7 Steps for Building a Strong Cloud Migration Plan


“One size fits all" is not an approach that works well for all businesses propelling towards cloud migration. It is unique for every business and depends on its size, goals, business needs, technological capabilities, and the digital transformation they are striving to achieve. 

This article will introduce you to the key challenges you need to address before you start your cloud migration journey.

With many businesses seeking cloud migration now more so than ever, the journey remains unique to each one. Cloud migration (IaaS, SaaS, or PaaS) presents challenges that need careful planning for IT, security, and compliance solutions, as well as strategies. 

Companies wanting to move to the cloud have to deal with legacy systems and applications, architectural constraints, and concerns about data security.

Cloud has many benefits, and for those reasons, it is being preferred by progressive businesses. Some of the many benefits of the cloud are: enhanced agility, scalability, accessibility, adaptability, manageability, security, performance, and cost savings.

More and more companies are accelerating their move to the cloud- private or public, in response to the global pandemic, transforming their products and services and becoming more cost-efficient and robust in their business processes. 

Moving to the cloud is becoming increasingly important for businesses as they strive to accomplish complete digital transformation. Cloud is now essential for businesses that are looking to innovate and stay ahead of their game.

Moving to the cloud is not the end goal, though; it is rather a means to achieve business objectives, and hence your business goals must guide your cloud strategy.

But the shift comes with some challenges. Public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, or multi-cloud, despite what you prefer, there will be challenges you need to address prior to migration.

It will also necessitate you to have proper compliance and security measures in place. So it is crucial to have stakeholders involved, set clear goals, and have a thorough plan in place to make sure your migration to the cloud is a success.

Fundamental Steps to Consider Prior to Cloud Migration

Fundamental Steps to Consider Prior to Cloud Migration

1. Set Clear Goals

To begin with cloud migration, it is essential to do the groundwork first. It will help you better tackle the challenges that you will face later on in this process.

Try to be logical regarding why you need to migrate to the cloud? Will it help you attain your desired goals and outcomes? Ideally, the ultimate goal for this transition will be to give you maximum ROI. So, if you think it will not be so cost-effective in the current scenario, then you may want to drop the plan for the time being till you are in a better position; else, you need to think of how to proceed.

2. Starting With the Process

Once you have your goals set, you need to evaluate the proper way to execute cloud migration. This process involves planning ahead- here; you will have to get your workforce onboard and prepare them mentally to adapt to the changes and challenges that will come with cloud adoption.

You will also have to look at the technological, security, and compliance aspects that will be the backbone of the process.

People who are not ready and not trained well prior to migration will prove to be disadvantageous- untrained or poorly trained staff will not only be inefficient in making use of the cloud to its full potential, but that is also going to be a cost to the company.

There are a lot of things that will go into the entire process; time and money will go into making your resources ready. So correct evaluation will help you map out a proper way to move ahead.

So evaluating the time it will take to get your workforce ready for the transformation is a must. This will require training of IT, business managers, and the project and operations team, so they will be well equipped with the knowledge of cloud architecture, billing, usage, and engagement models well in advance. In addition, employees need to be educated on cloud security best practices.

3. Assess What You Have

Make a list of all the applications used in your enterprise and the workload you want to shift to the cloud.

Whether you are thinking of moving all at once, prefer a hybrid cloud approach, or are moving from one cloud to another, you need to have clear visibility of all of the applications you will be working with.

Most businesses consider migrating in parts rather than in a single go. This way, you can keep a hold of applications that are data-heavy and businesses cannot function without. 

A good way to begin is to choose those applications that will not hamper your business operations. Having clarity on which applications to migrate first is going to be significant.

In your discovery, you will also come across applications you just can not move to the cloud due to applications being incompatible or attached licenses that prevent their cloud migration. So having this data handy can help you plan what to do with such applications later on.

To begin with, your assessment, start by segregating applications into different categories:

  • Cloud-native

  • Cloud eligible

  • Cloud friendly

  • Not cloud-ready

4. Choosing the Migration Approach

Here you can use the 6 R’s strategy and set the basic guidelines:

4.1 Rehost "lift and shift."

This strategy involves moving applications or systems from the current host environment into the cloud environment. In situations where businesses need to transfer fast, such as those with deadlines on data center leases, this approach can be quite beneficial. 

Rehosting is the most preferred approach for cloud migration for the vast majority of applications because it is much easier to optimize and re-architect them once they have already been deployed in the cloud environment.

4.2 Replatform “lift, tinker, and shift” 

This approach involves some modifications in the cloud environment, keeping the core architecture of the application as it is. 

Replatforming is time-intensive than rehosting but rather simple than re-architecting. 

Some cloud-native qualities, such as horizontal scaling and portability, can be observed in re-platformed applications. Replatforming is frequently used when you need to replace the database backends of apps with a suitable PaaS database solution provided by a cloud service provider.

4.3 Repurchase "drop and shop."

This strategy entails the purchase of new products or services in order to include a few adjustments to the cloud architecture design. 

This migration technique involves ending existing licenses and repurposing services on the new platform. It can be implemented if you are already using the cloud and wish to move a large number of workloads over to the new environment.

4.4 Refactor or re-architect "innovate."

A successful business must introduce new features, redevelop business apps or scale itself in order to support this strategy. 

If you want to increase agility while also maintaining your business, this technique is worth exploring. But it's important to remember that this approach is rather costly.

4.5 Retain "keep what you have."

This strategy can also be used with other approaches to come up with the best possible solution. If you know what resources you need and have a plan for how to get them, you should at least look at the applications you already have. This discovery will uncover the IT applications you want to keep or applications you will have to keep due to certain obligations associated with them that prevent them from moving to the cloud.

4.6 Retire "let go of."

This approach involves turning off the applications that are no longer needed. This suggests that, over time, you may decide to entirely dispose of some applications after determining that they will no longer be required to meet future business requirements.

Now you just need to determine what apps you want to move in the beginning and what apps you want to hold on to. As discussed previously, you may want to keep the data extensive applications and applications that are crucial for your business towards the end. This will also give you some time to strategize around the migration of critical applications.

5. Technical and Security Requirements 

Data is a risky affair while operating in the cloud, so keeping it secure should be your priority and responsibility. Here CIOs and legal heads have to come up with the best possible security and compliance practices ensuring that there are no possibilities of loopholes.

In order to stay cloud compliant, businesses must have the right procedures in place to ensure that they are in compliance with the standards that apply to their business, such as GDPR, PCI DSS, HIPAA, ISO, and others.

6. Optimize Your Cost

Migration of data to the cloud is not so difficult; nevertheless, the expenses associated with workload restructuring are difficult to estimate. Businesses also fail to account for the costs of training, hiring new employees, and implementing new services, all of which are essential for the transition.

IT admins must evaluate the costs of their current infrastructure to those of the cloud to see how they will compare. 

On-premises solutions typically need organizations to make an upfront, one-time investment in the resources, whereas cloud resources do not require such an expenditure. A subscription-based monthly payment model for SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, and other cloud resources, is rather economical.

Estimating cloud cost is tricky due to the large number of variables involved. Each cloud vendor has a distinct pricing plan, which depends on location, data usage, number of users, and features. To make this simple, many cloud providers offer their calculators for you to estimate your cloud cost, like google.

You must also evaluate the cost of data security and compliance requirements along with management costs.

Additionally, just like any other investment, there can be many components to cost, so you must be prepared for the hidden ones too.

7. Choosing the Service Provider

In order to choose a provider, it is essential to consider that the provider's platform and preferred technologies work with your current environment and help you achieve your cloud goals. 

It's important to make sure that the cloud architectures, standards, and services the provider offers are right for your workloads. So, figure out how much re-coding or customization you might need to do.  

Many service providers offer a wide range of migration services and even help with the planning and assessment stages. So, do ask them what help is available and how it fits into your venture. People who work for service providers often have technical skills that can be used to fill in skills gaps in your migration teams. 

You may also come across some providers who do not offer proper support, and that is mostly the case with some big public cloud providers. If that's the case, then you will need to hunt for a resource.

Also, ensure that the service provider is adhering to regulations on data privacy and security. The service provider should provide adequate assurance for data access, data location, jurisdiction, confidentiality, as well as rights of utilization and possession. Take a closer look at your backup and resilience plans. Check out data conversion policies to see if your data can be transferred when you break ties with the provider.


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