The journey to the cloud: what led to it and how to successfully migrate to the cloud

the way to the cloud | Cloud Encyclopedia | ORBIT

Using the cloud is a common reality these days. For some time now I have been thinking about the experience of cloud projects and the journey one needs to take to be able to say "we have successfully migrated there". And this is what I came up with. 

Lukas Klášterský

Cloud perception and motivation to use it

Almost all of us have embarked on the journey to the cloud in our personal and professional lives. In the personal one, it's kind of unintentional, because with the advent of smartphones, most applications and services have been provided in a cloud-based way for 15 years. And we're not at all opposed to it, on the contrary, we're excited about it.

There has been and is cloud adoption in companies significantly slower. 10 years ago it was common to have "good reasons" not to go to the cloud:

  • We prefer to invest in our own IT.
  • Interesting technology, but we'll wait to see where the cloud goes.
  • We're not sure, it's too new and unexplored technology.
  • Security is an important issue, and it is not in our hands in the cloud.

Cloud technology was really new, so companies usually waited. A nice example of waiting is the introduction of First cloud regulation directive in 2017 from the European banking regulator EBA. Yes, this regulation came out 12 years after the first cloud was launched. What is piquant is that the first draft was written in 2006. At that time, only the most adventurous and less regulated organisations were venturing into the cloud.

Time and the steady development of the cloud by major providers Amazon, Microsoft and Google has gradually erased the distrust of companies. The cloud has ceased to be unknown and the label of "buzzword" has disappeared. In the last five years, companies can thus trace a positive change in thinking about the cloud. The argumentation already has more positive tones:

  • We should test the cloud and see how it works.
  • We deploy MS Teams/Slack, we have no other choice, they don't exist in on-premise.
  • Cloud automation options fit our CI/CD pipelinein the on-premise automation we will no longer automate.
  • We could use the cloud for these applications...
  • We have a group goal of deploying 30 % applications to the cloud within two years - how to do it?

Defining the cloud, the need for experimentation and surprising insights

Cloud can be defined in many different ways, I personally like the following definition.

"Cloud is a way of providing IT services based on simple principles: 

  • easy-to-consume services - can be easily started and stopped,
  • interconnected computing power - the entire ecosystem is fully automated,
  • provision of services via the network/internet - are available anywhere and anytime around the world,
  • transparent service catalogue - services are clearly defined and have clear price plans,
  • shared security between providers and users - varies according to the type of service."

You can read more about what cloud computing is here.

Playing and experimenting is an important element of any innovation process for all types of companies - it helps to find the right positioning of technology and use for "my" business.

Anyone who has thoughtfully experimented with the cloud or "just tried it out", there will be many surprising realizations (and we all went through them 😊):

  • It's similar to on-premise, but it behaves differently.
  • I can bring some practices to the cloud, but I really need to change something!
  • The cloud environment can be set up, but are my skills sufficient to avoid having to redo it several times and in a complicated way?!
  • The costs are transparently transparent, but a full wallet empties quickly.
  • The possibilities of automation are amazing, but how do you take advantage of them?
  • I was concerned about security, but there are too many security features - how do I actually use them effectively?

The cloud is in many ways different from on-premise IT and evokes similarly conflicting reactions/feelings from users as the following picture of a mythical animal.

It is this kind of knowledge, created by "touching" the cloud, that confirms to each of us that cloud adoption is a big change- bigger than any of us initially think.

Cloud and math: 1 + 1 = 3

The cloud is a big change and it takes a lot of respect and courage together to adopt it, especially for companies with a longer history in on-premise.

You must be asking: why? Because you have to prepare yourself to drive and operate two environments: on-premise and cloud, which must also be integrated. Anyone who attempts this knows that strange mathematics will come into play:

In the beginning, you clearly see only two sides of the cloud coin. Applications and infrastructure that will never you don't want to try to migrate to the cloud, and applications with infrastructure that clearly you see the point of using the cloud.

And suddenly you find that a third part appears between these two clearly demarcated sides. The applications and infrastructure where you're not sure, whether to cloud with them or not. Or rather, it is close to the cloud in some ways and far from it in others. The result is three areas that you need to consider separately when thinking about the cloud. And the pattern becomes clearer.

The journey to the cloud is not as easy as we would like to imagine. The easy path to the cloud is only afforded to companies just starting out or those with a short history. For them, the pattern is magically simple:

How to successfully migrate to the cloud?

The deployment of the cloud and its integration into the existing on-premise environment represents a significant change. Formula My IT = Cloud no + Cloud don't know + Cloud yes shows that you need to prepare very well and carefully for the journey to the cloud.

Experience from many projects  deployment of individual cloud services or the entire AWS or Microsoft Azure platform, show that if we want to successfully deploy and migrate to the cloud, we have to go through five steps:

  1. Strategies - why I want to go to the cloud, what I want to use it for, and how to deal with it,
  2. Roadmap - what I want to do in the cloud and the steps I need to take,
  3. Architecture - how I need to prepare my environment to evolve with migration and experience,
  4. Migration - how to migrate applications and what I need to prepare and test in advance,
  5. Operation - how I will monitor the environment, applications, security, cost and capacity.

When deploying a single application to the cloud, the overall cost can seem huge, and I agree with you. Most of the time it doesn't stay with one application. And it is those who have gone through the journey of migrating one application to the cloud who humbly return to the sequence of steps when deciding to migrate another application Strategy -> Roadmap -> Architecture -> Migration -> Operations precisely because the sequence of steps is important for such a big change.

If we want to make a successful migration to the cloud, we need to:

1) Cloud: Have respect, but experiment and get to know him

2) Realize the implications of the formula:  My IT = Cloud no + Cloud don't know + Cloud yes

3) Make way:  Strategy -> Roadmap -> Architecture -> Migration -> Operations

Only then can our journey to the cloud be sunlit...

About the author
Lukas Klášterský
Lukas Klášterský

Digital and Cloud Advisor Partner | LinkedIn

Lukáš is in the digital and cloud services industry, which deals with transforming IT environments to the cloud using a multi-speed approach. His main area of expertise is the adoption, implementation, management and transformation of IT environments and teams to AWS, Microsoft Azure, M365 in the areas of governance, finance, architecture, development, security and operations.