Digitalisation & Disruption

How to navigate the cloud optimisation maze by looking beyond migration

If your company isn’t focused on cloud optimisation, it could miss out on opportunities that data ecosystems and modern technologies deliver. Discover how to navigate the post-cloud migration landscape and future-proof your business.

7 minutes to read
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In today's fast-paced digital landscape, the cloud has emerged as a game-changer thanks to its ability to offer flexibility, scalability, and efficiency to businesses of all shapes and sizes. Many organisations have already embraced the digital transformation journey and migrated to the cloud. However, the journey shouldn’t stop there.

Once you've successfully migrated to the cloud, you enter a new phase of challenges and opportunities — shifting your focus to cloud optimisation. You see, to truly reap the benefits of the cloud, you’ve got to have a strategy, remain vigilant, and develop an eye for potential pitfalls. After all, failing to navigate this post-migration phase can lead to growing costs and missed opportunities. 

In this article, we will delve into the key considerations that should demand your attention post-migration. By understanding and preparing for these potential challenges, you can ensure that your cloud journey continues to be rewarding and doesn't lead to wasteful expenditure or stagnation.

Importance of a cloud optimisation strategy

The explosive growth of digital information and technological advances have created fertile ground for businesses to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and data ecosystems for impactful initiatives that create lasting value for employees, customers, and shareholders.

For example, one of our recent projects with Innovate UK has already demonstrated how data ecosystems can support decarbonisation in the e-mobility sector. On the other hand, in the healthcare industry, AO Foundation observed first-hand how data sharing enabled a patient privacy breakthrough

However, this connected landscape requires a solid foundation and that’s precisely where the cloud comes in. To fully leverage the benefits of data ecosystems, you’ve got to first ensure that your cloud is set up well and continues to work effectively.

Since around the mid-2010s, there’s been a notable shift towards cloud-native strategies as hyperscaler services have evolved and the lift and shift approach became less popular. As a result, having a thought-out cloud optimisation strategy is particularly important in the present day.

global cloud communication

Key drivers of cloud optimisation

Having established why optimising your cloud strategy is important, it’s worth uncovering the tell-tale signs that indicate you need to rethink your current approaches. In essence, how do you know when it’s time to double down on cloud optimisation?

Spiralling costs

Higher than expected costs are a clear indication that your cloud setup may not be fully optimised. In fact, most companies place cost reduction as a top goal when working on cloud optimisation initiatives. According to G2, ‘61% of organisations plan to optimise existing use of the cloud for cost savings, making it the top initiative for the fifth year in a row’.

So, why do spiralling costs occur? There are a couple of contributing factors we, at Zühlke, have identified as most common:

  • Cost underestimation: inability to model costs accurately and account for ‘what if’ scenarios at the migration stage.
  • Egress charges: unforeseen or unexpected network egress charges.
  • Duplicated licensing costs: additional costs for software licensing in migration and parallel run scenarios.
  • Lack of right-sizing: like-for-like sizing of compute and storage without considering the benefits of cloud elasticity and cost models.
  • Limited use of cloud-native: inability to benefit from autoscaling due to app vendor support or prohibitive software licensing costs.

Tactical decisions

Another key driver of cloud optimisation can be the result of tactical decisions you had to make during your initial migration. For example, you might have been running out of time or budget and had to switch to the lift and shift approach which you didn’t initially set out to do. Then, once migration was complete, nobody went back to ‘fix’ the implications of lift and shift. This is where the problem occurs.

A lift and shift migration does not eliminate all the technical debt and issues you had on-premises. It just transfers them onto the cloud. So, without a post-migration plan, your temporary tactical decision will leave you stuck with technical debt from day one.

group of people deciding on cloud strategy

Technical debt

Technical debt is a major driver of cloud optimisation initiatives. As we mentioned above, sometimes you have no choice but to opt for a lift and shift approach, simply moving your technical debt into the cloud and hampering future velocity. 

As a result, you’ll still rely on legacy tools and provisioning techniques. You won’t be able to realise the full cost benefits of autoscaling, CI/CD, environment tear down, and sustainability. Plus, it’ll very likely complicate your networking in hybrid and multi-cloud scenarios, add egress charges, and contribute negatively to latency and the user experience.

In short, if you’ve got a lot of technical debt following on-premises to cloud migration, it’s time to optimise your cloud infrastructure.

Unintended events

Unintended events are those outside of your control but that can trigger the need for cloud optimisation. Unfortunately, you might have the most meticulously planned cloud migration programme, but then one of the following events occurs and it significantly affects your project:

  • Change of CIO/CTO leadership: could lead to an entirely new cloud strategy.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: can result in cloud rationalisation and multi-cloud strategies.
  • Introduction of new regions: leads to changes in data jurisdiction.
  • Geopolitical events: things like Brexit can raise new compliance questions.
  • Cloud repatriation: the workloads may not run as expected on cloud and require migration again.
  • New regulations: may require you to retrospectively make changes to your cloud architecture and DR positions.
  • Net new workloads: new programme of work could require a landing zone re-architecture to facilitate implementation.

You can’t necessarily foresee these events, but you can plan more effectively upfront. This is where an experienced cloud partner like Zühlke can really help mitigate the downsides, having seen various scenarios and dealt with multiple unforeseen events.

dominos showing consequences of events

Cloud sprawl

This challenge is particularly prevalent in organisations that pursue multi-cloud strategies. Cloud sprawl occurs when a company doesn’t manage or monitor its cloud environment effectively, allowing cloud instances, services, and providers to proliferate across the organisation without much oversight. This not only creates a messy IT architecture but also increases costs through unused cloud instances and a need for a vast array of technical skills to manage it all.

Future cloud strategy and roadmap

Lastly, if your cloud strategy only encompassed the journey towards migration, it’s time to take it a step further. Once you’ve transitioned to the cloud, the work must not stop and you need to be looking beyond migration.

At Zühlke, we have five key recommendations when it comes to your cloud optimisation strategy:

  1. Avoid lift and shift and embrace cloud-native. Of course, there are legitimate use cases for using the lift and shift approach. For example, when you want to avoid another physical data centre move, need to transition quickly in a stressed exit scenario, want to avoid incurring financial penalties for a delayed exit or contingency extension, or if you’ve got stubborn legacy workloads. However, whenever possible, it’s best to avoid the lift and shift method. After all, you won’t always reduce costs with it. So, embrace cloud-native strategies where it’s financially, operationally, and architecturally viable.
  2. Model your cloud costs and run ‘what if’ scenarios. Preparation is key and running the numbers on your potential costs can save you time and money in the long run.
  3. Review the tactical decisions. Carefully consider any tactical decisions you’ve made during migration, they may come back to bite you.
  4. Anticipate unexpected events. Don’t go at it alone. Avert the impact of unforeseen situations by partnering with experienced cloud specialists.
  5. Don’t rush to multi-cloud. Employing a multi-cloud approach has the potential to increase your costs, complexity, and challenges. Therefore, it’s advisable not to prioritise this strategy too early.

Benefit from our cloud optimisation services

At Zühlke, we understand the unintended outcomes that can arise from cloud migration and our team is ready to help. Our Cloud and DevOps experts can identify and assess your immediate and future cloud challenges, pinpoint the necessary steps to help you pivot, and realign your roadmap to ensure success.

So, if you want to regain control of your cloud costs, tackle technical debt, and expedite your time-to-value – don’t hesitate to reach out to our team today. We’re here to help you create a solid foundation for the next steps in your cloud journey.

three colleagues working on cloud optimisation strategy