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  • Writer's pictureTimmy Malmgren

The key to success in your journey to the cloud! | SEDC Blog

Updated: Feb 18




Starting your journey to the cloud can be quite a large challenge to take on, even more so if you have not worked with a cloud environment before. Often bound by our predefined view of what an IT-environment is suppose to look like (by years of on-premise experience), moving to the cloud in an efficient and dare I say correct way requires a different set of tools and expertise. The biggest reason for this is that in a cloud environment we have the freedom and possibilities to work in a whole new way, giving more freedom to developers and users but containing a secure environment. There is also a new "simplicity" in the fact that with the "press of a button" we can create network connections (peering) between different networks, set up public connections to servers, resources and much much more. This "simplicity" without the correct framework can also become an extreme hassle and security risk! Just because something CAN be done in one way does not mean it SHOULD. There is also a new aspect of how cost and billing works in a cloud environment, we are often more used with a traditional way of calculating hardware costs and licenses on a more yearly basis and therefor need to take in to consideration how our next 3-5 year utilization will look. While in cloud based environments you can have a more flexible scalability by adding or removing resources more on the fly. These are of course only a few examples of challenges you will face when moving to a cloud based or hybrid environment, but you can easily imagine how this can quickly get out of control unless you have a good framework in place.



What is Microsoft cloud adoption framework and why does it help you succeed with your journey to the cloud?


In a short summary Microsoft cloud adoption framework for Azure is a complete lifecycle framework for moving to, working with, maintain your Azure environment and to help reach your goal! To do this it covers the more technical aspects like setting up your platform, policies, network and migration plan as well as the more non-technical like defining your strategy, planning, creating teams, responsibilities and skills readiness. This will help make sure your organization is both correctly prepared for the migration to the cloud as well as helping everyone understand and have a common goal!


An overview of Microsoft cloud adoption framework for Azure



Now lets have a more practical look into how cloud adoption framework helps with all these challenges! We will go through a light version of the steps here as an example how this works in real life scenario.


Define Strategy


Our first step would be to define a strategy for how we would accomplish this journey and make sure we get the most out of Azures potential as possible, this in itself contains several important decisions. Below are the four key steps that will be defined during this “phase”, preferably these steps are handled as a workshop between the people with the authority to take these decisions as well as the people with the expertise on Azure and your current platform.


Define, understand and document your motivations for moving to Azure. Whether it be to accelerate application releases, reduce cost, improve scalability or something else, it is important to document these motivators for all partners that will be involved, this will help progress and priority management as well as giving everyone a greater understanding for why this cloud adoption is important to your business!


Document business outcomes. Just as there are motivators to initiate a transformation journey to the cloud there is also expected business outcomes that we can actually measure to make sure we align with our expected goals! It can overlap with our motivators but does not have to be exclusive to them. For example you could have a few big motivators as focus but have several more expected business outcomes.


Business Justification is the measurement part of the strategy, this goes beyond the focus on our business outcomes and we look into if there are more indicators for a successful cloud adoption.


Prioritize project. Choosing the first cloud adaptation project can be very difficult in some scenarios and easier in others and there is no one size fits all here. But looking at the motivators and business outcomes the goal is to try starting with systems and applications that align as close as possible with as many of your motivators and outcomes as possible. However depending on these factors it can also be other factors that decides this! It is however important to have your start-line even if the finish-line and prioritizes may change over the course of your transformation journey.


Plan

Now its time to define our cloud adoption plan, as moving to Azure is not a small task! Cloud adoption framework provides you with several methodologies to help you tackle what can feel like a daunting task at first! We will look at some of the biggest pillars and summarize how they would be used to transform your strategy and goals to a more hands on plan!


Digital estate. To move to the cloud we need to know what we need to move by evaluating our current assets. This includes making sure it is used today (will we actually need it going forward?), does it have the right size? (maybe it can be optimized to reduce compute usage), we make sure we have a good understanding of dependencies, this will make sure we can make correct choices when, moving, replacing or wind down systems and applications.


Initial organization alignment is the part where we make sure we understand that even while a cloud journey is heavy on the technical aspect, it is just as important (if not more so in some cases) that we make sure we understand the human aspect of our organization. We can have great goals and excellent technical skills for all we want, but if we cant translate this into the human aspect of having good control, management, routines and responsibilities we are going to end up with an environment full of issues just because we did not align these new ways of working in our organization. In this part we make sure we have started the process of creating teams with defined responsibilities and mandate over certain areas. This is usually a long process and is probably going to take some time and its not mandatory to have all this figured out in the start, but its important to have plans and a foundation!


Skills readiness plan. One problem that many organization face is that we tend to learn while doing, since its hard to find time for educational seminars, courses and studies. It is important to understand that adopting to the cloud without the right skills and competence for your employees is most likely going to cost you more than you can ever hope to save by not making sure you have equipped your IT department with the right skills to handle this new environment and the new challenges that come with it! Therefor this step is not to be taken lightly! Cloud adoption framework makes sure we identify and documents these gaps, as well as making a plan how we make sure we have the right skills going forward!


Cloud adoption plan. This part is all about turning all our strategy, our goals and documentation into a usable real life action plan that can be used during our transformation project by the involved parties. This plan will be used to make sure we get past the challenges we identified and align with our documented business outcomes.


Ready


This is where we start to get a little more hands on technical, we start preparing for the Azure landing zone architecture (enterprise-scale framework) with the use of the “Azure setup guide” from Microsoft. There is a lot of technical design aspect to cover here as with any infrastructure such as, naming convention, access, policies, network, billing, monitoring, backup, automatization and so on, cloud adoption framework splits all this into different main category’s to make it more manageable. All this should be considered with care as some things can be hard to change later, enterprise-scale will help in many of these areas but some flexibility and customization will still most likely be applied. Enterprise-scale is based on Microsoft best practices and you should always evaluate carefully if you want to make different design decisions! As this step is all about the design we will not go into any deeper analyze of this as its still should be a non-technical post!


An overview of the main design areas in the ready step of Microsoft cloud adoption framework.



Adopt


Now it’s time to set up the first landing zone and architecture according to our design decisions. We start migrate our first system/application that has been decided earlier whether it is through lift and shift, refactoring or replacing it entirely. We also start with the modernizing aspect where we work to improve the existing applications efficiency, time to market and/or reduce cost. This is all done with the help of the data and decisions set up during the earlier phases. This step is also where we adopt more cloud-native technologies to make sure we get the most out of our stay in Azure.


Govern and Manage


With all this new flexibility, scalability and increase of freedom it is important to have a well thought out process of maintaining an secure and modern environment that follows best practices even in the future. These parts of adoption framework stretches over the entire lifecycle of your Azure environment and is fundamental for making sure that this environment still keeps up with best practices even after your transformation journey has ended. Cloud adoption framework offers methodology, benchmark tool and will help you build a governance foundation and improve upon it, as well as constantly evaluate your governance maturity. Maintaining your new environment is also a new challenge, as we talked about working in a cloud environment is different so its only natural that maintaining it will be different to. Cloud adoption framework will have strong dependencies on the employs that’s going to maintain your environment and will therefor help you create operation teams and operation baseline for your workload as well as help your lifecycle management of these.


Summary


There are several technical and non-technical challenges in moving to a cloud environment! Cloud adoption framework will make sure you have the right tools, strategy, skills and conditions to succeed with your journey to Azure! However something to consider is that even tough Microsoft cloud adoption framework approaches cloud adaptation as a sort of self-service project, I still would strongly recommend you to seek out a partner who have experience and are specialized on these kind of projects. There are some decisions and implementations that are extremely difficult to change later down the road, and having a partner by your side who have done this exercise several times before will definitely increases your chances for success and will most likely end up saving you time and unnecessary expenses!

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