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Create a Successful Cloud Migration Strategy in 5 Steps

Did you know that 94% of enterprises have already adopted a cloud migration strategy? And 30% of all IT budgets are being allocated to cloud migration strategies.1 You could say that cloud services “are taking the business world by storm” (pun intended).

The advantages of migrating to the cloud are hard to ignore. It offers enhanced security, reduced maintenance costs, and provides companies with greater agility and flexibility. However, research shows that one in three cloud migration strategies fail and only 25% of companies meet their migration deadlines. Adopting a cloud migration strategy can be complex and fraught with potential problems, but there are ways to avoid common mistakes and make a smooth transition from on-premise systems to cloud technology.

Follow these 5 Steps for a Successful Cloud Migration Strategy

1. Begin with a plan. Many organizations adopt cloud technologies in a haphazard manner, addressing specific concerns when they arise, instead of creating an overall plan. As a result, functions and resources are often spread across various systems and platforms, which isn’t just inconvenient, but also drives up costs. Before adopting a cloud migration strategy, it’s critical to perform an overall assessment of your current systems and identify specific needs. Some important questions include:

  • What is the business purpose for cloud migration? Does it align with corporate goals?
  • What is our budget and estimated costs of migration?
  • Which business areas are high priority for cloud migration?
  • Which cloud environment is best for our needs (single or multi-cloud)?
  • Which deployment model will we use (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS)?
  • Which cloud vendor is right for our needs?
  • What key performance indicators (KPIs) will we use to determine progress and performance? (e.g., error rates, lag or response time, rollout time for new features)
  • Do we need the expertise of an implementation partner?

Building a framework for your cloud migration strategy will help you plan and manage the process, as well as ensure accountability for each step. It’s also important to remember that cloud migration is not one-size-fits-all. A cloud migration strategy should be tailored to fit your organization’s unique needs.

To truly gain a competitive advantage, companies need to focus their efforts on cloud-first strategies. Nearly 30% of all technology providers’ software investments will migrate from a cloud-first approach to cloud-only strategy. “Cloud-First” isn’t the same as “Cloud-Only” — this means the cloud implementation should move beyond the IT department to be embraced by the entire organization. With this approach, you must explain the benefits of cloud infrastructure to the entire team and business leaders so they can derive business benefits from it.

2. Design a custom cloud solution. Once you’ve assessed your current infrastructure, identified pain points and needs, and outlined a strategy, you can begin to design a cloud migration strategy that’s right for your organization. This phase typically involves:

  • Selecting a cloud deployment model, which determines who owns and manages your cloud infrastructure. This decision will depend on your company’s resources, your computing, networking and storage requirements, and your overall goals. The four most common cloud deployment models are: public, private, community and hybrid clouds.
  • Choosing a cloud vendor. This will depend on your current infrastructure and the deployment model you’ve chosen. Most organizations rely on a cloud “expert” to assess potential vendors. If your organization doesn’t have an internal cloud expert, outsourcing with a cloud services partner may be your best bet.
  • Outlining the infrastructure architecture or “building blocks” of your cloud migration strategy, such as where your applications and data will live, what in-house resources are available, and what software applications are used.
  • Creating a step-by-step plan. This plan should outline the order of applications for migration, the KPIs you’ve identified, deadlines for each step, and required training for staff.

3. Implement your cloud migration strategy. After all the analysis and planning is done, you’re finally ready to roll-out your cloud migration strategies. The migration process is typically divided into three phases:

  • Infrastructure migration. This begins with backing up existing servers and the data and applications they contain. There are many steps within this process, including configuring devices and ensuring connectivity.
  • Application migration. Once your cloud infrastructure is in place, you can focus on the applications you plan to move to this new infrastructure. Companies often wonder whether its beneficial to move their existing applications to the cloud or manage them in their data centers. Migrating to the cloud is usually done to reduce costs; however not every application will cost less in the cloud. When considering this route, you should prioritize migrating those applications that have a high variable use, otherwise you’ll be paying for resources you don’t need. Additionally, you should consider the overall impact of running your business work on interdependent apps, the necessity of agility, whether the app is eligible for server-less computing, and if there are specific company functions unsuitable for the cloud.
  • Data migration. Once data has been backed up and audited, you can migrate it to the cloud. At each stage of this phases, testing should be done to detect any data loss or problems.

4. Go live. This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! If your analysis and planning were done successfully, this step should be uneventful. However, it does require some prep. It’s good practice to perform a data freeze before you go live – stopping any changes to your legacy system. You should also plan for some downtime, although it should be minimal.

5. Ensure ongoing support and governance. Implementing a cloud migration strategy is not enough – you must work to actively govern it. Cloud migration strategies need to be continually monitored and adjusted. For instance, your operations team must understand the workloads and how they’re being updated. Your security team must monitor for risk and compliance issues, as well as being updated on what the cloud provider is responsible for and what aspects of security must be handled internally. At this point, you also need to be wary of cloud vendor “lock-in” – if you find a better vendor down the line or your existing vendor doesn’t work out, can you effectively migrate to another vendor or access your data?
Your success will ultimately be determined by whether you provide proper maintenance and monitoring. It’s good practice to review updates and security patches at least monthly and provide regular application and software updates.

Consider these Important Factors

As you implement your cloud migration strategy, there a few other important factors to consider:

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for Non-Revenue Apps – You should consider SaaS as a possible delivery method for applications that aren’t necessary for revenue generation. Services like emails, CRM, payrolls, etc., are essential for all businesses, but you can find SaaS options for these services. By outsourcing these services, your organization’s IT team can focus on applications that give your business a competitive edge.

Legacy Applications – Most organizations have a handful of legacy applications that take up way too many company resources and deliver poor results. These legacy applications also pose a serious security threat, which often results in difficulty finding personnel that can manage these apps. This is one of the primary reasons for moving to a cloud infrastructure. There are several applications that can effectively move legacy applications – even existing COBOL applications – to laaS or other cloud-based platforms, and if applicable, even automate the migration of applications from physical servers to the cloud.

Multi-Cloud Governance – Even with just a single provider, it’s difficult to govern cloud computing. But when moving to a multi-cloud approach, the difficulty multiplies. For effective cloud integration, organizations must manage the consumption of cloud services by cloud providers.

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