In recent discussions with IT executives concerning the cloud an interesting thing has come up – the nature of migration to the cloud. In talking with executives many see their migration to the cloud as similar to migrating to other technologies. The migration path is described as a slope with cloud technologies coming from zero to 100% while existing technologies decline at about the same rate. That type of transition is seen as orderly, smooth, natural, less risky and preserves the option to reverse course and go back. Hence the term migration.
Unfortunately, only ducks, elk, caribou, reindeer and other animals migrate. Systems do not migrate, they transition. The term migration denotes the ability to return as these animals leave one environment for another only to return latter to where they were.
Systems, resources, etc moving onto Internet based services, aka the cloud, definitely do not migrate and they do not transition on a slope. Not based on conversations with CIOs who have gone to the cloud in a major way.
The transition to the cloud is more like a cliff, one day you are 100% on your current owner operated or managed service and the next you are 100% on the new cloud based service. Running in parallel, cutting over gradually makes little sense. That has been the experience with people transitioning apps ranging from email to core systems.
Being a cliff means that it is difficult to go back and undo such a move. It’s not as drastic as burning your bridges behind you, but it is a significant change from the more gradual transitions, aka migrations, we are used to.
People planning a transition to the cloud therefore need to plan for a complete cutover on day one, limited to no parallel processing and the need to make personnel changes in short order rather than figure these things out over time. Does this require more planning and preparation work up front, yes, but remember you are not walking up a hill that you can easily walk back down, rather you are setting yourselves at a new height from which it is less possible to climb back down.