By Caroline Blivet
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5 Steps for a Smooth Cloud Migration Journey

November 04, 2019

Moving to the cloud is no longer an option. The cloud has gone from a 'nice to have' to a 'must-have' to enable innovation, efficiency, agility and cost reduction within organizations. Any business that fails to jump in the cloud bandwagon will soon experience a huge competitive disadvantage.

 

Easier said than done. While cloud adoption is accelerating, many businesses struggle to structure their cloud transformation and plan a successful migration on budget and time.

 

Cloud migration is a challenging task and many companies still think that the cloud is just another hosting environment which often leads to the wrong approach of moving data and applications to a cloud environment.

 

Consequently, before getting started you need to complete in-depth research that covers costs, security, tools, governance, people, etc. and set the goals you want to achieve. Ask yourself how you want to use the cloud and what role is it going to play in your IT strategy. Cutting costs, even though it is important for any business should not be your main motivation, but flexibility, scalability, and agility are.

 

Once your expectations and goals are set, you can start planning.

Below are five steps that will help you prepare for your cloud migration.

 

1.  Assess Your Environment Cloud Readiness

 

First things first: you need to conduct a cloud readiness assessment to understand the current state of your IT systems, people and process and therefore determine your operational maturity to make the switch to the cloud.

 

Even though the cloud will help you boost productivity and better manage your costs, not every workload and application in your current infrastructure is a good candidate for the cloud. Indeed, some legacy applications may not be able to run as an IaaS model and in some cases, you may need to refactor, rearchitect or even rebuild some applications from scratch using cloud-native technologies. This can lead to significant development costs that need to be taken into consideration.

 

While assessing your applications and workloads is key, the human factor should not be forgotten from your cloud readiness assessment. Almost half of businesses realize they lacked specialist skills in their process their cloud migration which results in increasing the time-to-value of their cloud initiatives.

That is why you should analyze thoroughly the skill set needed to handle a cloud migration and determine if your staff has the skills. If there is a skill gap, you might consider working with a Managed Service Provider.

 

Eventually, a cloud migration automatically leads to process changes and you need to evaluate the impact these changes will have on your business operations as well as identify the relevant stakeholders that will support this transformational project every step of the way.

 

2. Define your Cloud Strategy

 

Now that you have assessed your current environment, it's time to define your cloud strategy by choosing your cloud deployment model.

 

You have several options:

 

Public cloud: Your resources are hosted by one or several public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure, AWS or Google Cloud Platform (GPC). This is the most cost-effective option.

 

Private cloud: You develop your private cloud or a third-party provider builds one specifically for your business. A private cloud is hosted on private servers which means that you have full control over all the functionality.

 

Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud is a mix of public and private cloud that creates a more diversified cloud environment. Having access to both in-house and public cloud services means you get the best of both worlds.

 

Multi-cloud: In a multi-cloud environment, your organization utilizes different public cloud services, usually from multiple cloud providers. The clouds can be used for different tasks in order to best meet your needs.

 

According to a 2019 study conducted by RightScale, multi-cloud is now the preferred strategy among businesses and public cloud was identified as a top priority by 31% of enterprises.

 

Besides the trends, you need to consider carefully your business and technical requirements in order to choose the cloud model that will meet your current and future needs.

 

 

3. Define a Migration Strategy

 

Below is a snapshot of the most common migration strategies:

 

Rehost - This strategy is also called “Lift and Shift” and is the most common approach when migrating to the cloud. It involves replicating on-premise environments as closely as possible in the cloud.

 

Revise - Your application might not need to be completely re-designed to align with your cloud platform. Usually, some elements might just need some linear upgrades

 

Refactor - This strategy is also known as “Rearchitecting” and it means that you will restructure your applications as “cloud-native” to enable them to align with your cloud platform and become highly available and scalable.

 

Rebuild- This approach entails that you build your application from scratch and that you have an exhaustive knowledge of the existing application processes and functionality as well as the cloud services.

 

Of course, you don't have to move all of your applications and data at once into the cloud.

 

You might want to migrate your data gradually, in stages. You can start with non-critical data to familiarize yourself with the cloud environment you're migrating to.

 

 

4. Select the Right Cloud Provider

 

Securing the right cloud service provider (CSP) is key to the success of your cloud migration. Even though your requirements and needs are unique to your business, there are also some common criteria you can rely on when assessing providers.

 

We have selected 8 criteria to take into consideration when choosing your cloud provider.

 

  1. Security: security is a top concern when moving to the cloud so, beyond your specific security goals, you also need to enquire about the security measures offered by the vendor as well as the security features available whether they are included or out-of-the-box.
  2. Compliance: you want to choose a cloud platform that will help you meet compliance standards in your industry or region so make sure you understand how you can achieve this once your data and applications are in the cloud,
  3. Architecture: Think about the cloud architecture offered by the cloud provider and how it can be included in your current and future workflows & applications. You can also look into the cloud storage architectures to better understand the options for storing and retrieving data.
  4. Manageability: Determine if the platform can be easily managed by your team regarding orchestration tools and integrations.
  5. Service Level Agreements: It is crucial to have strict requirements when it comes to availability, response time, capacity, etc. so make sure you consider the Cloud Service Level Agreements carefully when you choose your CSP.
  6. Reliability & Performance: Look at the consistent compute and storage performance at scale that can be delivered. As far as reliability is concerned, you should consider redundancy across geo data replication and multiple data centers.
  7. Costs & Billing: You need to look at the direct and indirect costs. For the direct costs, you should look at the pricing model. The latter should be automated so that you can monitor the resources you're using as well as the cost. 
  8. Customer Support: What level of support is provided during the migration process?

 

 

The public cloud market has a lot of competitors including the three leading public cloud providers: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) as well as a myriad of niche players. Choosing the right CSP is vital to guarantee the success of your cloud strategy so you need to spend some time doing your due diligence.

 

If you want to better understand the differences between Azure, AWS, and GCP, you can read our article here.

 

 

5. Establish Your Cloud KPIs

 

Now that your cloud project has been validated and that your goals and strategy have been defined, you need to make sure that the cloud will be a valuable asset to your business.

 

Your organization can overcome many challenges by measuring the right performance metrics related to cloud adoption.

You may already have defined key performance indicators for your current applications and services, but will they be as relevant once they’re in the cloud?

The best KPIs to track for cloud migration are the ones that will show the progress and health of your business, flagging the issues and the successes.

 

Since each business is unique, you need to determine which metrics are the most relevant to your business, and which metrics will be most impacted by the migration to the cloud.

 

Let's dive in some of the cloud KPIs you can use to benchmark your cloud migration journey:

 

 

Service

  • Availability
  • Reliability
  • New or resolved incidents
  • Average time to resolve incidents

 

User Experience

  • Error rates & error types
  • Time to provision
  • Workloads deployed
  • Customer satisfaction scores (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS)

 

Infrastructure

  • CPU utilization %
  • Memory usage
  • Load average
  • Disk performance
  • Network latency
  • Load balancing

 

Costs

  • Infrastructure costs
  • Monthly billing, broken down by charge
  • Ongoing staffing costs
  • IT staffing costs
  • Costs of third-party management tools and consulting
  • Energy costs

 

 

Agility and Innovation

  • Project turnaround times
  • Time dedicated to innovative/transformative projects

 

 

Conclusion

 

Change is rarely easy and so is moving your applications and data to the cloud.

The complexity of your cloud migration will mainly depend on your size, the complexity of business operations, your tools, in-house skills, etc.

 

We have covered the basic steps that you should bear in mind when planning your cloud migration to make sure you anticipate potential issues, avoid pitfalls and reap the many benefits of the cloud.

 

If you feel like you need some help in planning your move to the cloud, do not hesitate to contact us. 

 

If you want more information on Microsoft Azure, download our whitepaper.

 

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