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An effective, well-governed cloud migration will strengthen foundational cloud capabilities and enable agencies to rapidly deliver the service improvements that have the highest impact on mission success.
Cloud computing is the centerpiece of government IT modernization, with migrations underway as agencies prioritize remediating technical debt and upgrading aging infrastructure. These cloud migration and adoption initiatives will likely accelerate as reforms streamline the security authorization process and vendors shift to as-a-service models. But is it really worth it?
Despite the promise of cloud and its accelerated adoption, agency leaders and technical professionals continue to wrestle with this question and many more. In particular, they struggle to identify which candidates are ripe for cloud migration and how best to estimate and communicate the costs and value of moving to the cloud.
The answers to these important questions will inform future cloud strategies, priorities and investments, so agencies cannot afford to execute their cloud agenda without them. Here are four leading practices technology leaders can rely on to deliver business value through the cloud:
1. Use cloud landing zones to implement a governance foundation that enables migration and innovation at scale.
A cloud landing zone is a standardized, pre-configured environment that supports workloads across multi-account environments.
It provides the tooling and controls required for governance at scale by centralizing and automating account management, budget and cost management as well as security, risk and compliance. A landing zone also typically includes a standardized service catalog and automations that facilitate the provisioning of secured cloud services, monitoring, identity, access management and other security tools.
Robust and thoughtfully configured landing zones can enhance cloud environment scalability, security and provisioning cycle times as well as reduce cloud operational costs, manual effort and risk to performance and operational resilience. Moreover, a landing zone is required to provide the standardized governance required for a large-scale migration program.
2. Rationalize application portfolios and sequence migration efforts to land the most accretive workloads in the cloud.
Cloud managers should collaborate with C-suite leaders, product line managers and other team members across the agency who have knowledge of the existing application portfolios and who have insight into budgeted investments in new workloads.
In addition, IT managers should leverage available enterprise architecture resources and consider the business impact of workloads that are migration candidates. A business impact analysis can also help assess the criticality of business processes and applications by indicating a migration candidate’s importance to mission success. This information, in turn, should drive decisions about migration priority and strategy. While there are a host of other criteria to help prioritize cloud migrations, these steps will give agencies insights to help them identify the most likely candidates to move first.
3. Develop architecture, business case and approach when planning migrations.
Cloud migration is an engineering activity, but it requires investment, so consideration of business benefits, risks, costs and ROI are required to optimize decisions and priorities.
Cloud migration business cases should be based on architectural due diligence and provide advice about the cost of workload migrations, workload cloud operations and on-premise operations – including often overlooked costs, like those associated with facilities, power, administrative services, environmental controls and parallel transition operations. When agencies are employing technology business management principles, business case development should weigh heavily on TBM analytics for all allocated costs estimates.
The business case should also quantify benefits to be garnered through migration, like improved operational resiliency, lower security breach risks, better continuity of operations, adherence to recovery time and recovery point objectives and improved application availability. Additional advantages might include higher staff productivity and better business agility as measured, for example, by the number of features delivered per release or release cycle time reductions.
Agencies should also consider commitments related to on-prem resource decommissioning and cloud cost-control responsibility when evaluating the veracity of each business case.
4. Continuously monitor and optimize cloud usage and economics.
Agencies should capture cloud cost and consumption data to make certain the promised ROI and benefits of workload migrations are achieved.
For example, consistent review of cloud costs and performance will ensure migrated workloads are meeting business objectives. Agencies should also regularly review of cloud service provider products and pricing to make sure cloud investments are made in the most economically viable way.
In addition, agencies should leverage FinOps best practices to bring finance, technology and business together to track and optimize resource utilization, bring accountability to application teams through the use of defensible data and enable show-back and charge-back for migrated application cloud services.
As cloud adoption proceeds, optimization will become necessary. The benefits of elastic resources usage and pay-as-you-go pricing models must be monitored, and savings must be nurtured if they are to be maintained.
Now is the time for agencies to implement an effective, well-governed cloud migration approach that will strengthen foundational cloud capabilities and enable them to rapidly deliver the service improvements that have the highest impact on mission success. These business practices are key to a successful transition, and well worth the time and effort.
Brian Reynolds is a Principal with Grant Thornton Public Sector, specializing in Technology and Transformation Cloud Solutions.
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