5 ways to manage a cloud migration using a remote team

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The number one question I’ve gotten during the past few weeks: How to run cloud migration projects using a completely remote workforce?

The reasons are obvious. Considering the new world order, companies have accelerated demand for tactical cloud migrations at the same time they have been forced into a remote worker paradigm. Some organizations already had some remote workers, other very few, and many had none at all until recent events. 

There are two types of companies here. First, those that already have become comfortable with a remote workforce over the years and understand how to manage projects with staffers who are not in the same location—most consulting firms, for example. The second type has very little experience managing remote workforces and are finding what’s going on right now extremely unproductive, considering that processes, policies, rules, and infrastructure were not put into place. In other words, they are winging it during the lockdowns and are in recovery mode right now.

Everyone wants to move to the public cloud in response to the vulnerabilities they have recently discovered. However, they have little clue how to pull this off while cloud migration staffers and consultants are at home. They are looking for leadership how to proceed.

Here’s a few recommendations for success with distributed cloud migration projects:

First, set up your connected infrastructure. You’ll find that many homes have varied bandwidth, some still with no high-speed Internet faster than10 Mbps (very slow). Typically, this means that broadband service is limited in those areas, and people rely on mobile hot spots or other ad hoc measures for connectivity. 

These are known as “bandwidth deserts,” and unless 5G is up and running in all areas next week, you’ll need to assign somebody to figure out short-term and long-term solutions. This also means funding specialized connectivity in some cases.

Second, foster a culture of continuous communications. I’ve been “scrumming up” every morning for each migration team for two purposes: First, to put forward a feeling that everyone is on a single team, working toward common goals. Second, to make sure that everyone understands what needs to be done that day as we move to a successful migration. 

Also, I recommend tools such as Slack and Yammer. Instant communication with your teammates, especially with pointers to work artifacts in progress, is proving to be actually more productive than if everyone were sitting next to each other.

Third, establish a PMO (project management office) if one does not currently exist. You need a central command and control. The complexities of a cloud migration—dealing with dependencies, deadlines, client interactions, artifacts, test planning, and more—make a PMO critical for a successful migration. A PMO is even more important for a distributed workforce. 

Fourth, fund the migration properly. Moving to a remote workforce may require a lot more funding in the short term, and this typically means going back to leadership to make sure you have enough budget. Things have changed for most companies to some degree, and underfunded migration projects not only fail, they actually cost more in the long run since doing it wrong means paying to fix it later.

Finally, leverage the public clouds for development, testing, and operations. It’s a bit ironic: Many cloud migration teams still use on-premises tools for devops. The vulnerabilities of this should be obvious to everyone now. Push for a public cloud-based devops solution, which indeed exists.

You can do this.

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