Demystifying Stages of Cloud Adoption Journeys

Mar 31, 2021
Digital Transformation | 8 min READ
Cloud Adoption Journey – Introduction
The rapid acceptance of cloud computing solutions has resulted in the creation of unseen pressures that force many businesses and IT executives to take to it without taking stock of their specific use-cases. This often translates to shoddy adoption practices and a sluggish transformation pace that prevents these organizations from realizing all the advantages that cloud solutions offer. The perceived veil of complexity that surrounds the cloud is evident in companies' usage of it. In the recent past, a survey of 400 firms serious about cloud migration revealed that companies deliver an average of only 18% of their workloads from the cloud.
Braj Panda
Braj Panda

Former Director

Global Digital Practice


Cloud Adoption Journey Stages
There is no standard approach towards building a cloud-first organization. Every company's unique set of opportunities and business constraints means that the adoption stages will vary and often lie on a spectrum ranging from high centralization to high autonomy. The degree of autonomy with which independent business units can make technology decisions dictates the kind of approach that the enterprise follows. However, most executives seem to favor increased autonomy, and the approach taken by various enterprises seems to follow a certain pattern, the likes of which are detailed below.
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Cloud Adoption Journey Stages
Cloud Adoption Journey Stages

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Stage #1 – Cloud Hosted
Data Center Migration
Firms will need to identify the business case for migration and get stakeholder approvals, after which they will need to define the architecture and design requirements of the migration process. A successful migration would mean that a thorough assessment of the existing data center is made (to ensure a clean exit) and deciding on a suitable strategy for cloud deployment.
Cloud Hosting, IaaS
Under the IaaS model, the cloud provider delivers virtualized computing resources to the organization in question and manages IT infrastructure such as storage, servers, and networking resources.
Lift and Shift / Rehost
Lift-and-shift (also known as rehosting), refers to a practice that involves a rudimentary transfer of existing workloads straight to the cloud. Despite numerous calls to avoid such a practice and focus more on optimizing, such an approach serves as the perfect ground for experimentation.
Disaster Recovery and High Availability
Opting for a cloud solution means that firms will have to work with alternative means to ensure proper disaster recovery protocols and systems to ensure high availability that would work just as well as it did in the traditional sense. These are niggling concerns that many leading cloud providers address.
License and Subscription
The perpetual licensing model has been shown to limit growth and limit firms from delivering their customers' latest innovations and capabilities. Consequently, various firms are pivoting to a subscription-based model that lends itself to easy experimentation and flexibility for their customers. Companies would be well-advised to consider subscription-based models in the early stages of the cloud adoption journey.
Security Setup/Decommissioning
Cloud technologies necessitate a wholly different approach towards cybersecurity and entirely new data/risk management practices. Finally, decommissioning existing data centers can reveal a slew of surprises and challenges that must be dealt with effectively before moving on to a new solution.
Stage #2 – Cloud Ready
Application Refactor/ Replatform
Easing away from on-premise solutions would mean that companies will have to remediate legacy applications by refactoring them at the infrastructure and application layers.
Managed services DBaaS, PaaS
Faster time to market through improved productivity, standardization and data security is best achieved by opting for managed databases. Firms need not worry about building and maintaining the infrastructure associated with complex software processes.
Cloud and DevOps
DevOps is often the key to achieving IT infrastructure agility, and a proper linking of DevOps into a cloud environment would translate to increased business acceleration across the organization.
Application Decoupling
Ensuring that applications are independent of each other means that one application's potential issue doesn't end up taking the entire system out.
Automating Scaling of Infra
A careful assessment of business cases would enable firms to define expected utilization/traffic levels accordingly, enabling them to scale their cloud services following the situation.
Cloud Services Usage
Immediate use-cases for the cloud would be for testing and development, big data analytics, data storage, disaster recovery, and most importantly, to establish a hybrid cloud setup.
An alternative to OS virtualization, containerization allows firms to work with programs and dependencies with isolated resource procedures. This means that developers can create and deploy applications with increased speed and security.
Multi/Hybrid Cloud
Firms are more likely to start with a hybrid cloud environment featuring at least one private cloud solution. They may later move towards a multi-cloud solution, which involves multiple public cloud providers.
Spend Management
Cloud can be an expensive affair if not planned properly, and firms will need to keep a watchful eye over the cloud strategy components to ensure the most bang-for-the-buck.
Policies & Compliances
Cloud usage almost always brings with it certain regulatory hurdles, a core of which is cloud compliance. Great care must be exercised to ensure that your organization is compliant with all the global regulations applicable to your specific setup.
Cloud-Native Networking
Under cloud-native networks, the underlying infrastructure will be shared by all clients, and necessary abstractions will have to be put in place to allow each client to have their own working spaces. Maintaining such a network would offload maintenance and scaling to the cloud provider, thereby allowing firms to focus on critical business objectives.
Stage #3 – Cloud-Enabled
Application migration (Re Architect and Re-Platform)
The first step towards enabling cloud functionality is to ensure a smooth transfer of your applications from their existing setup to the environment of your choice. Stephen Orbans from AWS says that instead of rehosting or re-architecting, firms can choose to take 'the middle way,' known as re-platforming, which is less intensive to execute.
Agile and DevSecOps
Agile methodologies are well-suited for project managers but are comparatively inefficient and slow-moving compared to its successor, DevOps. For cloud environments, DevSecOps works best as it builds on top of both agile and DevOps by introducing the much-neglected security aspect across the development pipeline.
Reviewing the impact on the workforce
Container Orchestration
Containerisation can be taken a step further by automating the procedures surrounding the deployment, management, scaling, and networking of existing containers.
There is no better way for firms to address their cloud-related security concerns than to have Infrastructure-as-code (IaC). Embedding appropriate security protocols during the development process will enable your cloud infrastructure to self-diagnose and self-heal, thereby giving your security teams a leg-up.
Infrastructure as a code
As a prerequisite for self-healing procedures, Infrastructure-as-code does away with the need to utilize physical hardware configuration and/or interactive configuration tools. By using machine-readable definition files, the cost of managing IT infrastructure comes down drastically as you no longer have to deal with the myriad problems that come with the manual process. The sluggishness that comes with the manual process also creates issues that affect scalability and availability. Ian brings with it speed, consistency, accountability, and efficiency across the entire cycle.
AIOps represents a huge leap in the automation of IT operations processes and must be a part of every firm today that does not want to drown in the deluge of data they now have access to. Apart from big data analytics, Artificial intelligence can also prevent, identify, and resolve high-severity outages and other IT operations problems in record time.
Stage #4 – Cloud-Native
Innovate, Re-architect, and Rebuild
A truly cloud-native architecture would mean that firms will have to constantly choose between innovating, re-architecting, and/or rebuilding existing systems to maintain their competitive advantages for the long term. Transformational innovation serves as the bedrock for any firm that seeks to reap the full suite of benefits offered by cloud computing.
Cloud-Native Applications
To increase business resilience, applications must be built to be cloud-native, i.e., they ought to be portable to different deployment environments. These applications tend to be relatively small, independent, and loosely coupled. These traits help in achieving greater flexibility and resilience.
Microservice Architecture
An architectural approach that advocates developing an application as a cluster of smaller services (each of which functions independently) enables frequent updates to live applications without necessarily impacting customers.
Low/No Code Applications
Low code development platforms evolved as a natural response to the current predicament of increased business demand accompanied by a significant talent shortage. Low-code applications are infinitely faster, more scalable, and foster a whole new way of developing by breaking down silos between business and IT.
Serverless Architecture
Firms can completely do away with maintaining their own serves with the advent of serverless architecture. This way, teams can focus solely on building and running applications without having to worry about server maintenance, which will, in turn, be done by the cloud service providers.
Experience Transformation
Getting the hang of utilizing cloud-computing to power your operations would bring a wave of transformational changes across the enterprise.
API Enabled Infra And Applications
API's form the cornerstone of automation. For instance, they can enable operational efficiency by unlocking consistency across low-value repetitive tasks. They can also be incorporated into DevOps to allow for more dynamic systems that can scale automatically.
12-factor applications
Often regarded as the holy-grail for developing portable and resilient web applications, these are a set of methodologies that can build SaaS applications.
Much of the mystery surrounding cloud-computing comes from the desire to seek a one-size-fits-all approach towards cloud computing. Business leaders who can set aside short-term objectives and invest a fair amount of time and resources into understanding their organizations' unique needs are better positioned to create a cloud strategy that can work for their respective organizations. When it comes to the cloud adoption journey, firms must assess every step in terms of long-term benefits and resist the temptation of giving in to trends that might not necessarily work in their case.
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