No cloud journey without a roadmap!

Two approaches, one roadmap, one destination.

As good as the vision of a cloud-first strategy may sound, successfully putting it into practice is another story. Having already clarified the Cloud journey and looked at the process of envisioning, we will shift our focus today on how to develop a roadmap. Roadmapping for your migration is the single most important effort of your entire cloud journey. The success of your project will depend on it!  

A roadmap, complete with milestones and planned resources, is an essential tool for stakeholder communication. It creates transparency concerning the time frame, the initiatives, and impacts on the organization. The roadmap—for example, in the form of a GANTT chart—allows those involved to visually see the cloud migration process for the first time, while the descriptions of the vision often include idle words and phrases. 

Building the roadmap and collecting qualitative and quantitative infrastructure information requires the most time and effort. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information, data, dependencies and options, even though numerous assessment tools are offered with the promise of providing a simple decision template for preparing your migration process.  

In reality, objective data on server operating systems, CPU utilization and memory often meet carelessly maintained databases with information about related applications, roles and planned service life. Gathering the information concerning the applications used and identifying the service or application owners can take months. Time and resources are required to conduct interviews, research information, and to retrospectively enter and/or maintain the data in the database or CMDB. Months can go by without being able to present visible results to the IT organization and the board of directors, who need to be motivated for the cloud migration project.  

The decision

Consequently, this is where we find ourselves at a crossroad:  

Going back to the vision of “replacing the data center because the lease will expire” or of using the public cloud service offer to expand your digital services business will help you decide on the design of your roadmap.  

Depending on the vision, there are two methods for creating the roadmap. Both require that you analyze and consider the server and database systems associated with the application(s). However, the two methods differ in terms of approach.  

The holistic approach is based on a quantitative analysis of the server and database infrastructure to be migrated to obtain a comprehensive, overall picture. This is done using migration automation support tools such as Azure Migrate. As a result, you get a server inventory and the pertaining performance data. For example, Azure Migrate shows you how many of the identified virtual machines could be migrated without requiring additional configuration and how much it would cost operating them in the cloud. If your goal is to avoid investing in new hardware and extending the data center lease, you will need to take a holistic view of the entire infrastructure in this scenario. 

The next step is application analysis. Experience has shown that it is advisable to initially disqualify those applications from migration to the cloud which, due to regulatory requirements, latency aspects or complexity, are not suitable for initial migration and, instead, should be considered separately at a later time.  

This means that each group of applications will have their own migration path. And it underlines the actual meaning of the term “cloud journey”, since the transformation to state-of-the-art architectures of many applications may only be initiated once their migration to the cloud has been completed. 

In contrast to the holistic approach, the pragmatic approach looks at groups of applications separately. Again, tools such as Azure Migrate can be used to scan for specific server clusters only. The focus, however, is on the qualitative assessment of the application, which is done over a limited period of time. This approach is recommended, in particular, if you want to demonstrate the benefits of the public cloud within your organization on the example of the migration of one application. While choosing an IT-owned application simplifies the analysis process, it often makes less of an impression on other departments.  

We therefore recommend this approach for companies intending to take a first step and test the process and where IT is required to deliver results to the board in a timely manner.  

Comparison of the benefits and risks of the two approaches

  Pragmatic Holistic
Benefits - Timely implementation of added value for your business (time-to-market)

- High-speed learning progress through productive workloads

- Access to innovative technologies without having to adjust the general IT architecture
- Optimized medium-term financial planning (CAPEX to OPEX)

- Ensuring the migration of dependent workloads

- More IT infrastructure transparency thanks to tool-based analysis
Risks - Little contribution to the overall reduction of IT costs

- Performance problems because applications are distributed across different data centers

- Downstream platform adjustments and inconsistencies due to requirements of subsequent applications
- IT cost-driven roadmap with no visible benefit for the business

- Lack of success stories for communicating the cloud journey jeopardizes the adoption of the migration program

- Risk of insufficient resources for operating the cloud platform

Using the roadmap as a strategic communication tool

Depending on the approach chosen, the roadmap can now be used to illustrate the process. Once the draft has been developed, it should be approved by the management with the involvement of representatives from IT and from the business units.  

From this point on, the roadmap can then be used to visualize and continuously communicate the progress of the application analysis and subsequent migration - and there you have it, your roadmap for the Cloud Journey!


Simone Eichler

Senior Consultant

Additional links

Cloud center of excellence
Moving into the public cloud