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Moving is invariably stressful, whether you’re buying a new house or moving applications to the cloud. But careful planning can facilitate a smooth transition.
The cloud is an increasingly popular destination: according to Gartner, nearly two-thirds (66%) of spending on application software will shift to cloud technologies by 2025. That’s up from 58% in 2022, a trend accelerated by growing demand for integration and innovation capabilities.
But before you jump ship from onsite infrastructure to the cloud, make sure you have a thorough understanding of your current system, are aware of roadblocks to a successful migration, and know how to mitigate risks.
Cloud migration can seem daunting, but our five-part cloud migration process will help you feel confident about the move.
Phase 1: Analyze your workloads
First of all, evaluate your system’s cloud readiness. Traditional IT infrastructure typically houses workloads from multiple vendors, including decades-old legacy systems. To assess whether your system is cloud ready ask these critical questions:
- Is it possible to run current projects on cloud infrastructure, or are they restricted to a local, on-site environment?
- Does your cloud provider support the original ecosystem of your applications?
- Will your product vendors support your workloads during and post-migration in the new cloud environment?
After you’ve determined that your infrastructure is indeed ready for the cloud, take the following steps:
- Analyze your applications and your system’s complexity to determine which apps are cloud-ready, which should be prioritized, and which ones can wait. Gather as much data as possible about your current system, like resources, capacity, memory, database, etc.
- Identify which applications will be affected by the migration and which require refactoring. Check for complications that might arise when your system’s underlying on-site infrastructure is migrated to the cloud.
- Minimize the impact on day-to-day operations by considering application dependencies. If a particular business application has numerous dependencies, plan to migrate it to the cloud at a later phase to minimize interruptions.
Phase 2: Define your cloud migration strategy and roadmap
As with any journey, it’s vital to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition. We recommend one of the following cloud migration strategies:
- Rehost: This is ideal if you want to migrate your workloads to the cloud without making any changes. AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform provide native tools to support this type of migration.
- Replatform: Use this strategy if you want to modernize existing applications in the on-site environment before migrating to the cloud, such as converting an SQL database to cloud SQL, or moving a VM-based app to a container-based architecture.
- Rebuild: If your legacy business application isn’t compatible with the new cloud environment, you might have to abandon existing code and rebuild from scratch.
After deciding on your cloud migration strategy, there are other factors to keep in mind when choosing a cloud service provider. Migration experience and post-migration support, cost-effectiveness, availability across multiple regions, resilience against failures, ability to innovate and differentiate, compliance with industry standards, and data security norms are all important.
And remember, while all migration tools help move your workloads safely to the cloud, each tool differs in terms of functionality and architecture. To figure out which migration tool best fulfills your organization’s needs, consider the following:
- Does the tool require installing agents to migrate each application? (If you have multiple applications to be moved to the cloud, it’s better to choose an agentless migration tool such as AWS Server Migration Service or Azure Migrate tool.)
- Does the tool allow you to test applications online?
- Does the tool offer analytics-based recommendations to map on-site instances to cloud instances? Does it suggest ways to optimize performance or cost in the cloud?
- Does the tool help track migration progress and is it capable of handling both data and app migration?
- What is the predicted downtime for a successful migration? In the case of multi-tiered applications, will the migration tool automatically orchestrate shutdowns and restart the systems in a specific order post-migration?
- Does the tool automatically adapt your application to the new cloud environment? Does it maintain DNS configurations automatically?
- What happens when all your workloads, data, and systems are migrated to the cloud? Do you need to shut down any service (either at the source or destination) to implement the changes? Do you need to uninstall or install any migration agents during the cutover? If your data is still out of sync post-migration, how long does a full recovery take?
- If necessary, would it be possible to roll back your applications onsite? How long would that take?
Phase 3: Test your data and applications
Running a POC (Proof of Concept) test before officially migrating your workloads saves time and mitigates risks. A POC allows you to evaluate how your applications will perform in the cloud and to customize as necessary before going live. We recommend taking the following steps:
- Review the cloud environment prerequisites: Ensure all the cloud environment requisites are in place to support migrated workloads such as security and networking. Identify the managed IT services you will purchase from the cloud provider, such as DNS services, backup and recovery, Database as a Service (DBaaS), etc.
- Run tests to keep your cloud budgets in line: Right-size your cloud instance based on intelligent data recommendations, adopt a migration tool that can evaluate your system’s on-site usage, and customize instance sizes without degrading performance.
- Run a pilot project: Mimic real-world scenarios in a simulated environment to identify your cloud vendor’s capabilities and limitations and evaluate key metrics. Simulating real-world load on the system enables you to choose the right-sized instance for memory-intensive applications to run successfully in production. POC tests help validate application functionality and performance, secure the right configurations for security controls and firewalls, and minimize deployment costs.
- Run clones of the live production environment. Migration tools like AWS Elastic Beanstalk and Azure Automation allow you to create a live production environment to test the migration realistically, validate changes, and make sure the system is safe and ready for the actual migration. Testing your applications in the cloned environment doesn’t affect the live system’s data and uptime (and you can then delete the test clone).
Phase 4: Migrate to the cloud
Congratulations: it’s moving day! After you’ve completed the analysis, preparation, and testing phases, you should feel confident about a smooth transition to the cloud. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the migration.
- Prioritize workloads for migration: Set up your applications in the cloud and configure the settings, network, security, storage, and other architecture-level factors. The next step is to move your resources to the cloud based on priority.
- Test new deployments thoroughly: Test the new cloud environment for performance, functionality, integration, security, and disaster recovery. Look for challenges such as database errors, server crashes, and poor performance. Switch your live traffic to the new cloud system only after resolving any issues that emerge.
- Direct user traffic to the new cloud environment: Induct your live systems and workloads to the cloud only when the new deployments fare well in terms of test results, performance, consistency, and availability. If you face any issues while switching, you can always revert to the old on-site configuration, sort out the issues and retry the migration deployment.
Best Practice: We recommend using an incremental, agile approach for migrating workloads to the cloud. Agile methodology allows you to review results at each phase and make necessary adjustments in real time based on end-user feedback.
Phase 5: Optimize and finetune your cloud environment
Now that you’ve moved, it’s time to settle in! But keep the following in mind before you say farewell to the old site.
- Optimize based on ongoing operations: After completing the migration process optimize the cloud environment based on your operational usage patterns. Track and implement your cloud vendor’s product updates. Adjust and right-size your cloud instances based on real-time demand. Use governance tools and intelligent recommendation systems to report your cloud usage habits and optimize cost and performance.
- Review the usage of cloud-based IT: Platforms like Amazon CloudWatch and Google Cloud Monitoring can monitor your workloads to identify if any cloud services are over or under-utilized. These tools provide data and actionable insights to optimize resource utilization proactively and reduce billing overages.
- And finally: close on-site workloads: Retaining the on-site environment is recommended until you resolve any issues that occur during the migration process. But to optimize the new cloud environment, decommission old on-site workloads.
Every cloud migration project is unique, and you’ll need the right platform and partner to accelerate your transition. It’s important to develop a well-crafted migration roadmap by partnering with a trusted cloud migration services provider. Our team of specialists can help you develop a hybrid cloud operating model that combines the agility, speed, and innovation of the public cloud with the robust security, control, and compliance of the private cloud.