Cloud migration is a top priority for businesses across the globe.
Despite that many migration projects end up failing due to poor strategy or planning.
According to Unisys, “Globally, one in three cloud migrations fail because cloud is not part of the business’ core strategy and planned for appropriately.”
Apart from outright failing, many cloud migrations wind up going over budget and take much longer than expected.
Planning ahead by having the right people involved and a clearly outlined steps for cloud migration aligned with the business direction can help businesses avoid common pitfalls.
If you’re planning to migrate to the cloud, be prepared and follow our 8 Cloud Migration Steps.
8 Cloud Migration Steps
1. Outline Reasons for Moving to the Cloud
Organizations should follow an analysis-based approach when migrating to the cloud.
Outline what business objectives you want to achieve through the cloud.
Are you looking to reduce costs? Gain new features? Leverage real-time data and analytics? Improve scalability?
The priority of your goals will inform your choices later in the cloud selection process as you decide on cloud platforms, apps, and what sort of resources you’ll require to move forward with your project.
Build the business case for moving to the cloud.
Cloud migrations aligned to key business objectives and outcomes are more likely to succeed then siloed projects within the IT department.
If your business is looking to solve an immediate problem, your team may be able to identify ‘quick wins’ by integrating a cloud solution into your existing environment in place of moving everything to the Cloud.
2. Get the Right People Involved: Form a Cloud Migration Team
We’ve written at length about the Skills Needed for a Cloud Migration, but at a very high-level businesses looking to migrate to the cloud will want to include these types of professionals or resources that encompass these skill sets:
- Business Analyst
- Project Manager
- Infrastructure and/or Application Specialist
- Subject matter expert familiar with the business processes and use cases
- Security Specialist
- Vendor Management (Cloud Contract & Service Levels Negotiation)
The specific expertise required will come down to what applications and cloud platforms your team will be working with.
3. Determine Organizational Cloud-Readiness
Once you’ve outlined your objectives for moving to the cloud, the next step is to conduct a comprehensive business and technical analysis of your current environment, apps, and infrastructure.
If your company doesn’t have the skills in-house, you can work with an IT firm that provides a Cloud-Readiness Assessment.
An assessment will dive into not just what technology your business uses but how your organization uses it.
Many legacy applications aren’t optimized for cloud environments.
They are often “chatty”, meaning during a typical function, they call many other services to gather information and fulfil requests.
While this is not an issue for apps running on an on-premise infrastructure, this type of architecture can get quite costly and inefficient in the cloud requiring high capacity to function.
To properly prepare for a cloud migration, follow these steps in your cloud assessments:
- Inventory your applications and workloads
- Inventory hardware and infrastructure (servers, databases, and storage)
- Interview application leaders and users to get a sense of how they use the apps
- Draw up dependency maps of your apps and integrations
- Record the technologies used in your application portfolio
- Analyze each app and its relevant components to determine transition plan and place in cloud migration steps
Some elements to consider that impact how easily apps can be brought into the Cloud:
4. Choose a Cloud Vendor and Design Your Environment
The next steps for cloud migrations is to decide between cloud vendors: Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Platform are the most prominent cloud hosting platforms.
The right platform for your business will depend on your specific requirements, the architecture of the applications moving to the cloud, integrations, and other factors.
Your team will also have to decide if public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud environments are the right course of action for your needs.
To get some additional info on the difference and benefits of each, read our article on Public vs Private Cloud Migration – Which is Right for You.
Many companies choose to take a multi-cloud or hybrid-cloud approach.
A recent Gartner survey of public cloud users showed that “81% of respondents are working with two or more providers.”
When designing your cloud environment, your architect should look into whether a multi-cloud approach would work for your business.
They’ll also plan for things like:
- Capacity and performance planning right-sized to your needs
- Data classification (Public, Private, Shared)
- Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (M4A)
- Designing a highly available architecture
- Implementing automation where it makes sense
- Align processes to cloud capabilities
- Set up proper reporting
5. Create a Cloud Roadmap
Now that you have insight into what you want to get out of a cloud migration, in-depth info on each piece of technology that will migrate, and your team – you’re ready to outline which components will make the move first based on business priority and migration difficulty.
Investigate if an incremental approach to the cloud migration process will work for your business.
Return to your initial reasons for wanting to move to the cloud and highlight key areas that are priority items for your business.
Map each phase of your cloud deployment to a resourcing schedule to ensure you have the right personnel available for the migration.
Creating a comprehensive cloud roadmap can prove an invaluable resource – especially if your business is choosing to incrementally migrate functions to the cloud.
Roadmaps help teams stay the course, reduce the chances that elements get missed, and provide a more accurate timeline as each task is broken down into rough timeframes and can be adjusted along the way.
6. Get Your Application Cloud-Ready
There are two typical migration models: Lift and Shift (Rehost) and Rearchitect (Refactor).
Rehosting is basically taking your application as is and moving it into a cloud environment.
Whereas Refactoring means making changes to the application architecture to take advantage of cloud capabilities.
Refactoring can prove highly time-intensive or even impossible for certain apps but provides ongoing benefits if possible.
Whichever model your business opts for, there may still be some modifications required to optimize the app for cloud computing.
By refactoring your application, you may be able to:
- Take advantage of dynamic scaling to save costs
- Optimize resource allocation to designate resources as needed
- Separate specific functions to allow priority services to move to the cloud first
Potential models for migrating an existing application can be a combination of Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Container as a Service (CaaS), and Function as a Service (FaaS).
If the existing app is packaged, there is also the possibility to shift it to Software as a Service (SaaS).
7. Migrate Your Data
Creating a data migration plan is a crucial cloud migration step and can prove disastrous if done wrong.
A proper data migration strategy will look to audit the data to prevent any unexpected issues, clean-up of any identified concerns, putting controls in place to ensure data quality, and proper governance through tracking and monitoring.
Data migrations typically involve three basic steps:
- Extract data
- Transform data
- Load data
Always back-up your data before commencing a data migration and test the back-ups to ensure they work as expected.
Thorough testing at each point of the data migration can help ensure that nothing is lost or misrepresented.
8. Testing and Switching to Production
Now that your cloud environment is set up to your specifications, the application(s) are in the cloud, data has populated – the next steps in the cloud migration process is to flip the switch.
Even with extensive testing in the test environment, things can still go wrong when shifting to production.
One way to reduce the risk, is to migrate a set of test users over to the new environment before a full launch to identify any issues that were missed through deployment and initial testing.
The more complicated your architecture, the more cautious you should be and implement incremental testing and rollouts where possible.
These cloud migration steps should ensure your team has a solid foundation for approaching the cloud migration process strategically.
Start by assessing your own technology, processes and team to confirm that the cloud is the right option for your organization.
- 12 Cloud-Based Technologies That Will Better Your Business
- The Complete Cloud Migration Checklist
- 5 Overlooked Problems When Migrating Enterprise Applications to the Cloud