Companies of all sizes are migrating all or part of their computing environment to the cloud. These organizations are looking to take advantage of the multiple benefits available by adopting a cloud computing model. Among the most impactful reasons to migrate are:
- Reduced capital and operational costs;
- Improved operational efficiency;
- Enhanced data access for a distributed and mobile workforce;
- Access to cutting-edge technology;
- Virtually limitless flexibility and scalability.
Migrating an IT environment to the cloud can be challenging and there are many ways an organization can run into trouble. A company must approach migration methodically to increase its chance of success.
The following checklist outlines the cloud migration steps organizations should take when moving from an on-premises data center to the cloud.
Business Strategy And Planning
Organizations should have a comprehensive strategy before embarking on an exercise as complex as cloud migration. Developing a cloud migration project plan is a key initial step that increases the probability of a successful move. Start by setting goals and work backward from there. What end results are you hoping to achieve from cloud migration?
A critical part of the cloud migration plan is determining the systems and applications that make sense to migrate. Some companies may have a subset of systems that should remain in an on-premises environment. Systems that will be migrated should be prioritized with easy targets identified to get the process rolling. As the organization’s experience with cloud migration grows, more complex infrastructure elements can be incorporated.
Choosing a Cloud Migration Company
A migration company needs to be selected after a cloud migration plan is developed. Companies with extensive experience in cloud migration may only need to identify the cloud provider that can furnish the necessary resources, but most businesses are not in this position.
For many organizations, the route to a successful migration involves partnering with a company that is familiar with the cloud computing models and the specific needs of their business. Working with the right partner can help ensure the right steps are taken and minimize the chances that the migration runs into unexpected problems.
Establish the migration architect role
Establish a migration architect who is responsible for owning the project. Creating an architect-level position centralizes the decision-making that is required during the migration process.
The architect is responsible for multiple aspects of the process outlined in subsequent steps of the cloud migration checklist. They will be the driving force in developing data migration strategies and prioritizing infrastructure components to be moved. The architect also defines any refactoring that needs to take place and how production systems will be switched over when migration is complete.
Choose your level of cloud integration
Defining the level of cloud integration an organization requires informs some of the subsequent steps needed for the migration. Applications can be subject to shallow or deep cloud integration.
- A shallow cloud integration moves applications to the cloud with minimal modifications. It’s often referred to as a “lift and shift” migration, as an app is shifted to the new environment without using cloud-specific services.
- In a deep cloud integration the application is modified, as it is migrated to take full advantage of cloud-specific features and services. Deep integration requires more time and planning to ensure the app performs as expected after its migration.
The migration architect should have a major role in determining if the shallow or deep approach is appropriate for a given application.
Choose a single cloud or multi-cloud strategy
Companies need to decide if they prefer to engage a single cloud provider or implement a multi-cloud strategy. There are risks and benefits associated with either choice that are highly dependent on the types of applications under consideration for migration.
Determining a cloud strategy can be challenging. This is an example where a migration partner can leverage their experience to help a company make an informed decision. Ideally, your partner has assisted other companies in your market sector with similar applications and data that were successfully migrated to the cloud.
Establish cloud KPIs
The key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure on-premises performance may need to be reevaluated for cloud-based applications. The KPIs can help address problems during the migration and determine when the migration is complete. KPIs should be established in multiple categories including infrastructure, user experience, and application performance.
Establish performance baselines
The next step in a cloud migration checklist is to use the previously defined KPIs to establish performance baselines for applications under consideration for migration. These baselines will be used to gauge the performance of apps after moving a server to the cloud to determine if the migration was successful.
Prioritize migration components
Complex applications typically involve the interaction of multiple connected services and components. Migrating this type of application poses challenges not faced with simple systems. Organizations under the direction of their migration architect need to prioritize the system components that will be involved in each step of the process.
Perform any necessary refactoring
Refactoring may be required for applications identified for migration. The purpose of this exercise is to modify the systems so they effectively use cloud services and continue to address the needs of end-users.
Issues to consider include how the app can make use of the cloud’s scalability and ability to perform dynamic resource allocation. Efficient refactoring allows the migrated application to enjoy the full benefits of the cloud.
Create a data migration plan
Once the previous, foundational steps of the cloud migration plan have been completed, it’s time to determine how data will be migrated. This step is critical to the success of the project.
The methods used to migrate data will necessarily impact application performance. An organization’s migration architect needs to determine the most efficient way to migrate data while maintaining access for users and customers.
Switch over production systems
When everything is in place, it’s time to switch over production systems to the cloud infrastructure. Companies can wait until the application is fully migrated and tested and cut over all users at once. They can also opt to move customers in a staged manner during the migration to assist in testing and verifying the performance of the cloud-based system.
Review application resource allocation
Cloud resource allocation needs to be monitored after production systems have been switched to the cloud. An organization should verify that they are taking advantage of the cloud’s method of dynamically allocating resources like storage and compute capabilities. If it’s determined they are not using the cloud efficiently, they may have to revisit portions of their migration plan.
Other considerations for your cloud migration
The following factors also need to be considered when planning for cloud migration to determine if the move is appropriate for a given application and organization.
The information involved in the migration needs to be assessed regarding multiple criteria including its type, sensitivity, and the business risks of data loss.
Review Cloud TCO
The total cost of ownership (TCO) should be assessed before moving servers to the cloud. This includes hardware and software expenses as well as the cost of potential downtime to the business.
Compatibility between applications remaining on-premises and those migrated to the cloud needs to be maintained for the business to operate efficiently.
Determining a Migration Approach
A company should adopt a migration approach after analyzing the applications in scope, the potential benefits of cloud scalability, and the volume and type of data involved in the move.
Identify Processing Requirements
Identifying the complexity involved with integrating the data processing functionality of migrated applications with legacy infrastructure components needs to be carefully considered before committing to the move. It may be inefficient to move specific applications or systems due to excessively complex integration.
The time and effort your business spends in preparing a cloud migration project plan will minimize issues and pave the way for a successful venture. Part of the planning should involve realistically considering your organization’s ability to perform the steps outlined in the migration checklist with internal technical resources.
In many cases, a company will benefit substantially from engaging a partner with experience in negotiating the challenges of cloud migration. Cloudticity has the necessary experience and a proven track record of assisting companies in successfully migrating to the cloud. We specialize in helping companies in the healthcare industry address the complexities of migrating regulated and sensitive data resources.