Mastering key stages in a cloud migration


Successful cloud migration means following through on a well-considered and supported plan.

Moving workloads to the cloud or between cloud platforms can be challenging, sparking concerns around issues such as downtime, project scope and securing data and workloads. Companies are forecast to incur about $100 billion of wasted migration spend in the next three years. But proper planning and support can make the process more efficient and deliver more value for the business. 

At DoiT, we’ve helped hundreds of companies optimize their cloud experience. These are the steps we recommend for your cloud migration. 

Decide what you want to achieve

The vast majority of businesses may be in the cloud – but they don’t run everything in the cloud, nor does their choice of cloud remain static. Companies continue to run workloads on-premises and in colocated data centers, and infrastructure strategies will increasingly integrate on-premises, colocation, cloud and edge delivery options. 

The global cloud computing market is forecast to expand to $947.3 billion by 2026, indicating that cloud migration will continue to be a key strategy for companies seeking to optimize cost, performance and security. And cloud providers are stepping up with new ways to leverage the promise of the cloud for companies moving data and applications to the cloud or between cloud platforms. 

Cloud migration is no silver bullet. Before you do anything, you need to understand what’s involved and how your company can benefit from moving your workloads. Migration can be transformative once you identify the business value to be gained from it and ensure that your company’s leaders are invested in the migration effort. 

Based on your particular business objectives, formulate KPIs to help you map what a successful cloud migration will look like. These measurable values will determine the applications to be moved, the type of cloud environment required and what the ideal infrastructure will look like. 

Scope your cloud migration project

Now that you know the objectives of your cloud migration, you need to set parameters for how the project will proceed. Decide when it will start, who will be involved and how the project will be managed. A key element of this scoping stage is deciding what to migrate. This involves a thorough application assessment to determine which would add more business value if they were moved to the cloud or to a different cloud. 

Public-facing applications with a variable load and global reach are good candidates for the public cloud. Others can be too difficult or risky to migrate or simply not deliver an acceptable return on investment. An incomplete assessment of the workloads to be migrated means migration requirements will not be defined accurately, resulting in possible downstream scope creep. 

Incomplete workload assessment can also create bottlenecks if interdependencies between systems being moved are not identified and accounted for. Without accurate interdependency mapping, incorrect ordering and grouping of application migrations can cause network performance issues and delays that extend migration timelines. Companies can avoid these kinds of issues by working with an experienced migration partner to inform their scoping decisions.  


Audit your skills 

Having set your cloud migration objectives and determined the parameters of your cloud migration project, you then need to assess your capabilities for executing the project. At this point, you may realize that you simply do not have the in-house skills to complete the migration successfully. 

This issue may be resolved by training and upskilling existing team members so they can plan and implement the migration. This can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, but it is a useful supplement to active recruiting in a tight labor market, which is becoming increasingly hungry for cloud skills. 

If upskilling and recruiting are not viable options, a cloud services partner can guide you through the migration process. As cloud experts, they can provide recommendations and advice on solutions that will help you reach your migration goals. 

You may have highly skilled developers who already use containerization and microservices to architect applications in a cloud-native way. When it comes to moving workloads from data centers to the cloud, they simply need guidance and support for the migration. Our senior cloud architects can offer support in the form of expert workshops and advice, while you complete the migration to AWS or Google Cloud yourself. 

Identify your migration approach

The level of expertise you can leverage for your cloud migration will determine to a large extent the kind of migration approach you adopt. With limited expertise or access to the underlying codebase, you are probably restricted to rehosting. Also called a lift-and-shift approach, rehosting involves redeploying unmodified existing data and applications from one IT environment to another – whether that’s from data centers to the cloud or from one cloud platform to another. 

Rehosting alternatives of varying complexity include refactoring, revising, replacing and rebuilding workloads. Refactoring requires relatively minor modifications to the underlying codebase to optimize a workload, whereas rebuilding involves a comprehensive recreation of the workload. Different approaches can be combined for various workloads or use cases, but everything else in your migration plan will depend on the approach you use. 

If you’ve decided to work with a cloud partner, they will advise on the best approach for your specific needs and objectives. Once you have identified the right approach, you can budget for costs, choose the most appropriate cloud environment and deployment model, and pick the cloud vendor that aligns best with your needs.

Refine your migration plan

A custom plan for your specific migration project will start with a checklist of what must be in place before migration begins. This means having the validated cloud architecture ready to host the workload and prioritizing migration elements to account for dependencies. 

Then you can outline the steps of the migration itself, which will include everything from informing the user base about the planned migration to agreeing contingency plans such as rollbacks and recoveries. Ensure you have a clear picture of the order in which various elements will migrate and go live and how you will manage other deliverables or updates.

Deploy the solution

It’s time to migrate. To ensure everything goes smoothly, test and validate the migration process well in advance. A trial go-live event will highlight any potential issues and give you an indication of how long the process will take. Your migration strategy will be designed to minimize downtime, but going live can take a long time – particularly with multiple applications and large volumes of data. Once everything is live, test workload functionality and performance thoroughly. 

Grow with a partner

With a successful migration project in place, you need to plan for its future. Cloud vendors have made huge efforts to simplify and streamline the migration to cloud infrastructures, but key differences between cloud environments will affect your plans for scaling, optimizing and iterating into the future. You need a thorough knowledge of the relevant cloud provider's resources, services, cost structure and processes to truly leverage your cloud for the business value it can generate. 

Working to grow your business while trying to keep up with the constant evolution of the cloud is not easy. That’s why it makes sense to rely on an external team of dedicated cloud experts. By relying on a partner like DoiT, you get access to an intelligent technology portfolio and unlimited support for your particular cloud needs – all at no extra cost. 

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