10 Key Steps to a Smooth, Successful Cloud Migration

Migrating to the Cloud carries considerable benefits, but it is a significant logistical exercise with a lot riding on getting it right. Couple that with a shortage of experienced cloud engineers and you can often feel like you’re sailing down the river with no paddles and a blindfold on. This needn’t be the case since you can follow a basic plan and enlist a cloud provider to give you a helping hand which together greatly improve your odds of success.

Your journey to the cloud consists of 10 steps from start to finish:

Research & Plan

Do your homework before you do anything else. Which type of Cloud is right for your business? How will it positively affect your bottom line? Are you able to get any concrete figures? Who do you approach to get the ball rolling? Has this ever been attempted in the company before? This research will lay the foundations for your Cloud migration project, beginning with concrete evidence to kick-start your plan. Recording all your findings and plan in a business case will showcase your evidence and give weight to your Cloud migration plan. You can then send this clear and thought-out plan to management, the board and your executive team.

SWOT Analysis

Moving to the cloud is a big undertaking. While it improves your operations, it can be highly disruptive if not done right. Once you’ve identified why you need to move, perform an objective analysis of the benefits AND possible disadvantages of moving to the cloud.

The best way to do this is a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis.Any drawbacks of the process should be listed, including costs.

Assess your current environment

You need to assess your existing IT infrastructure, the applications you use, the resources, cost and other details. This will help you make decisions later in the process of moving to the cloud. Here are the key points to assess

  • Which applications should be migrated

While cloud computing is great, it is not ideal for all businesses and scenarios. There might be cases where some of your apps would be best left on your servers rather than moving to the cloud – a legacy app (which cannot be ported) or a performance-intensive app might not be the best for moving to the cloud.

Hence it is a good idea to identify your apps which can be moved to the cloud.

  • Assess your current infrastructure (for costs and resources)

Once you have identified the apps to move, the next step is to analyze them for the following

  • Infrastructure used by these apps. This includes the amount of storage needed and data generated, analytics, networking, expected SLA
  • Money spent on physical servers and server management
  •  Hidden costs involved

A thorough analysis of the infrastructure and costs will help you identify how to migrate the apps and optimize them for better efficiency

Decide which Cloud Types You Need

Different businesses will have different cloud needs. Can you share resources with another company on a server via a public cloud? Or do you need your own private cloud to avoid neighbours with CPU-intensive operations who risk bogging down your connection? Bit of both? Consider a hybrid cloud instead. There are multiple options, which can seem quite overwhelming, it is helpful to speak to a cloud provider to talk over your requirements and they can recommend the best Cloud options for you.

Assemble Your Migration Team

Assembling the right team is crucial. For best results, you should have a Network Administrator, a Database Administrator and an Applications Developer. Make sure this team is experienced and knowledgeable in previous Cloud migration projects and that they can work well as a team. You also play a key role in the team, you will need to be there to project manage and coordinate the migration along with the executive sponsor. The executive sponsor will need to be involved throughout the process and act as a spokesperson to spread awareness across your organisation, from board level down.

Research Cloud Service Partners

Similar to the research phase, you’re going to be doing a lot of digital window shopping. Not every provider is alike, and they all differ in small ways. Find out which provider fits best with what you need for your business. Choosing the right provider will save many headaches later on. Make sure you have full visibility of pricing, including what you are going to pay for and the costs if you need to scale up in the future. Balance and compare uptime, support, infrastructure, ancillary services and, perhaps most importantly, security to get the best results.

Train Your Staff

Remember that switching to the Cloud may affect more than just your IT team. Many things may change for your rank-and-file staff during and after the migration. Make sure they are kept in the loop about any changes and are trained on the new systems or portals.

Execute the Migration

It’s time! Take the advice from your specific cloud provider who should be happy to walk you through this in partnership with your migration team. Executed properly, the migration should take place with minimal cost and interference to services. At this stage, you should take heed of the old adage – hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That way you can make sure you are completely prepared.

Evaluate the Migration and Document Your Findings

Make sure to evaluate how well your migration proceeded. What went well? What could have gone better? This may be your first cloud migration but it may not be your last, especially if you are migrating to the cloud in sections rather than all at once. Having a record of what worked and what didn’t is worth its weight in gold.

Relax!

With the migration complete and any issues dealt with, it is important to offer yourself some well-earned downtime before embarking on your next project! After you’re nice and relaxed, consider looking at what other areas can also be migrated to the Cloud and when this would be feasible. No doubt after seeing the results of your first migration, the second will not be very far behind.

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