Cloud migration process in 11 steps
The cloud migration process is extensive so you need to have a clear plan and strategy. Here are 11 cloud migration steps you should take to see success in your migration project.
1. Assess your existing data, apps, software, and workloads to build use cases
So you think you want to migrate to the cloud? You have an understanding of the key benefits of cloud migration and believe it’s time for your organization to make the move. But what are you going to migrate to the cloud? ‘Everything’ might not be the right answer.
First, assess every data store, application, and function against the business objectives they are helping you meet. Understand what is working optimally, what can be improved, and what is failing to deliver on objectives. Will migrating to the cloud help? And if so, how? You need clear, documented use cases.
Next, assess whether each item you want to migrate is cloud-ready or whether there will be additional work of refactoring, rearchitecting, and feature building that your teams will need to do before you can migrate it to the cloud. Or, you may have to buy new products to put workloads into the cloud.
2. Catalog and map your data
Your data is the foundation of your cloud migration. Your data needs to be accessible, centralized, analyzed, discoverable, and governed - even while you migrate it. Don’t wait until after migration. As data is transferred, you need to make sure the data stays secure, and intact, and is not compromised in the cloud migration process. This is where a cloud-native data catalog is ideal.
Your data catalog needs to be flexible to scale and maintain agile growth as a data-driven organization. Get the guide to modern data management with data catalogs.
3. Calculate your costs
You need to accurately assess the budget for every stage of the cloud migration process to make sure the investment is viable and you will see a healthy ROI. Plus, accurate calculations will help you get buy-in from all parties and retain support through the process. Here are some costs to consider.
On-premises data management
Testing demo cloud solutions
Proof of concept (POC) creation
There are even cloud cost calculators you can use to predict the cost of your migration.
4. Get buy-in across the organization
If you are convinced that moving to the cloud will fix your problems and enhance business performance, you need to get buy-in across the organization. Migrating to the cloud is a huge project so you need everyone on board to get the process started and over the line.
You will need to convince the C-suite of the ROI based on increased performance and ability to hit business-level objectives. The teams you want to involve in the migration process will need to be bought in as you will need the precious resource of their time. Plus, many will need to upskill to help in the project. There may also be team changes after moving to the cloud because there will be a new way of operating. All these need to be considered and agreed upon.
5. Choose a cloud provider
When assessing cloud vendors, ask your team:
What are the objectives of migrating each database, application, or piece of software to the cloud? Does this vendor offer the features that will help you deliver?
What is the vendor’s architecture and does that marry well with what we already use and will use in the future? For instance, you might prefer to choose Azure if you are already a Microsoft shop.
Does this platform integrate easily with our current tools and services?
How is security handled? Check what you get out of the box and what you may have to bolster by purchasing third-party security technology.
Does this vendor help us meet compliance standards like HIPAA, GDPR, SOC 2, and others?
What cloud service level agreements (Cloud SLAs) do we need in place to ensure availability, capacity, response time, support, etc.?
What support is available from the vendor?
How much will it cost? Consider the given price and associated costs.
If ever we decide to switch vendors, how easily will we be able to migrate?
6. Create a long-term roadmap and cloud exit strategy
Next, you need to create a long-term roadmap. This needs to cover what you will migrate, in what order, and by when. It should also cover implementing security and data governance. Then consider the lifecycle of each data store and application in the cloud and how you will upgrade, move, or decommission each workload.
A further consideration is your cloud exit strategy. If something doesn’t work out in the cloud or you find you don’t have the right cloud platform for a particular workload, how will you exit? Cover your bases.
7. Assign roles and responsibilities to your teams
Once you have a plan in place, you need to give everyone clear roles and responsibilities in the project. Make sure each step in the process is owned by someone and everyone is working toward the same goals and deadlines.
Your need for different roles will depend on the size of your organization, but you will definitely need a project manager, testers, and a security/legal team. Also consider having a systems admin, onboarding and support team, and an executive sponsor if you are a larger organization.
8. Create a PoC
Before you launch headlong into the migration, you’ll want to build a proof of concept (PoC). This helps you test your estimates and assumptions to make sure everything works as you expected with minimal risk. Test performance, security, and interoperability with on-premises workloads.
9. Migrate to the cloud
Now it’s time for the migration. The exact steps will vary depending on the strategies you have chosen and the cloud provider you are adopting. But this process should be carefully monitored. A cloud-native data catalog to ensure data consistency and track business continuity and visibility can be an enormous help here.
10. Test and maintain new deployments post-migration
Once everything is migrated, you need to test that it works and helps you achieve your objectives as expected. Plus, you will need to maintain and monitor your data, applications, and software in the cloud. Consider how you will resource that ongoingly.
11. Reorganize your teams
If you have migrated from on-premises to the cloud (rather than a cloud-to-cloud migration), you will find that your workload management changes significantly post-migration. The first notable change is not needing to spend team resources on managing uptime. But a cloud environment project is never really over and you will need to embed security processes, continue to optimize functions for the cloud, manage resource allocation, and carefully monitor everything in the cloud to check performance and prevent spiraling costs.
You may need to significantly reorganize your teams to manage the tasks required to maintain your databases, applications, and other functions in the cloud.