What to move when: How to develop a cloud migration plan
- A move to the cloud should be managed in stages, starting with the least complex applications to ensure some quick wins
- Eventually, institutions should evaluate their entire portfolios to determine a cloud strategy for each application
- There are three main cloud strategies—replace, revise, and rehost—that can be mixed depending on each institution’s unique needs
Like most industries, higher education is moving to the cloud. But that doesn’t mean your institution has to move everything and certainly not all at once.
So how do you decide what to move first?
The answer will be different for every organization, but I urge clients to start with low complexity, high suitability applications:
- Low complexity: As you build internal support for cloud, it’s important to make sure the institution’s first migration experience is a good one. So start with less complex applications—those with the least connections to other applications and workflows.
- High suitability: Some apps are better suited to leverage cloud benefits than others. Focus on applications in most need of improved scalability, agility, and user experience. In other words, places where you’ll see the most value.
The image below shows the type of applications and services that tend to fall in different areas on the suitability/complexity spectrum.
Assessing the best strategy for each application
Identifying your quick wins—your low-complexity/high suitability applications—is a great first step. But eventually you should evaluate your entire portfolio and determine a cloud strategy for each application. There are many options, but following are the three I find apply most often to higher education institutions:
Option 1: Replace
- What is it? Replacing a licensed application with cloud-native, subscription software (SaaS).
- Why would you choose it? If you can provide a superior experience with cloud software, it may make sense to switch, rather than modify and host your existing application in the cloud.
- Example: Switching to a subscription-based portal that users can access anytime, anywhere through the internet instead of being bound by a private network.
Option 2: Revise
- What is it? Modifying a licensed application so that it’s optimized for cloud.
- Why would you choose it? You want to take advantage of cloud capabilities while retaining a certain level of control and governance.
- Example: Removing heavy customizations to a recruitment application and hosting it in a private cloud to improve scalability.
Option 3: Rehost
- What is it? Hosting an application in the cloud without making changes to its architecture.
- Why would you choose it? You have specific business requirements and customizations you cannot modify, but want the cost and security benefits of cloud hosting.
- Example: Migrating an ERP to a private cloud to leverage state of the art security and disaster recovery services, while retaining business-critical customizations.
Most of our clients are choosing a mix of software-as-a-service (option 1) and application hosting (option 2). They key is to find the mix that offers the quickest path to the highest value.
To help you plan your journey to the cloud, please visit our Pathways to the Cloud page.