Migrating applications and data to the cloud is more of a when than an if at this point. The flexibility offered by cloud environments is second to none, and that flexibility is essential as businesses wrestle with what they’ll look like post-pandemic.
However, cloud migration can be time-consuming and expensive, especially if you don’t plan it out well ahead of time. Following a list of steps can help you streamline the process, save money, and get better value from your cloud environment.
We’ve put together a cloud migration checklist to guide you through an easier and successful migration process.
Table of contents
- Decide who will lead your cloud migration
- Take stock of your data and decide what to migrate
- Decide between public, private, and hybrid cloud
- Determine how you’ll measure cloud performance
- Choose your cloud provider
- Refactor, repurchase, and retire applications
1. Decide who will lead your cloud migration
Cloud migration is definitely one of those occasions where too many cooks in the kitchen can cause major problems. You need to have one person in charge of the project and then a team helping them out. Allowing one person to handle decision-making keeps the process moving and prevents long, drawn-out discussions that can severely delay the project.
The leader of your cloud migration project can be an internal hire or an outside consultant. You’ll want to pick someone decisive and detail-oriented who can keep their team motivated and on track. For some companies, this might be a cloud migration specialist from a third-party vendor working with an internal IT team. Others may use a completely internal team led by a project manager with experience in cloud capabilities, and some businesses may even outsource the migration completely. The rest of your team should also be carefully picked to ensure a smooth transition.
2. Take stock of your data and decide what to migrate
Not all of your data needs to move to the cloud. Some compliance regulations require that you maintain complete control over certain parts of your data and the environment where it’s stored. If that applies to any of your data, you may elect to keep that information on on-premises servers.
Additionally, there’s probably some data on your servers that your company doesn’t even access regularly anymore. You may need to keep it for auditing purposes or other regulatory requirements, but you don’t need to waste time and money moving it to the cloud. Pre-migration is a great time to look through the data your company is hanging onto and deleting things that are no longer relevant. This clears up storage space on your on-premises servers and makes cloud migration easier.
Also read: Cloud Data Protection: Best Practices
3. Decide between public, private, and hybrid cloud
Before you move your data to the cloud, you need to decide what type of cloud you’re going to use. Public clouds are more popular and generally cheaper than private clouds. These are hosted by third-party cloud providers, like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, and your business will share space with other companies, although your data will remain separate.
Private clouds, on the other hand, are environments completely owned and operated by your organization. No other companies have data stored in these private clouds, and you retain complete control over both the environment and the data. Private clouds are generally more expensive, but they also tend to offer better security than public clouds. They’re also more likely to comply with regulatory requirements.
Most companies opt for a hybrid or multi-cloud approach to data storage. In fact, this is the most popular approach with approximately 87 percent of businesses using a hybrid strategy, according to Flexera’s 2020 State of the Cloud Report. The same report shows that the average business uses about two public and two private cloud environments.
The nice thing about a hybrid cloud approach is that you can keep your highly regulated data on a private cloud to comply with regulations, but you don’t have to pay the higher fees to store your less-sensitive data and applications.
Also read: Choosing the Best Cloud Service for You
4. Determine how you’ll measure cloud performance
Your cloud environment should improve the user experience, increase business performance, and lower error rates. To determine how your cloud is performing against these goals, consider creating a list of key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to measure performance. Depending on what industry your business falls into, you may look at the number of items people are adding to their carts, your conversion rate, page load time, or even the CPU usage of your infrastructure. These KPIs will be unique to your business, meaning you’ll have to decide what’s most important for your organization.
5. Choose your cloud provider
Your choice of cloud provider will depend a lot on the KPIs you decided were important to your business. If user experience is your main priority, you need to choose a vendor with good uptime guarantees and helpful customer support in case something goes wrong. You’ll also need to pick a provider that fits into your budget, although there are ways to control your cloud costs should your needs require a more expensive provider.
AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud are some of the most popular public cloud providers, but there are smaller names in the industry that may be able to provide value to your company.
6. Refactor, repurchase, and retire applications
Just like you need to examine your data before migrating to the cloud, you need to do the same thing with your applications. For custom applications or those without cloud-native equivalents, you’ll need to have your developers refactor the applications so that they work correctly in a cloud environment. Refactoring is a code-level change and will help ensure that you get the value promised by cloud-based apps.
If you currently license on-premises software but the vendor offers cloud-native versions, you should contact them. Often, software vendors will allow you to switch your license over to the cloud-based software at no extra cost or for a small fee. Alternatively, if your software provider doesn’t offer a cloud-based version, you should see if there are similar alternatives that do.
When doing an inventory of your applications, you may find that there are apps you’re still paying for but no longer use. You can simply retire these, saving money on the subscription costs.
Preparing for your cloud migration
Cloud migrations are big undertakings, but with the right preparation, you can make your migration easier and more cost-effective. Plan ahead and determine exactly what you need to move before you even decide what kind of cloud environment to use. Determine how you want to measure success and ensure that your chosen provider can help you meet those KPIs. Finally, work with your developers to determine the best way to migrate business-critical applications. With these steps, you should be able to achieve a better time to value for your cloud migration and improve the experience for everyone involved.