Motivations: Why are we moving to the cloud?

"Why are we moving to the cloud?" It's a common question for business and technical stakeholders alike. If the answer is, "Our board (or CIO, or C-level executives) told us to move to the cloud," then it's unlikely that the business will achieve the desired outcomes.

This article discusses a few motivations behind cloud migration that can help produce more successful business outcomes. These options help facilitate a conversation about motivations and, ultimately, business outcomes.


Business transformations that are supported by cloud adoption can be driven by various motivations. It's likely that several motivations apply at the same time. The goal of the lists in the following table is to help generate ideas about which motivations are relevant. From there, you can prioritize and assess the potential impacts of the motivations. In this article, your cloud adoption team should meet with various executives and business leaders using the following list to understand which of these motivations are affected by the cloud adoption effort.

Critical business events Migration Innovation
Datacenter exit

Merger, acquisition, or divestiture

Reduction in capital expenses

End of support for mission-critical technologies

Response to regulatory compliance changes

New data sovereignty requirements

Reduction of disruptions and improvement of IT stability

Reduce carbon footprint

Cost savings

Reduction in vendor or technical complexity

Optimization of internal operations

Increase in business agility

Preparation for new technical capabilities

Scaling to meet market demands

Scaling to meet geographic demands

Integration of a complex IT portfolio

Preparation for new technical capabilities

Building new technical capabilities

Scaling to meet market demands

Scaling to meet geographic demands

Improved customer experiences and engagements

Transformation of products or services

Market disruption with new products or services

Democratization and/or self-service environments

Classify your motivations

Your motivations for cloud adoption will likely fall into multiple categories. As you're building the list of motivations, trends will likely emerge. Motivations tend to be associated more with one classification than with others. Use the predominant classification to help guide the development of your cloud adoption strategy.

When a response to critical business events is the highest priority, it's important to get started with migration early, often in parallel with strategy and planning efforts. Taking this approach requires a growth mindset and a willingness to iteratively improve processes, based on direct lessons learned.

When migration is the highest priority, strategy and planning will play a vital role early in the process. We recommend that you implement the first workload in parallel with planning efforts, to help the team understand and anticipate any learning curves that are associated with cloud adoption.

When innovation is the highest priority, strategy and planning require additional investments early in the process to ensure balance in the portfolio and wise alignment of the investment made during cloud adoption. For further information and guidance, see Understand the innovation journey.

To ensure wiser decision-making, all participants in the migration process should have a clear awareness of their motivations. The following section outlines how customers can guide and effect wiser decisions through consistent, strategic methodologies.

Motivation-driven strategies and business outcomes

This section highlights the migration and innovation motivations and their corresponding strategies.


The migration motivations listed near the top of the motivations table are the most common, but not necessarily the most significant, reasons for adopting the cloud. These outcomes are important to achieve, but they're most effectively used to transition to other, more useful worldviews. This important first step to cloud adoption is often called a cloud migration. The Migrate methodology in the Cloud Adoption Framework outlines the strategy for executing a cloud migration.

Some motivations align well with a migrate strategy. Motivations at the top of this list will likely have significantly less business impact than those toward the bottom. Migration motivation-driven strategies have helped to produce successful business outcomes, like:

  • Increasing cost savings. Read the customer story.
  • Reducing vendor or technical complexity.
  • Optimizing internal operations.
  • Increasing business agility. Read the customer story.
  • Preparing for new technical capabilities.
  • Scaling to market demand.
  • Scaling to geographic demand. Read the customer story.


Data is the new commodity, and modern applications are the supply chain driving that data into various experiences. In today's business market, it's hard to find a transformative product or service that isn't built on top of data, insights, and customer experiences. The Innovate methodology in the Cloud Adoption Framework includes motivations aligned to a technology strategy that appear lower in the Innovation column of the motivation list above.

The motivations listed below focus an IT organization more on an innovate strategy than a migrate strategy. Innovation motivation-driven strategies have helped to produce successful business outcomes.

  • Increasing business agility.
  • Preparing for new technical capabilities.
  • Building new technical capabilities. Read the customer story.
  • Scaling to market demand.
  • Scaling to geographic demand.
  • Improving customer experience and engagement. Read the customer story.
  • Transforming products or services.

Next steps

Understanding projected business outcomes helps facilitate the conversations that you need to have as you document your motivations and supporting metrics, in alignment with your business strategy. Next, read an overview of business outcomes that are commonly associated with a move to the cloud.