6 Key Elements for a Successful Cloud Migration

4 min read

Before embarking on the cloud migration process, use these six steps to gain a clear understanding of what’s involved to successfully migrate applications to the cloud.

As organizations continue to increase their cloud investment to drive business forward, cloud adoption has become integral to IT optimization. Cloud migration allows businesses to be more agile, improve inefficiencies, and provide better customer experiences. Today, the need for stability and flexibility has never been more necessary.

An optimized IT infrastructure is different for each organization, but it often consists of a combination of public cloud, private cloud, and traditional IT environments. In an IDG cloud computing survey, 73 percent of key IT decision-makers reported having already adopted this combination of cloud technology, and another 17 percent intended to do so in the next 12 months.

However, for businesses that are worried about disruption to their operations, adopting a cloud infrastructure doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Companies can start reaping the benefits from cloud technologies while continuing to run assets on existing on-premises environments by incorporating applications into a hybrid cloud model.

6 steps to successfully migrate applications to the cloud

Migrating to a cloud environment can help improve operational performance and agility, workload scalability, and security. From virtually any source, businesses can migrate workloads and quickly begin capitalizing on the following hybrid cloud benefits:

  • Greater agility with IT resources on-demand, which enables companies to scale during unexpected surges or seasonal usage patterns.
  • Reduced capital expenditure becomes possible by shifting from an operating expenses model to pay-as-you-go approach.
  • Enhanced security with various options throughout the stack — from physical hardware and networking to software and people.

Before embarking on the cloud migration process, use the steps below to gain a clear understanding of what’s involved.

1. Develop a strategy

Before embarking on your journey to the cloud, clearly establish what you want to accomplish. This starts with capturing baseline metrics of your IT infrastructure to map workloads to your assets and applications. Having a baseline understanding of where you stand will help you establish cloud migration key performance indicators (KPIs), such as page load times, response times, availability, CPU usage, memory usage, and conversion rates.

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.

As you evaluate which applications to move to the cloud, keep these questions in mind:

  • Which applications can be moved as-is, and which will require a redesign?
  • If a redesign is necessary, what is the level of complexity required?
  • Does the cloud provider have any services that allow migration without reconfiguring workloads?
  • 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 multicloud?

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?
  • Can it support public, private, and multicloud environments at any scale?
  • How can it help you deal with complex interdependencies, inflexible architectures, or redundant and out-of-date technology?
  • What level of support can it provide throughout the migration process?

Moving to the cloud is not simple. Consequently, the service provider you select should have proven experience that it can manage the complex tasks required to manage a cloud migration at a global scale. This includes providing service-level agreements that include milestone-based progress and results.

4. Maintain data integrity and operational continuity

Managing risk is critical, and sensitive data can be exposed during a cloud migration. Post-migration validation of business processes is crucial to ensure that automated controls are producing the same outcomes without disrupting normal operations.

5. Adopt an end-to-end approach

Service providers 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’ve 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.

IT optimization drives digital transformation

The results of IT optimization — including accelerated adoption, cost-effectiveness, and scalability — will help drive business innovation and digital transformation. Adopting cloud with a phased approach by carefully considering which applications and workloads to migrate can help companies obtain these benefits without disruption business operations.

See the following video, "What is Cloud Migration" for more insight into the process: 

Learn more about improving IT flexibility and IBM services for extending workloads to cloud by reading the smart paper “Optimize IT: Accelerate digital transformation.”

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