Cloud Migration: A Cautionary Tale in Digital Transformation


Is cloud migration really the silver bullet it’s been heralded to be? In today’s race to become fully digital, organizations must disrupt themselves to succeed in an ever-competitive and customer-centric environment. Arguably, the most common way companies seek to become digital is by embracing cloud technologies. 

In conflict with this drive toward digital transformation, too many IT organizations are burdened by the constraints of aging technology, architectural complexity and IT sprawl. Negative impacts include high maintenance costs, lack of agility, poor alignment with business objectives, and potential exposure to cybersecurity risks. For some, “lights-on” costs can account for as much as 90% of IT budgets.

Legacy systems and inefficient architecture create an environment of poor software quality and performance, which makes it difficult to meet current business demands, let alone adopt new technologies to drive digital transformation. So as organizations are adopting the cloud in droves because it’s what they’re “supposed to do”, more mistakes and missteps are coming to the surface. And these mistakes can be crippling.

Are You Doing Cloud Migration Wrong?

When you get a mandate from your CEO that says, “we need to reach more customers on mobile,” or better yet a mandate from your CFO that says, “you’re spending too much money on program maintenance,” what is your gut reaction? Is it to shift some of these workloads to the cloud?

You’re not alone. IT organizations are consuming cloud services like never before. But consumption today doesn’t necessarily equal consumption and cost savings tomorrow. According to Gartner, these cloud-first trends will reverse in the next few years.

Migrating to the cloud the wrong way can harm the enterprise. Organizations that don’t price out and optimize their transformation strategies will overspend by an average of 40% on public cloud and related services. That’s a pretty big hit to the IT budget! Just think of the money lost, the re-work it will cost your app development teams or the havoc it can wreak on cross-functional Agile teams.

Cloud experts are counseling organizations to think about their data and processing needs, as they relate to latency and performance.

Are you feeling the pressures of an impending cloud migration and not sure where to start? Read on for the three most common cloud migration mistakes we see in the market today and how you can avoid them.

Three Cloud Migration Fails to Avoid

Fail #1: Only Focusing on a “Lift and Shift” Approach

The path here is easy to predict: enterprises will move workloads to the cloud using a lift and shift approach, then in a year or two will have to go back in and modify (or refactor) the applications to use cloud-native features once they see the cost of hosting non-native applications. In the meantime, the application is 30 to 40 percent less efficient.

Consider a more holistic approach that also leverages hybrid cloud offerings and proven frameworks for application migration.

Conduct a quick portfolio analysis to identify software characteristics that may make your migration more or less successful. Do you have applications that are critical to business outcomes, but they will fail on a cloud platform? These kinds of applications will require more special care and attention before migration work is started.

Application portfolio analysis will help ensure cloud readiness for smooth migration of legacy systems to multi-cloud environments.

Fail #2: Not Driving Ongoing Improvement and Value

One often overlooked benefit of cloud migration is that it gives IT teams a ready-made opportunity to re-evaluate the performance of their application portfolio. Software systems relied upon by the business should be constantly improving and evolving to address changing needs and drive long-term value.

By stopping to evaluate application performance in the shift to cloud, teams can gain critical Software Intelligence metrics, such as:


  • An in-depth understanding of each application, including functions, interdependencies, business value and required support skills
  • A big picture view of the application portfolio to determine if it is meeting current objectives and to support decisions about its future evolution
  • Clear assessment of costs and risks of the current application portfolio
  • Alignment of business and technology objectives
  • Insight for effectively gauging the scope and impact of making any portfolio changes

Walking away with these critical insights will further help teams make budget- and performance-conscious decisions on whether applications should be modernized, re-platformed, migrated, decommissioned, consolidated or replaced.

Fail #3: Considering Security and Risk Too Late

Research from Gartner predicts that workloads that leverage the programmability of cloud infrastructure to improve security protection will suffer at least 60% fewer security incidents than those in traditional data centers. This is a big incentive for organizations looking to improve their application security posture.

At CGI, we are committed to helping organizations shift-left on application security, and helping customers improve security during a migration is no different. Cloud migration plans should consider these three pillars of security so as to not put the organization at risk of breach or cyberattack after putting in the effort to shift to cloud:


  1. Governance, risk and compliance 
  2. Data risk management 
  3. Infrastructure protection management

This creates a further incentive for security and risk management leaders to use the shift to cloud and rapid development architectures as a catalyst to re-think legacy security infrastructure and processes.

Who’s Doing It Right?

There are many digital transformation frameworks that speed modernization efforts and improve communication with business stakeholders. At CGI, we work with a range of organizations across verticals to help them become digital natives using a repeatable, five-step process that can be automated as more applications are modernized through cloud migration.


Our process includes Assessment, Onboarding, Application Transformation, Path to Production and Manage. A few organizations that have gone through this process with us include a large insurance corporation and federal civilian agency.

  • Large Insurance Corporation – with more than $20 billion in revenue and a complex architecture consisting of several legacy technologies, the company made the strategic decision to rapidly modernize end-of-life technology and prove their value to business outcomes. Through a 10-week project we were able to strengthen application security and demonstrate a repeatable process for modernization efforts that minimized financial exposure and improved the productivity of the company's development team across multiple lines of business.
  • Federal Civilian Agency – a federal civilian agency with a global infrastructure footprint needed to modernize its core systems to support a more agile business. Adopting a hybrid cloud approach with CGI Unify360, we were able to migrate 500+ systems including mission critical systems with a mix of data classifications, saving the agency 33% in infrastructure costs in first year of migration. We implemented a single-pane-of-glass tool providing holistic and standardized view of security posture, financial spend and IT management across public and private clouds services. 

Whether you’re contemplating a cloud migration, have started the assessment process or are mid-way through a transformation, it’s never too late to stop and re-evaluate your modernization strategy.

As we seen in the three most common cloud migration fails, executing on transformation goals is challenging. Involving your partner ecosystem and following a framework that can be flexible as you move through each stage of modernization is essential to a positive outcome. 

Phillip Crenshaw
Phillip Crenshaw Vice President, Global Business Engineering Leader
Phillip is Vice President and Global Business Engineering Leader for CGI’s U.S. Strategic Business Unit, leading a senior team of IT executives focused on CGI’s largest transformational opportunities. With more than 20 years of experience, Phillip creates rich partnerships with his clients to support the digitalization of their business.
Load more reviews
Thank you for the review! Your review must be approved first
You've already submitted a review for this item