This series has stepped through cloud migration best practices. After providing an overview, we discussed:
- Classifying business-critical data.
- Updating organizational IT governance policies.
- Application screening and cloud workload selection.
- How to select the most appropriate target deployment environment.
With all of that completed, it’s now time to select the right cloud service provider (CSP) and finally execute the migration. Cloud provider selection is an area that many enterprises ignore. Executives looking to take advantage of the real business value that the cloud delivers often view providers simply as commodity technology providers. With this mindset, decision-makers usually pick the most familiar name. But this strategy is little more than throwing the dice.
A Smarter Way to Select a Provider
Cloud service provider selection requires a well-developed hybrid IT strategy, an unbiased application portfolio review and the appropriate due diligence in the evaluation of all credible cloud service providers. When discussing this linkage, I leverage the Digital Transformation Layered Triangle as a visualization tool. After agreeing to an appropriate high-level hybrid IT strategy, a digital transformation core tenant, candidate CSPs capabilities must be compared based on their:
- Availability of technology services that align with the business/mission model.
- Availability of data security controls that address legal, regulatory and data sovereignty limitations.
- Compatibility of CSP sales process with enterprise acquisition process.
- Cost forecast alignment with budgetary expectations.
Understanding Cloud Service Agreements
Comparing cloud service agreements from the remaining viable service providers is next. These agreements typically have three components:
- Customer Agreement: Describes the overall relationship between the customer and provider. Service management includes the processes and procedures used by the cloud provider. Thus, it’s crucial to provide definitions of the roles, responsibilities and execution of the processes. The customer agreement does this. This document can be called a “master agreement,” “terms of service” or simply “agreement.”
- Acceptable Use Policy (AUP): Defines activities that the provider considers to be improper or outright illegal. There is considerable consistency across cloud providers in these documents. While specific details may vary, the scope and effect of these policies remain the same, and these provisions typically generate the least concerns or resistance.
- Service-Level Agreement (SLA): Describes levels of service by in terms of availability, serviceability or performance. The SLA specifies thresholds and financial penalties associated with violations of these thresholds. Well-designed SLAs can avoid conflict and facilitate the resolution of an issue before it escalates into a dispute.
Designing a CSA Evaluation
The CSA Evaluation must take into account all critical functional and nonfunctional organizational requirements and IT governance policies, to ensure:
- Mutual understanding of roles and responsibilities.
- Compatibility with all enterprise business level policies.
- An identifiable metrics for all critical performance objectives.
- Agreement on a plan for meeting all data security and privacy requirements.
- Identified service management points of contact for each critical technology services.
- Agreement on service failure management process.
- Agreement on disaster recovery plan process.
- An approved hybrid IT governance process.
- Agreement on a CSP exit process.
This due diligence process maximizes the success probability of any cloud migration program. With CSP selection complete, the organization can now tackle the hard work of executing the actual migration. This task should include:
- Planning and executing an organizational change management plan.
- Verifying and clarifying all key stakeholder roles.
- Detailed project planning and execution.
- Establishing internal processes for monitoring and periodically reporting the status of all key performance indicators.
- Establishing an internal cloud migration status feedback and response process.
The most important lesson learned across all industries is that cloud migration is not a project for the IT team alone. This is an enterprise-wide endeavor that requires executive leadership and focused change management efforts across multiple internal domains.
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