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Blog January 12, 2021

Cloud Migration KPIs: When to Use Them and Why They Are Important

Cloud computing has grown out of its infancy as an emergent technology and blossomed into the mainstream thanks in part to a variety of modernization efforts and the effects of the 2020 pandemic. Over the last several months, decision-makers across all verticals have been recognizing and embracing cloud migration benefits.

As Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, stated in his re:Invent keynote, “We are still in the early days of cloud – but companies will eventually go all cloud.” Jassy noted that only four percent of global IT spending currently goes to cloud computing, so there’s still tremendous upside. While not everyone thinks traditional data centers will disappear, Jassy expects “the vast majority” of companies will eventually unplug their data centers as they migrate more of their workloads to the cloud.

3 Types of Cloud Migration KPIs

Business leaders have long been using key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and the overall health of their business. Setting KPIs for cloud migration can signal when a project is proceeding as planned, when there is a problem waiting in the wings, and when things have gone off the rails completely.

In addition, many businesses, especially large and enterprise organizations, tend to be resistant to change. KPIs help IT demonstrate the value of the cloud and set reasonable expectations as to potential disruptions to the business. In turn, this can help allay fears and reduce resistance to cloud adoption.

In this post, we’ll examine the three categories of cloud migration KPIs, when they are used, and why they are important. I’ll provide examples in each category, but this is not intended to be an all-inclusive list. In future posts, I will dig deeper into KPIs for each phase of cloud migration.

1. Project success

These KPIs demonstrate the project has met its stated goals. While the migration is ongoing, this might be meeting project budgets and timelines. Once the migration is complete, success KPIs should be linked to the purpose of cloud migration, which is often tied to the overall goals of the business. For example, if the goal of migrating to a third-party data center was to eliminate the overhead of maintaining a proprietary data center, did the project achieve the goal?

It might seem odd to start by talking about post-migration project KPIs in a post on setting pre-migration goals but setting and communicating targets before the migration begins can help ensure adoption and support. If the organization as a whole understands that the migration can help them achieve their goals, e.g., less money invested in a proprietary data center may mean more funds for other initiatives, they’re more likely to be enthusiastic about the project and eager to make necessary changes.

2. Cloud migration health

During the migration, milestones should be used to make course corrections. For example, if the team has missed several timeline targets, project leaders should dig deeper to understand why. Were the targets set too aggressively? Do the project team members (including third parties) have the necessary skills? Are they being allotted the time necessary to do the work, or are other responsibilities demanding their attention? Is work being done in silos, with not enough communication between teams?

As workloads are migrated to the cloud, these cloud migration KPIs will give way to metrics that measure the health of the cloud. Given the cost of downtime, this is one of the key metrics every organization should measure. To fully appreciate the impact of downtime, it’s vital for the organization to agree on how it will be measured.

Unfortunately, measuring the cost of downtime isn’t an exact science. Estimates from organizations like Ponemon Research can be used in a pinch, but it will be more impactful if the organization attempts to define their unique cost of downtime, factoring in cost contributors such as lost sales, penalties (e.g., from missed shipments), damaged reputation, and lost productivity.

While downtime is the most visible measure of cloud health, performance issues can be just as detrimental to the organization. Internally, lag time impacts productivity and lowers employee satisfaction. With increasing connectivity and bandwidth (and 5G setting expectations ever higher), customers are becoming less and less tolerant of lag time as well. This can create issues for businesses that do a significant amount of online interfacing with customers.

3. Cloud migration issues

Finally, KPIs for the leading indicators that suggest an issue is on the horizon should also be set. Cloud capacity requirements are notoriously hard to predict, so resource utilization is something you’ll want to keep an eye on both during the migration and afterward. Resources that run too close to capacity can lead to the aforementioned performance issues. Resources that are underutilized may indicate money is being wasted on unneeded cloud capacity.

Setting utilization targets is tricky as there is no utilization percentage that is best for every cloud or workload. This is one of the advantages of working with an experienced managed cloud provider. When we work with cloud migration customers, we help them estimate resource requirements based on years of experience with hundreds of other organizations like theirs. Then, as they move more workloads to the cloud, we can help them adjust capacity so they’re paying only for what they need and getting the performance they expect.

Get the help you need

A cloud migration that misses the mark can have a lasting, negative impact on an organization. Connectria has been helping organizations migrate mission-critical workloads to the cloud for more than 20 years. We offer private and multi-tenant, hosted environments for IBM Power Systems and x86 workloads as well as managed hybrid environments that leverage the flexibility of Azure and AWS.

Learn more about how Connectria can help you bridge the gap between your legacy IT infrastructure and the cloud.

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