A complete or partial cloud migration is essential to your organization’s digital transformation. The sophistication of cloud computing, combined with an increasingly distributed workforce, means that more and more businesses are making the move.
When implemented correctly, the cloud is considered one of the best business continuity solutions. as it provides an efficient and cost-effective alternative to a traditional on-premise data center. What’s more, cloud-native applications are fast, scalable, and allow for real-time collaboration.
Of course, migrating to the cloud isn’t without peril. In order to minimize risk, it’s essential to follow a rigorous cloud migration plan template. In this article, we outline the steps involved in a successful cloud migration, as well as some of the challenges you may encounter.
The 9 Step Cloud Migration Checklist
A move to the cloud is one of the most effective ways to modernize critical business applications. But, before jumping in, you need to prepare.
The following checklist outlines nine essential steps to follow during the migration process.
1. Determine Your Business and Tech Requirements
Before planning a cloud migration as part of your IT strategy framework, you must first assess your technological and business requirements. Consider the following six questions:
- How will a cloud migration affect our current processes?
- What do we hope to gain from a cloud migration?
- Is our infrastructure suited for cloud migration?
- Which processes/applications will most benefit from a cloud migration?
- Which processes/applications will least benefit from a cloud migration?
- What are the risks and challenges associated with cloud migration?
From an organizational perspective, you’ll also want to consider the effects a cloud migration will have on your security protocols, data governance, and business continuity planning (BCP).
2. Evaluate Your Ability to Execute a Migration
Does your organization already have a fully-fledged, in-house team to orchestrate a cloud migration? Or will you need to hire a third-party IT consultancy to provide guidance and oversight? Whichever route you choose, you’ll need to have all your bases covered, including:
To execute a successful migration internally, your team should consist of an array of specialists. Generally, this includes a:
- IT project manager
- Business analyst
- Software cloud architect
- Infrastructure or application specialists
- Cybersecurity specialist
- Group of experts intimately familiar with your operations.
If any of these are missing, you can opt for a different approach, such as external advice/internal execution, internal planning/external execution, or even complete outsourcing.
3. Estimate the Cost of Your Cloud Migration
Despite the exceptional capabilities the cloud provides, cloud migrations can be expensive. How expensive, exactly? Well, that depends on the size of your company, your process complexity, and the modernity of your IT infrastructure.
You’ll also see a significant change to the type of expenses. Whereas traditional data storage relies on capital expenditures, a move to the cloud will change that to an operating expense.
Take the time to analyze the cost of a cloud migration thoroughly. Trained consultants have extensive knowledge of estimating a move to the cloud; they can offer a detailed assessment regarding both the financial costs and potential risks involved.
An assessment will consider a variety of costs, such as:
- Data transfer
- Cloud providers
- Post-migration tasks like maintenance and development
Other costs include things like rewriting (refactoring) apps, infrastructure spin-up, and even the quantity of data in need of transfer.
Instead of rehosting all your apps to the cloud at the same time, there is less risk involved in selectively migrating them in batches. This gradual approach allows you to prioritize certain apps based on ease of migration and logistics.
It’s worth noting that while cloud-based apps can sometimes be cheaper to run than their on-prem counterparts. However, when it comes to operating costs vs. capital expenditures, certain custom apps not designed for the cloud can cost more to operate post-migration.
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4. Choose the Best Cloud Migration Path
Selecting the right cloud migration path can reduce costs and minimize workflow interruptions. Broadly speaking, there are three paths from which to choose. Note, however, that it’s not uncommon to use a combination of all three.
Rehosting, also known as “lift and shift,” is the fastest migration path. There is no code revision here. Instead, each application is migrated as is, making for a cost-effective transition.
At times, rehosting may be more expensive in the long run when compared to other methods: Forklifting on-prem apps to a cloud environment means that many cloud-native properties (such as elasticity) will be absent.
A refactor is the most labor-intensive and time-consuming path. The goal is to optimize all applications for cloud functionality, a process that requires a substantial amount of code refactoring and even rearchitecting.
Though refactoring is initially expensive, it also presents the best long-term ROI strategy. That’s because cloud-native features make it easy to optimize cost-efficiency and modify digital assets as needed.
Replatforming represents a compromise between rehosting and refactoring. Instead of refactoring every application, a managed database (DB) and/or auto-scaling features may be implemented as part of the cloud infrastructure.
On the one hand, this approach is less resource and capital-intensive than refactoring. On the other, migrated applications will benefit from increased cloud functionality when compared to brute force rehosting.
5. Consider Whether a Public, Private, or Hybrid Cloud is Best
Even after deciding that a move to the cloud is right for your business, you still need to assess whether a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud solution is best.
In this model, cloud service providers like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and others own and operate cloud computing resources that are shared in a multi-tenant environment.
Public cloud platforms are the gold standard for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) because they provide fast cloud deployment, advanced security features, and little in-house maintenance.
In contrast to the multi-tenancy of public cloud, the private cloud provides businesses with a dedicated personal environment.
A private cloud infrastructure is a good option for larger businesses, businesses with a particularly complex IT infrastructure, or organizations adhering to strict governance and regulatory compliance standards.
Hybrid Cloud or Multiple Cloud
Hybrid cloud is the most versatile of the three models. In many regards, it offers the best of both worlds by combining specific public cloud services with a private cloud. On-prem infrastructure can also be incorporated.
Multi-cloud is similar to a hybrid cloud in the sense that both use more than one cloud; however, a multi-cloud uses two or more of the same cloud type, whereas a hybrid cloud integrates different cloud types.
Both strategies promote high availability (HA), robust disaster recovery (DR), and greater workload flexibility. What’s more, multi-cloud redundancy is an effective way to avoid vendor lock-in.
6. Revisit Your Governance and Security Strategies
Cloud migrations can affect more than just your software infrastructure. In fact, many companies are forced to reconsider their governance and security policies.
This is especially true for businesses moving to the public cloud, which can be fraught with compliance oversights and violations.
To avoid penalties and fines, it’s essential to understand which policies are covered by your provider and which remain within your domain of responsibility.
7. Develop a Cloud Roadmap
With all your preliminary considerations accounted for, it’s time to design a comprehensive roadmap. You’ll want to include the following information:
- Projected timeframe for each app migration
- Employee migration responsibilities
- Potential migration risks and pitfalls
- Migration testing strategy
- Technical outline regarding cloud architecture and applications
- New procedural/workflow documentation
Once your roadmap is complete, break it down into smaller chunks and delegate specific tasks to the appropriate employee or team. Project management software is highly recommended at this stage.
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8. Create and Carry Out a Change Management Plan
Even with all of your applications functioning in the cloud, there’s still work to be done. Despite a successful migration process, many organizations still fail in their cloud transition. Why? Because they neglect the human factor.
Organize the necessary training for your employees. The goal is to help them understand the newly implemented cloud tech, how to use it, and how it will affect their workflow.
9. Decommission On-Premises Infrastructure
With your cloud migration plan successfully executed, it’s time to begin the decommissioning process of outdated IT infrastructure. The aim is to cut nonessential costs and labor associated with maintaining obsolete on-prem systems.
On-Prem to Cloud Migration Project Plan Challenges
There are some obstacles that could hinder your move to the cloud. Though this is an entire topic on its own, there are a few key points to remember. A migration could be difficult if:
- Your existing legacy infrastructure requires substantial modernization
- Your business frequently needs to access and move enormous files
- Your existing applications are optimally integrated with on-prem infrastructure and cannot be migrated to a cloud environment
- Your regulatory compliance guidelines prohibit the use of a public cloud
- Your organization collects and stores confidential information, such as medical or financial data
Your Cloud Migration Project Plan is in Good Hands With TAG
Cloud migrations are tricky. But, by following a proper cloud migration project plan example like the one above, you can effectively streamline workflows, improve cybersecurity, reduce operational costs, and optimize collaboration within your IT ecosystem.
At Technology Advisory Group, we’ve been helping businesses across Rhode Island and New England achieve success through their digital transformations for over 25 years.
If you’re ready to begin yours, we’re here to provide you with a thorough project plan for cloud migration. We can also help you execute that plan from start to finish.
Migrate with confidence with a customized cloud migration project plan template. For more information, contact us or look at our msp pricing models and see what can work for your business.