In the "Digitization in Practice" section, industry experts answer your questions on the subject of IT and business transformation. This time the focus is on how companies should master cloud migration and what pitfalls they need to avoid when planning and implementing the process. The answers were provided by Marc Wagner, Principal Consultant Cloud Migration, and Jens Feil, Project Manager Cloud Migration, at the software and IT consulting company SNP.
When companies decide to move their systems, data and applications to the cloud, they often face far-reaching strategic questions. After all, they increasingly use the migration to modernize existing IT landscapes at the same time and to prepare themselves for a fully digitalized working world. In addition, they are taking advantage of the opportunity to combine the cloud migration to other digitization projects, such as the introduction of SAP S/4HANA, in order to reduce the overall effort. Project managers should therefore take sufficient time for systematic planning and avoid rushing into action.
Project start: Identifying drivers for the cloud and status quo
In order to develop an ideal cloud strategy, it is useful to first of all identify the most significant internal drivers for the desired cloud use. Organizations often want to free themselves from the burden of a large, local data center and find a simpler, scalable alternative that allows them to respond more agilely to unexpected events such as the current pandemic. Further, some companies are primarily interested in cost reductions.
Alas, at the same time, companies need to get an overview of their current IT landscape: How large is the system, what data and applications are used? Can, may and should the entire system be outsourced or only certain parts? And last but not least: Is there another IT project scheduled that can be combined with the cloud migration?
Based on this information can be used as the basis for a well-considered and strategic decision on the ideal cloud infrastructure and the appropriate provider.
Cloud migration: Allowing sufficient time for preparatory work
Ideally, systematic preparatory work should be carried out at the same time: Many of our customer projects have shown that it pays off to clean up existing SAP ERP landscapes prior to the migration. If the volume of data can be reduced, less cloud storage will have to be leased later, which could save thousands of euros. It is also worth striving to reduce non-productive systems such as development and quality assurance systems. This often reveals further savings potential that can be more easily exploited as or in addition to archiving in the production system.
However, clean-up work generally proves to be time-consuming because it must be carried out in a legally compliant manner: It is advisable to plan several months for this task - prior to the actual cloud migration.
Selecting an IT solution for data migration, limiting downtime
In a next step, companies should take a detailed look at the question of how the cloud migration can be technically implemented. This fundamental decision has a significant impact on the success of the project. The goal should be an automated IT solution that enables a particularly fast and secure data migration, as it is technically necessary to shut down business processes in the course of the migration. Especially for globally active or strongly customer-oriented companies with continuous operations, it is important to keep system downtimes as low as possible, because they can quickly lead to high costs. A direct comparison shows how much downtime can vary depending on the approach: A modern migration strategy enables system conversions in a near-zero downtime process - operations can continue to run largely without disruption. In contrast, using a standard method, the same data migration would take considerably longer than a weekend with the IT system not being available.
Another practical tip is to make sure that the selected IT solution can simulate the effects of the planned changes prior to the actual migration. In this way, cost risks can be minimized and companies always retain control of the important project.
Knowing – and avoiding – common mistakes during the cloud migration
When complex systems and processes are transferred to the cloud, serious mistakes are sometimes made. Those who consider possible pitfalls in advance have a clear advantage. For example, it is important to deal with the company's interfaces, which ensure the exchange of information with internal and external communication partners. These digital connection points, often several thousand, must be identified prior to a cloud migration and must be converted or updated during this process. This is the only way to ensure continuous exchange between employees and with partners, suppliers and customers.
The issue of license costs should be on the agenda early on: In order to avoid additional costs, it is particularly important to clarify whether existing licenses can be retained in the cloud. Companies are also well advised to plan sufficient resources for test phases. In order to properly plan and document a migration and to ensure that balance sheets are presented without distortion, a precise agreement with the auditor is required, especially when migrating financial systems.
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Are you planning the migration to the cloud and have specific questions about project planning and implementation?
The two experts will gladly assist:
Marc Wagner, Principal Consultant Cloud Migration, E-Mail: email@example.com
Jens Feil, Projektlead Cloud Migration, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org