To the cloud and beyond! A program management approach to data center migrationTo the cloud and beyond! A program management approach to data center migrationTechnical Account Manager, Google CloudRegional Lead – Los Angeles, Professional Services, Google Cloud

Editor’s note: In this blog post, we provide a view into our program management approach for enabling a successful data center migration. This is the second in a series of blogs. Read the first: To the cloud and beyond! Planning a multi-year data center migration.

Data center migration to the cloud can be a complicated initiative that sometimes takes years to transition existing hardware, software, and operations into a brand-new environment. To streamline the process, Google Cloud offers the Rapid Assessment and Migration Program.

Google consulting services partners with customers to collaboratively enable data center migrations to Google Cloud. Our approach: 

  • Enables the expeditious migration of your information technology infrastructure to the cloud

  • Ensures the stability of the solution 

  • Creates velocity and stability 

To do this, we focus on three pillars: program planning, program governance, and program execution.

Program planning

Consulting services help you migrate, transform, and modernize IT operations by making effective use of the cloud and driving overall customer satisfaction. We accomplish this goal by adhering to core program management principles, which consist of using established and proven processes, templates, and activities. 

For a multi-year migration, planning is an ongoing process and revisited throughout the life of the program.

Planning starts with customer success in mind. To lay the right foundation it’s important to know your capabilities before diving in with plans and solutions. Planning includes five phases: 

  1. A complimentary cloud capability assessment defines a vision/roadmap and identifies gaps and remediation strategy. The cloud capability assessment consists of 45 questions and a one-to-two-hour workshop to come up with an action plan with next steps, owners, and timelines to improve the maturity of high-priority items that align with business objectives. The cloud capability assessment is held at least once for new customers, but can be used for customers that are further along in their cloud adoption journey.
  2. A customer success plan documents business and technical objectives. This provides an opportunity for both Google and you to align on priorities and hold both parties accountable. We build the first version of the plan based on internal discussions with members of the account team and further refine during a joint working session with you. The plan should be built during the onboarding phase of the customer engagement and should be refreshed quarterly.  
  3. A learning assessment within the first month of engagement identifies knowledge gaps and recommended training solutions. A tailored learning plan is essential to accelerate adoption of Google Cloud and drive data center migration.
  4. A capacity management effort helps you understand your cloud migration costs and the importance of capacity planning. A complimentary IT and cost assessment from Google Cloud gives you insight into your landscape and an estimate of the total cost of migration.

    Google can also help you understand your service usage forecasts. This allows you to better support your own customers during substantial events (such as launches and peak season) and ensures availability for your critical loads. Capacity planning should be performed early in the engagement and every six months. 

  5. A communication plan with weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings ensures the program and the project subcomponents are on track, and includes issue and risk management. Google Cloud program managers and/or technical account managers bring the discipline and rigor required to effectively manage these projects and plans as well as facilitate reviews. These meetings serve to communicate, collaborate, make decisions, and assign actions to complete tasks/activities that help us reach each milestone along the cloud migration journey.

Program governance

Through governance, consulting services ensures you have a healthy platform throughout your migration process and support from Google Cloud. Just like planning, governance is an ongoing process throughout the life of the multi-year migration program.

Governance starts with execution of the communications plan. Having the right meeting cadence to chat about your various projects and program as a whole is essential to the success of the migration. The real work may be accomplished behind the scenes, but the weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings are where important conversations take place, action items assigned, and decisions made.

In most cases, Google Cloud’s account team and consulting services staff host weekly meetings with you to conduct regular check-ins and review tactical topics and issues. This weekly cadence typically is the baseline meeting for tactical project management, and is the first line for checking in on your migration progress. Additional monthly and quarterly meetings provide milestone checks and program-level reviews.

During an active migration scenario, steering committees are executive-level meetings to  review the migration program overall and check in on specific projects and milestones. 

Another key channel is the quarterly business review, which can be held in addition to or instead of the steering committees. This is where key decision makers review performance over the last quarter and plan for the upcoming quarter. The quarterly business review is an opportunity to have an executive business discussion aligning with the long-term goals established in the customer success plan around past performance and new joint opportunities. 

Support is another component that brings structure and aids in overall program management and health. Customers opting for Premium Support get unlimited contacts. 

However, it’s important to know how to work effectively with Support. 

  • Reach out to Support early and/or whenever an issue is encountered. Support can be contacted via the Cloud console, phone, or live chat. 

  • Clearly explain the need, give enough context, and describe the impact in order to get quick resolution. Key case components are: time, product, location, identifiers, useful artifacts, and problem type. 

To assist Support in providing Customer Aware Support, consulting services will provide Support with customer specific support notes, which are contextual notes about the customer, in an effort to help the Google team be more informed about your needs. The support notes for our Google Support team and about the customer are refreshed once per quarter.

Operational Health Review is a subcomponent of Support and provides an opportunity to candidly discuss your experience with Google Cloud, address any challenges, and identify and remediate any negative trends in support interfaces and usage metrics. This quarterly meeting is an important feedback mechanism that allows us to adjust and ensure operational health and maintain overall data center migration program velocity.

During a multi-year data center migration, there is a likelihood of special events that will require event planning. Customers run critical workloads on Google Cloud and occasionally or seasonally expect a significant increase in traffic. Consulting services can work with you and our support team to prepare for such events with the goal of delivering great performance with minimal to no downtime. Through preparation of Event Management Service, should an issue arise during the event, the support team will be better prepared to more accurately triage for a faster path to resolution and less impact on the customer event.

Escalation Management  brings visibility to problems in order to get back on track and resolve your concerns. Escalation management etiquette includes communicating with your manager first if there is a pending escalation to senior leadership. 

Program execution

Consulting services provide program management oversight to facilitate execution of the multi-year data center migration. We start with the basics such as activity tracking. On a daily or as-needed basis, we maintain a single source of truth for Google Cloud and the customer/stakeholders to access pertinent information around active workstreams, support cases, and project documentation.

Throughout the multi-year journey we are bound to discover areas where we will need new features/functions to enable and/or speed up data center migration. Consulting services is the feature request advocate on behalf of the customer. With a large migration effort there will be regularly requested features that aren’t yet available and it’s consulting services’ responsibility to advocate on your behalf by ensuring the requirements for new features are understood, logged, tracked, and prioritized appropriately with the appropriate product team stakeholders via the cloud blocker process. To achieve optimal advocacy, it is important that you provide your consulting services representative with as much pertinent feature information (functionality, performance, business impact) as possible.

We will share updates for new products and features with you via a product roadmap. This will give you an opportunity to align priorities and work streams with your internal release timeline.

We can offer different levels of architectural review depending on your task. This review will help avoid some pitfalls that could create service disruptions, increase risk, and/or increase costs. These reviews can be conducted at any time throughout the migration journey.

Getting started

When it comes to data center migrations, it will be a journey that takes time and careful thought. We equip our partners with all the tools, expertise, and help customers need to succeed. If you’re thinking about migration, sign up for our free cloud capability assessment or our free migration cost assessment, to start your migration right. Or if you’d rather start with something lighter, check out our new cloud migration guide and checklist

In the next part of this blog series, we will deep dive into program governance topics, such as event management and escalations management.