Four Tips for a Successful Cloud Migration

July 25, 2017 Chris Talliss

Businesses everywhere are plagued by unsuccessful migrations. Nearly half (44 percent) of cloud migration projects fail, according to the 2,261 IT pros that participated in the 2016 State of Resilience Report by Vision Solutions. The biggest migration challenges these companies encountered were system downtime (43 percent of respondents) and staff working overtime during the weekend (40 percent).

One of the main reasons companies are unsuccessful with their cloud migration projects is that they too often go it alone. Indeed, a lack of in-house expertise and a lack of software tools to perform a migration are among the top six challenges cited by State of Resilience survey respondents.

One enterprise that understands the challenges associated with migrations is Transsmart, a Dutch company that creates software solutions for shipping firms. Its software solutions connect online retailers and warehouses with nearly 350 carriers worldwide, enabling customers to submit a shipping request, hire a carrier, and track deliveries. 

Although Transsmart is a global technology company with the expertise to create industry-leading shipping solution software, it didn’t possess the right expertise, knowledge and tools for a do-it-yourself cloud migration. Transsmart realized that it needed to bolster its in-house team with migration experts, so they turned to Rackspace Global Solutions and Services (GSS) for help.  

Here are four key factors that helped ensure Transsmart achieved its goals:

  1. Transsmart hired a trusted partner.

Instead of continuing along the do-it-yourself route, Transsmart pivoted and sought out a partner with specialized expertise in cloud migrations. As a fully managed cloud provider, Rackspace possesses the skills, experience and resources that Transsmart needed. Our GSS division is composed of experts who specialize in cloud migrations. And we’ve worked with companies like Transsmart in the past, so we could apply that specialized knowledge, plus our best practices, methodology and tools.

  1. Transsmart knew its infrastructure and its business.

Companies often underestimate the complexity of their environments as they prepare for a migration. Our approach to assessing migration readiness is to start with a company’s business services and work our way down to its infrastructure. It’s an entirely different approach than that of most cloud providers (who often start with infrastructure), but it produces the best results for our customers. Not only did Transsmart’s IT staff help us learn everything we needed to know about their environment, they were also incredibly knowledgeable about their business and IT operations.

  1. Transsmart worked closely with us.

An obstacle GSS occasionally encounters is that the customer’s IT department doesn’t always welcome outside help. Even though they have hired us to support their team or perform the migration ourselves, they frequently push back for fear of losing control over their environment. From the start, Transsmart’s technical talent worked collaboratively with us, like we were longtime business partners. The shared goal was a seamless migration.

  1. Transsmart fully participated in the planning stage.

One mistake that businesses make in the migration process is underestimating the value of the planning stage. For example, key people will skip important meetings. Or we’ll be told that a full assessment of a company’s business and technology isn’t needed.

Transsmart took the planning stage seriously. Why? They understood that it was the foundation on which their migration’s success depended.

In our cloud agnostic methodology, it is the planning stage where the migration strategy is fleshed out into the individual runbooks for the migration. It is critical that the right level of detail is captured. We worked with Transsmart in a workshop format where we discussed their operations and objectives in order to help them compartmentalize everything so that we could develop a working structure. Then we used our experience and expertise to attach an appropriate migration strategy for each of the components within the structure. Fortunately, Transsmart worked closely with the GSS team to ensure that the right level of detail was captured and documented in the runbook. This allowed us to work with them to dry-run their migration prior to the event.

A game-changing cloud migration

Once we understood Transsmart’s business, we devoted our efforts to unscrewing everything and putting it back together. Then we used our toolkit to plan, assess and design the migration. We created runbooks for Transsmart to use during the migration  the company had hired us for our experience and expertise, not to perform the migration itself  and we desktop-tested them to ensure the migration would work as planned and Transsmart’s IT team knew how to implement it.

Transsmart’s migration occurred with zero unplanned downtime, and its new platform has been a resounding success. “We’ve seen a huge improvement in the booking system,” says Daryl Peeters, a Transsmart IT developer. “For example, we used to make one booking with a carrier and it would take upwards of five seconds, which for this industry is too long. With the migration, even during the pre-build, we already saw that we could gain a 300 percent performance increase, giving us the ability to satisfy our customers, while growing faster.”

If you want to learn more about how to implement a successful cloud migration, check out our comprehensive checklist.

About the author

Chris Talliss is responsible for the Technical Consulting group within Rackspace Professional Services. He previously spent 15 years as Director of Technical Services and Operations for Tungsten Network (previously called OB10). In his free time, Chris enjoys cycling, music and fast cars.


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