While at VMworld, you may have gotten your hands on a new book that was recently launched titled, "Preparing for Your Migration to the Cloud," written by LogicMonitor founder, Steve Francis. Developed specifically for IT operations teams, it offers a step-by-step guide for businesses planning to migrate or actively migrating to the cloud, with chapters documenting lessons learned from cloud migration contributed by leaders at Orange Business Services, Q2, Lewan Technology, Long View Systems, and SPS Commerce. Readers of the book can also learn insights and tips from IT Operations leaders including cost management tips and pitfalls to avoid. To learn more, VMblog spoke with Steve Francis about cloud migration and his new book.
Steve Francis: That's a great question. Often the cloud is considered to be the obvious next step of any organization's IT systems development, but we don't always talk about why. The truth is, organizations really do have a lot to gain from migrating to the cloud. One of the cloud's top advantages is that with a cloud infrastructure, organizations get access to the best equipment available and the latest software platforms - on demand, and as needed. This provides the tools product teams and developers need, in order to roll out better products more efficiently. We call this operational agility. Once in the cloud other benefits quickly rise to the surface in a sort of "snowball effect." With the added efficiencies provided by a cloud platform, organizations can spend time applying a more strategic focus on the business giving them an edge over competitors.
VMblog: What are some of the challenges organizations face when migrating to the cloud and how would you suggest they avoid some of these?
Francis: I want to be realistic here, migrating to the cloud is not always as easy as it sounds. It is complex and there are a lot of potential pitfalls, but with the right amount of planning and some foresight, these can be avoided, and in the end, it will all be worth it. The biggest challenge I see is the lack of cloud expertise within organizations. In fact, studies have found that the lack of knowledge of how the cloud works can result in loss of revenue, stifled creativity, and falling behind competitors. For example, one thing I hear a lot from companies is the notion that the cloud has unlimited resources and is infinitely scalable. What many don't realize is that cloud providers have limits on the number of machines allowed under a service agreement at a given time. Provisioning failures. when these limits are surpassed. can make this a very expensive lesson that companies often experience and is directly related to the fact that the company's engineers weren't experienced with the cloud.
Finding the right people who know how to use this incredible resource and best take advantage of it is much harder to do then organizations realize. The biggest piece of advice we can give to organizations moving to the cloud is to foster a learning mindset within your team. Invest in your workforce and train them to understand and take advantage of the cloud. New technology will always be on the horizon and the cloud is no exception, you must stay on top of it.
VMblog: Reports show that cost saving is a top reason companies want to migrate to the cloud, yet costs often rise after they do so, can you explain why?
Francis: It's true that the biggest motivation for moving to the cloud is usually its cost-cutting potential. But it doesn't always work out that way. Instead, costs often rise. Studies have shown that the ease of access to technology and lower costs of implementation associated with cloud services drive companies to consume more of it. This can easily lead to wasted cloud resources and increased cloud spending.
While there are some potential cost savings from moving to the cloud, many companies eventually come to realize that the benefits, such as operational agility that I mentioned before, make a convincing case for the cloud, even if it means accepting higher infrastructure costs. In turn, the benefits of the cloud ultimately make economic sense, as companies can develop apps faster, deploy them quicker, and bring in more revenue with less of the roadblocks presented by traditional technologies and processes.VMblog: Do you have any recommended steps for companies ready to migrate to the cloud?
Francis: In my experience, if a cloud strategy is not built collaboratively from the ground up with buy-in from both engineers and the executive level it won't turn out the way everyone envisions. Now, for the nuts and bolts of how to migrate, I've developed seven steps for implementing a successful migration to the cloud. To see a more detailed description of each step you can go here. Here are the seven steps:
- Identify desired outcomes for moving to the cloud. Before you can hope to succeed at something, you need a goal. What is it that you are trying to achieve? Be as specific as possible.
- Classify candidates for the cloud. You need to decide which applications or workloads are the best candidates for the cloud. Which migrations will help you meet your stated outcomes from Step 1?
- Define deployment model criteria. What's the best type of cloud for each workload? Figure it out now, before the move, to avoid costly mistakes.
- Devise an iterative, agile process for transformation. Now it's time to look internally. How can you organize your teams so that they effectively mirror agile software development methodologies during the migration?
- Get buy-in to the plan. This is where your top-down or bottom-up strategy has to prove that you've got the support you need throughout the organization for a successful migration.
- Start simply and prioritize learning over Return on Investment (ROI). You'll hear advice to "go for the project with the biggest bang for the buck," or the highest ROI. No. Pick the project that is relatively risk-free, and, most important, from which you'll learn the most.
- Rinse and repeat. Success breeds success. After you've triumphed with one work‐load or application, go onto the next. And the next.
VMblog: In your book, you talk about three major benefits of the cloud: operational agility, strategic focus, and cost savings. Why did you decide to focus on those three?
Francis: These three benefits really tell the story behind cloud computing and why it is so effective. Operational agility is the core benefit provided by the cloud, and based on efficiencies gained from operational agility, companies are able to take the time to apply a more strategic focus which ultimately paves the way for long-term cost savings. The cloud is an enabling technology and these three features really demonstrate how migration to the cloud empowers organizations to take big steps forward in the evolution and development of their IT systems.
VMblog: As you were researching and writing the book, was there anything that surprised you?
Francis: The biggest surprise was the cost to companies of not taking a strategic look at their initiatives. The cloud forces a change in mindset, in that most things not only can be done programmatically, but they have to be, because of the dynamic nature of cloud resources. But companies can realize a lot of the benefits of the cloud, even while still running on their own infrastructure. They can adopt automation tools to provision VMs; manage configurations; automate the monitoring. And if they do this, their cloud migrations become so much simpler - because they're not only changing less of their toolset at the time of the migration, they are able to effectively compare before/after the migration. They'll be thinking strategically about the cloud - which really just means ‘automation of the datacenter'. And if they do so, they will have a conversation about their toolsets that can span their organization, and they won't end up with different cloud providers, different configuration providers, and different monitoring systems spread across their enterprise in different departments. Get that unified buy in early - you won't know everything about the cloud still, but you can still get some of the benefits of the automated datacenter, and it will make the migration much smoother.
VMblog: How can readers get their hands on the book?
Francis: You can find the full book here at: https://www.logicmonitor.com/resource/preparing-migration-cloud/
Steve is the Founder and Chief Evangelist at LogicMonitor. As Chief Evangelist Steve is responsible for building LogicMonitor's brand as a leading global infrastructure software vendor. Steve is an established IT industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. His vast IT experience stretches from setting up the first customer BGP peering with MCI to giving talks on Kubernetes. Prior to founding LogicMonitor, Steve was responsible for the operations of a diverse group of organizations including National Geographic, the University of California, Citrix Online, and Valueclick. Steve's favorite pastimes include stand up paddleboarding, jiu jitsu, and biking.