Migrating to the Cloud the Right Way by Managing the Complexities of Today’s IT Architectures

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man holding up ipad on fingers like a platter with a virtual cloud symbol floating above

2020 has proven to be an accelerator of cloud adoption and will continue to drive a faster conversion to cloud-centric IT. Market intelligence firm IDC predicts that by the end of 2021, most enterprises will accelerate their shift to cloud-centric digital infrastructure and application services twice as fast as before the pandemic. The research firm also predicts total global cloud spending (hardware, software, managed services included) will reach an astonishing $1 trillion by 2024.

The pandemic’s pressures and shifting consumer preferences towards faster digital-based experiences have pushed organizations to make the transformation to the cloud.  How can your organization overcome the complexities of its on-premise architecture dependencies with a migration to the cloud to dramatically improve innovation, performance, and availability while reducing IT risk? 

The Office Depot Migration Story 

Traditional retailers like Office Depot are under intense competition from other office supply stores and the ubiquitous pressures of Amazon. The company needed to become leaner and more technology-focused to accelerate agility, especially during its crucial “back to school” sales period which drives significant e-commerce revenue for the company. The office supply giant wanted to simplify its IT infrastructure, reduce operational costs, and improve the performance of its Oracle E-Business Suite financial, supply chain, and HR management systems.  

Office Depot previously hosted its business application systems on an aging Solaris infrastructure. This caused poor system performance, long lead times to provision instances, and inadequate disaster recovery processes. They needed to migrate their existing on-premise applications to the cloud without any negative impact to performance or business SLAs. The scale of the migration was impressive, with the company managing 30+ applications and 25+ databases, holding 55 terabytes of data. Maintaining this existing on-premise system’s stability required extraordinary measures which cost the retailer considerable time and money.  

Office Depot engaged the consulting services of BIAS, an award-winning Oracle Certified Partner and IT services provider, to migrate their on-premise applications to Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure platform (OCI). The migration aligned with Office Depot’s modernization goals of simplifying their IT infrastructure and massively improving the performance of the E-Business suite and other related applications. BIAS used a methodical OCI approach, with a robust cross-platform strategy to move Office Depot from Solaris to Linux. Highlights included the integration of Active Directory to authenticate 30,000+ users, data encryption at-rest and in-transit, and four mock production cutovers to ensure a successful migration.  

Office Depot went live two months prior to the “back to school” season and declared it had one of its most successful “back to school” seasons of all time, in terms of system performance and availability. The successful migration also increased the performance of Office Depot’s OLTP and batch concurrent programs by 200 to 1,000 percent. They simplified their IT infrastructure and improved the performance of their applications and lifecycle management. Enhancing Office Depot’s on-premise applications to perform with more agility took a determined migration strategy. Similarly, other companies can follow the office retailer’s strategy to realize significant improvements in system performance, reduced time for backups and provisioning new instances, and reduce disaster recovery time from days to hours, and automate routine configuration and management tasks. 

Involving and Reassuring Your People 

A core part of your migration strategy must involve getting the CISO and line of business managers on board early in the process. The CISO needs to ensure all of your organization’s data is secure and compliant with regulations. The biggest worry for managers who run the profit centers and those who oversee the applications is if the business applications will perform as well or better in the cloud. It’s a simple equation for them: they now have fixed costs, lower lead times for provisioning instances for their various projects and initiatives, and the applications perform to expectations.  

When evaluating a migration to the cloud, one of the key variables is application performance. Business users will expect performance to increase markedly and business SLAs to be maintained, otherwise the business case is not compelling. Engaging the line of business owners and managers throughout the process will ensure consensus to support the transformation. Failing to include them for input in how this impacts the business could lead to an elongated process when looking for group consensus. 

For many companies, the transformation to the cloud requires a certain set of skills that most organizations don’t have on staff. To ensure project success, engaging outside expertise is a vital consideration given the visibility these transformations have with executive leadership. This will also ensure that other critical tasks are being executed by your existing staff and avoid competing demands and resource burnout.  Office Depot’s cloud migration journey is a great example of collaboration between staff and an outside partner to execute a successful cloud transformation.   

Finding the Right Partner 

A modern, cloud-based digital platform is the new “arms race” for companies striving to achieve a competitive edge. Similar to Office Depot, companies need a fast and methodical approach to move system workloads to the cloud, with minimal to no business disruption. There are many variables to consider when a company embarks on a cloud migration strategy. Application performance and reliability, security, networks, integration, testing automation, cutover downtime, just to mention a few. Selecting an experienced and trusted migration partner is essential to having the right cloud strategy and a successful migration. The top providers will build a complete solution that includes an Agile-based methodology, a digital platform, the right APIs, migration toolkits, and automation to make it easier and faster to move to the cloud. One element that is often missed when selecting a partner is their customer experience. A partner might have the best tools in the industry, but if they don’t communicate and respond effectively with clients, then you’ll likely end up with a  suboptimal cloud journey and mediocre results. Smooth migrations happen when partners lead and educate their clients regularly on all stages of the program and critical steps to success.

There’s a glut of system integrators in the market touting their tools and services. Selecting the right partner for your cloud migration journey can be the difference between success and failure for all stakeholders. There are many factors to a cloud migration in order for it to be successful in enabling business innovation, and that’s where a trusted and experienced partner becomes invaluable. Build a list of potential partners and take the time to examine their technical, managerial, and client expertise. Interview several of their customers privately and ask for honest and critical feedback. Your due diligence will go a long way in helping you achieve both your company and personal goals and objectives.

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