A cloud migration is like a kitchen remodel

Organizations considering a migration to the cloud may not immediately think that television shows like “Help! I Wrecked My House,” or “Rescue my Renovation” are relevant to the work that they are doing.

But it just so happens that things like renovating a kitchen or putting an addition on your house can hold valuable lessons for moving systems to the cloud.

The reason that shows like these exist in the first place is that homeowners often make the misjudgment that they can undertake home renovations by themselves. Convinced of their own capacity for specialized tasks, or in a bid to save money, they quickly end up over their heads — eventually realizing they need expert assistance. That this happens often enough to support multiple television shows is a pretty good indicator of our difficulty in assessing both risk and our own capacity for complex work in home renovations.

And so it is with cloud migrations as well.


Both a cloud migration and a kitchen remodel are complex, technical undertakings that require planning, specialized skills, and proper execution. While the cloud holds enormous potential to benefit agencies and the people they serve, it also comes with risks and tradeoffs. Like a home renovation or kitchen remodel, it is often an exercise that agencies — particularly smaller ones — undertake infrequently, or only once. The lessons you learn from all the mistakes you made remodeling your kitchen the first time will only benefit you if you decide to remodel your kitchen a second time, which few people ever do.

The potential benefits of moving to the cloud are many, but so are the choices. Like a homeowner struggling to wade through the myriad of choices for fixtures and finishes in a new kitchen, sifting through the different types of cloud offerings can feel overwhelming. Will your agency migrate to a public cloud, a private cloud, or a hybrid? Do you need Infrastructure-as-a-Service, or a Platform-as-a-Service? Are there SaaS offerings that will meet your needs? Do you need VMs, or will our organization move to containerize solutions? Will you manage your own Kubernetes cluster, or use one of the many different managed services? What about serverless?

The many different options of cloud infrastructure and services can feel confusing. Adding to the complexity is that each option has ramifications for your organization’s existing digital solutions. Moving to the cloud, particularly if one of your goals is to save money on infrastructure and hosting costs, often means reengineering the way your solutions are designed. Solutions running on premise are often designed to be self-contained monoliths, while cloud hosting supports (and sometimes encourages) more loosely coupled application components and microservices. A plan to simply “lift and shift” fails to account for most of the benefits of the cloud.

A migration may also enable changes to the way your teams work and how they develop and deliver software solutions that your agency uses. Moving away from monolithic applications allows teams to deliver changes more quickly and in smaller chunks, speeding value to users and lowering risk. These changes are beneficial, but require planning and coordination. A move without considering the broader implications for your organization can create lots of headaches down the road.

Billing and security

Each cloud infrastructure or service choice also comes with its own unique implications for billing and security. The “on demand” nature of cloud computing makes it attractive for agencies facing budget pressures, but it also introduces new risks. Improperly designing your cloud infrastructure can result in unexpected expenses and new security challenges. Worse still, it may still result in the kind of capacity issues that affect premise-based infrastructure. Knowing how to size and scale cloud infrastructure to accommodate demand is critical.

The need for an experienced technical expert

Just like a successful kitchen remodel project, a successful cloud migration is often dependent on picking the right partner.

The right contractor can help you see the potential in your new kitchen. They can visualize taking a room down to the studs, and give options you may never have considered yourself. That poorly placed dishwasher that has bothered you since you moved in can be relocated so it no longer hits the cabinets. A new island or different appliances can be installed, and even walls moved to suit your specific needs. From this vision can come amazing possibilities, but it also comes with difficult choices that can be hard to work through without a professional to help you.

It’s the same with migrating to the cloud. Working with a partner that can help you visualize the possibilities of your new cloud infrastructure can make all the difference. It becomes crucial to choose an experienced partner that has helped other agencies rethink the way they deliver service, and how cloud services can support the goals of the agency.

No one wants to be the homeowner that takes delivery of new appliances for their remodeled kitchen only to realize that they won’t fit with the newly installed cabinets and countertops. Neither do you want to be the agency who finds themselves halfway through a cloud migration only to face major issues. When planning a migration for your agency, consider the lessons learned from the unlucky homeowners that end up on TV. Recognize that while migrating to the cloud holds enormous potential benefits, it also comes with complex choices, difficult tradeoffs, and unexpected risks. Planning your cloud migration with an experienced, trusted partner can help make the effort successful.

Your organization may know that it wants to move to the cloud, but you definitely do not want to end up on the next episode of “Help! I Wrecked My Cloud Infrastructure.”