The 4 stages of a cloud transformation journey

451 Research released its cloud transformation journey model, explaining how enterprise needs change as they shift their infrastructure.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Cost savings is the main reason businesses move to the cloud, but cost and budget issues are also their biggest challenge in that journey. — 451 Research, 2018
  • A cloud journey has many highs and lows, and the needs of the business will change as it progress along each stage. — 451 Research, 2018

It may seem like businesses move to the cloud in a single, sweeping motion, but the reality of cloud migration is far more complex. According to 451 Research's cloud transformation journey model, released Tuesday, there are four key phases in the process.

Using literature references, 451 Research refers to the four stages as Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, War and Peace, A Tale of Two Options, and A Brave New World. As a company moves through the stages, their needs and challenges will likely change.

For example, according to a Voice of the Enterprise report from 451 Research, cost saving are the key driver for companies moving to the cloud in the first place, according to 38.8% of respondents. However, once these companies make it to the cloud, cost becomes their no. 1 pain point, according to 53.2% of those surveyed.

SEE: Cloud migration decision tool (Tech Pro Research)

Each cloud journey is its own story, the model report noted, and each company will experience highs and lows. But the desired outcome is similar.

"In our story, the happy ending is exploitation of the value of IT - not just using IT as a crutch to support the business, but also using IT as a driver of business value," the report said.

Top understand that journey, here are the four stage of cloud transformation, according to 451 Research.

1. Great Expectations

This is the cloud starting point. Company leaders begin to think through the reasons for moving to the cloud, and start the implementation. For many, cost will be a factor, but isn't the only reason to make the change.

"The inherent nature of pay-as-you-go pricing and the scalability and time to market it enables are also major motivations, as are availability and performance," the report said. "It appears that cost reductions are important, but value beyond cost is important, too."

Costs will go up as companies migrate apps and take on new cost models, but they will save money elsewhere. Net-new, cloud-native apps will require infrastructure that will up costs as well, the model report noted. At this point, experimentation is key, and costs are still low enough that IT isn't worried about optimizations, the report said.

2. Wuthering Heights

After the initial migration, costs grow to become the biggest challenge facing an organization in their cloud journey. Cloud costs increase because cloud resources are easy to access and relatively inexpensive, so users often have trouble controlling their spending, the report said.

This can be attributed to the Jevons paradox, which the report explains thusly: "Ease of access to technology and lower costs drive developers and administrators to consume more. Unit costs stay low, but total costs increase."

Resource sprawl is also a problem at this stage, as some resources get lost in the mix with no discernible owner. However, these lost resources still incur a cost, and therefore present a problem, the report said.

3. War and Peace

Once a business begins to understand its cloud consumption, it can work on reducing its spending. However, this isn't without conflict.

"There is a battle between flexibility and convenience, and control and governance," the report said. "Developers want to 'go to war' with new capability and capacity; administrators want the peace of secure and inexpensive capability."

To begin reducing costs and saving money, admins will looks to alternative pricing models. Products like Amazon Web Services (AWS) reserved or spot instances, Microsoft enterprise agreements, or Google's sustained-use pricing models can net an organization an average discount of 38%, the report noted.

Once costs rise to a certain level, an organization must decide if it wants to limit cloud consumption, or start to bring workloads back on-premises. The report refers to this as A Tale of Two Options.

In terms of limitation, this is where resource governance comes into play, as admins look to third-party tools to limit use based on a predetermined policy, the report said. Some companies have an approval hierarchy, while others opt to introduce showback and chargeback, putting the stress of responsibility on individual departments.

Another option is to bring repatriate workloads back on-premises. This is only done by a limited number of companies—mostly very large ones. According to the report, this can occur when larger enterprises reach a critical mass that makes public cloud no longer feasible in terms of cost, as their utilization is too high.

4. A Brave New World

Once a company chooses their option, the objective will be "to squeeze costs while enabling flexible IT consumption," the report said. Governance will help manage cost, but waste will also have to be accounted for. Companies may also look to cloud brokers to manage costs, and consider the effects of value-adding consumption as enabling growth, the report said.

Now the company enters the Time Machine phase, where they circle back and repeat the process. "But with each iteration, enterprises are more educated in resolving them or more adept at optimizing their experience," the report said.

Also see

Image: iStockphoto/M-image

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox