Migrating into the cloud is the subject du jour. But what systems should you take online?

A quick scan of many business and IT conversations in the digital world often focus on moving traditionally server-based or in-house systems out-of-house and into the cloud.

Many of the arguments for – and against – cloud services are challenged by the reality that every business has its own unique operating model that must factor its ability to leverage staff and IT environments to take advantage of its unique competitive advantage.

What is increasingly becoming a clear and valid argument is that the cloud offers a viable choice to migrate or shift to cloud-based technology, environments and applications to support business capabilities.

So how do we determine what makes sense to be in the cloud?

The obvious contenders

There are many views as to the ‘obvious’ targets for moving into a cloud environment: email, servers and CRM as well as development environments which provide simplicity and speed-to-scale on demand without the upfront investment of owning assets in-house.

It’s the information and unique value proposition of a business that wins revenue and in most instances, the above applications do not provide any real competitive advantage which makes them good candidates to move to the cloud.

The complex contenders

Where bespoke (normally developed in-house) applications are in use the decision to migrate to the cloud creates an additional layer of complexity.

In this instance careful consideration should be given to whether or not the application could be migrated to the cloud (in effect hosted), replaced with a SaaS application providing similar functionality or left in house.

The costs to migrate are not insignificant and extend beyond the application to include other costs such as change management (where an application is replaced this normally includes business process re-engineering as well).

Risk + ROI + implementation + business case

As security and network infrastructure has matured there are fewer barriers to migrating into the cloud. It is Quay’s view, shared by a number of our clients, that each technology, application or environment has provision by way of the cloud as an option.

From a strategy perspective a cloud-based solution should always be an option considered against others looking at risk, return on investment, ease of implementation and time to implement.

The decision of whether or not to migrate to the cloud should be done in the context of a business case with all solutions and options coming under consideration. Sometimes the cloud will be the best outcome, others not – this is very situational and each case should be assessed on it’s own merits.

The cloud is a mechanism, not a process

Whatever the outcome remember the cloud is just a mechanism to provide tools for the business. The end-to-end business processes will need to still work which may involve multiple cloud assets working with in house assets.

Careful investigation should be given as to the extent to which the technologies and processes can seamlessly integrated and the SLAs around that and furthermore how customisations can occur independently of the cloud asset.

A final thought. When you migrate to the cloud ensure you have the vendor management skills in-house to manage your cloud vendors. They will now become key partners to your business and need to be managed accordingly.

So the answer to what makes sense to migrate to the cloud will be found by applying some guiding principles and looking at each opportunity on its merits. The cloud is certainly becoming an increasingly trusted method to provide applications, infrastructure and platforms and should be considered for your business.

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