Authored by: Michael Bathon, Vice President of Cloud Services, Rimini Street, Inc.
If your competition is enhancing their security and disaster recovery posture, while reducing their infrastructure per unit costs, you risk setting yourself up for failure down the road. Overhauling your IT infrastructure is daunting to be sure — anytime you make a large investment in an area that touches just about every corner of the business, the implications and tension can be high.
When it comes to making the migration to the cloud, you don't have to be 100% “all in” from the get-go. Cloud migration should come only after you build a business roadmap that shows how your organisation will benefit from the move. It’s important to keep your IT infrastructure as modern as possible, of course, but it only makes sense to do so if it helps drive your business forward. CIO and CTOs recognize that they must have a business-first approach, but they also recognise they will usually need to “find” resources in order to fund new initiatives.
For most businesses, a three-pronged approach that involves looking at your people, processes and technology helps assess your individual situation and develop a cloud roadmap tailored to your business’ unique and specific needs:
Focus on: People
One of the first and most obvious things cloud migration does for your business, where your people are concerned, is free up your workforce. With fewer servers and/or data centres to run, it allows your talent to focus on new and “cool” initiatives that help drive your core business forward. Instead of using resources to maintain systems, you enable teams to perform more valuable and rewarding work that not only delivers business results, but also improves morale across the organisation.
Making a move to public cloud providers such as AWS, GCP, or Azure can also help businesses secure their talent. The reality is, if you're not looking at the cloud now, members of your IT team might leave because they want and need to keep their skills as honed and relevant as possible. It makes intuitive sense — nobody wants to work for an organisation that is solely based on antiquated systems with no sight of modernisation on the horizon.
Focus on: Processes
If you take the current IT processes you have — testing, support, and anything else you can think of — and migrate them as-is to the cloud, it probably won't work the way you envision because it's a different paradigm. I strongly encourage teams that are new to the cloud to do a readiness assessment to determine which processes are (or are not) “cloud-ready.” But don’t forget, the real value of the cloud becomes apparent once you've moved your core data, whether HR data, customer data, client supply chain data, or all of the above. Once it's in the cloud you can start consuming cloud-based tools that allow you to unlock the real value of your data.
People have been talking about data monetization for years, but it's hard to achieve. And trying to monetise data through existing internally-deployed IT processes probably won't work. It requires you to buy new hardware, get new data warehouse software, hire additional talent — it all becomes too costly and likely won’t give you a strong return on your investment.
Focus on: Technology
An overlooked reality is that very few — if any — businesses have migrated to 100% cloud-based infrastructures. It's surprising how many businesses still have a hosting provider, run internally-deployed systems, or some combination of both. Conversely, it’s even more surprising how few organisations are completely without data centres.
Yet ERP SaaS cloud sticker shock is a growing concern, and it’s real. If you're running an internally-deployed Oracle or SAP ERP, for example, moving to a SaaS-based ERP could result in roughly 3X your existing costs. And if you are already in the cloud on a limited basis and have freed up resources using third-party support, making a full move to SaaS-based ERP might cost you 4X or 5X your current costs.
In the end, organisations must think of their cloud-based business roadmap as an equation. There is a certain cost in place for your current people, processes, and tech hardware, and you also need to factor in upcoming events such as an overdue refresh of the data centre to address old hardware or a lease that needs to be renewed. You should also consider the opportunity costs around security and disaster recovery.
The number of organisations that are sitting back and folding their arms is dwindling quickly. The cloud is inevitable, and IT teams increasingly need it on their resumes. What a cloud rollout looks like for your business will likely differ from that of other organisations, but at the end of the day, the key question is this: Would you rather spend time supporting your existing applications and/or implementing new backup software in order, or do you want to build in a level of flexibility that will help you grow and, ultimately, future-proof your business?