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“Our leaders have committed to migrating to AWS but I can’t see it ever happening - there’s just too much to migrate!”

We heard this when chatting to a senior engineer from a large, multinational insurance firm recently. This perception is not uncommon, and we completely understand where they are coming from. Large financial enterprises can have hundreds or thousands of systems and applications running in data centres, with massive ongoing investments in infrastructure, maintenance, and staff. This naturally leads to valid concerns when embarking on an enterprise cloud migration.


These challenges often lead to protracted decision-making. It’s not prudent to sign off on impactful cloud migration without adequate due diligence and risk assessment. Neither is it wise to expect decision-making to happen without having taken any first steps to evaluate the realities of migration. This might come across as a chicken-and-egg scenario:

1. Successful cloud migration cannot happen without planning and due diligence.
2. Planning and de-risking can only occur with a proper understanding of and experience of cloud migration.

The solution to this deadlock is to identify and act on an initial, low-risk innovation project for a selected appropriate system. An initial Proof of Value (PoV) or Proof of Concept (PoC) is a powerful vehicle to measure, understand, up-skill, and deliver a meaningful step forward in the decision-making process without assuming the risk of a full-fledged migration project.

Let’s explore how this works and how an initial innovation PoV fits into the overall, three-stage process of migration planning.


  • Develop the business case: Secure stakeholder buy-in by outlining potential benefits, including cost savings, improved productivity, enhanced resilience, and increased agility.
  • Workload discovery and categorisation: Create an inventory of applications, categorise them based on purpose, complexity, and criticality, and assess their performance, stability, and security.
  • Skills assessment: Ensure your team is ready for the task ahead by evaluating their skills and capabilities. Identify skill gaps and address them through training or hiring.
  • Initial innovation Proof of Value (PoV): Validate your migration strategy by selecting a low-risk workload, executing a pilot migration, and evaluating the results against success metrics. Incorporating a PoV into the assessment phase helps identify potential challenges, refine your strategy, address initial uncertainties, and gather concrete data to support decision-making.
  • Evaluate current systems and applications: Before starting a complete migration journey, evaluate your organisation’s existing infrastructure, applications, and data repositories.
  • Measure cloud readiness: Assess your organisation’s capabilities and environment to determine readiness for the cloud. Align with the six dimensions of the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework to identify gaps and strengths and develop a roadmap.
  • Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and cost estimation: Cost is a crucial factor in the decision-making process for cloud migration. Estimate costs and optimise resource utilisation to support a compelling business case.


  • Training: Upskill and train your teams to effectively manage and optimise AWS cloud resources – be that through AWS Training and Certification or developer training from a partner like fourTheorem.
  • Categorisation and planning: Identify application dependencies, evaluate migration strategies, and define migration waves based on business priorities and technical complexity.
  • Migration tooling and automation: Simplify complex tasks and reduce error-prone manual tasks by using cloud provider and partner tools for discovery, modernisation and data migration. Partners can also help to implement bespoke automation for your specific challenges.
  • Cloud landing zone, networking and security: Set up a secure AWS environment following best practices, including networking and security configurations (our Enterprise Cloud Accelerator can help with this.)
  • Proof of Value: Conduct subsequent PoVs to tackle complex applications, refine migration processes, expand cloud skills, integrate external systems, optimise costs and enhance security posture.


  • Execute migration waves: Manage complexity and mitigate risks with a wave-based approach, ensuring minimal disruption to business operations and maximising the efficiency of the migration process.
  • Re-host, re-platform, retire, refactor, repurchase or retain: Assess your applications and determine the most appropriate migration strategy based on factors such as complexity, performance, and business objectives.
  • Data migration: Leverage cloud provider, partner, or third-party tooling to simplify, automate and expedite the migration process with minimal downtime and data loss.
  • Integration and testing: Validate the seamless integration of migrated applications with other systems and services. Conduct thorough testing to detect and address any issues or discrepancies.
  • Optimise: Fine-tune cloud resources to maximise performance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

Our recommended migration process.


Why should you front-load a PoV?

Standard three-phase migrations recommend PoC/PoV projects in the second, mobilisation phase. We strongly believe that performing this activity much earlier can de-risk a migration and significantly enhance the success of your cloud migration.

  • Test assumptions with minimal resources: Front-loading a PoV allows you to validate key hypotheses about the migration process without the need for a large-scale commitment.
  • Evaluate cost and performance: A PoV provides concrete insights into both the financial and performance aspects of the migration. This information is essential for conducting a detailed cost-benefit analysis and building a compelling business case.
Technical Feasibility
  • Uncover issues early: By conducting a PoV, you can identify and address any technical hurdles and compatibility challenges early, ensuring that your chosen migration strategy is robust and effective.
  • Understand migration tools: A PoV allows your team to evaluate the tools and automation processes used in the full migration, providing hands-on experience that can streamline the migration later on.
Get Buy-In
  • Demonstrate value: A successful PoV showcases the tangible benefits of cloud migration, making it easier to secure buy-in from stakeholders. Demonstrating quick wins can build momentum, excitement and support for the broader migration initiative.
  • Align expectations: By providing a clear picture of what to expect in terms of performance, costs, and timelines, a PoV helps align stakeholder expectations and mitigates concerns early in the process.
Skills and Knowledge Sharing
  • Gain experience: A PoV offers a practical opportunity for your team to gain hands-on experience with AWS services which is crucial for a smooth transition during the full migration.
  • Identify skills gaps early: By engaging in a PoV, you can pinpoint any gaps in skills and knowledge within your team. This early identification allows you to address these gaps through targeted training or hiring before the full migration.
  • Learn cloud best practices: Working on a PoV provides an opportunity to observe and adopt cloud best practices, especially if you are collaborating with an experienced AWS Partner.
  • Understand security and compliance: Through a PoV, your team can familiarise themselves with the specific security and compliance requirements associated with cloud environments, ensuring that these critical aspects are well-managed during the full migration.

Where do you go from here?

Successfully front-loading a PoV and migrating to the cloud opens up long-term opportunities that can drive significant improvements in efficiency, cost savings, and overall business agility:

  • Code Reduction: Simplify and reduce code for maintainability.
  • Retire Legacy Systems: Phase out costly, inefficient legacy systems.
  • Modernisation: Enhance performance, scalability, and resilience with cloud-native services.
  • Cost Efficiency: Use cloud cost management tools to optimise resource usage.
  • Compliance Burden Reduction: Meet regulatory requirements more easily with AWS’s compliance certifications.

Case Study - Financial Services Customer

A global Financial Services customer faced challenges with its legacy risk analysis platform, including resource contention and long execution times, which hindered business growth. Before committing to a full migration, the customer partnered with fourTheorem for a PoV to investigate the move to AWS.

The PoV aimed to leverage AWS’s scalable compute infrastructure, use cloud-native technologies, and ensure alignment with the existing on-premises system. Goals included reducing large batch processing workloads from 12 hours to under 1 hour, implementing security best practices, establishing cloud ‘infrastructure as code’ automation, and delivering scalability on demand. Additionally, the PoV focused on gaining AWS experience and fostering a collaborative ‘one-team’ approach.

The PoV demonstrated significant benefits of migrating to AWS, including improved performance, scalability, and cost efficiency, while highlighting key technical insights. This strategic approach mitigated migration risks and paved the way for a successful full-scale cloud migration.

Ready to turn your "impossible" cloud migration into a reality?

Our experts can guide you through every stage, from initial PoV to full-scale migration. We can even leverage support available under the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) on your behalf – providing expertise and resources to accelerate your migration journey.

Learn more here or get in touch with a member of our team.