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One of the most appealing things about the cloud is the promise of lower operational costs due to reduced IT infrastructure costs and improved process efficiency. But that reality can only be achieved if you have and follow a robust cloud migration strategy. Here’s how you can create that winning strategy.

Set clear goals and expectations for ROI

How to create a cloud migration strategy

Before you start anything, you need to understand the ‘now’.

  • What do you want to reduce? - for example, do you want to improve overall cost efficiency, ensure you’re only using the resources you need and give more time back to your team?
  • What do you want to increase? - for example, do you want more flexibility in your business systems and access to advanced analytics to make more informed decisions?
  • What isn’t working? - this one can be hard to quantify because it depends on the individual business. But one example could be reducing your CapEx (capital expenditure) so you can focus more on your OpEx (operational expenditure)

Then establish KPIs and performance baselines

Maybe you already have KPIs for your systems and applications. But will they still be relevant once your systems are in the cloud? Some examples of KPIs could be:

  • For infrastructure - CPU usage, memory usage, disk performance
  • Application performance - error rates, throughput
  • User experience - page load time, response time, lag

After you’ve got your KPIs, you need to set some clear baselines. Here are some considerations for this step:

  • How long will you collect data in order to determine the baseline? The shorter the period, the faster you can move but your sample may not be representative. And the longer the period, the longer it takes but the more representative your sample is likely to be
  • Will you include data collected over peak and critical periods?
  • Will your data be average or representational?

Build the right team for the project

Cloud migration team

You need (and this is just a start):

  • Engineers - to ensure your applications will be properly fitted within your architecture
  • IT - in other words, the people who will run your hardware and systems
  • Managers - to efficiently drive the project when conflicts occur and an agreement can’t be reached
  • Stakeholders/key decision makers - to contribute opinions, budgets, goals and other key information
  • Project managers - to ensure the wheels keep turning within and across departments
  • Finance - to ensure the project stays within budget

Migrating to the cloud isn’t as simple as creating a one-to-one mapping of your current tech stack and the new environment. You’ll likely need some specialist expertise, such as:

  • Cloud specialists - e.g. engineers and operations teams who specialise in cloud computing and preferably experienced in the cloud provider you’re wanting to migrate to
  • DevOps - engineers who specialise in development and operations

Prioritise team coordination

Getting a team from disparate departments to work together? Some may even say it’s as difficult as the technical aspects of a cloud migration project! Here are some tips to help:

  • Train everyone involved to learn about the cloud, no matter how experienced they seem. You must level the playing field
  • Organise daily meetings or stand-ups (if you’re using Agile methodologies) with your core members
  • Organise weekly meetings with the broader team

Decide on a level of cloud integration

There are four key cloud migration strategies to choose from…

  Lift and shift Cloud-optimised Cloud-native Software-as-a-service (SaaS)
Level of change to architecture Very low Low Very high N/A
Complexity Low Medium Very high Medium
Operational overhead High Medium Medium Low
Level of cost reduction Low Medium Very high Varies
Productivity gain Medium High Very high High

This may not be an easy decision but one way to help you narrow down the options is to evaluate the strategies against your goals for the cloud migration project.

Choose a cloud service provider

Cloud migration services

The most popular public cloud choices are Microsoft, Google and AWS (Amazon Web Services). When you’re researching your options, you may find they’re pretty comparable. So, some key areas to consider are:

  • Pricing
  • Support
  • Performance and reliability
  • Security
  • Compliance
  • Reputation

Test, test, test

You may have some challenges in mind but the only way you’ll discover whether they’re worth worrying about, how best to resolve them and uncover new pitfalls at the same time is to perform a test migration.

  • Create a representative workload of your intended migration off-cloud to help you understand your actual resource needs. Keep in mind that this is a representative, not a copy. Exact numbers would be time-consuming to build. You only need a reasonable estimate of the projected results
  • Validate that your workload will work in your target cloud environment. You may require specialist tools for this step. The right cloud migration partner can help you here by providing tooling to simulate cloud deployment
  • Test it in the cloud to validate expected performance and cost
  • Finetune where required

Evaluate whether you need a cloud migration partner

Cloud migration agency

If you were renovating a house, would you carry out any major electrical and plumbing work yourself if you didn’t have the expertise? Of course not. The same applies to cloud migration projects. If you haven’t got the right knowledge and experience, it’s easy to mess up. So, it’s often best handled by experienced, highly trained specialists.

Here are some qualities of an excellent cloud migration partner:

  • Many years of experience in different types of migrations
  • Clear readiness guidelines - what will your potential partner do to assess readiness?
  • Access to the relevant tools needed for a migration
  • Ability to view your business as unique - one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to cloud migrations which great partners will know and accommodate for
  • Trustworthy - the best partners will engage with your entire team, not just the stakeholders or engineers (for example). Each interaction should provide value and leave you feeling more reassured about your migration

There’s more to cloud migrations and here’s where to read up on them…

Once you have your cloud migration strategy, your work doesn’t end here. What about when you come to actually migrating? What do you need to monitor? And after the migration, what should you do to ensure your new cloud environment is operating as optimally as possible?

Our guide to the cloud takes you through all the steps you should take as you move from legacy to the cloud…and beyond. Download it below to learn more.

How to ensure a successful cloud migration

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