How to migrate to the cloud

Expert Tips: How to Migrate to the Cloud

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By Ted Pappas,
Cloud Evangelist and Migration Consultant,
corus360 – IT Migration and Cloud Services

Today’s converged infrastructure, cloud technology and hybrid IT platforms require contextual evaluation and analysis. When choosing from these options, companies should have a strategy and roadmap for cloud enablement. Following a step-by-step plan for discovery, design and migration assures the best implementation and results. In this article, we will follow the key strategy, discovery, design and migration phases.

Step One: Strategy
Today’s converged infrastructure and cloud technology platforms require sound fundamentals and standardized, automated infrastructure underpinnings. Clients considering data migration projects need to understand the critical success factors and potential pain points of data center transformation. With thorough planning, architecture, tool selection, and execution, organizations of all sizes can mitigate potential risks and resulting business impacts. In order to assess cloud readiness, build a roadmap for cloud enablement, and implement an effective solution, companies must address the following key phases: Strategy, Discovery, Design and Migration.

Whether a business has already made the decision to migrate their infrastructure and applications to the cloud or is considering the possibility, an effective strategy is essential for success. For those organizations considering the decision to embrace cloud services, a trusted adviser can help define strategic objectives and existing operating models, and then provide education on the various ways in which cloud technology could improve business operations and financial stability.

Those organizations who have already decided they will reap the benefits of cloud services still need to select the engagement and migration strategy that best fits their unique business and technical requirements. These companies must identify which transformations would benefit them the most in order to develop suitable business plans to implement the necessary changes.

Step Two: Discovery
As with any major IT project, the key to a successful migration is capturing an accurate profile of the environment. It is imperative to know exactly where the critical business services are located, what technologies are involved, and which infrastructures support them. A thorough assessment of the current state infrastructure should include complete hardware and application inventory validation and dependencies. This analysis should define the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) by application, and each entry should be accounted for in an application assessment document (AAD).

The combination of hard and soft data generates an accurate picture of how the existing IT infrastructure supports the business, how virtualization may improve business agility, and how to leverage the cloud for data storage and backup. Once the current environment has been analyzed, organizations must define their target state infrastructure services requirements.

When the current and target state environments have been assessed, a project management plan should be designed to articulate the necessary resources to execute the migration, along with estimated timelines and budget projections. These conversations will bring to light the internal processes and interdisciplinary collaboration necessary to implement a successful cloud migration.

Step Three: Design
The Discovery phase establishes a high-level design that serves as an outline for the application migration narrative. Based upon this outline, cloud migration specialists will formulate a detailed migration design that provides step-by-step articulation of the implementation process, complete with plans for cutover and transition, capacity and communication, and disaster recovery, along with blueprints for implementation, testing, and acceptance. Each of these plans will take into account the physical characteristics of the site location, the server technology in place, and the organizational structure of the business.

Since every company has unique business objectives and technical requirements to meet those objectives, it is essential to select a migration tool with cross-platform capabilities and scalability. A unified solution can deliver seamless native support for all operating systems and storage vendors. Such solutions can preserve the integrity of the host while replicating changes at the byte level to the new location.

Step Four: Migration
In our increasingly fast-paced world, customers demand that companies remain up and running at all times. When businesses are expected to operate 24×7, a five-minute system outage could be catastrophic, regardless of industry. Keeping all critical systems in sync is key to preventing business disruption during any migration. A properly designed solution will ensure that all applications and data are continuously recoverable throughout the cloud migration process. Whether a business is moving data to a new server, consolidating file servers, or migrating to a NAS/SAN solution, the migration plan can and should be specifically tailored to address those goals.

Migration includes the building and testing of the solution prior to implementation. Upon being released to production, the migration service provider will conduct a cut-over checklist review to verify the effectiveness of the solution and to manage any necessary changes. After completing the compliance validation and ensuring system support and service desk readiness, the migration service provider will authorize deployment.

Throughout the migration, the administrator will conduct system and acceptance tests and provide documentation for run books and applications, ensuring the detailed migration plan is followed every step of the way. Once the data has been fully migrated, the service provider will monitor the results and decommission legacy systems and infrastructure.

A successful cloud migration undoubtedly requires tremendous effort, meticulous planning, and rigorous implementation processes. Nevertheless, with ruthless standardization across the continuum of the exercise, one can be confident in a seamless journey to the cloud.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Last modified: September 26, 2019