Cloud Migration 101: Step-by-Step Guide for Seamless Transition

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Cloudticity, L.L.C.

For organizations across all sectors, public clouds offer great potential for accelerating innovation. By moving existing apps and data to the cloud, or building new apps in cloud environments, your organization can tap into the latest cloud-native technologies. In addition, you can scale your solutions rapidly, strengthen security, and improve resiliency, all while avoiding large capital expenditures.

But to move to the cloud while minimizing risks, you need a clear cloud migration strategy. Planning the multi-step process ahead of time and adopting a few best practices can help you overcome potential obstacles and improve the likelihood of a successful migration. 

What Is Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration is the process of moving various components of your IT environment to a cloud platform. For example, you might shift essential apps or sensitive data from a traditional on-premises data center to a public cloud platform such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud. Cloud migration can also include movement of apps or data from one public cloud to another. 

Why Migrate to the Cloud?

Migrating to the cloud can offer a wide range of business and technical benefits for healthcare organizations. 

Faster time to market: Building and running apps in the cloud can help you speed time to market for new services. With an on-premises environment, it might take months to purchase and deploy new infrastructure. Using the cloud, your team can deploy a new environment in minutes. DevOps teams can start developing and delivering new apps and services rapidly.

Innovation: By moving to the cloud, you can integrate advanced cloud-native technologies—such as data analytics, data visualization, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML)—into your apps and services. You can eliminate the time and effort of building components on your own.

Scalability: Cloud environments enable you to rapidly and automatically scale resources up—or down—according to your shifting requirements. You can support more customers and accommodate demand changes without having to buy and manage physical hardware.

Security: Cloud service providers generally offer more advanced security capabilities than organizations can afford to implement on their own. In many cases, you can better protect sensitive data and maintain compliance more efficiently in the cloud than in on-premises environments.

Resiliency: Cloud environments can provide superior redundancy and resiliency than organizations can achieve in-house. Using a cloud environment, you can maintain high availability and ensure business continuity even in the event of a breach or natural disaster.

OpEx cost model: Moving to the cloud enables you to shift from a CapEx cost model to an OpEx model. You no longer need large, upfront expenditures to launch new development projects or support rising demand. You can also avoid the costly consequences of under- and overprovisioning systems. With the cloud, you can more closely align monthly operational spending with the resources you are actually using.

What Are the Benefits of a Cloud Migration Strategy?

There are several important reasons to plan your migration before you start shifting IT components to the cloud. 

  • Accelerate the move: Planning enables you to move apps and data rapidly and efficiently. You can anticipate and address challenges that could otherwise delay migration.
  • Reduce risks: A solid plan can help you avoid errors that could lead to application downtime, security vulnerabilities, or compliance failures.
  • Control costs: Mistakes can be financially costly. Choosing the wrong cloud platform for your application, selecting a less-than-optimal pricing plan, or making technical errors that require remediation could escalate costs and impact your return on investment.

Common Cloud Migration Challenges

A migration strategy should address the multiple challenges that could prevent you from realizing the full benefits of the cloud. 

Internal resistance

Cloud migration might require changes to several processes—including how you build apps, manage IT, engage with partners, and pay for technology. Your teams might be reluctant to alter how they work and be slow to adopt new tools or workflows. You might also get pushback from company leaders for cloud migration initiatives if they don’t recognize the value of the move.

Technical hurdles of app modernization

Your developers might need to modernize the apps you plan to move to the cloud. Depending on the type and extent of the modernization required, you might have to invest substantial time and money in that process.

Skills gap

Significantly modifying applications for the cloud could require software development skills that your team does not currently have. Similarly, selecting, configuring, and managing cloud services might be new for teams that previously managed on-premises environments. To bring your teams up to speed with cloud development and cloud management, you might need to provide training or hire outside consultants.


Without proper planning and execution, moving critical apps to the cloud could result in downtime. Depending on the app, downtime could affect users’ productivity or even your clients’ ability to provide quality services and care. And that could jeopardize your company’s reputation, impact revenues, and reduce the odds of leadership approvals for subsequent migrations.

Security and compliance

For healthcare organizations, safeguarding protected health information (PHI) and adhering to HIPAA are critical. While your team might have tools and processes in place for protecting on-premises environments, you will probably need to implement new tools and processes for the cloud. Selecting and configuring the right cloud services for security and compliance could be time consuming.

Ongoing management

After migrating apps, you then must manage those apps and their cloud environments. You need processes for optimizing cloud resources, monitoring security and compliance, and controlling costs. These management tasks might require additional training and budget. 


Moving to the cloud can help you shift your cost model—exchanging large capital expenditures for monthly fees. But as you plan your migration, be sure to calculate all potential costs related to the move. For example, you might need to train developers and operations teams, or engage outside consultants. On an ongoing basis, you’ll also need to monitor cloud utilization to keep spending in check.

Addressing Cloud Migration Challenges with Best Practices

Your organization might face some significant challenges with cloud migration projects, but you can address those challenges with a few key best practices.

Focus on business benefits

How can you overcome internal resistance to cloud migration, especially from teams that control the budget? You need to build a compelling business case. Highlight how the move will drive innovation, enhance agility, and enable your organization to avoid large capital expenditures. As you plan your move, focus first on apps that can deliver a rapid return on investment so you can demonstrate the benefits of migration to skeptical team members. 

Implement a phased approach

To avoid the risk of downtime, consider migrating apps first to a non-production environment. 

You can perform a full battery of migration, rollback, and re-migration tests to validate your current plan and fine-tune your process before going live in production. A tested, validated process will help you eliminate issues during the migration that could cause downtime.

Augment your team with outside experts

Cloud migration can be daunting, especially if your teams do not have experience with those types of projects. In many cases, working with outside experts will be the fastest, most cost-effective, and least risky approach to cloud migration. You can engage outside teams to train your staff on app modernization, cloud migration and management, and security and compliance.

You could also partner with a cloud managed service provider (MSP) to streamline a range of important tasks for during and after the migration, such as achieving HITRUST certification. You could save hundreds of hours of work by inheriting security controls from the right MSP. 

In some cases, it might make the most sense to completely offload cloud migration or cloud management to an experienced MSP. You could keep your internal staff focused on developing new app capabilities while leaving cloud migration and ongoing administration to someone else.

Continuously monitor costs

Estimating and budgeting for the actual costs of your cloud migration project is critical. Running out of budget before completing app modernization or implementation of new security controls, for example, could be disastrous for the project. 

Defining the Phases of Cloud Migration

Most organizations benefit from following a multi-phased approach to cloud migration, though the precise steps for your project might differ depending on your specific goals and decisions. 

Rationalize: Which applications do you want to migrate? Evaluate the business value of moving each app and the amount of development work it requires. 

Assess economic impact: Estimate the costs of the move, which might include any training or engagement of external experts. Calculate the likely ongoing costs for running those migrated apps in the cloud going forward.

Prioritize: Decide which apps you should migrate first. You might decide to first move an app that will deliver the fastest return on your investment.

Move to a non-production environment: Move apps to a non-production environment first. You can define your migration process, enable your team to strengthen cloud skills, and identify potential issues before going live.

Migrate to production: When your team is ready, your app is modernized, and your process is defined, you can move the app into production. 

Analyze costs: Once the first app migration is complete, analyze the costs and validate your decisions before moving onto the next app.

Fine-tune priorities: Depending on the challenges you encountered, you might decide to shift priorities. For example, you could move apps that require less development work next or focus on apps that will help you achieve the greatest savings right away. 

Making Key App Migration Decisions

Depending on the apps you intend to migrate, you might need to undertake some degree of modification so they will run in a cloud environment. Understanding your options and assessing how much work is required can inform your migration priorities.

Rehost: You might be able to rehost some apps—lifting and shifting them to the cloud with minimal changes—if you have already built those apps with modern architectures.

Replatform: Some apps might require replatforming, which involves optimizing some elements for the cloud while maintaining the app’s existing functionality.

Refactor: Refactoring an app is the process of restructuring or repackaging an app for the cloud, again without undertaking significant changes to its functionality. It might involve employing containers, for example.

Rearchitect: Rearchitecting involves deeper redesign of an app for the cloud. For example, rearchitecting might include breaking a legacy monolith into microservices. 

Migrating Data to the Cloud

Most likely you will need to migrate data along with apps. You might be moving databases, files, or data from other sources to the cloud environment. Throughout the transfer process, you need to ensure that data is moved completely, accurately, and securely to the new environment. Healthcare organizations in particular must also make sure the cloud environment has sufficient controls in place to maintain compliance with data privacy and security regulations.

Cloud Migration Tools and Services

Your selected cloud provider will likely offer tools for cloud migration. For example, AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud all offer migration services, which include tools and guidance for lifting and shifting apps to the cloud. If you need to significantly modify or modernize your apps, you might require additional software development tools. An experienced healthcare-focused MSP can help further streamline the cloud migration process, reducing time, costs, and risks. 

Post-Migration Optimization and Management

Even after an app is up and running in the cloud, there is more work to do. You need to ensure that application performance and availability continue to meet your target goals. You must constantly be on guard for new security threats and implement new security controls. And you should also continually explore ways to enhance efficiency and reduce costs. 

Cloud providers might offer reporting and cost analysis tools to help with ongoing assessments. Working with an MSP can also help by providing more customized analyses and recommendations for optimizing apps and cloud environments. 

Move Forward with Your Cloud Migration

Public clouds can provide significant benefits to healthcare organizations. By moving apps and data to the cloud, your organization can access innovative cloud services, increase scalability, strengthen security, and improve resiliency. Developing a migration strategy beforehand and adopting some key best practices can help you maximize those benefits while reducing risks. 

Cloudticity can help you develop and execute a successful cloud migration strategy. Ready to learn more? Contact us for a free consultation today.

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