Cloud migration is a hot topic now as many companies are actively thinking about shifting their on-premise enterprise IT to the cloud. But cloud migration is a big process and requires commitment and buy-in from across the organization’s leadership. Here is a guide on how to plan your cloud migration.

1. Develop a strategy anchored on business KPIs

Before embarking on your journey to the cloud, clearly establish what you want to accomplish. It is important for leadership to be clear on the purpose of the migration — and set aggressive goals to drive the organization forward. This includes creating a baseline of your current IT infrastructure and forming some cloud migration key performance indicators (KPIs). These will make it possible to measure your cloud migration success.

Strategy development should be done early and in a way that prioritizes business objectives over technology, and these metrics will enable measurement across a number of categories.

2. Identify the right applications

Not all apps are cloud friendly. Some perform better on private or hybrid clouds than on a public cloud. Some may need minor tweaking while others need in-depth code changes. A full analysis of architecture, complexity and implementation is easier to do before the migration rather than after.

Pay attention to key questions such as: Which applications can be moved as-is, and which will require a redesign? What is the return on investment for each application you will be moving, and how long will it take to achieve it? For applications where moving to the cloud is deemed cost-effective and secure, which type of cloud environment is best — public, private, or multi cloud? An analysis of your architecture and a careful look at your applications can help determine what makes sense to migrate.

3. Secure the right cloud provider

A key aspect of optimization will involve selecting a cloud provider that can help guide the cloud migration process during the transition and beyond. Some key questions to ask include: What tools, including third-party, does it have available to help make the process easier? What is its level of experience? What level of support can it provide throughout the migration process?

4. Select a migration approach:

  • Lift and shift: This approach where each application is basically kept as is and moved to the cloud is quick and requires minimal refactoring. But the downsides of lift-and-shift include the fact that you may miss benefits you would see if going cloud-native because you are performing the bare minimum changes needed. This means you could end up paying for the speed and the ease of your migration in the long run — at least when compared to a more thorough approach. Lift-and-shift can be used for simple, low-impact workloads.
  • Replatforming: This type of migration includes making some modern updates to your application — like, say, introducing scaling or automation — without throwing the whole thing out. This happy-medium approach can seem like the superior option at a glance, but it can result in migrations where you keep all your technical debt and get none of the cloud-native benefits.
  • Refactoring: This approach means rebuilding your workload from scratch to be “cloud-native.” It takes an investment in time and skills development (particularly reskilling and upskilling your existing talent), but it pays out with the maximum benefits available in the cloud.

5. Select a proven migration partner

Migration partners should have a robust and proven methodology to address every aspect of the migration process. This should include the framework to manage complex transactions on a consistent basis and on a global scale. Make sure to spell all of this out in the service-level agreement (SLA) with agreed-upon milestones for progress and results.

6. Execute your cloud migration

If you have followed the previous steps carefully, this last step should be relatively easy. However, how you migrate to the cloud will partially depend on the complexity and architecture of your application(s) and the architecture of your data. You can move your entire application over, run a test to see that it works, and then switch over your on-premises traffic. Alternatively, you can take a more piecemeal approach, slowly moving customers over, validating, and then continuing this process until all customers are moved to the cloud.

Shifting to the cloud is a big journey for any organization to undertake. With the right planning, cloud migration can be achieved with reduced friction and disruption.