Why cloud migration to SaaS requires more than Data Transfer
In 2017, I remember in college when completing my Associate's Degree in Computer Science how hamstrung the definitions of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS were. Our lecturer explained how leading industry experts were disagreeing over definitions and standardisation with divergent technologies competing dysfunctionally for the hearts of the B2B customer in a relatively small digital marketplace compared to now. After COVID, it is very obvious that the explosion of the cloud industry to facilitate the digital boom has seen the cloud industry grow at an unprecedented rate. Everybody wants to migrate to the cloud!
The scalability problems solved by the cloud platform providers alone are an incentive for conventional businesses to heavily invest in migration into the cloud. After all, companies who are creating migration plans and executing them to see their prior capital investments in IT turn into a tax efficient operational expenditure for the 21st century is how it is done, right? Well, partly right is the best answer I can give. The migration and on-prem data centre decommissioning processes are becoming more refined literally with practice. The standing assumption however by many management teams in the successful migration project to the cloud is the digital products they had on-prem can be maintained and developed in the same way in the cloud. This can prove to be a costly mistake to rectify depending on how quickly the team can learn from their mistake and pivot their strategy to recover and take advantage of what the cloud has to offer. A fuller risk analysis of a cloud migration project in the project discovery phase can reduce risk by getting a clear vision of how the business's technology and people work before they migrate to the cloud. The discovery phase in addition to assessing the technical requirements of architectural and data compatibility should answer the following:
- How is the software implemented by programmers, what coding patterns are used and are they compatible with modern cloud-native products and practices? Application software built with no real segregation of concerns between code and data for example is not a good fit for the cloud. A rewrite would be required in this case.
- How is software architecture designed? Does it embrace modern orchestration products on a logical layer (server) or still embed in physical servers on a 1:1 basis.
- Does on-prem infrastructure reflect highly available patterns with the use of logical server pools, load balancing and internal firewalls or is it a simple one server design?
- How is software supported? Is there a culture of technical support when it stops working and someone complains or is there sophisticated monitoring tools and infrastructure in place on-prem?
- Are any on-prem monitoring and remediation actions automated?
- What kind of company culture does the company have? Is it closer to the customer or closer to the employee? Does it trust employees to act or does it direct employees to act? Is one group favoured culturally at the expense of the other groups creating in-groups and out-groups?
These are some key questions to ask that may identify risks and help avoid costly mistakes post a 'successful' migration to the cloud. Cloud migration is not the standard 5-year strategy shake up for most conventional businesses. It is a paradigm shift in technology standards, technology practices and company culture that can go horribly wrong if the whole migration to the cloud is not in scope for the project. To be a SaaS company is more then a cool title, its a closeness to the customer that is unprecedentedly requiring every employee including engineers to act in the same cultural space allowing technology adoption and projects to be a centre piece in the working day knowing SaaS companies live and die by their ability to embrace the customer through its available technologies.
Stay tuned for more on infrastructure in this blog along with articles on other areas of interest in the writing and DevOps arenas. To not miss out on any updates on my availability, tips on related areas or anything of interest to all, sign up for one of my newsletters in the footer of any page on Maolte. I look forward to us becoming pen pals!