Crafting your digital transformation with cloud computing: What it takes

By Subbarao Kapila, Vice President – Global Presales & Solutions Delivery – CriticalRiver

The push for cloud transformation across industries is ushering in a paradigm shift in how enterprises
operate, compete, and deliver value. Cloud computing is set to witness transformative growth, with Gartner
predicting a rise in end-user spending on cloud services from $563.6 billion in 2023 to $678.8 billion in 2024.
It is no surprise that both private and public enterprises have acknowledged the potential of cloud
transformation and are leveraging it to ride the wave of digitalisation.

Cloud has captured the attention of business leaders with its distinctive capabilities of revitalizing antiquated
technology stacks. It infused a new life into legacy IT infrastructures and created anything-as-a-service (XaaS)
with tools that can be delivered to users as a service over the internet. The software and applications born in
the cloud, also called cloud-native, yield agility, scalability, experience improvement, reusability, cost-
efficiency, and security benefits.

Navigating cloud migration challenges for a seamless transition
To capitalize upon cloud’s potential for digital transformation, enterprises must overcome the typical obstacles associated with its management.

The key challenges include:
1. Lack of cloud migration strategy: The advantages of cloud transformation come with judicious design
and planning whereby an organisation must select the right data and applications to be moved to the platform. It is also essential to strategize the order of migration for business assets. Failure to consider the integration issues between various datasets and applications can result in data loss and accessibility issues.

2. Existing architecture complexities: Not all on-prem systems are compatible with the cloud, which
can lead to data corruption during migration. Specific tools may need to be collocated to function effectively. However, a complex architecture and unstructured data make it challenging to identify interdependencies. Additionally, highly customized legacy setups demand more effort for successful cloud migration.

3. High cost: Although cost efficiency in cloud computing is considered a significant benefit in the long
run, the initial data transfer and configuration costs can be high. The operational expenses increase
further because of improperly managed resources that may be over-provisioned or left idle. Likewise, inadequate research about service providers and their policies can result in unexpected bills.

4. Multifaceted transition process and change management: Moving to the cloud is not easy without
the right cloud transformation approach and skills. Typically, migrations are executed in stages, with comprehensive testing and validation at each stage. There may also be internal resistance to the change as the transition process can cause downtime for some workflows, creating conflicts.

5. Data security and compliance risks: Cloud infrastructure must be compliant with industry regulations
and standards applicable to a business. The inability to encrypt data at rest and in transit, absence of robust backup and disaster recovery plans, poor testing, lack of audits to ensure security efficacy, and weak communication with service providers make cloud migrations risky. In public cloud deployments, an organisation must also have visibility into where exactly its data and applications are hosted, which is challenging.

Building the future of business technology on the cloud
To drive the real advantages of flexibility, scalability, security, and cost effectiveness, businesses need to
focus on assessment and planning, the order of migration, and the right strategies to make a move. Meet
strategic objectives in cloud transformation and shifting workloads involves:

1. Defining a business case: An organisation’s move to the cloud is not merely a technology exercise. It is necessary to document migration goals – these could be high uptime, cost savings, effective collaboration, and better customer experience. The next step involves creating a detailed inventory of the applications to move to the cloud. Ideal apps for migration are often public-facing, have variable loads, or need near-term modernisation, avoiding ones with high associated risks and low ROI.

2. Timing and executing the migration: Some apps and data must be transferred before others to align
better with business operations. The migration team should take dependency mapping and risk assessments into account. Also, the cloud infrastructure setup design must fit all storage, computation, networking, and security needs. In addition to the lift & shift method, an organisation can use re-platforming, refactoring, rebuilding, or relocating methods for different applications and datasets.

A phased approach and scheduling migration during off-peak hours is advisable to minimize service disruption. Continuous monitoring of the process helps to prevent data loss or corruption. Digital security in the cloud should be optimized for smooth functioning with systematic encryption, firewalls, and IAM. In addition, automated migration and management tools help accelerate the move while delivering high quality, consistency, and repeatability.

3. Post-migration tasks: The data and applications moved to a new cloud environment should be thoroughly tested to ensure optimum performance. During this ‘operate phase,’ organisations should keep refining their processes and ensure regulatory compliance laws are followed. They can also identify new opportunities for more cost savings and deploy cloud-native features to improve the business value of cloud transformation.

It is vital to note that organisations can also adopt a hybrid cloud solution with a combination of cloud and on-premises infrastructure, ideal for industries with strict data privacy laws.

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