Elyon Strategies Blog

Modernization and Cloud Adoption: 4 Keys to Success

State and local government entities are expected to provide more services to an increasing number of citizens with fewer funds. Citizens expect efficient and seamless digital services from the government entities they interact with. At the same time, state and local government entities are either tasked with, or are starting to realize the benefits of, migrating to the cloud. However, migrating to the cloud isn’t something that you just decide to do and then do it. A successful cloud migration journey requires several factors to be successful.

Based on our experience helping several state government entities migrate to the cloud, Elyon recommends four factors that contribute to achieve a successful cloud adoption journey: 

  1. An engaged executive sponsor 
  2. A current state application and technology assessment 
  3. A target state application and technology assessment
  4. A roadmap that provides an understanding and outlines how to get from the current state to the target state

1. Executive Sponsor

The one single factor that is essential for any cloud migration is an identified and engaged executive sponsor whose primary purpose is to set a clear vision for the cloud adoption journey. Many cloud migrations fail because they do not have an executive sponsor that communicates the rationale, benefits and strategic goals for migrating to the cloud to the entire workforce. An executive sponsor is important to keep the project on track and help to overcome any roadblocks before, during, and after the migration.

The executive sponsor for one of our state clients accepted another position early into their cloud journey and was not replaced. This client struggled because they did not have a strong leader with a vision that was providing guidance. No one was advocating for the cloud adoption team to upper management, and the team’s objectives changed almost daily. Different team members took turns leading the effort and this caused confusion among the other team members. The team did not share a common vision, and this resulted in unnecessary and duplicate work efforts.

2. Assess Current Applications and Technology

Before beginning a cloud journey, all government entities should assess the current state of their application portfolio, including the infrastructure and technical requirements. Most government entities have a massive embedded base of IT resources and applications sitting in a data center. It is important to inventory these resources and applications and determine their characteristics. The complexity, costs, and duration of the effort required to go to the cloud will be based on this inventory and assigned characteristics. The goal is to evaluate the current state relative to the capabilities that are required to successfully adopt the cloud.

A client that Elyon helped midway into their cloud journey was struggling because they did not know all the applications that were hosted in the current server environment. They indicated that this was their biggest obstacle. After beginning their migration, the client decided to take a step back and inventory their existing infrastructure to determine what they actually had, what they really needed, and what they could completely get rid of. This client discovered they had many legacy applications, many obsolete applications, and many applications that only needed to be run quarterly or yearly. This inventory helped the client avoid the unnecessary work of migrating legacy or obsolete applications. Legacy applications can remain on-premises and new applications can be developed in the cloud as the legacy applications are replaced. The inventory also helped the client determine what applications to migrate and in what order. An application that is run quarterly or yearly is not as high of a priority as an application that is run daily.

Elyon recommends that government entities identify the following three items as a result of the assessment: 

  1. What applications are cloud ready and should be moved first 
  2. What applications require modernization 
  3. What applications should be retired 

Assessing your current state will help you determine what applications can be simply re-hosted (lifted and shifted) to the cloud with minimal effort. An assessment of your as-is state will also help you to understand what applications are mission-critical and have high security and compliance requirements. Elyon suggests placing applications into “move groups” based on low, medium, or high impact. The cloud is an important first step to improving security capabilities and protecting mission-critical programs and the systems and data that support them.

3. Assess Target Applications and Technology

The government is always catching up to what’s happening in the technology world. As state and local governments adopt cloud computing solutions, they have greater potential to realize IT performance improvement and innovation. The most desired outcome is for the government to be more agile to implement new highly scalable technologies as they become more rapidly available without the constraint of capital debt. The goal of the target state assessment is to focus on the expected benefits and key elements that will affect the architecture that will be used to guide the cloud initiative.

Elyon recommends developing your target environment based on your workloads and use. One of Elyon’s recent state clients reviewed their Enterprise Architecture (EA) and decided to extend it out by adding another domain called “Cloud Domain.” Within the Cloud Domain, they developed patterns and assigned architecture and security considerations to each pattern and used these patterns to determine how they would use the cloud. 

Example patterns:

  • All the workload is encapsulated in software as a service (SaaS) and utilized in SaaS
  • A commercial off-the-self (COTS) product that is hosted in the cloud, but is interfacing with something on-premises
  • Using either infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or platform as a service (PaaS)

This client developed their target cloud environment by understanding and grouping their workloads and assigning characteristics to each workload.

Develop a Roadmap

Elyon recommends developing a roadmap that contains the framework and strategic direction for your cloud adoption. A roadmap will help to keep you focused during your cloud journey and should include a series of milestones to progress from the current state to the future state in defined phases. For example, will you migrate your data at the same time you migrate your applications? Will you migrate your data all at once or in phases? The journey to the cloud is not always linear and your roadmap should be flexible. Keep in mind that the level of service provided in the cloud should be comparable to (or better than) prior service levels. You should adopt an approach that not only meets your changing business demands, but also maintains security and compliance.

About Elyon

Elyon Enterprise Strategies, Inc. is a management consulting firm specializing in business design. Our purpose is to lessen executive burdens, increase organization order, and provide organizations with more hope and success while meeting human needs. We are each client’s most trusted advisor and inspire our clients to transform complexity into enterprise success.

Carl Engel
About the Author
Carl Engel
CEO, Chief Architect
Elyon Strategies
Carl Engel is a Business and IT visionary with 30+ years of experience including Health and Human Services, Revenue, Finance and Technology. Teaching advanced technology, architecture and framework courses on 4 continents.
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