7 Rs – Seven roads to take the right decision to move to the cloud

AWS (Amazon) , Azure (Microsoft) and GCP (Google) hyper-scale data centers are increasing their number during the last years in many regions supported by millions of investment in submarine cables to reduce latency. Southern Europe in not an exception. We can just take a look to Italy, Spain and France to realize what it´s happening.

Public cloud providers know many customers will move massively thousand of services in the coming years. The process just started some years ago. But due to the pandemic and the need to provide remote services, to analyse data quicker and with efficiency, the big expansion on sensors to measure almost all in our lives or a global market to beat the competitors in any continent with innovation, accelerates even more.

There are 7 Rs to take the right decision so the CIOs and CTOs know what make sense to move or not to the cloud. What is a priority and moreover the impact and effort to transform their business.

AWS perspective to move IT Services to the cloud

Move to the cloud with a clear perspective on outcomes and goals to achieve will be able to bring value to our customers if you evaluate with care each of your IT services so you can take decisions according with your business alignment. Some Applications could be retire other would enter in a cycle of modernization, other just resize to reduce cost and improve resilience..

Let´s explain our 7 Rs from simple to complex scenarios:

Retire. Some applications are not used any more. Just a couple of users need to do some queries from time to time. Hence maybe it´s better to move that old data to a data warehouse and retire the old application.

Retain. It means literally “do nothing at all”. May be this application use some API or backend from an on premise solution with some compliance limitations. May be it was recently upgraded and you want to amortize the investment for a while.

Repurchase. Here you have the opportunity to change the IT solution. Let´s say you are not happy with your firewall on premise and maybe you think it´s better to change to a different provider with a better firewall adoption for AWS or Azure, even to move from IaaS to SaaS some applications.

Relocate. For example, relocate the ESX hypervisor hosting your database and Web Services to VMware Cloud on AWS / Azure / GPC or move your legacy Citrix server with Windows 2008 R2 to a dedicated host on AWS.

Rehost. It means lift/shift. Move some VMs with clear dependence between them to the cloud just to provide better backup, cheaper replication on several regions and resize their compute consumption to reduce cost.

Replatform. Lift and optimize somehow your application. For instance, when you move your web services from a farm of VMs on Vmware with a HLB (Hardware Load Balancer) on premise to a external LB service on Azure with some APP Services where you can adopt the logic of your business and migrate your PhP or Java application. Therefore you don´t have to worry for Operating system patching or security at the Windows Server level anymore. Even eliminate the Windows operating license.

Refactor. The most complex scenario. You have a big monolithic database with lots of applications using that data, reading and writing heavily. You know, you need to move the applications and the monolithic database and modify its architecture by taking full advantage of cloud-native features to improve performance and scalability as well as to reduce risk. Any failure in a component provoke a general failure. Here you need to decouple your components and move to microservices sooner or later.

I hope you could understand better those strategies to move to the cloud your applications, so you can be laser focus on your needs and achieve the best approach for each of them.

To sum up use the right tools to evaluate your applications/ IT Services on premise and based on the 7Rs choose the suitable journey to the cloud for them..

Don´t forget to leverage all the potential of the CAF (Cloud Adoption Framework) https://wordpress.com/post/cloudvisioneers.com/287 that i´ve mentioned before in my blog together with the 7Rs strategy.

Enjoy the journey to the cloud with me…see you soon.

What is the CAF?. Finally, the Microsoft approach to the cloud adoption. (Part V)

In previous posts we´ve mentioned some particular points related the Microsoft cloud adoption framework (CAF). This one is about how the big titan use a different approach but literally very similar in terms of stakeholders as AWS does.

Let´s remember the most important steps for this methodology to adopt the cloud for their customers.

In the first post we just did an introduction on how Microsoft define their initial scope on the journey to the cloud taking three clear strategies: Business strategy, People strategy, Technology strategy.

Microsoft starts through guidance, tools and narratives based on previous experiences to shape these 3 strategies mentioned to prepare a cloud adoption plan.

Business strategy involves in the process several steps together…where it is crucial to identify motivations and business outcomes through the correct understanding of company´s processes, the current technologies and the stakeholders. But Microsoft goes one step ahead as they start to prioritize a first workload sooner than AWS, “a first project” aligned with the previous analysis which provide a great value to determine if the public cloud covers the evolution that the customer is looking for.

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Afterwards Microsoft prefer to drill down a bit their steps to create their plan tailoring on three areas: Digital estate, initial organizational alignment and skill readiness. Then prepares its own cloud adoption plan based on the information and analysis done on these small steps.

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So let´s prepare what it´s called the digital estate. To evaluate that you need to identify some concepts in terms of costs.

  1. Cost Deltas which are fix cost. Some of them are very clear to identify or evaluate such as:
    • Software licensing.
    • Hosting expenses.
    • Electric bills.
    • Real estate rentals.
    • Cooling expenses.
    • Maintenance contracts.
  2. Cost Deltas no so clear and more variable:
    • Temporary staff required for operations.
    • Equipment rentals.
    • Replacement parts.
    • Repair services.
    • Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) services.
    • Other expenses that don’t require capital expense approvals
  3. Revenue Deltas. Revenue deltas should be forecast in partnership with business stakeholders. After the business stakeholders agree on a revenue impact, it can be used to improve the earning position.

With that information you are going to calculate your Gain from investment.

And identify the ROI from moving on prem to the cloud with the follewing formula:

Comparing these expectations with the TCO estimation and your Azure consumption forecast for the workloads to prioritize and move to the cloud is also a good exercise to convince your finance audience, that you are in the right direction.

Another critical point to struggle with it´s “organization structure” and the upskilling plan for the employees.

The first step of managing organizational alignment is to determine how the following organizational structures will be fulfilled:

  1. Org chart alignment: Management hierarchies, manager responsibilities, and staff alignment will align to organizational structures.
  2. Virtual teams (v-teams): Management structures and org charts remain unchanged. Instead, virtual teams will be created and tasked with the required functions.
  3. Mixed model: More commonly, a mixture of org chart and v-team alignment will be required to deliver on transformation goals.

Beside these organization alignments you will address all the needs in terms of upskilling and provide training to your teams when they have to face with the first workload to be move to the cloud and the “Landing Zone” where you are going to prepare all the requirements in order to set up a management model, compute, networking, security, storage and interaction with other partners and cloud providers for your future IT solutions in the cloud.

In this previous phase to the landing zone you will prepare, and that is a very important task to take into account, your governance model which can be provided with Microsoft tools or a mix between Microsoft & Thirty party solutions.

Let´s see how to roll out the approach with Azure native tools:

So just to recap, every modern company has some form of digital estate that includes legacy solutions and even hardware, virtual machines (VMs), servers with its dependencies, applications more or less critical, data more or less sensitive, networking, a identity management model and so on. Essentially, a digital estate for Microsoft is the collection of IT assets that power business processes and supporting operations. The first layer of your success in to sell and consolidate your market, to be more innovative or to get more quick wins that your competitors and with the right digital estate that will be solid as a rock.

On the coming post we will be focus on the “Ready” approach from the Microsoft point of view where we will explain the basis to deploy a “Landing Zone”, Microsoft best practice and migration tools from both cloud providers.

On the last post we will provide a global view of AWS CAF and Microsoft CAF in a final comparison table.

Enjoy the journey to the cloud with me…see you then in the next post.

What is the CAF?. Don´t cut the cake horizontally- AWS Technical Perspectives. (Part IV)

So we have identified the first perspectives more related to our business company: business perspective, people perspective and governance perspective. Now we will go on with the rest of AWS perspectives for the Cloud Adoption Framework which are more related to technical aspects that we need to take into account.

Once collecting all the information for these three perspectives, we´ll gather enough data to set up a clear Actionable Plan. With this in mind, we assume “Envisioning” and “Alignment” as steps already done in our AWS journey to the cloud. Afterwards we will be ready to afford “Launch” where we need a vertical slicing of the cake as AWS says. I mean, a prototype where stakeholders from different company´s areas are involved. With that way we reduce risk and we take advantage of frequent delivery of usable chunks for other workloads to be migrated later to the cloud.

Let´s go on then with the last three perspectives more technical and the stakeholders which are part of them:

  • Platform Perspective: Chief Technology Officer (CTO), IT Managers, Solution Architects.
  • Security Perspective: Chief Information Security Officer, (CISO), IT Security Managers, IT Security Analysts.
  • Operations Perspective: IT Operations Managers, IT Support Managers, Outsourcing partners which maintain the current applications and IT services.

Platform Perspective: This perspective will identify the needs of network, compute or storage provisioning to move the workloads identified on the prototype in the actionable plan. But also database, systems and architecture or application transformations needed to be more efficient solutions in the cloud. This second part is more complex as may involve CI/CD redesigning in some process or current software development.

Security Perspective This perspective shape the identity and access management mechanisms to provide access with double factor authentication, less privileges policies and granularity on permissions. Provides detective controls to gather logs and correlate them in the right way to get a real view of the security posture. Facilite automation security controls in the infrastructure based on the “Desired Configuration State” and finally how the data protection and incident response should be address on the prototype and afterwards in the next workload to be move to the cloud.

Operations Perspective: This perspective defines all the current processes in terms of maintenance and identifies the processes to be change and training needed to implement a successful cloud adoption. This is done in terms of monitoring, business continuity strategy like backup or disaster recovery, patching and general operational daily task to be changed, replace or remove for the IT Staff within the company.

Therefore, with the six perspectives templates filled out and a lot of information about each business area, current processes and skills, we are ready for starting with our action plan. Let´s go with the next step that we´ve mentioned in the introduction in this post.

Launch the first workload or you prototype is the armageddon of your digital transformation within the customer´s company. You should be able to understand their business from A to Z.

To get the best from east and west use the “Vertical Slicing strategy of the cake”. That means you´ll involve as much stakeholders as possible from several areas with less or more impact to get absolute visibility of the transformation, the innovation that you bring to them and how you accelerate the outcomes. Also, that reduces the risk of the effort done, improves the perceptions in the whole company, and facilitate the frequent delivery of usable chunks for new migrations.

Vertical Slicing of the cake

Remember the work streams (current processes and skills to manage them within the company) with this approach will draw the interdependence between areas for the same AWS perspective or others. So vertical slicing will bring more results on how to address future challenges when moving more workload to the cloud as you can detect stoppers, revolutionary improvements or people opinions of what you have done.

In the coming post, we´ll drill down on the same phases but focus on the Microsoft CAF. Once we explain the same steps we´ll compare very quick both CAF methodologies.

Enjoy the journey to the cloud with me…see you then in the next post.

What is the CAF?. The AWS Cloud Action Plan – Business Perspectives. (Part III)

Build the cloud adoption plan is the pillar for companies digital transformation. If we have success to determine the motivations, measure the facts and tangible & intangible value, and alignment with the business outcomes, ROI and expectations we are on the road. Now is time to understand how we can achieve those goals.

Cloud Adoption Plan (MS) or Action Plan (AWS) must be feasible, what a challenge!.

So it´s the time to gather all the information previously collected and add some specific information about the first workloads related to current TCO, future ROI and its technical expectations or process changes, skills to be updated and shape some data coming from interviews and the legacy applications to transform to get the perfect plan.

Let start first on the Amazon approach to run their Action Plan. To recap AWS have six key perspectives with its corresponding roles:

  • Business Perspective: Business Managers, Finance,Managers, Budget Owners, Strategy Stakeholders.
  • People Perspective: Human Resources, Staffing, Managers, People Managers.
  • Governance Perspective: Chief Information Officer, (CIO), Program Managers, Project Managers, Enterprise Architects, Business Analysts, Portfolio Managers.
  • Platform Perspective: Chief Technology Officer (CTO), IT Managers, Solution Architects.
  • Security Perspective: Chief Information Security Officer, (CISO), IT Security Managers, IT Security Analysts.
  • Operations Perspective: IT Operations Managers, IT Support Managers

From all these roles mainly your audience in the cloud journey and depending on the vertical are finance or purchase department, Hr, CIO and somehow CISO (if exists, as Small and Medium businesses, SMBs , don´t use to have such role specific for security. At least in Southern Europe..;-)

What happens with the CEO?…if you reach out to the CEO on this plan it´s not very common, let´s say..and they don´t have time to face with these strategies at least when you are just heating up motors. But in terms of alignment it would be perfect have his attention from scratch.

So suppose we have launched the action plan template for each perspective (remember you have to do it for the six) in terms of actions to be done related to each skill or process that requires updating. So you fill out the cells according skills or processes that you need to update to address those questions or concerns collected previously.

Action plan template

AWS recommends action statements should begin with a verb. Actions to update skills usually start with “learn”, “investigate” or “train.” Actions to update processes usually start with “create”, “update,” “develop” or “reevaluate.

If you pay attention, work streams are nothing but a predefined way of work based on the processes that people are following daily in the customer´s company and the skills they have to afford it. When you have filled out the six action plan templates, you should have very clear the interdependence between work streams on the same perspective or even on that one together with others.

So how can we have the right work streams for the several perspectives. In this post we are going over the first 3 which are more related to business areas. Let´s go with the business one.

Business Perspective: This perspective is focused on ensuring that IT technology with respond to business needs. In terms of saving cost or in terms of bring some innovation or accelerate productivity for example improving mobility, remote work or reducing the current process path to be more efficient.

Finance or the CFO look for specific goals to be aligned in this perspective:

  • Consumption-based pricing model. OPEX versus CAPEX transition.
  • A tracking tool or console to forecast and identify consumption details.
  • A clear TCO / ROI evaluation.
  • Required skills to be updated for the purchase department or the budget Owners.
  • Clear strategy to reduce risk on the investment to replace obsolete technologies, eliminate silos or change the image as poor innovation company to a digital leader. So you address the right budget for each workload you want to transform.
  • Related to these, there are six Rs migration Strategies. So for Finance when the application is going to be Retain or Retire (1 or 2), there is no impact for the business perspective. But instead, Rehost, Replatform, Refactor or Rearchitect means for the Finance guys and the CFO itself a budget which will be increasing depending on the R that you choose. (3 to 6). Where Rehost or Replatform is less expensive and Refactor o Rearchitect will be more expensive and means more budget.

People Perspective: This perspective address all related to workforce upskilling and structural role changes to manage new processes and work stream more collaborative or efficient within the company.

HR look for specific goals to be aligned in this perspective:

  • Identify new roles and organizational structure changes.
  • Hire Talent and support in the career management.
  • Prioritize training and organize a clear road map for them during the digital transformation.
  • Prepare and communicate the changes through events, collaborative sites with tips and videos, etc.
  • Resolve gaps and maximize effort for the cloud adoption in terms of people.
  • Sponsor motivate readiness to the employees and marketing campaigns if needed.
  • Related to six Rs migration Strategies for the HR when the application is going to be Retain or Retire (1 or 2), there is no impact as well. But instead, Rs from 3 to 6 means, like Rehost or Replatform, more knowledge and some operational and support challenge and Refactor o Rearchitect will be clearly a challenge in terms of skilling people to understand and manage PaaS, FaaS or Serverless operations, but less support and maintenance.

Governance Perspective: This perspective is all about prioritize and take control tasks needed to shape the IT strategy goals and the business strategy goals. Let say it is like driving a car where you are the driver and wants an steady speed during tour trip and enough space for your suitcases in the boot of the car.

Governance look for specific goals to be aligned in this perspective:

  • Portfolio management in terms of organization capabilities to align projects and IT investments with business goals. So you can prioritize those more urgent to be transform to compete with other companies in your area or rivals. For example, in retail in the last years there are a new relation with customers selling online. If your company is not doing the right movement to provide a shopping online platform may be you lost market and even more with the Covid impact on our society.
  • Be ready to provide a PMO or a project management for new and in same cases disruptive technologies. So your PMs need more knowledge and skill to understand risk, delays or requirements for the digital transformation.
  • Prepare specific KPI for measuring new public cloud capabilities as automation, resilience, escalation to know where we are and how we can face with any critic downtime or an on demand unplanned requests for our products.

We have seen the first 3 AWS perspectives more focus on business areas within a company in this post. In the coming one, we will go in depth with the 3 related to technical areas of our company and how they are affected.

Enjoy the journey to the cloud with me…see you in the next post.

What is the CAF? And why is there one for Microsoft and another one for AWS?. Planning the Plan (Part II)

How do we know when it makes sense to move or migrate to the cloud some specific LOB applications, some legacy IT solutions or even a core and strategic business?. Well, it is all about motivations, company challenges, future business outcomes and bring value related to cost savings or innovation.

Who is going to assume a change if it´s just a pain in the neck for the stakeholders or someone of them..?. You have to argue why it makes sense identifying the business challenges, the motivations to move to a public model and even a clear roadmap aligned with any stakeholder in this party if you don´t want blockers from the very first start. Remember the origin for AWS is to identify stakeholders and group them within the six perspectives we´ve mentioned before. (See first CAF post). Microsoft starts through guidance, tools and narratives based on previous experiences to shape the 3 strategies needed to prepare a plan that we´ve also mentioned before. (See first CAF post).

To do that AWS CAF use the envisioning step where you need to present solid basis to operationalize the responsibility of the digital transformation. You can do it with specific KPIs, metrics, or measurable benefits on business goals and outcomes. We need to strive for preparing interviews, collect data, analyze current IT solutions, processes and impact for each business area within the company. We need to determine how cloud technologies accelerate a positive change and provoke or inspire crucial advantages for the business goals.

Microsoft CAF call it business strategy as involves in the process several steps together…where once again it is crucial to identify motivations and business outcomes through the correct understanding of company´s processes, the current technologies and the stakeholders. But Microsoft goes one step ahead as they start to prioritize a first workload, a first project aligned with the previous analysis which provide a great value to determine if the public cloud covers the evolution that the customer is looking for.

To summarize we have collected a lot of information from people or stakeholders, from processes or justifications or motivations, we have identified business outcomes and goals to achieve. What comes next?..we are aligned to that comprehensive scenario with technology and we know then how to bring value to the company. Microsoft ask for the first workload to get somehow a prototype and validate technologies in the coming actionable plan. AWS ask for the same action or may be not depending on the scenario through a goal within the Envisioning step called demonstrate how technology will enable business outcomes.

AWS then moves to the next step called alignment. Here you got the blockers, all the concerns coming from the six AWS CAF perspectives, and we got all the answers to the questions we did and we´ve gathered from several stakeholders involved in the digital transformation.

We know how to face with the gaps and the interrelations and dependencies between business areas through the process flow. Then, surprise AWS start to create a comprehensive plan. (We will see in details how in the coming posts)

Microsoft prefer to drill down a bit their steps to create their plan tailoring on three parts: Digital estate, initial organizational alignment and skill readiness. Then prepares its own cloud adoption plan based on the information and analysis done on these small steps.

Related to the plan itself we have to remark some differences on the approaches of both cloud giants but we will address the plan´s stages in the next post and see how different roads lead to Rome.

Enjoy the journey to the cloud with me…see you in the next post.

What is the CAF? And why is there one for Microsoft and another one for AWS, Is it the same approach to adopt the cloud? (Part I)

Oh, my goodness!, what is CAF or Cloud Adoption Framework and why AWS has a CAF and Microsoft a different one with their own steps for the journey to the cloud, so is it exactly the same cloud adoption approach..or not?

Well, to be honest, there are two Cloud Adoption Frameworks. One of them is the Microsoft CAF to provide the best methodology for migrating IT solutions and embrace the journey to the cloud in many solutions or compute workloads already deployed on premise, or even in a private cloud. Another is the AWS CAF which has a similar approach in terms of stakeholders but more focus on six perspectives common to business while Microsoft takes into account three major factors: business strategy, technology strategy and people strategy.

Anyway keep in mind please, AWS hit first the public cloud so their CAF approach was based on their previous experiences where almost no other players where on this market and cloud model. Microsoft came later to bring their own adoption where may be many customers already became experts on these platforms, as NETFLIX migrate to AWS on 2009 for example, before Microsoft even started with their Windows Azure classic portal officially on 2010.

So both giants have different experiences and right now try to do their best to drive their customers on their digital transformation data centers and to leverage their business outcomes on this process.

In this first blog we´ll scratch the surface related to CAF for AWS and Azure. Starting with AWS, let see the pillars. There are 6 perspectives common to business, as we mentioned before but AWS want to separate those with more impact for the technical guys: Platform, Security and Operations from those focus on the HR, lawyers or financial guys: Business, People and Governance.

Microsoft define their initial scope taking as first layer three clear strategies, if you want to compare there are the same stakeholders somehow. Let see, Business strategy, People strategy, Technology strategy. Isn´t sounds familiar?.

If you pay attention to these two approaches to adopt IT solutions to the cloud, you´ll see they´re pretty similar when based their pillars on the people, those users that you want to empower, the business that you want to leverage to a new digital level, probably opening a new channel to their market or developing a disruptive solution, and obviously the technology to make all that feasible. Those APPs, those web services, those IT solutions deployed with the magic of public cloud, a piece of common sense and through governance, security, efficient operational management and the right platform are now part of your company. May be you can believe it or not, innovation and global go-to-market will provide solid foundation for your business on this crisis. We all know companies seriously affected due to their very traditional IT solutions, their slow reaction to their clients and their incorrect market analysis.

CAF is the perfect allied to gain market by offering consumers and customers greater value than your competitors and providing a consolidated competitive advantage. Applying this framework you will align your CIOs, CTOs, Financial managers, Human Resources, Project managers, IT Architects and IT staff to push all together in the right direction with your Technology front line. The digital transformation needed to put your own footprint on your evolution as company. It´s not magic, it´s IT strategy and once again common sense.

Start the journey to the cloud with me…see you in the next post.

When your instincts tell you something is wrong and it´s not for you..

Someone come out to me and ask me if i would like to evaluate some IT services to be migrated to Azure or AWS, even Google or Alibaba..

Yes, definitely, that can happen and may be it is terrifying. But you have probably old legacy applications with no support at all, may be you have operating systems with no support at all, or even may be, and this is the most common driver, you are running out of disk space.

Let´s say your IT provider explains how to backup or how planning a disaster recovery of your Vmware farm and VMs hosted on some private cloud provider which ask you for a lot of money when you want a snapshot or more space for previous backups. Would you open your ears to them?

Let´s say you know your limited infrastructure budget and in the last meeting you attended, your CFO wanted to know how to expand your products to other markets and how you can reduce IT investment and increase the Go-to-Market in other countries. Do you dare to ask about AWS or Azure?

I need to be sure and want a clear roadmap to the public cloud, how to determine if some applications are suitable for the cloud, i want to compare my TCO with the cloud scenario, cloud consumption forecast, and please security, is it really secure?

The journey to the cloud depends on a solid assessment methodology, right tools, right knowledge and licensing experts. Pay attention to that. As far as you have all of that there is no fear at all.

There are lots of simple or quite simple applications which can be migrated to the cloud reducing their hardware profile in many cases oversized. Anyway the Six cloud migration strategies (the 6 Rs) should be follow by the company in charge of your cloud transition projects. On the other hard, please keep in mind: a lift&shift approach without no previous consultancy, no enough discovery of your data center infrastructure, not being focused on challenges and stoppers is something to be worried about. 

Another factor to be evaluated it´s your coexistence model with your on premise IT world, private cloud and other SaaS applications which may be have a SSO with your company. Designing the right strategy related to your hybrid cloud and embracing the best of east and west is a must in your roadmap. Don´t forget that.

Finally security. You don´t need to struggle with security as it is more a matter of adoption with the right experts who will guide you in parallel with your workloads migration. It is true that the cloud provider, AWS, Azure or whatever you choose, take care of the cloud (they are compliant with many certifications such as FIPS, HIPPA or ISO2007) but you take care on the cloud of your applications. There are a lot of cutting edge technologies provided by them to minimize efforts and reduce the complexity of your security maintenance. Even there are a tremendous marketplace with all the best thirty party security products aligned with them.

How complex would be my journey to the cloud?, i know there are lots of new functionalities every day.

Yes, we can refactoring some applications in a second phase or we can even modify your DEVOPS model to be more efficient. With governance, we can reduce cost, improve availability and scalability and standardize your deployment of new services. We can work with you on data analytics scenarios with different ETLs or help your with IoT, PaaS and serverless solutions for new web services and so on. But that depends on you and your business needs.

Rating: 1 out of 5.