.

Visit Dumpick and see how we manage to use the cloud infrastructure to quickly build a social mobile app.

Recommended Reading:
A Seat at the Table and related books by Mark Schwartz
Mark Schwartz blogs on Enterprise Strategies
AWS Cloud Adoption Framework
Azure Cloud Adoption Framework
GCP cloud adoption framework

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