Let’s assume that your organization has made a commitment to migrate to the cloud. You’ve defined your goals and your needs as part of your overall cloud strategy, and maybe you even have a rough timeline for your cloud journey. Now how do you measure whether or not things have gone smoothly?
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are any metrics that you gather to measure and assess how well a project is meeting certain expectations and goals. Specific KPIs can and should be used for cloud migration activities. What KPIs should be used to measure and assess your cloud migration?
Essential Cloud KPIs for Migration
Depending on who you talk to, there are over 50 possible KPIs one could track to measure and assess cloud migrations. While true, collecting and interpreting all that data can be a painstaking process. That’s all the more reason to be sure you are tracking all—and only—the KPIs needed to flag issues or establish success.
Here are the essential cloud KPIs you should be using no matter your organization’s situation:
How long is each phase of the migration taking? How long does it take to test a data migration? Or application migration? Does the duration of each phase match expectations? Why, or why not?
Did the cloud migration process disrupt or delay any day-to-day operations? To what degree? Amount of disruption can be measured by:
- Availability of critical services
- Length of downtime of services and data centers
- Degradation of service due to downtime
- Number of service tickets generated
Cost of Migration
Migration has associated costs, and these go beyond mere data transfer rates. As you are tracking the cost of your cloud migration, be sure to factor in:
- The cost of re-architecting applications to make them cloud-native
- Time management spends planning and overseeing the migration process
- Time and cost of doing a full dependency mapping
50 percent of cloud migration costs are for labor, according to a brief by Forrester (as reported by TechRepublic).
Post-Cloud Migration KPIs
Whenever data, applications, or services are migrated to the cloud, you will want to test them and compare to recent past performance. Always remember to build testing into your cloud migration strategy. Failure to test usually means more problems down the line.
There are five main kinds of KPIs to measure after each migration: Infrastructure, Application Performance, User Experience, Business Impact, and Cost/Time Savings.
Infrastructure KPIs measure your hardware and network usage. A good cloud management platform should give you all the necessary infrastructure KPIs at a glance, including:
- CPU usage percentage
- Memory usage
- Disk performance
- Network latency
- Load balancing
Remember that applications and services that are not cloud-native might not use resources as efficiently as they did when they were on-prem.
Application availability and performance will be crucial for knowing if your migration has been successful. This is usually measured through:
- Error rates (failed requests/total requests)
- Application availability
- Number of time-outs
Availability itself translates into dollars. In a study conducted by ITIC, 81 percent of businesses estimated their average cost of downtime to be more than $300,000 per hour. But nearly a third of businesses undergoing a cloud migration report issues with availability and data center degradation within a year.
Even if an application has 100 percent availability, you can learn a lot by looking for patterns in the application’s usage. For example, what is the application’s response time? Is there a lag? Does the number of requests spike at a given time? Why? Are user sessions getting longer, or shorter?
Long response times/lag might indicate a problem with load balancing, for example. Or there might be a dependency on a non-cloud-native app hidden somewhere that is affecting performance. Or perhaps the cloud was set up incorrectly, and new instances are not spinning up automatically they way they should. Or internet congestion is causing a problem, and your organization needs to explore public cloud connections that bypass the internet.
In short, user experience KPIs are often the first clue that there might be hidden problems that need addressing.
Business impact is another way of getting at the overall user experience for applications where there is a checkout process. For example, you can measure things like:
- Cart abandonment rates
- Duration of check out process
- Subscribe/unsubscribe rates
- Conversion percentage
- Re-engagement percentage
If cart abandonment or checkout duration grows suddenly, it might signal that response times are inadequate, or that a critical service is timing out. That kind of lost business is costly, but fortunately, it is usually also easy to fix.
Most organizations cite cost containment and ease of management as the main reasons to migrate to the cloud. Decision-makers will want to know that the investment in cloud migration was worthwhile, and so cost and time savings numbers will be needed to give them an accurate ROI for your organization’s cloud journey.
Good KPIs to track here include:
- Monthly billing, broken down by charge
- Ongoing staffing costs
- Costs of third-party management tools and consulting
These should be tracked against the costs of running the same infrastructure and applications on-prem. For example, you should have numbers indicating:
- Total hardware costs
- Annual replacement costs
- Ongoing staffing costs dedicated to on-prem hardware and servicing
- External costs (money saved on electricity, cooling systems, storage, insurance, etc.)
Comparing the two can give you a better idea of what the ROI on your cloud transformation is.
Why Is It So Important to Establish Cloud KPIs?
Remember, KPIs are largely seen as a way for organizational leadership to “take a pulse” and assess the overall health of a business. KPIs for cloud migration, then, signal when the cloud migration is proceeding in a way that is healthy—or, they can signal that there is a problem waiting in the wings.
But these KPIs have great value outside of measuring success and signaling potential issues. Most organizations, and especially large organizations, tend to be resistant to change. Demonstrating the value of the cloud and setting reasonable expectations with regard to disruption can help allay fears and reduce resistance to cloud adoption.
How Does One Go About Collecting KPIs for a Cloud Migration?
Some of the KPIs above will be collected through the normal course of setting and monitoring your IT budgets. But many of them will require separate tools for monitoring your cloud usage, especially if you have a multi-cloud environment.
Any tools you plan on using should be researched, purchased, and implemented before the actual migration. This way, you can ensure the tools are tracking the KPIs you need, and that your data is consistent throughout the course of the cloud migration.
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