As businesses revisit IT priorities, migrating to the cloud is at the top of many lists. Cloud computing allows for greater scalability, flexibility, and leveraging features like automation, enhanced collaboration, and more.
Currently: “Nearly 70% of enterprise organizations are currently migrating data for enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications to the cloud, according to a Friday report from the Cloud Security Alliance.” – Source
And the trend will continue to pick up pace: “By 2025, 80% of enterprises will shut down their traditional data centers and shift to public cloud.” – Source
However, migrating to the cloud is not a good fit for every business or app. Migrations can prove complicated based on custom requirements, restrictive legacy technology, and the underlying architecture of what you are looking to migrate. Businesses need to analyze their existing apps and infrastructure to determine if they will work in/from the cloud, if they will need to migrate data to another solution, and if the cloud solution requires configuration or modification before it meets their needs.
A successful cloud migration also requires significant architecture design, security analysis and remediation, integration work, and end user training for a smooth transition to the new cloud solution. Therefore, it is crucial to have the skills needed for cloud computing before you embark on a cloud migration project. Here are the business and technical skills required for cloud computing.
Cloud Computing Skills
Migrating from On-Prem to Cloud-Based Infrastructure
First and foremost, you’re going to need an expert in cloud computing. Someone with cloud computing skills who is familiar with the cloud platform (likely AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud) your business wants to migrate to. There are significant differences between these cloud computing platforms so ensure your organization has a resource that has experience working with your chosen platform.
For improved management within the cloud environment, your business may want to leverage containerization from a platform like Docker. That way, you can isolate each app in its own virtual container making it more portable (able to move to other environments) as well as more secure.
Migrating to a Cloud-Based SaaS App
If your organization is migrating from an on-premise hosted app to a SaaS solution, ensure someone on your team has experience with the original on-premise app and with the specific cloud-based SaaS app. They’ll be able to provide valuable insight into integration design, the level of customizations built into the on-prem app that need to be carried over, and the cleanliness and completeness of the data that must come over to the cloud, including multi-use fields, custom parameters, and more.
Skills Needed to Migrate to the Cloud
Business analysis is a critical skill at every stage of a cloud migration. Business Analysts will ask and investigate complex questions to ensure the right solutions are chosen and implemented for the business. Organizations need to analyze aspects such as:
- Existing workflows and processes
- How they currently use technology infrastructure, applications, and data
- Business latencies such as response time over WAN vs. LAN to ensure business service levels can be met (important for businesses that require quick turnarounds like call centers, trading, etc.)
- What cloud options are the best fit for the business
- What impact moving to the cloud will have on the business
- Ensuring the cloud environment and components are scalable and reliable
- Identifying any tools and features that are needed
What to Look for in a Business Analyst for a Cloud project
Someone who is:
- Familiar with requirements gathering for a large-scale transition
- Highly detailed-oriented and can create documentation of formal requirements, use cases, user stories, and test scenarios
- Comfortable working with developers and technical specialists with cloud computing skills to get business requirements transformed into reality
- Experienced working with cloud providers, SaaS vendors, third part system integrators, and other vendors
- Able to adapt to evolving needs and challenges while staying true to the end-goal and strategy
- Able to distinguish the difference between configuration of SaaS vs. customization
Depending on the complexity of your migration, your business may need an architect to design your new cloud environment and outline how the apps will integrate, what permissions need to be set, and put in place solid governance. Architects are responsible for collecting these foundational (often called non-functional) requirements and designing an environment that meets the organization’s cloud computing needs.
What to look for in a Cloud Architect
- Understands business strategy, goals, and needs and can translate them into logical and technical requirements
- Can communicate these requirements to the technical team
- Performs detailed vendor selection
- Designs integration architecture and how cloud features will be configured and implemented
- Converts technical requirements into a functional design and cloud architecture plan
- Can figure out the migration approach from on-prem to the cloud
- Has a deep technical background of cloud computing skills, operating systems, networking, programming languages, and an understanding of the security implications of the cloud environment and different components within it
Having a project leader to spearhead the cloud migration is as important as the technical skills required for cloud computing. A project manager will help keep your migration on track by drawing up project plans, assigning tasks, and keeping the team to milestones and timelines. The project manager’s job is to manage day-to-day project aspects, report updates to leadership, manage risk, and keep the cloud migration within scope, budget, and schedule.
Scheduling can be more difficult in a cloud migration than a traditional on-prem project because businesses don’t have ownership of the cloud environment and must work around the vendor’s schedule parameters.
What to look for in a Project Manager for a cloud migration
Someone who has:
- Previous experience with cloud projects and large-scale IT transitions
- A strong ability to hold people accountable to project scope and timelines
- Vendor management experience as they will likely be working with multiple cloud vendors and third-party partners
- A good track record of project delivery managing complex projects
When migrating apps to the cloud, organizations need application specialists on the team that have cloud computing skills, database management skills, containerization, and are well-versed in the coding languages of the specific apps and integrations. If you are moving from your current on-prem app to a SaaS solution, an Application Specialist will need to configure and possibly customize the new cloud-based application to meet your organization’s specific needs.
What to look for in an App Specialist
Someone who has:
- Experience migrating to the cloud vendor (Azure, AWS, Google Cloud) and type of environment you are migrating to (public, private, hybrid)
- Experience configuring SaaS applications to meet specific business needs
- Created reporting in a SaaS environment and can set up custom reporting for your new solution
- Database design, programming skills, application support expertise
- Deep familiarity with the apps (and their underlying programming languages) that are moving to the cloud
- Experience integrating apps and systems in the Cloud
An infrastructure specialist is instrumental in transitioning on-premise configuration over to the cloud. Cloud infrastructure specialists will be the front-line resource for designing, building, and managing the new cloud computing infrastructure. They can also help decommission the on-prem hardware or convert it into a hybrid set-up where some functions are managed by cloud computing and some remains on premise.
What to look for in an Infrastructure Specialist
- Has experience with hybrid computing environments
- Develops and manages complex multi-cpu virtual machines (VMs) clusters and pods
- Can build the required resiliency and reliability into the new cloud environment
- Can configure new VMs to handle email, intranet, VLANs, firewalls, VPNs, and core business applications running on the cloud
- Has expertise with various key operating systems, scripting, and VM management tools
- Can gauge how much bandwidth is needed to handle the internet connections for cloud access
Among the skills needed for cloud computing, a solid security framework is essential. A security specialist can help teams put in place the safeguards needed to protect data and ensure it gets backed up correctly. By having a seat at the table, a security specialist can ensure that each new component and integration added to the cloud environment is secure and goes through rigorous testing to ensure it doesn’t open vulnerabilities in the system.
Security Specialists consider and cover these areas when moving to the cloud:
What to look for in a Security Specialist
Someone who has:
- Experience with the specific cloud platform security features and add-ons
- Certifications or recent training in cyber security best practices
- A strong understanding of systems, integrations and security tools and how they should interact within a cloud ecosystem
- A strong background in data security and can make recommendations at each stage of the cloud migration from selection, migration, testing, and disposition of the old equipment
Plan to share post-migration communications and host training sessions to show users how to use the new cloud solution. Walk-through new features now available by moving to the cloud, how to complete typical workflows, and highlight any major changes from the previous system to the new one. Even if the business’s new cloud solution is faster, more reliable, and has many other benefits over the previous set-up, users won’t appreciate it if they don’t understand how to use it.
What to look for in a Change Management specialist
Someone who has:
- Created communication packages for large scale transitions
- Led process and technology training workshops
- Clearly and effectively communicated changes to different sorts of user bases
- Cloud computing skills and can distill the differences to high-level and highly specific explanations
Skills Needed for Cloud Computing
Apart from just the technical skills required for cloud computing, there are a lot of necessary components to consider if you want your cloud migration to land smoothly. If you already have resources with most of these cloud computing skills, you can hire or contract out for the missing skill sets. Or if your organization falls shorts in many areas, consider partnering with a company that specializes in cloud migrations who can bring the whole tool set to your cloud migration project.