A cloud migration strategy is the high-level plan an organization adopts to move existing on-premises and/or co-located application workloads and their associated data into the cloud. Most plans include a public cloud migration strategy where the target is Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, or other public cloud providers. Although most workloads will benefit from cloud migrations, not all workloads are suitable for migration.
A successful enterprise cloud migration strategy will include prioritizing workloads for migration, determining the correct migration plan for each individual workload, developing a pilot, testing, and adjusting the strategy based on the results of the pilot. A cloud migration strategy document should be created to guide teams through the process and facilitate roll-back if necessary.
Whether or not the source and destination platforms have similar architecture and use of migration tools that are fit-for-purpose will have a significant impact on the effort and cost of migration.
The desired final state is a seamless transition of the applications from on-premises to the desired cloud infrastructure without impacting application availability or day to day operations.
Adopting an cloud migration strategy helps identify and execute the fastest, lowest cost, least disruption transition from on-premises to cloud. And, can help determine which existing application workloads can be discontinued or replaced, which should be rewritten, which may remain on-premises, which should be moved as-is to a cloud platform to run as-is or targeted to be augmented with native cloud services, and which cloud is the right destination for which application. An enterprise cloud migration strategy will include a combination of these approaches to address the entire application portfolio.
Since every organization is different, an enterprise cloud migration strategy should be tailored exactly to their particular needs and to achieve the desired business and technical outcomes. This requires knowledge of the business goals and the application portfolio that can provide visibility into the TCO and ROI of undertaking a migration.
Additionally, access between applications can be greatly enhanced by a cloud migration. Cloud-native application methodologies promote the use of APIs to share information between applications and services regardless of where they reside. This approach not only provides a standard way for applications to communicate, it also improves access to information previously siloed into a single application. Now data can be shared among applications in a simple, predictable manner.
When deciding on migration strategies, organizations should start by considering teh architecture and needs of each application, and consider the available skills, budget and time frame to achieve the desired goals. First, teams must start with an assessment of what is currently in place to understand the maturity of each workload. This may require a deep discovery stage for every instance of every existing application.
Then the migration process should be designed with milestones, clear goals, reasonable durations for each task and an understanding of possible risks should things go awry during a workload migration.
Every migration should include a pilot project, perhaps starting with a rehosting or relocating task. This can help identify any gaps that are uncovered and adjust for them moving forward.
To execute a migration at scale, the organization should focus on three key points of optimization:
There are several options when considering workload migration.
The road to the public cloud is littered with failed and delayed migrations. Organizations must have a clear intention on what actually needs to be migrated and why, rather than jumping in with both feet and trying to shift each and every workload to the public cloud just because they want to. Cloud migration projects often require work for infrastructure, operations, and development teams.
Rather, it is critically important to first determine the overall desired end state and realistically evaluate the time it will take to get there: whether it will be a hybrid cloud migration strategy, multi-cloud migration strategy that includes multiple public cloud providers, both of those options, or neither.
Care also must be taken with determining the best way to deal with legacy servers and applications. Some applications are more than suitable for cloud migration, but many are not, and the final disposition of retired hardware – and data center real estate – must be considered and factored into overall plans.
Every organization should put an emphasis on these three factors while creating their cloud migration strategy.