5 Steps to Prepare for a Successful Cloud Migration
There are many reasons for cloud migration – efficiency, anywhere access and scalability just to name a few – but sometimes taking the first step of the journey can seem overwhelming on an already long IT to-do list. To help you prepare, we're outlining five considerations to start the cloud migration planning process.
Step 1. Map Interdependencies, Understand User Impact and Determine Cloud Migration Strategy
There are two approaches to cloud migrations: the lift-and-shift approach, where you move on-premise applications to the cloud with few or no server-side changes, and deep cloud integrations, where your applications are modified during migration. It's easy to get started with lift-and-shift, but this type of shallow migration does not allow you to take full advantage of unique-to-the-cloud resources or services. A deep migration unlocks all the cloud's capabilities but requires more upfront preparation.
Before you can migrate to the cloud, you must understand what you're moving, why you're moving it, and whether you're aiming for a deep or shallow migration. To ensure you don't break existing workflows during the migration, map out the way that both users interact with other applications, and applications interact with other applications that you'd like to migrate. Take note of dependencies, linked data sources, and access protocols so you can pave the way for a smooth migration.
Additionally, ask yourself how the migration will impact users so you have a full understanding of the advantages and potential tradeoffs. You may be evaluating migrating from an on-premise application to a cloud-based version for cost savings but without planning for user experiences you risk frustrating employees. When you understand existing workflows and application delivery to users, you can make informed decisions on what to change.
2. Understand Cloud Security, Including Authentication Methods
When it comes to cloud security, less is not more. You'll want to take a layered approach to securing your infrastrucutre, taking into account all the systems and data you need to protect. Taking a security first approach to your cloud strategy can save your firm time and money down the line.
Authentication is a method you may not give much thought to, but is essential for security protection in the cloud. Multi-factor authentication is an easy yet effective way to protect against a data breach, because it safeguards user credentials by asking for extra information at the point of sign on. Consider what authentication methods you’ll use as you prepare to migrate to the cloud.
3. Map Out Infrastructure Needs
Before you charge ahead with cloud migration, we recommend you know the ins and outs of the cloud infrastructure or work with a managed service provider that does – as this will save you time and resources when embarking on the migration. Obviously operating an IT environment in Azure is not the same design as on-premise so you'll need to fully understand the components. Be sure to plan for connectivity, market data, application availability, and other IT criteria.
To understand which cloud is right for your workload, you'll need to gauge application availability and resource requirements as well as keep the total budget in mind. It could cost more to keep your current infrastructure with the same resiliency as now. When migrating to the cloud, you might decide that it worth the increased expense or select to redesign completely. When you know how Azure infrastructure works, you can decide what level of resiliency your business needs.
Updates are another thing to keep in mind before a cloud migration. You'll want a plan in place for monitoring, patching, and maintaining applications on the cloud infrastructure. A managed service provider adds value here, because they have a recommended package and can handle all the updates – so you don’t have to figure things out on your own.
4. Do You Need a Proof-of-Concept?
A cloud migration proof-of-concept isn't always necessary. But if you do one, do it right. One mistake companies make is diving into a proof-of-concept without an understanding of what needs to be proved and why it matters. Your cloud proof-of-concept needs to be substantial enough to accurately represent the most important elements of an application, so you can test functionality in the cloud before migration. Otherwise, your work could be wasted if the proof wasn't adequately representative.
For an application-based workload, you make consider a migration and deployment test using dummy data. This gives you a benchmark for migration and allows you to test with the cost associated with migrating to the cloud as well as your assumptions about the process, performance and resource utilization.
5. Estimating Cloud Migration Costs
Cost management is the final factor to consider before a cloud migration. With a public cloud, there will be pricing changes year-over-year and even month-over-month depending on workload and resource utilization. Understand this variability and plan for it - especially if you're used to a fixed monthly cost. Many businesses don't have optimized workloads, so to keep cost affordable they must either lock-in for a long time and at greater size than needed or accept metered cost and the variability that comes along with that.
Ready to Start a Cloud Migration?
At Eze Castle, we recommend having an overarching static plan in place before you start and considering migrating one application at a time to reduce overwhelm. Prioritize migration based on application dependencies, date and impact. For a small firm with a handful of servers, cloud migration can be complete in less than a month. Larger companies require months or even years to complete migration. When your expectation of the time frame is realistic, you can help employees adapt.
There are millions of reasons to migrate to the cloud. Whether you're coming at it from a financial perspective or wants to refresh your applications, don't lose sight of your drivers during the long migration.