Migration of IT Workload to Cloud – Skill Sets Needed

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By: Brian Hiatt

This is the third in a series of brief articles about migrating compute, storage, and network workload from hosted, or on premise hosted, to public cloud like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure. 

Many of the clients and prospective clients I engage with have heard varying strategies about migration of workload to cloud from multiple sources. During the initial conversations to qualify prospective clients, one of the early questions that I get asked very early in the discussion and almost every time is:

What skills do I need to provide to the migration efforts?

I will take this article from two perspectives.  The first being the perspective of the client, or the entity whose workload is being migrated.  The second is from the perspective of the company being hired to guide, manage, and insure a successful migration.  I will also set the context of this as being after the solution architect has designed the solution and migration approach.

Client

No matter how much emphasis seems to be placed on how many servers there are in the source environment, the reality is the team is migrating applications and services.  The client will need to provide at least these resources, and possibly more.

Executive Sponsorship – With the role to be a champion through the c-suite within the company.  To also escalate within department leadership. 

Program Management – The client will need to provide strong program / project management.  Ideally this would be a seasoned professional with strong connections within the client and the ability to make things happen.

Application Owners – This role is critical to the successful migration and future modernization of the applications.  They will know things about the application that others may not such as interfaces to other services and applications, key application stakeholders, and the internal workings of the applications.  These team members are typically key to migrating any application, or group of applications safely and successfully. They also usually are responsible for certifying the application in the target environment prior to a go / no go decision.

Subject Matter SME’s – Separate from Application Owners, subject matter SME’s are typically experts on the source environment, infrastructure, architecture, and business criticality

Company Leading the Migration

For the company leading the migration, there are several key roles that will ensure success the key team roles are:

Executive Sponsor – This very important role will be a counterpart to the client Executive Sponsor and will insure and help clear the way to success as well as keep chatter and interference as low as possible.

Program Management – Just like the client strong program / project management.  Ideally this would be a seasoned professional with extensive workload migration experience.

Program Management Office Leader – I call this one out separately from Program Management because this is the backbone of the success of the program.  Management and reporting of program status, risks, issues, and successes is key to stakeholder management and to perform correctly requires the Program Manager be free to get stuff done. 

Lead Engineer – The lead engineer becomes the respected expert for the client from the company hired to lead the migration.  This resource must be an expert, very confident, and a go-to resource for the Technical SME’s and the program management leadership.

Technical SME’s – Subject matter experts that know the proposed target technologies like the cloud, operating systems, networks, firewalls, etc.  A team must have very strong expertise in the target environment.

Summary

This is not intended to be a complete list.  Every migration is very complex and requires detailed analysis of the resource skills needed.  Defining and obtaining the right resource is key to success.  Do not take this lightly.

About the Author

Brian Hiatt is an expert leader at safe and successful data center workload migration to private, virtual private, and public clouds.  His experience includes large scale global data center migrations as well as small to medium size business workload migrations.  He can be reached at or https://brianhiatt.com