Gaja Vaidyanatha professional photo

Gaja Krishna Vaidyanatha

Director, Consulting Expert

Have you, despite your best efforts, ever fallen for the transformation-type of home improvement shows on television? It is difficult to ignore what they have to offer. A miraculous feat is accomplished within an hour with a small crew. A home is transformed from shambles into a beautiful modern abode that meets the intricate needs of an entire family. Unrealistic? We could not agree with you more.

Here is the reality – the show delivers in an hour-long episode, what is actually months of hard labor, construction, project delays, budget changes, and more. Some of our real-life IT circumstances can lead to similar unrealistic expectations and not-so-desired outcomes. Food for thought - how skewed are our expectations regarding transformation when we look to move to the cloud?

An enterprise’s journey to the cloud is not a simple act of relocating IT assets from its on-premises data centers to a given Cloud Service Provider (CSP). There is no magic in that journey. The infamous ‘lift and shift’ promise of the CSPs, from the early days of the cloud, left a lot to be desired. In many ways, the mere act of just lifting and shifting IT assets can significantly complicate IT operations. The cloud is not a silver bullet or a magic pill that solves IT problems without the required re-engineering efforts.

Meaningful cloud migration journeys are all about engaging in a well-planned, methodical and phased re-engineering effort of the core aspects of a given system (compute, storage, networking). When we utilize an optimal and realistic strategy, the cloud version of an enterprise’s IT system can serve as a powerful enabler of business transformation. However, the core aspects of these new cloud-based systems, first must themselves undergo the required transformation from a software engineering standpoint. It is in that act that an enterprise is successfully set up for continuous business transformation.

Reality: Cloud transformation remains a priority

Enterprises have continued to prioritize the improvement of digital services and are investing in technologies aimed at automating and digitizing business processes to drive more significant outcomes for stakeholders. According to Gartner, by 2024 nearly 60 percent of IT spending on application software will be directed toward cloud technologies that improve the end-user experience[i].

While cloud transformations are a top priority, the reality is that modernization of legacy applications to the cloud is not for the faint at heart – regardless of whether the scenario entails individual solutions or entire portfolios. While many would like to ignite the alleged magical powers of the cloud, the migratory process and eventual business transformation do not happen with the snap of a finger. The reality is that these migrations take time, planning and a disciplined approach to map the various resources of a system to the new world. To derive rapid business value, enterprises need to embrace and utilize a clearly defined strategy that mitigates risk and serves as a foundation for delivering capabilities in days or weeks, not months or years.

Reality: Organizations must recognize and plan for obstacles

The probability of a successful cloud transformation is high when executed on the foundation of a realistic strategy. The secret is to use a phased approach, where the journey begins with small, relevant and achievable milestones rather than boiling the proverbial ocean. Without this approach, a cloud transformation journey can be plagued with project delay and cost increase, eventually leading to an overall project failure.

Here are some project setbacks to look out for:

  • Resistance to change from teams who are vested in the old methods than what the cloud offers
  • Insufficient alignment between cloud initiatives and business drivers increasing the challenge of risk management and proper governance
  • Fragmented approach to managing existing legacy infrastructure with new and emerging cloud services leading to increased cost footprint
  • Lack of a comprehensive framework for evaluating workloads’ suitability for the cloud
  • IT staff is not fully upskilled on cloud tooling or the required methodologies to deliver value
  • Demand for artificial intelligence-enabled services has outpaced the organization’s capabilities and expertise, leading to fatigue and attrition
  • Unrealistic and/or aggressive migration timelines due to business events (e.g. M&A, divestiture, RDBMS software license expirations/renewals)
  • Projecting cost savings in cloud migrations before decommissioning of on-premises systems

Reality: You are not alone…CGI is here to help with your cloud migration!

Organizations across the globe require custom-tailored cloud transformation strategies, as the cloud is no longer an IT experiment. It is the future of computing. At CGI, we provide highly skilled expertise and trusted advisory services, to empower and enable your cloud journey. We do that with a well-defined navigation process, laid on a sound business and technical strategy. We tailor the journey while constantly keeping your business needs in focus. By setting realistic ROI expectations and a well-planned execution plan, your “dream cloud journey” becomes a reality.

As you begin to navigate your transformation journey, here are a handful of “pro tips” to get you started:

  • Focus on delivering net new capabilities in the cloud first, as opposed to lift and shift migrations - this can ensure that capital and operational costs don’t kill the transformation initiative early
  • Leverage cloud-native platforms and use the momentum of delivering modern analytics/applications to monetize migration activities and build excitement within the organization
  • Consider decentralized methodologies by viewing cloud computing as a fabric on which one composes and recomposes adaptive business capabilities
  • Plan for potential adoption scenarios (Retire, Replace, Rehost, Re-platform, Refactor, Retain) and choose the approach that is right for you to modernize your legacy systems
  • Explore emerging security standards to improve interoperability and ease integration
  • Adopt modern delivery methodologies by focusing on a 4-8-week release cadence, eventually reducing to 2-4-weeks, as you mature and stabilize the overall approach
  • Ensure you have a clear talent acquisition and upskilling plan for your key teams
  • Leverage vendors for their cloud credits and built-in technical support
  • Set expectations around realistic delivery timelines and involvement from key parties

Can a home transformation really happen over an hour of conversations, visuals and commercial breaks? – not exactly – but with the right planning, information, expertise and preparation, the desired outcome can be achieved in good time. The same holds good for your cloud transformation journey too!

[1] Laurie Wurster, Neha Gupta, Brandon Medford, Vanitha Dsilva, Sharat Menon, Amarendra, Colleen Graham, ‘Forecast Analysis: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 3Q21 Update’, Gartner, Published October 20, 2021, (accessed January 2022)

About this author

Gaja Vaidyanatha professional photo

Gaja Krishna Vaidyanatha

Director, Consulting Expert

Gaja Krishna Vaidyanatha is a seasoned data practitioner with a 30-year proven track record of managing and integrating large data footprints, on-premises and on the Cloud. He is passionate about building serverless data hubs, delivering high-quality data ...