A checklist of must-dos to optimize your migration results

By Adir Cohen, CEO of CaaB (Cloud as a Business)

Now that you’ve decided to move your data and key applications to the cloud, you stand on the cusp of a host of benefits in terms of cost, security, flexibility, and performance. While migrating to the cloud (to digitally transform and streamline your IT environment) is easier than ever, it can be challenging. To ease the process, take heed of the lessons learned by IT teams who’ve gone through the journey to help make your cloud migration as efficient, pain-free, and successful as possible.

Lesson 1 – Understand why you’re moving to the cloud

Clarity about cloud migration will position you on the path to success. Reduced costs, flexibility, scalability, data security, business continuity without the need for backup plans, and improved collaboration due to easily shared data are just some of many reasons to move to the cloud. How many are relevant to your organization? Once you’ve pinpointed your goals, evaluate your current infrastructure and determine workload or application dependencies to identify which apps will make cloud candidates.

Lesson 2 – Mind the costs

Organizations often migrate to the cloud mainly to reduce costs on hardware and IT staffing, but that’s simplifying it a bit. For example, some apps deliver a greater ROI than others. Ask your cloud providers for some real-life scenarios based on various factors – from data storage to security services, from testing and monitoring tools to cloud technology training expenses. Prioritize your requirements then select a high-performance platform that meets your budget.

Lesson 3 – Think security

Moving your data to the cloud means you cede control for its security to the cloud provider. This can present risks, especially with the public cloud that runs multiple clients’ apps on shared servers. You risk exposure to hackers or operations downtime if the cloud provider’s system goes down. Make sure you deploy made-for-cloud vulnerability-scanning security tools, back up critical data, apply strong data encryption, institute redundancies, and consider other cloud-based security solutions.

Lesson 4 – Know which applications to move to cloud-first

To determine which apps are the best candidates for cloud migration, evaluate them as far as the following qualities are concerned: criticality, production status, operational standards, compliance, ease of migration, and business impact among others. The less critical, sensitive, and advanced the app, the more documentation and fewer compliance requirements it has, the better the app is for initial migration. Also, look for app dependencies, and migrate those services — often the internal vs the external or close-to-the-customer ones — with the fewest dependencies first.

Lesson 5 – Get your staff ready

To achieve a successful organizational change that is cloud migration, you’ll need developers, managers, and administrators with solid skills in new technology, processes, operational design, and principles involved in the cloud. An experienced external consultant with migration experience may be the best person to train your staff. Additionally, you’ll require a “migration architect” – with a system architect-level standing – to lead, plan, develop strategies, make decisions, and complete the entire migration process.

Lesson 6 – Decide which migration options you want

You have several choices. When it comes to strategies, you can rehost, refactor, or rebuild. Many organizations start with rehosting — also called “lift-and-shift”, which uses infrastructure-as-a-service to migrate existing applications as they are, without difficult and costly code changes. When it comes to the type of cloud, you can opt for public, private or hybrid.

Lesson 7 – Select the right cloud provider

You’ll need all the support you can get for your cloud migration project, and that support starts with an experienced provider. When making your selection, check on the provider’s level of experience and its ability to deliver the following: tools to ease the process, support for any type of cloud environment at any scale, ways to deal with outmoded technology, rigid architecture, complex app and workflow dependencies, support during and after the migration process, and other myriad difficulties.

Lesson 8 – Prepare to measure success

Establish your cloud Key Performance Indicators to show how your cloud migration is progressing, to reveal obvious or unseen problems or complications in your applications and to guide you during the entire process. Once you determine what you want to achieve, your KPI metrics can measure your success at the end of your cloud journey by evaluating a range of categories from infrastructure to user experience to application performance in the cloud.

Lesson 9 – Consider app complexity when carrying out cloud migration

When switching your applications from legacy on-premise to cloud, consider the architecture of your app and data. How complex is it? You can choose to migrate your entire app or service to the cloud all at one time, see if it works and, if it does, transfer your on-premise traffic to cloud. Or, you can do it one piece at a time: Migrate just a small percentage of customers to cloud, ascertain if the process is working, perform these actions in the same order until all customers have shifted to cloud.

Lesson 10 – Optimize cloud migration

Moving to the cloud and not taking advantage of its performance and cost-saving benefits is just a waste of the whole process. One of the cloud’s great strengths is resource optimization, and it behooves you to instruct your team to plan for correctly assigning the right resources to your application. Best-fit matching between the application and the right cloud resource delivers business efficiency and optimum returns for the cloud investment.

Migrating to the cloud doesn’t have to be a long, complex journey; the digital transformation rewards for those who make it are immense. Make your move as efficient and effective as possible.

Adir Cohen is CEO of CaaB, a cloud-solution provider allowing any MSP, VAR, or hosting company to deliver white-labeled cloud offerings to their customers within a day.