Cloud, cloud, cloud everyone says migrate to the cloud. What they don’t say is how.

Let’s start with the second thing first. The first thing, the decision to migrate to the cloud was made for you, so you get to start at step two. Excellent, you can say you’ve already started your cloud migration project, which is true.

The second thing is to assess what you have. We’ve all done migrations of some kind. Every time you move between homes, it’s a migration. And sadly, I’d say we’ve all moved some stuff from dwelling to dwelling simply because it was already in our house or apartment. Assessments, as you know, can take some time. What is in that box that’s been stuffed in the attic, closet, basement, garage for the last seven years?

A migration is a good time to open all those boxes and see if the contents are still useful or have some sentimental value. Cloud migrations offer the same opportunity to examine if applications, systems and data are useful and have corporate value. Just like it doesn’t make sense to move a box of old VHS tapes when you don’t have a VCR, it might not make sense to migrate an application to the cloud that no one has used in three years.

A good assessment will consider many factors:

  • Duplication of application or system – Why do we have three email systems?
  • Relative value of the data – Is a petty cash database covering 1990-2000 relevant?
  • Cost – What is the operational support cost of maintaining an on-premises system?
  • Utility of the system – We still have alarm clocks?

Deduplication

Over time, things can become redundant. You buy a DVD player but your VCR still works so you keep it. Then you buy a DVR. At some point the closet is full of stuff you don’t use any more. You don’t want your data center to be your organization’s closet. And when you migrate to a cloud you don’t want to pay to migrate or support multiple systems that do the same thing. If you don’t do an evaluation you may be surprised when the bill arrives.

Data Value

Before my next-to-last move I spent some time going through boxes I’d been carting around for longer than I care to disclose. I found old pay slips and vacation request forms with a truly horrifying amount of personal information on them, full name, social security number, date of birth and more. Not only was the data no longer useful, but it was so sensitive that I couldn’t just recycle it. I ended up buying a paper shredder then recycling it. Older systems may have very sensitive information that is no longer useful but if exposed, could lead to much bigger issues. Secure disposal of data is critical to success.

Operational Expenditure (OPEX)

Maintaining a vintage car takes more time and effort than a newer one. Some people may want a vintage car, but most people don’t want a vintage computer, at least not to use. My first computer didn’t even have a hard drive. I had to install the operating system from 5.25” floppy every time I turned it on, then load the word processing application, then put in a data disk to save my work. Frequently OPEX is calculated by costs for spare parts, but the time people spend coaxing older equipment to function is more important. My current laptop boots in under 45 seconds. The time savings are significant.

Utility

I can’t remember when I last owned an alarm clock. I think it was 1999. The last time I owned a dedicated portable music player was 2002. I have a “phone” that does those things, plus takes pictures, makes and plays movies, is a flashlight, pays for coffee, parking and more, is a map, is a newspaper, is a calendar, is a yoga/fitness instructor, is a translator, is a scientific calculator, is a book collection, is an address book, is a TV, is a note taker, is a personal assistant, is a travel agent, is a tour guide, is a concierge, is a gaming system and more. Instead of needing a whole room for this stuff, a magical device, that we still call a phone, fits in my pocket. Newer applications and systems have features that might consolidate 42 functions into one application.

Just like moving, migrations take planning. Or you could end up with an inefficient cloud full of duplicated systems, tools you no longer need, data which should be disposed of and a box of Mr. Belvedere tapes.

About the Author CJ Johnson, Servicefront Solutions Architect

CJ Johnson is a senior solutions architect at NJVC and is leading NJVC's efforts to reinvent enterprise IT. She has solved IT challenges for the federal government across three continents and in four languages for more than 20 years. She is an ardent hockey fan (and is known to live stream games at 0230).