5 Preparation Steps for a Successful Cloud Migration

5 Preparation Steps for a Successful Cloud Migration

When performed well, cloud migration provides your company with a future-proof foundation that offers optimal scalability, cost, and performance of your IT systems and infrastructure.

However, without a well-defined plan, you may end up with the opposite outcomes – especially regarding the ongoing migration costs. To help you prepare for successful cloud migration, we've outlined the comprehensive steps you should consider.

1.    Select a Designated Migration Manager

Like any other project, a cloud migration requires one person to coordinate the process and be the project manager. The chosen individual leads the cloud center of excellence, taking on the internal migration responsibility.

While this step seems obvious, many businesses start the cloud migration process with multiple stakeholders sharing the decision-making role. Based on the sensitivity and amount of data involved in the cloud migration, many stakeholders may have to sign off on every given process. This may bog down the cloud migration project.

The department heads can provide input in the earlier stages and be offered rationales later. Failing to designate a migration manager leads to your teams operating without coordination. This may hinder the cloud migration once it is underway. Therefore, the longer you stay without a migration manager and relying on the committee model, the higher the impact on bandwidth and costs.

2.    Plan Out the Account Structure

Planning out your account structure, governance, and security at a high level is crucial, as you do not wish every detail to be in one account. However, you need a comprehensive governance plan for all users, applications, resources, and workloads under one roof. You must establish clear cloud migration Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to achieve this.

Some migration KPIs, such as latency and availability, will be predetermined. Also, you need to factor in final-user considerations and nuances related to how the data or app will be used. For instance, if your company offers patient chart data to mobile healthcare professionals, they will need the following:

  • Data privacy and security. Health data is protected under various standards, such as HITECH and HIPAA. Therefore, when considering cloud migration, you must ensure that advanced security measures safeguard data access, transfer, and storage.
  • High availability. Mobile healthcare practitioners travel from one home to another. As a result, they will need to access patient data from various locations at any time and as soon as possible.

You cannot approach cloud migration assuming the outcomes are automatically better than on-premise hosting. While it's almost likely, you need proper planning and setting clear KPIs to get the best out of cloud migration. 

3.    Define Cloud Migration Strategy, Map Interdependencies, and Recognize User Impact

Depending on your KPIs and requirements, you must determine how to arrive at a cloud environment. Several approaches to migrating to the cloud are often abbreviated as the 6Rs of cloud migration. They including:

  • Rehost (lift-and-shift): Involves migrating your apps and data as-is.
  • Refactor. Entirely restructuring your apps to be cloud-first.
  • Replatform (horizontal scaling). Rearchitecting specific elements to use the cloud
  • Repurchase. Replacing specific functionalities with third-party cloud options
  • Retire. Putting unnecessary functionalities to end-of-life or not migrating them to the cloud.
  • Retain. Maintaining specific components on-premise – perfect for compliance or longer migrations.

Each of these cloud migration strategies is ideal for specific use cases. Don't just go for the default lift-and-shift because it's the fastest. While it's easy to implement the lift-and-shift migration approach, it limits your ability to utilize unique-to-the-cloud services and resources. On the contrary, deep cloud migration strategies, such as refactoring, unlocks the full cloud capabilities. However, it needs more upfront preparations.

Before migrating to the cloud, you should understand what you are moving and how you want to move it. To ensure that you don't break the existing workflows when migrating to the cloud, map out how users interact with apps and how applications interact with each other. Note any dependencies, access protocols, and linked data sources to help pave the way for seamless cloud migration.

Furthermore, ask yourself how the migration impacts users. Doing so will help leaders understand the pros and potential tradeoffs of the migration decision. Take time to understand existing workflows and app delivery to users to help make informed decisions.

4.    Select a Cloud Service Provider

Which cloud best suits your cloud migration needs? Private cloud is exclusive to your organization, whether you plan to build the infrastructure via a third party or by yourself. Based on the sensitivity of the information you're working with; a private cloud may provide the most protection against security issues and customization.

The public cloud costs lesser, have zero maintenance needs, and offers unlimited scalability. This cloud involves leveraging a third-party service provider to manage your demands through their shared resources. Public cloud providers specialize in cloud infrastructure. Some notable providers include Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

However, you may need both elements of public and private clouds. In this case, you should consider a hybrid cloud model as it integrates the features of both cloud service providers.

When choosing a cloud service provider, you may ask for proof of concept. A proof-of-concept should be solid enough to represent the most crucial elements of an app. This helps you test the cloud functionality before you migrate. Otherwise, the work would be wasted if your proof-of-concept was not adequately represented.

Consider performing deployment and migration tests using dummy data for an app-based workload. Doing so provides a migration benchmark and enables you to test the costs related to cloud migration and assumptions about the performance, resource utilization, and process.

5.    Determine the Actual Cloud Migration Costs

To remain in the cloud, the business should figure out the total direct and indirect expenses related to cloud migration and maintenance. Various factors determine the cost of cloud migrations. The more systems and data you migrate, or the more sophisticated the migration strategy, the higher the costs.

Other than initial migration, you need to consider the ongoing license costs for the given solutions. Also, the logistics surrounding your team and the role of your team's skill sets may influence the total cost of ownership.

Final Thought  

Cloud migration is an enormous undertaking but can be simplified into a step-by-step process utilizing the correct planning efforts. Whether you're thinking of going solo or partnering with a cloud migration party, always involve your internal team and let them know your needs. This will help you streamline the decisions about platform and strategy, easing both long- and short-term cloud management.

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