Justin Campbell CTO
Covid has changed the world for all of us, in many ways. And it’s changed forever. In business, it’s well-documented that digital transformation projects have been accelerating as a result of the pandemic because, fundamentally, the way we work, the way we transact and the way we plan for the future will never go back to how it was before the virus struck.
The cloud, not surprisingly, is taking centre stage. For some businesses, it’s the panacea that will help them ride out the rest of this crisis and prepare for other unforeseen events in the future. We don’t necessarily expect a spate of global pandemics, but there’s something about the rapid, devastating effect that Covid has had on many businesses that makes them determined to ready themselves for, well, pretty much anything.
Those who are in this mindset need more than anything to be able to scale up and scale down, quickly, in response to external factors. Without the cloud, they might be running their own applications and infrastructure estate, unable to economise even though parts of their businesses might be moth-balled or in ‘survival’ mode. It’s not sustainable.
Right now, with case numbers falling and the UK vaccination programme proceeding apace, the race is on for businesses to migrate some or all of their IT to the cloud so they are properly prepared for a post-Covid world. The pressure is on, and that in itself raises the very real prospect that CIOs could get things wrong. And a large-scale migration project that runs overtime or budget, or simply doesn’t happen, is the last thing any business needs just now.
Let me talk through four of the most common scenarios we at Junkshon are seeing, and suggest some antidotes that might help.
Partner with a traditional consulting firm
Most companies lack the resources and skills to plan and manage migration, especially at the current time, so it’s tempting to simply outsource the whole task to one of the large consultancy firms. Their business model, while it might involve the use of technology like a Discovery tool, is squarely based on day-rate human capital, which is expensive and potentially open-ended. Perhaps even more critically, while consultancy firms are often hired because the customer’s own IT resources are severely limited, the reality is that they are often a massive drain on in-house IT teams.
A more progressive and economical approach is to buy services from companies who are investing in technology to deliver results far faster, thus obviating the need for 100s of hours of consulting effort and associated cost. At Junkshon, we have an AI-based tool that can map applications and infrastructure estate, do a full 7R analysis and build a business case, in less than 30 days. The level of automation is such that we can do this with minimal friction to the customer – in other words, we don’t take up much of their time.
Perhaps you’ve been bitten by the scenario I’ve described above? If so, it’s understandable that you’d want to keep control and avoid the outsourcing trap. But you have to ask yourselves some tough questions. Do you have the expertise to build a business case for cloud migration? Do you know enough about the cloud and the hyperscalers you’re likely to be partnering with? Will your resources become completely subsumed by this project? And perhaps most importantly, are you really best qualified to be your own agent of change?
What we see here is that companies who’ve gone down this route massively underestimate the size and complexity of the task. First of all, they think they know their own IT estate but rarely do. They’ve perhaps forgotten the spread of legacy systems across multiple platforms over several decades or failed to consider the critical interdependencies between different applications. Migration projects often grind to a halt at this first stage, because it’s not possible to create a business case without first having a full, clear picture of your IT estate.
Companies that have stalled migration projects will only restart them if they see a plan that’s fast, low-risk and cost-effective. At Junkshon, our immediate focus would be to quickly run an IT estate analysis, using our AI tool to ingest all available sources of data into our MCDB. This is a rapid, painless process that quickly shows the customer the insights they were lacking before. Then we can start building a business case and a migration plan.
Why not? You’ve survived this long! It’s hard to generalise here. Many companies will be robust enough to rid out the pandemic while running their own IT systems. But many won’t, and perhaps the bigger point here is that moving to the cloud isn’t just about survival, it’s about preparing for the future.
If you’re a retailer, for example, your existing IT might have been built around traditional in-store shopping, with some on-line elements, click and collect, etc. But you know that not only has the pandemic changed that, but it isn’t going to go back to how it was before. So, you need to transform your IT to support overwhelmingly online consumer behaviour. Moving to the cloud, then, is not just about agility, it’s an opportunity to modernize your IT so it’s future-proof. An opportunity you can’t afford to pass up.
Just use a tool
You’re reluctant to work with a big consultancy, but you fully appreciate that the Discovery phase is the most important step you can take before you can build a migration plan. So, you invest in a tool to map your IT estate yourselves.
Discovery tools are, without doubt, a potentially important source of IT estate data but, in isolation, they are unlikely to give you enough detail about your applications and infrastructure environment to build a watertight migration strategy. We take feeds from multiple sources, including these tools, when we do our own analysis, but on their own, they might get you to first base overall. And the danger is, you might get stuck there.
There are other considerations, too. Discovery tools can be expensive – you can find yourself with big software licence fees. Look for SaaS or ‘pay as you go’ alternatives. Now’s not the time to get dragged into big software contracts.
The point I really wanted to make here, is that the cloud really is a ‘promised land’ for businesses planning for post-Covid conditions. It’s an opportunity to build in that agility that facilitates that scaling up and down as situations demand; and a chance to modernize and adapt to a world that’s changed forever.
But the journey is difficult, and companies should find partners who have tools and services that are as agile and responsive as the cloud itself.
I think maybe we say traditional consulting firms. And then say the new way is to buy services from companies that are investing in technology to develop results faster without the need for 100s of hours of consulting effort. I think the best way to keep this inline so that we don’t upset the hyperscalers is to amend a bit to say that just using a tool is not going to get you the results you need. You need a seasoned cloud migration architect and smart tooling to get the job done effectively. Feel free to connect up with me on Linkedin or Twitterif you are interested in knowing more about what we do at junkshon.