Five Steps to Create an Effective Cloud Migration Plan

June 2, 2020 | by Anjana Ramesh | Posted In Cloud, cloud migration

Cloud Migration Plan

Lately, many organizations are moving to the cloud as a part of their digital transformation strategy. Although cloud offers multitudes of benefits in terms of performance, flexibility, cost, and more, moving to the cloud can be a monumental task. Therefore, cloud migration requires scrupulous planning to make it successful. In this blog, we discuss the five most important steps for a successful cloud migration plan, based on our experience across industry verticals :

  • Assess your current infrastructure and cloud readiness
  • Determine which applications to migrate
  • Estimate the cloud migration cost
  • Devise your data migration plan
  • Perform a security assessment

1. Assess your current infrastructure and cloud readiness

As stated earlier, moving to the cloud requires rigorous planning. The foremost step is to assess the current state of your IT infrastructure and the cloud readiness of your applications. This is essential to understand what your current infrastructure lacks and how cloud can help you accomplish those. Furthermore, you also need to do a gap analysis so you know what applications can be moved as-is (lift-and-shift), which ones will require a redesign, and what steps you should take for a seamless shift to the cloud. Once you identify the answers to these questions, you will be able to come up with a cohesive, piecemeal approach for cloud migration.

Here are the key steps to assess your current IT infrastructure and the cloud readiness of your applications:

Identify the business goals and objectives of cloud migration

Before you lay out a cloud migration strategy, you must know what you want from the migration. The goals may include cost reduction, more flexibility, better performance, improved collaboration, etc. Unless you have clear and realistic goals for moving to the cloud, it is impossible for your migration efforts to augur well for your organization. Right from choosing the cloud service provider to executing your cloud migration well, there are a lot of decisions to make. If your goals are crystal clear, you will be able to make the right decisions along the way.

Scrutinize your applications

This involves answering a bunch of questions like, but not limited to:

  • What is the purpose of the application?
  • Who are the users of the application?
  • What is the volume of its usage? How often are there anomalies?
  • What are the technologies that are being used? (stacks, frameworks, programming languages, database servers, etc.)
  • Is the application scalable?
  • How easily can the application be modified?
  • How integrable is the application?
  • What are the security requirements of the application?

The answers to these questions will help you understand the feasibility of the cloud migration initiative better. Besides, it will also help you determine what applications to migrate first, which cloud deployment model to pick, and what migration strategy to opt for.

Gather adequate data about the current resources

The goal here is to assess the current on-premise infrastructure by analyzing the storage, network, data collection, on-premise hardware resource consumption (power, space, cooling), operating environment, and the costs associated with them. This will help you choose the most suitable cloud infrastructure for your IT needs.

Map application, network, and data dependencies

It’s fairly easy to migrate a virtualized application server to the cloud. However, there is a cascade of application, data, and network dependencies that preclude or overly complicate a cloud migration. It is therefore important to map the dependencies for all possible contingencies so there are no gotchas after the migration. This will also help you fathom out the levels of complexity of the application and the infrastructure that supports it.

Identify the skill and process gaps

Before making a move to the cloud, you must ensure that you have identified the gaps in your current skill set and the process. Furthermore, you should also have a concrete plan to address these gaps without which your cloud migration efforts will be futile.

All the steps mentioned above will help you gain a grasp of your current infrastructure, the potential roadblocks to be addressed, the requirements to choose the right cloud service provider, and a legitimate rationale for migrating to the cloud.

2. Determine which applications to migrate

Once you assess your current architecture and the cloud readiness of your applications, you will have the answers to these questions:

  • Which applications can be moved outright and which ones require a redesign?
  • Which applications should be moved completely and which ones partially (i.e. a hybrid model which involves migration only for a subset of non-functional requirements such as backup, archiving, disaster recovery, etc.)?
  • How complex will the redesign be?
  • What will be the ROI of moving the application to the cloud?

This, in turn, will help you choose the best cloud deployment model for your business – public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud. Additionally, it will also help you choose the most suitable cloud service provider (like AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud Platform) that meets your requirements and come up with a concrete migration strategy for each application.

3. Estimate the total cloud migration cost

One of the biggest challenges in cloud migration is to estimate the total costs associated with it. Though it seems to be fairly straightforward since the cloud service providers have listed their base prices on their websites, the devil is in the details. Without adequate planning, a cloud infrastructure can surpass the costs that your on-premise infrastructure incurs.

There are myriads of parameters that you need to take into account when you estimate your cloud migration cost. Here are some of the key parameters that can help you avoid unexpected revelations once you hit the ground running:

  • The average resource unit size and the consumption basis (resource can be a virtual server, storage unit, etc.)
  • The estimated growth rate of your workload
  • Optimum capacity utilization percentage (extrapolate it from the initial capacity utilization)
  • Infrastructure overhead and management requirements (maintenance, automation, training, etc.)
  • Usage per month
  • Security requirements

You can also use cloud cost calculators and estimation tools to deem the overall costs of the migration. These estimates are based on compute instance size, data storage requirements, and network and SaaS usage. Some of the tools offered by IaaS providers are AWS Total Cost of Ownership Calculator, Microsoft Azure Pricing Calculator, and Google Cloud Platform Pricing Calculator. However, the ability of these tools to estimate migration, licensing, and multi-cloud computing costs are limited. In that case, you can use third-party tools such as Unigma’s public Cloud Cost Comparison Calculator.

4.Devise your data migration plan

Data migration is a pivotal step in cloud migration. Hence, you must ensure that you plan it well. However, planning your data migration is intricate and involves a series of steps.

Identify the data format, location, and the potential risks

Before you begin the data migration process, it is essential to identify the data you want to migrate, its current format, the location it resides in, and the location it will be moved to. This is because the location of your data can significantly impact the performance of your application. By identifying this information you can spot the potential risks involved in the migration upfront and make sure that you do not encounter any critical error after the migration.

Define the scope of the data migration project

Once you get a good grasp of your data, delineate the scope of the data migration project. This includes planning the resources, tools, and budget, estimating the potential downtime of the system during the migration, and assessing the skill gaps. You should also conduct an incisive analysis of the source and destination systems, and chalk out a timeline for the project that is communicated to your stakeholders.

Backup your data

Prior to the migration, it is important to make a copy of all your data and store it as a backup. This will enable you to retrieve and restore all the data in its original state, in case of a failure. Read more about the various best practices of creating a secure data backup strategy here.

In order to migrate the data, you can either choose a bi-directional syncing mechanism between your on-premise and cloud databases or an on-premise database with one-way synchronization to a cloud database and allow users to connect only to the on-premise database.

When you are fully cloud-ready, you can remove the access to the on-premise database so the cloud database becomes primary. Once you migrate the data, ensure that the migrated data is accurate, secure, and is in the correct location.

5. Perform a security assessment

Security is a deal-breaker in cloud migration since it’s a common deterrent for many organizations considering a shift to the cloud. Although cloud is proven to be highly safe, it is essential to assess the security and compliance requirements of your IT infrastructure and ensure that the cloud platform you choose adheres to them. Given below are some of the key items you should include in your security assessment checklist:

  • Familiarize yourself with the security controls of your cloud service provider and compare them against your security requirements. For example, organizations in specific sectors such as healthcare or insurance may need to opt for a more niche provider that can better support compliance requirements such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
  • Shape your governance strategies according to your cloud provider’s offerings
  • Identify the potential threats and vulnerabilities that the cloud infrastructure may pose, and plan ahead to address them
  • Determine if you require additional security tools or services other than the ones that the cloud service provider offers. If yes, make sure you include the costs associated with the tools in the estimation of your cloud migration cost

Tip: If you decide to opt for AWS as your cloud service provider, you may use the security checklist that AWS has come up with.

The above steps cover a lot of ground, but there are definitely other factors you should consider before cloud migration depending on your unique IT needs. This is why it makes sense to team up with a qualified cloud managed service provider who can help you through the whole cloud migration journey right from planning your roadmap to executing every aspect of your plan. – while ensuring minimal intrusion and optimum business outcomes.

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