Planning a Successful Cloud Migration Strategy

laptop showing graphic of clouds to illustrate cloud migration strategy

If you haven’t yet moved your operations to the cloud, you’re not the only one! Planning a cloud migration strategy eats up management and IT leadership time – and not everyone has a CIO to provide that business-wide organizing power.

In addition, you’ll hear stories of dangers in the woods for the unwary, including

  • data security risks,
  • regulatory concerns,
  • costs, and
  • invisibility of what cloud users are doing.

Indeed, Gartner recently claimed that cloud adoption will fail – and gave a number of reasons why. Many involved the acknowledged IT skills gap.

But that’s the zoomed-out, wide-angle view. If you zoom your lens in, there are solutions.

One solution is to outsource limited-time IT projects like cloud migration to a fractional CIO to organize a strategy and ensure its success. If you’d like to consider this option, contact us to talk it through.

The other solution is to fully grasp how to plan a successful cloud migration strategy – because the devil is in the detail!

Let’s dive in!

What is Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration involves

  • engaging with a cloud hosting provider and
  • moving all or some of your computing infrastructure from its usual location to the cloud.

This is a process that takes time, needs a sound strategy, and has costs attached. It also involves your people, your processes, and your technology (PTT) in business-wide change.

Of course, you’ll weigh cloud migration disruption and costs against benefits (see below).

But first up in your cloud migration strategy is deciding which kind of migration is best for you.

Which Cloud Migration Strategy is For You?

There are different forms of migration to cloud computing. So – research and discuss with your executives which one your business needs.

Many businesses use one of the following three:

1 Rehosting:

You’ll find this also termed “lift and shift!” If you’re just starting your migration and want to migrate and recreate your application infrastructure without modification – Infrastructure-as-a- Service (IaaS) – this is for you. It does, however, run the risk of transporting your problems with you, which ultimately costs you more!

On the other hand, it’s a quick process that may use automated tools.

2 Refactoring:

This cloud migration strategy goes under the nickname of  “lift, tinker, and shift!” It moves the application infrastructure to the cloud. In the process, it re-architects it to suit the cloud environment better – platform-as-a-service (PaaS). Although it’s more complex and code will be modified, the benefit is it takes advantage of cloud-native tools.

Refactoring is a perfect strategy for you if you want to add features, scale up or down over time, or gain performance benefits that are otherwise difficult to achieve in your existing environment.

3 Replatforming:

This approach to cloud migration provides a perfect middle ground between the two previous strategies. The migration doesn’t change the core architecture of the application infrastructure. Instead, changes are made to applications. As a result, they can take advantage of the tangible benefits (e.g. scaling, automation) offered by the cloud.

Other cloud migration strategies include

  • Retiring – before migrating, you discard everything in the environment that you no longer find useful.
  • Repurchasing – if your existing applications will not move easily to the cloud, you replace them with ones that will work better for you.
  • Retaining – when you want to retain one or more applications that won’t move to the cloud. You retain them for now and revisit the problem later. You’ll lose some of the benefits we mention below.

So let’s move on to formulating your strategy for migrating to the cloud: Document everything in advance!

How to Plan Your Cloud Migration Strategy

You have business goals as well as digitalization plans. When planning your cloud migration strategy, you need to keep your IT plans aligned with your business goals. We’ll outline four steps.

1 Assess Your Business Goals

As we mentioned, define your business reasons for migrating to cloud. What business gains do you want? What is your motivation for the migration?

Identify what you need for a sustainable cloud migration. Remember Gartner’s “will fail” warning!

Then speak to your key stakeholders and employees to get buy-in. It’s essential for managing change during the migration process.

You can then move on to planning the actual migration and modernization.

2 Choose Your Cloud Partner Carefully

It’s difficult to switch from one to another later. So – look into different cloud partners/hosting services.

  • Do you need single cloud or multi-cloud hosting?
  • Which provider will take the time to understand your business objectives and offer support during the process and beyond?
  • Which will fit your budget? Overrun costs can be difficult to resolve.
  • Do they meet with data compliance around the world?
  • How do they comply with other regulatory requirements of your business?

3 Create a Strategy for Cloud Migration Security

Cloud security is one of the risks we mentioned to start with. When you migrate to the cloud, you share cybersecurity responsibility with the provider.

For this reason, revise your cybersecurity strategy and plan to

  • encrypt your data behind a cloud firewall while in motion and at rest,
  • introduce multifactor authentication or AAA if you haven’t already, and
  • turn on business intelligence tools, backup, and monitoring/audit to ensure both cloud and on-premise data storage remain compliant.

4 Plan to Update Your Staff Skills

Because you’re effectively changing how you work, plan how you will train your staff in cloud technology, tools, and new operational processes. This may require upgrading to new employees if existing employees aren’t on board or don’t have the aptitude. Always treat people with respect, but moving to the cloud isn’t for all IT employees.

There are also third-party service providers that can augment your staff if that’s a better approach. Cloud technology is moving quickly, so that may be a good tactical approach if you want to bring the skills in-house.

Either way, you should start staff training and alterations as soon as your cloud migration strategy is formalized – ready for go-live day. Leaving it till there’s a problem is counterproductive.

Benefits of Cloud Migration

Once everything is migrated and tested, and you’re up and running, you can enjoy cloud benefits, including:

  • Scaling when necessary – more easily than on-premise, especially for seasonality.
  • Paying only for what you need from the managed service.
  • Software updating – it’s now the responsibility of the cloud provider.
  • Improved experience for staff and customers with “anywhere access.”
  • Moving from a CapEx model to an OpEx model. Flatten your peaks and valleys caused by expensive equipment replacements.

CIO Suite Can Help You

Cloud migration is one of the key areas where a fractional CIO from CIO Suite can provide value to your business with IT leadership on demand.

We can work with your people and processes to assess your current technology infrastructure and decide which apps and data are suitable for migration to the cloud – even select the best service provider for you! We engage best of breed resources as needed.

Most importantly, we can develop your cloud migration strategy in a secure and cost-effective way so you achieve maximum benefit from what is always a challenging project!

Talk to us today and see how we can help you move to cloud successfully.

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Planning a Successful Cloud Migration Strategy
Plan a cloud migration strategy for your business with our advice, or hire a fractional CIO to ensure its success across your business.