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Onboarding Workloads

Framework / Domains / Manage the FinOps Practice / Onboarding Workloads

Orchestrating the migration of systems into, or between, cloud environments in a way that provides transparency to cost, usage, and impact; supports operational objectives; and establishes or maintains cost effectiveness.

Manage onboarding strategy

  • Define selection criteria to identify systems for onboarding
  • Develop a value vs effort matrix to identify candidate systems for onboarding
  • Define criteria for success

Plan migrations

  • Develop financial business case
  • Create value comparisons between source and destination environments
  • Assess functional and availability impact to service/application

Coordinate onboarding

  • Establish cloud landing zones with regional, redundancy, availability and rate considerations
  • Define onboarding milestones
  • Establish robust program management processes and workflows
  • Establish roles and responsibilities for Persona involvement


Moving workloads into or between cloud environments requires planning, coordination, stakeholder alignment, and an organizational strategy to determine what and how workloads and systems will be moved. Activities from most other Capabilities will be enacted to successfully move a system or systems to the cloud, or from one cloud to another.

Onboarding Workloads is typically triggered in response to a desire to reduce or close down data centers or retire capital assets, but may also be in response to merger or acquisition, adoption of a new cloud or on-premises cloud technology, or simply the desire to find the most cost-effective home for an application with a unique usage pattern.

An onboarding strategy is critical for any organization adopting public or private cloud, particularly those that are migrating applications from data centers. A detailed migration plan is also required for onboarding of complex applications or workloads. Typically cloud providers or third party consultants or vendors can help with estimates and plans to migrate to cloud, but before a migration plan is useful, the organization must understand what it will onboard, under what circumstances, and document how success will be measured.

The onboarding strategy will rely very much on the organization’s overall cloud strategy. Whatever the organization is trying to accomplish by moving to cloud – faster innovation, better security, enhanced reliability, lower cost profiles, etc. – will be dramatically affected by the applications it selects to move to the cloud, and how it moves them. Do the systems need to scale? Are they variable use? Are we confident in our cost forecasts? Are they architected appropriately to run in the cloud? Are there skilled resources available to optimize and operate them once there? Considerable thought should go into the onboarding strategy, involving personas from Engineering, Finance, Leadership, Product teams and potentially allied personas.

Migration planning can then inform the details of when and how the systems should be moved to the target cloud environment, and the method of moving them. Cost efficiency is best achieved by designing it as early in the life of the system as possible. The relationship between the Architecting for Cloud Capability and onboarding workloads creates one of the best opportunities to incorporate FinOps and other well architected best products into the application you are deploying to the cloud.

Systems aren’t onboarded in isolation. Other applications, operations systems, and cloud landing zones will be impacted by your new workload. Application resources will need to abide by cloud policies including tagging requirements to ensure the workload has the appropriate level of visibility for other work streams such as automation, chargeback, etc. The FinOps team will also need to know estimated usage and forecast models have been created, and determine appropriate rate and usage optimization are planned for and applied.

Onboarding KPIs will be critical to measuring the success of migrations. Migrations, particularly from data centers to cloud, often encounter blockers that may be difficult to overcome. Running in parallel in both environments can create a financial and sustainability impact that was unanticipated, and can be costly if it lasts very long. Keeping close program management on onboarding is critical and can be an important investment if organizations are migrating at a large scale. Depending on your organization’s Cloud Adoption strategy, this could quickly overwhelm the central FinOps team or drive difficult prioritization conversations within the organization.

Organizations will need to develop a formal onboarding process for workloads that will continuously evolve. This onboarding process will start with test or development environments and show how applications can then be moved to staging and production environments. Onboarding will happen for a long period of time in most organizations, so driving collaboration is critical.

Maturity Assessment


  • When the onboarding needs of the organization are very small, or the organization is just starting out, little collaboration between Personas about new workloads being onboarded is required
  • Ad-hoc on-demand budgeting/requisition to onboard workloads to the cloud
  • Manual or scripted creation of landing zones and policy compliance like tags is acceptable due to simplicity of requirements


  • When onboarding larger scale or more complex systems, the organization will need to create a more structured, repeatable onboarding process which it will need various personas to follow
  • Persona teams will be involved in onboarding plans and program management, checking on a regular cadence to review onboarding status
  • Estimating, Forecasting, Budgeting processes for onboarded systems is mandatory but not standardized across the Business Units / Product Teams. It considers all IT requested changes
  • More automation in landing zone, policy compliance, governance, and shared services integration
  • Cloud usage reporting is managed by a central team and there is application level reporting


  • For organizations migrating entire data centers or portfolios of systems to cloud, a complex, continuous, and automated onboarding process is created to involve all necessary personas and other Capabilities
  • Well-defined process and guidelines including both financial viability and technical feasibility for preparation of deploying new projects/applications or migrating existing workloads to the cloud
  • The organization invests in automation to build with Infrastructure as Code for consistency and compliance with policy
  • Budgeting and forecasting are standardized across the organization and consistently done across all teams
  • There is robust monitoring in place for teams to monitor their migration status and cost as onboarding occurs

Functional Activities

FinOps Practitioner

As someone in the FinOps team role, I will…

  • Work with Product, Engineering and Leadership teams to create an onboarding strategy that suits the organization’s goals
  • Work with application owners to ensure appropriate tagging, compliance, automation, and migration patterns are used
  • Manage or support those managing onboarding programs overall, providing transparent access to all required information and other Capabilities


As someone in an Engineering role, I will…

  • Assess the suitability of the workloads moving to the cloud per the onboarding strategy
  • Review the operational readiness to support the workloads on the cloud
  • Ensure the team is leveraging existing automation or looking for opportunities to move tasks to automation
  • Work with automation and product teams to comply with policy and governance
  • Partner with FinOps team to determine the best approach for onboarding for cost effective and low impact operation


As someone in a Finance role, I will…

  • Assess the financial viability of the workloads moving to the cloud
  • Work with the FinOps & Product teams to understand what workloads are planned for onboarding and any potential cost implications
  • Capture and track cloud value benefits realization


As someone in a Procurement role, I will…

  • Work with Finance and the FinOps team to understand the impact to existing commitments and contractual arrangements by onboarding systems
  • Review any open source tools/projects that will be incorporated into the new workload (this may also be a legal function)


As someone in a Product role, I will…

  • Optimize my product with new cloud capabilities to drive efficiency and agility
  • Advocate for architecting for cost efficient applications and to leverage automation when building the application or workload
  • Partner with the FinOps team to understand my optimization opportunities after the workload has already been onboarded
  • Assist the engineering team in making prioritization decisions based on the needs of the business


As someone in a Leadership role, I will…

  • Make informed decisions to prioritize workloads to move to the cloud
  • Provide strategic directions to establish appropriate onboarding strategies
  • Assist the team in making tradeoff decisions that have multiple competing priorities

Allied Personas

As someone in an Allied Persona role, I will…

  • Support onboarding programs with appropriate information from my area of responsibility (ITAM, Security, ITFM, Sustainability, etc.)

Measures of Success & KPIs

  • Measurement of cost efficiency through infrastructure savings, migration and support costs
  • Operational resiliency improvement in service quality and security risk posture
  • Decrease time to market by accelerating fluidity in product and service delivery

Since onboarding workloads can impact so many parts of the business, there can be many KPIs that can effectively measure how well your organization is onboarding workloads. Check out the KPI Library to see which metrics may make the most sense for your organization.

Inputs & Outputs


  • Architecting for Cloud – architecting for cost efficiency at initial design of the infrastructure is the optimal time to factor in all the different constraints and variables for your specific workload
  • Cloud Policy and Governance – ensuring that workloads conform to organization and team level policies and governance will lead to a smooth onboarding process
  • FinOps Tools and Services – the tools in your organization should be able to detect new workloads in your organizations environment and the workload should meet the tagging governance to ensure proper visibility in the tool for the appropriate teams
  • Workload Optimization – leveraging infrastructure as code and automation in the onboarding stages will make for easier optimization opportunities for your specific workload or application
  • Estimates, Forecasts, and Budgets to be used for onboarding


  • Onboarding Strategy to guide decisions about what systems to consider moving
  • Migration plans and estimates
  • Migration schedules, and program deliverables to track progress, and provide transparency to all involved personas