‘Think Before You Move to the Cloud’: Interview With SoftwareOne’s Gordon Davey

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It’s critical for organizations thinking about migrating to the cloud to identify the reasons for the transition and ensure those reasons align with the business’s goals and outcomes.

Knowing the “whys” behind the migration enables organizations to understand the guiding values that drive the business forward.

In this interview, Techopedia sits down with Gordon Davey, SoftwareOne’s global practice director for Azure cloud services, to talk about the issues related to moving workloads to the cloud, the need to understand the “whys” of cloud migration, building a business case for success, and the pros and cons of multi-cloud and poly-cloud strategies.

About Gordon Davey

About Gordon Davey

Gordon Davey, SoftwareOne’s global practice director for Azure cloud services, is a senior technology executive and cloud computing expert.

He has 25 years’ experience in the IT industry and more than 15 years specifically focusing on cloud technologies.

Davey joined SoftwareOne in 2020 and has held global roles since then in various areas of cloud services, product development, and shared platforms.

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Key Takeaways

  • The foundation of an effective cloud migration strategy is a deep understanding of what drives a business and the value that it is bringing to market.
  • A strong business case for cloud migration needs to come from an intimate knowledge of your business and its needs.
  • While certain approaches to migration may be more technically expedient than others, that doesn’t always translate to the greatest business impact.
  • The main roadblocks that companies encounter when migrating to the cloud come from having disjointed attitudes and strategies.

Identifying the ‘Whys’ Behind a Move to the Cloud

Q: Why is it important for organizations to fully articulate why they’re moving to the cloud?

A: Organizations must identify the “why” behind the transformation in terms of the business goals and outcomes they want to achieve from the digital transformation. Identifying the “why” ensures a north star against which prioritization can be measured.

There may be multiple “whys” behind the transformation, but they should all be aligned to business goals and outcomes.

Having a clear set of “whys” also provides the organization a North Star against which the ongoing decisions can be measured, i.e., do they contribute to achieving the “why”?

Once an organization has outlined and articulated the desired business goals, it can create workstreams against which the program can be aligned and the prioritization effort can be undertaken.

Q: What do companies need to consider when they migrate their applications to the cloud?

A: IT leaders should be cognizant of balancing their tech preferences with business outcomes when shifting their applications to the cloud.

While certain approaches to migration may be more technically expedient than others, that doesn’t always translate to the greatest business impact.

Cloud migration is a step toward scaling a business as a whole, and the approaches should therefore be emblematic of desired business outcomes.

 Q: How does an organization build a business case to make its migration journey a success?

A: A strong business case for cloud migration requires intimate knowledge of your business and its needs. Approaches to the cloud will naturally vary based on a company’s end goals.

Executives and IT leaders need to clearly define technology’s role in delivering value to customers, map out expected benefits and outcomes, set measurable goals, and identify healthy evaluation habits to integrate new tech and prevent stagnation.

With these practices in place, building a business case simply becomes about filling in the blanks, with operational knowledge informing the smaller choices that add up to a sound big-picture strategy.

Cloud migration should provide an improved answer to the question: “What does your business do and why?”

Challenges of Migrating Workloads to the Cloud

Q: What are the challenges of migrating workloads to the cloud? How do organizations overcome those challenges?

A: The main roadblocks that companies encounter when migrating to the cloud come from having disjointed attitudes and strategies.

Cloud migration entails dramatic transformation, and organizations that see it as a simple data center replacement or fail to understand the nuances around cost and other areas risk fundamental misunderstanding.

The best way to avoid this is ensuring alignment with larger business goals across departments, learning what each wants or needs from the cloud, and adjusting the migration strategy accordingly.

Q: What are the best practices for a cloud migration strategy?

A: The foundation of an effective cloud migration strategy is a deep understanding of what drives a business and the value that it is bringing to market.

From there, organizations should set measurable goals, put in place governance and standards that are vendor-independent, and assess the right balance between standard off-the-shelf solutions and a more tailored cloud approach that best suits their needs.

Companies should also investigate new trends in the cloud space, constantly evaluating new innovations to determine whether they fit their cloud strategies and being careful not to over-index on any one solution.

Importance of a Balanced Cloud Assessment

Q: What is the importance of a balanced cloud assessment when organizations prepare for a transition to the cloud?

A: In a highly nuanced cloud journey, it is important to fully capture how applications are currently deployed, the technologies within them, and the barriers that may be holding an organization back from cloud adoption.

Implementing assessment and advisory mechanisms upfront can help get a full picture of where the transition stands.

When looking to do a balanced cloud assessment, it is important not to overanalyze and spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing data with minimal return.

On the other hand, it is also important to [spend enough time] investigating and planning, as a carefully calculated approach is needed to best optimize cloud usage.

A balance between automating processes and bringing in the right level of context within business, technology, and current usage will help organizations migrate into the cloud as efficiently as possible.

Q: Why do organizations need an effective migration plan?

A: An organization’s migration plan sets a tone for future success in the cloud. A disjointed or overly hasty migration can create a weak foundation that requires costly future overhauls to correct underlying architecture.

Moving From Reactive to Proactive Cloud Adoption

Q: What are the key drivers to transition from reactive to proactive cloud adoption?

A: The generative AI boom has made cloud adoption more of a necessity for companies that hope to keep pace with innovation and integrate emerging tech into everyday workflows.

AI has massive potential to streamline time-consuming tasks, cut costs, and deliver a better experience for the end customer. However, supporting it requires a cloud architecture better able to meet its demands.

Q: What is the best approach for companies to take to rehost or modernize their applications?

A: There is not a “one-size fits all” approach for modernizing applications to make the most out of cloud platforms. What’s always important, though, is to start with a balanced cloud assessment that quickly takes in all the aspects mentioned above.

Understanding which applications are good candidates for modernization and which will drive the most business value from a cloud-native approach allows you to focus your modernization efforts and budget on those workloads.

You can then plan other migration approaches, such as rehosting, for the applications that are most suited to that specific migration treatment.

Multi-Cloud, poly-cloud Strategies

Q: Are more organizations employing multi-cloud strategies today? If so, why? If not, why not?

A: Multi-cloud strategies are certainly on the rise, and one reason we often hear is a desire for vendor independence.

Clients are wary of being locked in with vendors. And engaging with a variety of platforms can appear to reduce that problem, although it can bring additional nuances and challenges around deployment and interoperability.

For this reason, I do not believe vendor independence should be the primary reason for a multi-cloud approach, the end value should be the reason.

Different solutions will be best suited for different companies, and they should be evaluated individually to find the optimal combination from both a financial and experiential perspective.

Q: What is a poly-cloud strategy? How does it differ from a multi-cloud strategy?

A: Poly-cloud is a term I started using several years ago when I was working in an end-user organization driving the adoption of cloud technologies, primarily to get people to stop and think about what they were trying to achieve when looking to use different cloud platforms.

In some ways the term is a minor nuance, and it’s probably what some people already mean when they use the term “multi-cloud.”

But for others the idea of their organizations adopting a “multi-cloud strategy” evokes the concept that they are now free to place any workload on any cloud platform, and simply use the multi-cloud strategy as the justification.

This often leads to cloud sprawl, spiraling costs, shadow IT challenges, and it can even introduce significant security risks. Instead, a poly-cloud approach specifically identifies certain cloud platforms as suitable for certain workload types and provides an agreed security and governance framework that they can safely be used within.

It still allows for the use of the right clouds for the right purpose, but it doesn’t just become an open justification for technology teams to do whatever they want.

Q: Why should organizations adopt a poly-cloud strategy?

As mentioned above, a poly-cloud approach should provide the same benefits as a well-executed and well-governed multi-cloud strategy.

It’s just more focused on being intentional about which platforms are used for what purpose and ensuring they tie back to an overarching business strategy and governance.

GenAI and Cloud Computing

Q: How is generative AI affecting cloud computing?

The increased interest in and adoption of generative AI has had a fascinating flow-down impact on cloud adoption as well.

For generative AI technologies to be fully-leveraged there is a real need for the data to be structured, organized, and available in a way that cloud technologies really enable.

So rather than artificial intelligence being a distraction or the “next shiny thing” that reorients organizations away from cloud adoption, I think it has actually reaffirmed cloud as the underlying platform they need to be investing in.

And it has almost reignited the realization that cloud adoption needs to be a priority for companies that genuinely want to leverage GenAI and any other cutting-edge AI technologies.

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Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist
Linda Rosencrance
Technology journalist

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area, with expertise ranging from AI and machine learning to cybersecurity and DevOps. She has been covering IT topics since 1999 as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area. Before joining Techopedia in 2022, her articles have appeared in TechTarget, MSDynamicsworld.com, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. She also writes white papers, case studies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients, interviewing key players, including CIOs, CISOs, and other C-suite execs.