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Don’t race into the cloud

Don’t race into the cloud: Why transformation should start on premises

Andrew Gough, Client Services Development Director at Agilisys, questions the usual cloud advice to ‘migrate now, transform later’, arguing it makes better sense to optimise IT in situ first.

When it comes to cloud migration, it’s no surprise public sector organisations are in a hurry. Facing tight financial constraints and rising public expectations, the cloud offers the chance to modernise services and drastically reduce technology spending.

That’s why, when vendors recommend an immediate ‘lift and shift’ to the cloud, organisations might be tempted to agree. After all, the faster you replicate your existing IT environment in the cloud, the faster you can switch off on premises equipment and start saving—right?

A ‘lift and shift’ certainly sounds simple enough. In theory, building like-for-like should make it easy to understand how your target environment ought to look, as well as simplifying on-going management—after all, you’ve been managing it for years already.

However, in practice, replicating your existing IT environment in the cloud can not only present plenty of hurdles, it’s also likely to be a false economy. The problem is many organisations don’t have a clean, well-documented IT environment. In fact, it’s not unusual to find on that premises systems have grown organically over many years, resulting in a complex and tangled technology stack.

In our experience, the challenge isn’t just hundreds of applications, servers and storage volumes—it’s years of underinvestment, employees leaving with critical knowledge, or old systems that were never consolidated or switched off. These ‘lots of little things’ make migrating into the cloud on a like-for-like basis an uphill struggle. Even if you can replicate your existing environment, poor documentation can mean you don’t know how services talk to each other and their dependency on the infrastructure configuration.

Our point is this: given that some remedial work is always required, why not do it in situ first? That way, you can start spring-cleaning your IT environment incrementally, with the ability to make changes easily. Simply put, transforming your IT in situ is a failsafe approach.

With a lean, spring-cleaned and well-documented IT environment that consumes fewer resources, you’ll be perfectly positioned to start cloud migration. Ensuring your existing IT is fit for purpose, correctly sized and still required makes the migration more robust, faster, simpler to manage and cheaper to undertake.

To give just one example of how dramatic the difference can be, consider one London borough we worked with recently. With our support, the borough reduced its server estate from 915 to just 236—a drop of almost 75%. Needless to say, this made the subsequent cloud migration vastly less complex. In our experience, rationalising and optimising existing IT in situ can halve the cost of cloud migration.

A smaller IT estate also substantially reduces the cost of operating in the cloud, compared to supporting a much larger, unoptimised tangle of systems. Inevitably, some of the saving is spent on the remedial preparation work itself. However, this process also acts as a kind of ‘cloud insurance’—protecting organisations against the costly and convoluted problems that can result from a cloud migration that’s too rapid.

It’s also worth considering that many organisations will have higher business priorities than optimising and rationalising cloud-based IT after a migration. Ultimately, those distractions can mean that savings planned beforehand may never actually be realised afterwards.

So, the next time you’re invited to ‘migrate now, transform later’, remember that cloud transformation may be a race, but preparation is rarely wasted.

Download our public sector cloud roadmap now to discover more about Agilisys and how we can support your cloud journey.