Top 16 Drivers of Cloud Adoption, Migration and Transformation (Article)

There are many reasons why an organization or enterprise might look at cloud adoption and migration. They can range from operational goals such as cost reduction to increased business agility.

Cost savings is becoming more unlikely to be the primary driver behind cloud adoption and migration, even though every organization is interested in reducing costs.

More frequently I am seeing the key drivers behind moving applications to the cloud are speed, agility, and innovation.

A key aspect of digital transformation is cloud computing.  Organizations are quickly moving their infrastructure, systems, applications, and services to the cloud to realize the benefits of speed, performance, and scale.

Every organization is different and will have its own reason to move to the cloud.  In many cases, there will be multiple reasons.

A critical step to realizing the benefits of the cloud is understanding why you’re migrating and adopting cloud solutions in the first place.  Organizations often neglect to document their specific cloud drivers as part of their cloud strategy. 

Identifying and documenting your drivers will help keep your cloud journey directionally correct.

Your drivers may conflict with one another as time passes.  Prioritize drivers as they are identified.  This can help with determining which one wins out in the end when conflicts arise.

The goal of this article is to help you identify drivers, determine how the cloud can be a benefit to your organization, and why you should migrate to the cloud.

Productivity Enhancement
Lengthy asset procurement processes are eliminated.  IT Operations, developers, and end-user do not need to wait for infrastructure to be acquired and built.

Many cloud providers services are available from multiple geographical regions domestically as well as internationally.  This can eliminate the need for building data centers and maintaining hardware.

Digital Transformation and Innovation
One of the biggest drivers for cloud adoption and migration is competition.

Organizations need to make better use of available information.  They need to share information more efficiently with partners, suppliers, and customers.

Creating an enhanced customer experience is required if they are going to remain competitive.

The cloud is uniquely designed to support this transformation. It’s about using technology to change how you do what you do.

The cloud enables automatic scaling, dynamically provisioned compute services/resources, and the ability to respond to new opportunities with increased velocity.

As organizations begin to adopt and embrace modern and emerging technologies for developing software, they want to move their services to a cloud that can support them immediately.

Many organizations that are starting a digital transformation journey focus on modernizing their legacy applications, services, and deployment processes.  This enables them to take full advantages of the more modern technologies such as NoSQL, containers, Kubernetes, microservices, etc. The cloud's flexibility and scalability capabilities are a perfect match for these architectures.

Organizations and Enterprises commonly take one or more of three paths along their Digital Transformation journey:
  • Migrate underlying infrastructure to the cloud;  then incrementally modernize the application
  • Modernize the application on the current infrastructure/on-premises; then prepare the application for the cloud, and then migrate to the cloud
  • New development is directly on the cloud

Reduce Costs and Consolidate Workloads
All organizations strive to reduce costs, consolidate workloads, and improve efficiency. Leveraging the cloud enables them to offload intensive compute workloads and consolidate data center usage.

Organizations quickly realize they can substantially lower their costs by letting a cloud provider handle the cost of equipment, power, cooling, maintaining and repairing the equipment, managing equipment, the physical data center, and all other costs involved in running their IT infrastructure.

Additionally, organizations with an on-premise data center need to procure hardware. Hardware has a limited lifespan and it eventually needs to be replaced.

With adoption and migration to the cloud, organizations can avoid all of these capital expenses. In the cloud, you can add and release resources as required. You only pay for what you use.

Organizations typically size and procure hardware to accommodate peak loads.  When underutilized it is a waste.  Capacity management is possible at the application level but the peak load problem still exists at the data center level.

Planning for unexpected growth historically meant that organizations needed to purchase and keep additional servers, storage, and licenses. Scaling cloud services is faster and far more flexible.

AWS, Google, and Azure provide pay-as-you-go models with minute or even second level billing capabilities. Organizations only pay for what you need and use, and release the resources when they are no longer needed.  Organizations can resize resources to match application load changes when they occur.  Autoscaling up & down is also available

Many organizations struggle with the patches required to maintain security in their business applications and infrastructure.  Cloud providers and services that focus on data-security can make a markable difference. Special care should be taken when choosing the right cloud provider and services to ensure your security needs are met.

A key benefit of cloud computing is availability.  Most cloud providers and services are offered from multiple geographic locations and can even provide High Availability as a core feature.  Special care should be used when selecting a cloud provider or service to ensure that they meet your availability requirements from an uptime and geographic location perspective.

A key benefit of cloud computing is having well defined APIs and integrations with tools, services, and applications that your organization utilizes.  A key aspect in modernizing IT systems is successful integration with APIs.

Hardware End-of-Life
Organizations with their own data centers deal with this quite often.  The typical hardware lifespan is  3–5 years. They usually retire and refresh the hardware with the latest generations to take advantage of the performance and efficiency they offer. Each refresh requires significant CAPEX investment.
On the flip-side, the cloud cost model is purely OPEX based.

Organizations pay for what they use, and can release resources that are not being used.

Migrating systems and applications with EOL hardware to the cloud may be an attractive proposition. It can save organizations from significant CAPEX expenditures.  IT should work with finance to determine the best way to evolve into a more beneficial OPEX model.

The value for migrating these applications to the cloud may be low for a period of time if an organization has made recent and/or significant CAPEX investments in hardware. Organizations can investigate the cloud for capacity expansion in these scenarios.

Data Center Contract Expiration
Third-party colocation data centers (colos) are leveraged by some organizations instead of owning their own data center.  The colos provide rack space, power, cooling, and network connectivity. Organizations typically have multi-year contracts with the colos and are renewed periodically.

Some organizations start investigating the cloud as an alternative to colos.  Migrations to the cloud can be aligned with the contract expiration.

Rapid Capacity Expansion
Sudden surges in business can create the need to expand capacity temporarily. Organizations running their infrastructure in a data center may look at the cloud as an attractive option.

Conversely, organizations with their own data centers may be required to expand capacity permanently. Instead of building out or renting more data center capacity the organization may choose to move new systems and applications to the cloud.  They would continue to run the existing systems and applications on-premises until the hardware becomes end-of-life.

Typically, this is a part of a larger cloud migration strategy towards a hybrid or a full cloud model.

Partner or Compliance Driven Requirements
Organizations in compliance-driven industries often consider a partial offload of their infrastructure security to a cloud provider.  This can be attractive for organizations when it comes to  Data Residency. The cloud service providers (CSPs) can also implement security across their infrastructure more cost-effectively than organizations can typically do internally
CSPs also provide critical services and features like DDoS, WAF, etc as managed services.  Organizations may find this option very appealing, rather than investing in its own software and infrastructure.

Mobility & IoT
Organizations that develop services and solutions for mobility and IoT devices may consider the cloud the logical place to manage them.  The cloud provides a single central resource for all mobile and IoT devices to contact.  The cloud also provides the tools and platforms needed to create and deploy mobile/IoT applications easily and securely.

Mergers and Acquisitions
Organizations that acquire entities often encounter an application portfolio that is substantially different than their own.  This can create challenges at multiple levels. Sometimes the acquisition requires isolation from their primary systems initially or even indefinitely for security or regulatory reasons.  In many cases, the intent is to absorb them into the organization, eventually.  Organizations may consider the cloud the ideal location for acquisitions as a means to provide on-demand capacity and separation.

Software end-of-support
Similar to hardware end-of-life, Software end-of-support creates an attractive opportunity for organizations to move specific applications to the cloud.  When an application is end-of-support organizations have the choice to either upgrade the on-premises application or consider a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution hosted in the cloud.  Upgrading the on-premises application can either be "in-place" or "side-by-side" as a new instance of the application.  Either approach presents increased work and potential risks.

An added value to moving to a SaaS cloud solution is that once the initial migration is completed the organization will no longer have to worry about maintenance updates or application upgrades.  These are now handled by the SaaS provider.

Business Intelligence and Big Data
BI has traditionally been limited to analysis of internal data with a focus on improving operational efficiency.  The lack of easy access to data from other sources has been a challenge.  Combining unstructured and structured data with platforms like Hadoop are changing things.  For example, we can now monitor what customers and partners are saying about our organization and our competitors and compare it to sales patterns.

This presents amazing new capabilities while at the same time it creates challenges for the traditional on-premises data center.  The problem is three-fold.  As we incorporate external data into BI the size is ever-increasing, creating challenges for the on-premises data center to keep up with storage growth.  Secondly, the compute capacity to effectively process external and internal BI data may not be cost-effective.  Thirdly, integration with external data providers can be drastically simpler from the cloud as opposed to on-premises.

The cloud presents organizations with an attractive opportunity to leverage Big data-as-a-Service (BDaaS) instead of investing in or installing additional infrastructure on-premises.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing
As Enterprises embrace Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, & Natural Language Processing it makes sense to strongly consider cloud offerings for these services. In most cases, it's not practical to host these services internally at a large scale.  Another factor is the adverse effect of latency on these operations.


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