A Comprehensive Cloud Migration Checklist

More and more cloud providers are emerging and spreading their business across different regions in the current times. As a result, customers want to reduce their IT workload and migrate their product or application to a cloud-based environment. The primary reason behind this is that the cloud heavily reduces the overheads of investing in IT infrastructure, hardware upgrades, maintenance, etc.

Instead of focusing on the overheads, companies can focus on their business enhancement. Thus, the companies can now spend more time developing their business rather than their infrastructure. The migration process from on-premise to cloud infrastructure is a humongous task, and customers usually require a checklist to achieve it. Here is our list for helping your on-premises infrastructure take off to the cloud:

Phase 1: Analyze Your System

Before beginning with the migration process, you must have an in-depth analysis of the complete system. This analysis will help you understand the total number of applications that will be affected by the migration. Additionally, you will also figure out which applications would require refactoring or re-assessment in general. Since the underlying infrastructure is about to be changed, the new environment needs to be checked for any legal complications that it might create for the system.

Understand the System’s Complexity

It is vital to gather as much information as possible to aid in other decisions as well. Once you have the data, the next move is to analyze the systems’ complexity towards the process.

Identifying the business criticality of the application is an important step. Assuming that an application is critical for a business, it will be wise to migrate it to the cloud later because the process itself may affect its usability. A down application directly links to business losses. On the flip side, you can choose to migrate a low-priority application earlier, giving you insights into overall migration success.

Another critical factor to consider is the application dependencies. If an application has a high number of dependencies, it is advisable to migrate it in the later phases of the process. However, migrating such an application even towards the end of the process can still get tricky and slow the entire process down.

Evaluate the System’s Migration-Readiness

A company’s traditional IT infrastructure has a variety of workloads from various vendors with various timelines. There might be legacy systems running for decades on your data centers. You might not be willing to upset it until compulsorily needed.

Therefore, it is crucial to assess and analyze the criticality, feasibility, and possibility of a system’s probable migration to the cloud. A few critical questions to ask while doing these assessments are:

A good practice is to consider first migrating those applications that simply need re-hosting or use minimal resources like low storage, computations, etc. Once you understand the current and expected system on the cloud, the next step—defining a migration roadmap—becomes more effortless

Phase 2: Define a Cloud Transformation Roadmap

Adopting cloud for a new workload is reasonably straightforward but migrating an existing one can be a massive venture and might require a definitive roadmap to follow. Defining a cloud transformation roadmap ensures that the process aligns well with the organization’s vision. Here are some of the steps you need to follow to define a clear cloud migration roadmap for your system.

Analyze Probable Cloud Provider/s and Service Provider/s

The first step in the process is to decide on the cloud and service provider(s) to migrate. Choosing a cloud provider will be based on several factors, such as:

Based on the above-said factors, businesses can choose cloud hosting models, such as 

For organizations that do not specialize in cloud operations, it is not easy to migrate all by themselves. Fortunately, there are cloud migration service providers that work with these companies to drive the cloud migration program smoothly. For example, system integrator organizations such as CSC, Cognizant, Deloitte, etc., usually have cloud migration and support partnerships with cloud providers like AWS, Azure, GCP, etc. In addition, cloud providers themselves sometimes recommend some of their best-valued partners to the businesses.

Choose the Migration Strategy Based on 6 R’s

There are different types of migration strategies with which companies can choose to migrate their diverse workloads. These are often called the Six R’s. Identifying the correct migration strategy is vital to categorize and plan the workloads efficiently.

Prioritize Components

It is crucial to prioritize the applications to migrate. Large organizations have thousands of servers and applications, but it is impossible to start migrating all of them at once. Therefore, prioritizing becomes crucial.

To identify and prioritize the migrations process, you must consider these factors at the minimum:

Decide On the Standards, Processes, and Tools

Once you identify the hosting solution, cloud provider(s), and strategies, building architectural standards and analyzing migration processes is essential. Below are some points to keep in mind while doing so:

Every organization is most likely familiar with all types of tools and solutions like monitoring, network security, application security, backup, and storage for their on-premise infrastructure. So the usual question that they face while migrating is, “Should we use the existing tools in the cloud or switch to cloud-native tools?”. Companies can find the answer to this after analyzing the current situation based on factors such as:

Once an organization establishes these factors, they will serve as the layout for their application migration process.

Phase 3: Conduct a POC and Gain Confidence

Conducting a Proof of Concept (POC) is a critical factor in building confidence in the migration strategy and its workloads. So, it is essential to identify application designs and begin working on the POC.

Before starting with a POC, you need to take care of a few other things—performance benchmarks, dependency migration, and data migration plans. Let’s take a look at these first.

Identify Performance Benchmarks

One of the critical factors for successful cloud migration is the application’s performance in the cloud and the user experience. So it is vital to capture the performance benchmarks for all the applications on-premise. Some of the critical metrics for benchmarking are:

For example, if a database query function takes more time to load the results than the on-premise benchmarks, you can optimize it by following these steps:

Identify Dependencies

An application usually depends on other components such as database, LDAP, network devices such as load balancer, traffic manager, messaging services, caching services, or other applications. Therefore it is crucial to identify the dependencies of individual applications and map them. Also, it is essential to have a plan for dependent components before beginning with the migration. Consider the following factors for dependency planning:

Create a Data Migration Plan

Migrating the existing data to the cloud is a very critical step. You need to plan and take extra caution here. There are different types of data, such as database records, files, media, etc. The migration team needs to plan the migration, keeping in mind the following factors:

All cloud providers offer native methods and tools which facilitate customers to transfer their data. If the data volume is enormous, you can use physical devices provided by the cloud providers to transfer the data securely to the cloud data centers. For example, AWS offers the following methods to transfer offline data:

Here are some online data transfer methods offered by AWS:

Apart from cloud providers’ native tools, some other tools offer advanced features and security measures to transfer data, such as Carbonite Migrate, Corent, etc.

Once done with the benchmarks, you need to carry out a POC by migrating a few low-complexity workloads to your new environment. Comparing their on-premise performance metrics with the latest cloud performance metrics will give you insight into how successful your migration and cloud adoption has been for you.

Phase 4: Phase In the Migration

This phase is where the primary step of the process begins. This phase is highly crucial to the entire process, and it is vital that you properly follow the plan you have built by now.

Migrate Your Workload

The migration begins by setting up the applications on the cloud based on the plans formulated above. After that, it is crucial to configure the network, security, storage, and other base architecture-level setups. 

Once the basic architecture-level setup is complete, the next step is to move the resources based on the identified priority and plans. The POC from the last step serves as an excellent pilot for migrating the rest of the workload.

Test Your New Environment Well

Once you have migrated your workloads to the new environment, it is essential to test the new deployment thoroughly. The tests should cover various dimensions of the system, such as functional, performance, security, integration, and disaster recovery.

It’s of utmost importance to address the challenges and test the applications during the migration process. Without testing the functionality and performance of the application in the cloud environment, it can cause issues like server crashes, database errors, and poor application performance. Consequently, it can affect the company’s business.

Switch Your Traffic

Once you are satisfied with all the test results and consistent availability is achieved from the new cloud deployments, it is time to switch your production traffic to the new systems. This step marks the induction of the cloud into your systems and workloads.

This step usually involves making changes in your DNS and other network routing systems to point the user traffic to the new system. You do not need to worry about any significant or sensitive changes here. If you face a surge in issues after switching, you can always switch back to the old system to buy yourself some time to fix the problems.

Phase 5: Post Migration Optimization

Phasing in the migration seems to have completed the process, but a few steps are still left to complete. These mainly include cleaning up on the old setup to cut down on costs and optimize the new environment to get the best out of the cloud.

Decommission On-premises Workload

Once you have migrated your systems to the cloud, you might want to close down the on-premise workloads running for the same purpose. Alternatively, you might want to retain these workloads in case of a breaking issue in the new environment. But if you are looking to make the best out of the cloud ecosystem, you need to optimize your new workloads and decommission old workloads.

Assess and Optimize Resources

Optimization is an ongoing process. It is essential to monitor and optimize the resources and assets in the cloud after the migration. The new workload might over-utilize some of the resources since most cloud services charge on an hourly basis. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor and perform optimization to reduce unnecessary expenses.

Most cloud providers offer recommendation systems for this purpose. For example, the Microsoft Azure Advisor service monitors the metrics of the services and provides recommendations based on the utilization. Say a virtual machine is being underutilized continuously for a certain period. The Advisor will recommend to scale-down the VM size to an optimal SKU.

Advisors also provide recommendations such as reserving the VMs, storage, etc., based on the usage. This practice is crucial to maintain sanity at the infrastructure level and keep the right resources cost-effective.

Migrate with Confidence

Cloud migration is all about adopting the latest tools and technology by moving business applications to the cloud. However, simply moving legacy workloads to the cloud can be a stop-gap approach and not a permanent solution. It merely means that the applications are not utilizing the cloud to their fullest extent. Therefore it is essential to drill deep into migrating a typical application to a cloud-first architecture before rehosting it on the cloud.

The more you move towards containers and microservices, the more you will save on the cost and resources. You can then shift your focus towards giving your users the best possible experience. The cloud transformation roadmap discussed before does not end once you migrate the application to the cloud. Instead, it should extend towards modernizing the application using the powers of the cloud.