A fresh take on cloud transformation

This post was authored by David Kissane, Protiviti's global enterprise cloud solution lead, and Alex Setchin, Protiviti Australia's enterprise cloud lead, on Protiviti's technology insights blog.

At a glance

The big picture: For many years, organisations adopting cloud technologies have faced challenges regarding material systems re-architecture and rationalisation for long-term impact on, and benefits to, the organisation from cloud services.

Why it matters: Doing cloud migration without transformation of underlying application and data workloads likely does not provide appropriate returns on the investments made or leverage the benefits of consuming cloud services.

Key success drivers: To enable a well-defined cloud transformation, leaders should consider their business and technology drivers, and evaluate and measure how achieving those drivers will impact people, processes and technology.


Cloud transformation is a process of moving applications, data and infrastructure to the cloud. Such simple definitions lack any sense of the business drivers or anticipated benefits that transformation strategies ought to encompass. After undertaking a “transformation” according to these simpler definitions, businesses are left operating in the same old way, making use of the same applications and platforms, merely shifted over to a cloud service. Processes have not been transformed; functions have not leveraged the benefits of cloud-native tools. A more fitting definition of cloud transformation includes optimising both cloud platforms and workloads to be truly cloud-native, resilient and cost-effective to meet the business and technology drivers. In order to successfully achieve them, Cloud transformation calls for re-architecting and re-platforming to optimise workloads, applications and data.

It is not straight forward and there is a lot to undertake. To start, the transformation scope should originate from clearly defined and broadly understood business drivers. Starting with business needs, cloud transformation programs should consider impacts on processes and people and can only then decide how technology will support desired changes. Cloud transformation efforts include platform modernisation, but also workload and platform innovation — as well as defining a centre of excellence, so people build the skills to take full advantage of an organisation’s cloud investment.

When cloud transformation is approached this way, businesses adopt cloud with purpose and results and outcomes are clearer. They take full advantage of their cloud investments. Cloud platforms become truly cloud-native, resilient and cost-effective. Grounded in business strategy and considering all aspects of major change, these cloud transformations deliver continuous value to the business, and accelerate innovation across the enterprise.

People, process and technology

Ideally, cloud transformation addresses three distinct efforts:

  • Platform modernisation includes hosting platform simplification and modernisation across on-premise, public cloud and -as-a-service services. This effort reengineers business processes, unifies cloud management and orchestrates information technology assets and resources.
  • Workload and platform innovation encompasses refactoring, re-architecting, or replacing applications hosted in data centres or clouds. It also entails transforming data and analytics to leverage cloud-native services.
  • A cloud centre of excellence is essential not only to ensure user adoption but also to develop the organisation’s people. Time and again, businesses spend big for technology only to diminish their investment’s value by not building the skills people need to attain the technology’s advantages.

Getting cloud transformation right

Cloud transformation incorporates elements of people, process and general operating model change throughout the enterprise. It also modernises information technology assets: removing legacy technology and putting in place new solutions that run in the cloud. Businesses can manage efforts by focusing on these actions:

  • Set clear vision and business drivers: teams will want to understand business drivers first. Only businesses that are clear about why they need to transform should undertake efforts of this scope. Transformation is about more than modernising technology. It’s often driven by a strategy to enter a new market, a need to reengineer business processes and to meet significant regulatory change/impacts and growing security requirements.
  • Cloud transformation planning: includes cloud strategy and business case, current state assessment and a migration scheme. Teams will want to consider underlying operating systems, integration requirements and data and application platforms. They’ll want to transform cloud workloads to new, cloud-native applications.
  • Establish a cloud CoE: In parallel, it’s essential to establish a centre of excellence for developing new processes, building skills and adopting modern cloud-native tools.
  • With plans in place, teams can turn their attention to migration: architecting cloud foundations, preparing landing zones and migrating workloads. These efforts set the stage for the work of transforming: modernising workloads for optimal efficiency, resiliency and use.
  • Continuous improvement: cloud transformations are not one-and-done efforts. Because business drivers and technology opportunities are both constantly changing, enterprises will want to reevaluate and optimise their cloud implementations over time to capture new savings, maintain and enhance resiliency and streamline operations as new possibilities arise.
  • Being clear on process changes and how those changes impact people — also helps ensure success from the outset. Business and technology teams will want to communicate about changes and impacts throughout the transformation effort and into early days of operation.
  • A robust governance structure will support the transformation’s success by creating a forum for business, technology and customer stakeholders to communicate and manage unexpected outcomes, there will be many and it is best to be prepared
  • Committing to the discipline of transformation; simplifying the technological landscape — including underlying cloud platform, systems, integration and data, will ensure the effort results in a modern and sustainable implementation.
  • Establishing a delivery model that sets achievable targets to deliver incremental value and realise benefits along the way confirms fulfillment of business drivers long before transformation efforts conclude. Tracking and quantifying benefits as they’re delivered incrementally throughout the project, as well as post-completion, confirms the success of the effort for leaders and stakeholders alike.
  • Sound and detailed planning — along with a dynamic, engaged cloud centre of excellence — supports implementation of new processes, helps people adopt to a changing environment, facilitates transition from implementation to steady state and ensures knowledge transfer and upskilling of business and technology teams.

More than lift-and-shift

Cloud transformation should be considered as so much more than shifting to a new technology platform. To unlock all potential benefits from cloud transformation, leaders should consider their business drivers first, and then evaluate how achieving those drivers will impact processes and people. Cloud transformations can be organised around platform modernisation, workload and platform innovation and a centre of excellence that will ensure rapid adoption of change by a skilled and confident workforce.

Read the results of our Global Technology Executive Survey: The Innovation vs. Technical Debt Tug-of-War.

To learn more about our cloud transformation solutionscontact us.


Michael Pang
Michael is a managing director with over 20 years’ experience. He is the IT consulting practice leader for Protiviti Hong Kong and Mainland China. His experience covers cybersecurity, data privacy protection, IT strategy, IT organisation transformation, IT risk, post ...
Franklin Yeung
Franklin is a director with over 22 years’ experience in IT consulting, audit, and system implementation. He has experience in assisting organisations with IT/IS security, strategy, governance, risk management, internal controls, business continuity management, system ...