Why cloud migrations fail…

The divide increases and we don’t even see it. First off, enterprises are blithely moving towards cloud computing, directed by those on the mountain already, pointing over the mountain to the valley that lies there. Cloud computing saves the day the newspaper trumpets.

It, cloud migrations, are moving slowly. The pundits now over the mountain looking back wondering why is cloud moving so slow? Well, sadly all those cloud computing images of Icebergs were wrong. Cloud isn’t an Iceberg showing only a small portion of capabilities with the vast majority hidden by the cold dark waters of the ocean the iceberg floats in (funny image of an iceberg in a small farm pond comes to mind).

People use the iceberg metaphor all the time. Forgetting that cloud isn’t an iceberg and change isn’t merely switching the direction of a switch. There is so much more to moving. The thing that worries me the most, is do companies understand the reality of what they are doing. Yes, they are passing some level of control to another organization, and that is problematic. How much of your governance and IT operations is embedded in that system you run today. I call that process GovOps. In the reality of what GovOps means for the organization it is only making sure your migration plan doesn’t move you from bad to worse (or to borrow from The Hobbit, out of the frying pan and into the fire).

Cloud migrations aren’t moving from internal IT to an Iceberg. They are taking everything you have today and moving it one foot to the left. Easy right? I mean today we are managing, patching and operating everything. So having someone else take over some of the patching and some of the operations means we will save 20, 30 or even 40 % of what we do without even doing anything other than move, right?

No, it sadly doesn’t work that way. IT as we call it, or informational technology, is the technology arm that most companies, agencies, and groups have. They tend to be seen as a cost basis organization, so they often are forced, or have to contribute to the business by cutting costs. Cloud computing is often sold as a cost-cutting system.

It isn’t.

Sadly you won’t save money moving your applications to the cloud. In fact, you simply push the problems you have today off to tomorrow. The reality of cloud computing is that you are destined to fail either in the migration or in saving money.

It is a fact of cloud that I talk about in my book Operating Beyond your Borders. That first off if you don’t understand what you are in flight with, you won’t save the money you are planning to on the back end. Certainly, there is money to be saved. There is value to be gotten from improving the what, and how of your IT infrastructure. In fact with, or without, cloud computing there is money to be found in your IT department. The problem with finding money in IT, is it won’t hit your organization today, probably won’t hit you tomorrow, but it will hit you.

The new reality of IT is the birth of IoT. Cyber Physical Systems as defined by NIST, calling it more than IoT because we suddenly have devices connected to the internet, to the organization, and the user. Users are the driver and the change. What was your organizational boundary, isn’t anymore.

What we didn’t do in the process of moving from the reality of where IT was, to this new paradigm is clean out the closet (literally in many cases an IT closet). How many companies have help desks that are derided and poked? We have the tech, but our helpdesk is awful. How many companies can sit at a table and tell you ant is on every PC, phone and tablet inside their walls? How about all of the devices that connect to their networks? Can they? Should they?

Cloud migrations aren’t moving from the vast plains of grass to an Iceberg. They aren’t moving to a system with a closed end (Cloud service provider), an SLA and a dream. They are moving to a glacier. Yes, the glacier can take down a mighty hill, and form a huge lake but it doesn’t happen today. It doesn’t happen tomorrow, and by all means, it isn’t a great way to solve the problem of IT. The GovOps tree talks about the concept of what and why migrations fail. Most importantly it helps the organization map the overall structure of the tree itself. Healthy trees don’t fall in wind storms. They have good root systems (the enterprise application structure), good trunks (the traditional IT components of the network) that deliver to users regardless of where they are (leaves).

Good luck with your migration. Just remember it isn’t an iceberg you are in the process of migrating your IT infrastructure.

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Operating beyond your borders