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Envisioning large-scale cloud migrations to accelerate digital transformation


Digital transformation isn't a technological change—it's a business transformation. The IT modernization that underpins digital transformation changes how businesses deliver value to customers, and impacts people and processes, management philosophy, and leadership practice.

“Digital transformation is disrupting legacy leadership,” report the authors of a 2021 MIT-Sloan study. “The idea that effective digital transformation delivers agility, adaptability, and customer-centricity is now both managerial mantra and leadership inspiration.”

What's now managerial mantra and leadership inspiration is also central to the success of large-scale cloud-migration projects.

Without the strong backing of executive leadership—without a vision—cloud migrations can languish, and often fail entirely.

But you don't have to go for broke to successfully migrate and modernize the hundreds, or even thousands, of enterprise applications your organization relies on to conduct daily business.

“We take a pragmatic approach at the proper scale,” says Rishan Lye, a partner in BDO's technology advisory practice. “We can customize an agile, adaptable, customer-centric framework that makes sense for [companies] strategically—that can be deployed iteratively or in a ‘big bang.'”

Understanding tech is important—understanding business is essential

Companies need “agility—flexibility and pivot-ability,” says Mike Gelesz, the Banking & Financial Services Industry Manager with BDO Consulting, speaking of his experience supporting cloud-modernization and migration initiatives at Canada's largest banks.

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Some providers, explains Gelesz, stick rigidly to the scope of a project contract, but such inflexibility is highly ineffective. As clients shift scope throughout their project, we respond to meet their business needs.

“The strength of our tech advisory practice is that we understand business,” Lye adds. “BDO has expertise across business lines. We understand your [company's] many business needs across retail banking, capital markets, insurance, fraud, cyber...”

“Understanding tech is important. Understanding business is essential,” observes Kedar Kalkarni, a practice director, and data and analytics advisor who has led large-scale app migrations.

Kalkarni explains: “We start with the business (use) case—why do you want to go the cloud in the first place?”

Building a portfolio business case aligns any large-scale app modernization and migration process with your strategic objectives.

Scoping for success

“When you look at applications holistically to build a business case, you can identify quick wins and conduct a cost-value analysis,” says Iryna Aliakseyeva, a manager in Business Analysis and Quality Assurance at BDO.

“We can apply the same framework, the same principles of migration—aligning critical business priorities to digital-modernization initiatives—for any number of apps, any number of services or platforms,” explains Pavel Samchenko, a manager in BDO's technology-advisory practice and a senior cloud architect.

“Our framework is always tailored to each client,” Aliakseyeva agrees. “We're agile and client-centric.”

Pragmatic cloud migration at scale: an end-to-end framework

Enterprise-wide or for a line of business, what's common to every engagement is the end-to-end process:

  • Envisioning your app migration and modernization (determining your cloud-migration strategy)
  • Execution (delivering on your strategy)
  • Evolution (refining your strategy to align with on-going and emerging business needs, including incidence response and cybersecurity considerations)

Envisioning your large-scale cloud migration: step-by-step

Our process to decide the best strategy—to envision your cloud migration—is attuned to your primary business goals.

The end goal of the envisioning process is to develop a cloud-migration strategy roadmap (with a recommended tactic for each application) and budgetary guidance—the budget needed to execute on the strategy, the ideal team structure, and the high-level execution plan.

Determining the scope and the approach for your business has four steps:

1. Review and analyze your portfolio of applications—conduct an inventory

  • Determine key information such as complexity, dependencies, or integration points, owners, etc.
  • Apply unified criteria to the assessment of parameters such as complexity and aging IT
  • Identify applications with dependencies (understand "the ecosystem")
  • Identify quick wins (such as a pilot group—for instance, a line of business)

2. Identify strategy recommendations

  • Determine strategy drivers and objectives
  • Identify constraints (including affordability, your timeline, and other considerations)
  • Get input from business and technology stakeholders
  • Define strategy framework (estimation, prioritization, resourcing, cost) that would enable large-scale migration
  • Determine degree of cloud-readiness and modernization required for each application
  • Provide application recommendations for migration or modernization (based on six Rs: retain, retire, re-host, re-platform, re-purchase, or refactor)

3. Adopt an estimation model

  • Estimate effort and cost

4. Build a roadmap

  • Get buy-in from the decision-makers
  • Inform and get buy-in from the stakeholders
  • Define high-level resourcing and execution plans

Lead your digital—and business—transformation

Accelerate your digital transformation—take the first step toward leading a pragmatic cloud-migration strategy at scale for your business.

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