Cloud Migration Success Factor: Refocus Internal IT Staff

By Flux7 Labs
July 21, 2015



Planning how the skills of the traditional, on-premise focused IT staff will be reapplied to add value to the business is a critical success factor for enterprises moving to the cloud, and a top issue in our AWS migration consulting practice.

Enterprises are in a state of flux when it comes to public cloud implementation plans. Among a multitude of strategy and technology decisions regarding one of their most valuable assets, their people, can make or break the inevitable progression toward a shift from on-premise.

To draw a summertime comparison to the current state of cloud-based versus traditional infrastructure, imagine your local swimming pool around 9 o’clock in the morning. A few dedicated lap swimmers are busy getting their morning routine done, but the majority isn’t quite ready to jump into that cold water – preferring to just dip a toe, a hand, or a foot in to check things out.

So it goes with most enterprises when it comes to their public cloud implementation plans. At the end of 2014, in the pursuit of agile infrastructure, most had moved at least one business component to cloud-based hosting, but the vast majority of their workloads still remain in a traditional infrastructure.

You can read more about strategies for large scale migrations in our paper

The Plight of Traditional IT Ops

All indications are that within a five-year span the equation will flip dramatically as digital technology continues to set the pace at which the world does business. 

An often-overlooked, but critical barrier for many organizations with the opportunity to move to an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) model is understanding how the skills of its IT staff will be reapplied once said transition is completed. 

IT operations departments have been placed under tremendous pressure by the demands of digital business, and the transition from physical infrastructure can come with an unhealthy dose of job uncertainty. 

IT professionals usually come in two sizes – those who are experts on hardware and those who are experts on software. This means a transition from on-premise infrastructure to cloud platforms – or from one cloud system to another – can carry with them a significant learning curve, as cloud architecture design must include concepts from both domains.

However, while the move might be a bit of a challenge, the long-term look doesn’t have to be.

Automation and Best Practices for Agility Without Staff Augmentation

Recently, our AWS migration consultants were in contact with a Fortune 100 organization which was considering a complete transition of its infrastructure to the cloud, one that didn’t just involve the physical movement, but also a number of other challenges and management issues that such an endeavor would involve.

In addition to being a big company, this organization is doing the type of forward thinking that involves an Internet of Things (IoT) strategy which will require more rigorous best practices, as well as  flexibility as time moves on and new innovations and opportunities crop up.

The question we heard in many of our talks was the fear that significant staff augmentation would need to occur to enable the cloud infrastructure team to scale. Strength in numbers, right? What if the company needed to increase its number of cloud infrastructure experts by 20? Or 40?

Our response?

“If that needs to happen, we’re doing it wrong.”

While we’ll handle the architecture of your transition to the cloud, think of us more as the mechanic upgrading your car and helping it move toward autonomous driving, rather than its new driver. While we may be suping up the engine and increasing fuel efficiency, we’re going to hand the keys back to you just as soon as you’re ready to take them.

Our philosophy is to work with your team to build the cloud infrastructure you want, and then help you manage it, or step away and let you take over, depending on your objectives.

In our current build mode, we’re providing solutions to help customers move workloads and applications to the cloud at their own pace. We’re building the tools customers can use to recreate that same architecture later as they invest wholesale in cloud-based infrastructure.

We also provide our customers with one-click disaster recovery and environment creation solutions; meaning you don’t have to wait around for a third-party to get you back up and running. You can do it yourself, often with the simple push of a button.

Knowledge Transfer During Migrations

Enterprises are wise to treat the question of refocusing their IT staff from on-premise to cloud infrastructure with seriousness. The shift to the cloud requires a new way of thinking and knowledge which can come only from experience and which remains in short supply.

Ensuring a knowledge transfer process as part of your cloud migration strategy is essential to avoiding the churn and lost productivity that staff augmentation can bring and to ensuring best practices are continued.

For some organizations, it makes sense to start with a single app, like a CRM (read an example here), giving their team a chance to get comfortable with new technology in a focused way.

Update: Flux7 has been recognized as official AWS Migration Consultants. Read more about our AWS migration services and case studies here.

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