If there’s any good news to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least from an IT perspective, it’s that even more companies have moved to the cloud — or are planning to make the switch. Industry predictions show no signs of cloud adoption slowing down.
But cloud migration can be a daunting task for some businesses. After all, companies have large volumes of data to import between their existing infrastructure and the cloud. However, planning and knowledge of a cloud environment minimizes the stress of migration. Here’s what you need to keep in mind to ensure a successful migration to the cloud.
Step #1: Assess Your Business Needs
Before any data is moved, you have to ask why migration is necessary. Here are some common reasons organizations opt to move to the cloud:
Outdated data center. You have an on-premise data center that contains older servers and network equipment. Or you have hardware/software that’s reaching its end of life, and that means it won’t be supported by the vendors. In either situation, you need to consider the capital investment of a new data center or migration to the cloud.
Accessibility. In some cases, companies examine cloud potential to increase remote accessibility for their employees. Lots of businesses are looking at the change in the working model from people being in the office to now working remotely.
Step #2: Develop a Plan for Switching to the Cloud
Plan creation is the next step in the migration process once an assessment is completed. At this stage, you determine the resources necessary to complete the task.
Case in point: an experienced team is required to handle the project. It’s essential the team members and the project lead have a solid understanding of cloud computing and migration.
If you determine the capability for cloud migration isn’t available, then you must decide how to proceed. Many businesses rely on third-party cloud development partners to handle the heavy lifting. Though it requires an initial investment, hiring a specialized partner offers a huge return on investment. Not only in the speed of the migration, but also in the education and stability provided in its operations.
Once you have refined the makeup of the implementation team, your next step is to perform an IT audit. This process determines the hardware, software, and data that needs to be migrated. This factor can have a huge impact on how successful the migration project will go. And if you don't have a good inventory or a good listing of all these things that can cause delays, it can cause a cloud migration project to fail.
We recommend asking several questions in your plan development. These include:
- Does your cloud migration strategy match the execution capabilities of your team?
- Does your budget match your goals?
- How will processes already in place be affected when your operations are migrated to the cloud?
Step #3: Mobilize Your Transition to the Cloud
The last step in the cloud migration process is to mobilize your plans and integrate the hardware, software, and data with the cloud infrastructure. This comprises activation of the approved plan, the establishment of timelines, and parallel testing to ensure there are minimal issues.
The mobilization phase is an absolute necessity to understand your applications. You must know how they work together. This determines what your architecture looks like once it’s moved to the cloud.
In addition to application comprehension, your team needs to reexamine regulatory compliance and cybersecurity requirements. For instance, this might involve PCI-DSS protocols if your business accepts credit card payments. Healthcare organizations need to make sure the data is HIPAA compliant once it’s migrated.
There are several ways to migrate your operations to the cloud to avoid minimal production outages. Amazon calls it the 6 Rs:
- Rehost, also known as a lift and shift, is taking your existing IT infrastructure and directly moving it to AWS.
- Replatform, sometimes known as a lift-turn-shift, is when an organization moves its data to a managed service. For instance, transferring your relational database from an internal space to AWS.
- Re-architect or refactor is essentially when you re-imagine your application with cloud-native capabilities with the goal of improving availability, scalability, and reliability.
- Repurchase is generally when you move your application from perpetual licenses to software-as-a-service.
- Retire is an option to consider if the application is no longer needed. The data remains on internal devices for further review.
- Retain is when you decide to delay the migration to a later point and do nothing for now.
Remember, a migration to the cloud doesn’t have to be a headache if the above steps are followed. With time to assess, plan, mobilize, and implement, your migration can be completed smoothly, without disrupting your services.
About the author: Robert Bryant is a Solutions Architect at ClearScale.