Insights: Article

15 essential steps for a successful cloud migration

The extraordinarily rapid growth of cloud computing shows that the sky really is the limit when it comes to the cloud. But even if you’re ready to take the leap and reap the benefits of cloud for your organisation, starting your cloud migration can be a daunting process, fraught with potential risks. We’re here to break it down into a practical step-by-step process and help you plan for a successful cloud migration.

Cloud is no passing fad

A 2022 report found that a mammoth 90% of large enterprises have already adopted a multi-cloud infrastructure, 76% of mid-sized organisations use a multi-cloud operating model, and 60% of small businesses have multi-cloud infrastructure. Another 2022 survey found that more than 50% of organisations are hiring new staff or upskilling existing staff to better optimise their cloud spend.

As Gartner puts it, the use of cloud technologies is not just popular – it’s pervasive. By 2025, it’s estimated that over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, up from 30% in 2021, and more than 85% of organisations will embrace a cloud-first principle. Moreover, it’s anticipated that organisations will not be able to execute successful digital strategies without the use of cloud-native technologies. That comes with big spending. In Australia alone, the value of the public cloud market is expected to exceed 10 billion U.S. dollars by 2023. Worldwide spending on public cloud services is expected to grow 20.7% to $591.8 billion in 2023, up from $490.3 billion in 2022.

It’s clear that cloud technology is transforming the way businesses operate and offers numerous benefits, from increased agility to cost savings and enhanced security. While you may be ready to migrate to the cloud and tap into the advantages for your own organisation, it can be difficult to know where to start when navigating the complexities of the cloud.

Look to the hyperscalers

This is where we look to the collective expertise gained by the hyperscalers, or the leading cloud service providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. After completing countless large and varied migrations over the years, they’ve gathered invaluable insights on the best practices in successful cloud migration.

Both AWS and Microsoft have leveraged this knowledge to create comprehensive Cloud Adoption Frameworks (CAF) and prescriptive migration guidance for organisations embarking on their cloud migration journey. If you’re looking to get cracking in embracing the power of cloud for your organisation, these are excellent starting points.

If your organisation requires a more tailored and guided approach, it’s best to start by assessing your migration readiness. Generally provided by the cloud services provider or a trusted partner such as Kinetic IT, an assessment assists organisations in evaluating their readiness for the transition, pinpointing potential challenges, and creating a clear roadmap for successful cloud migration. By conducting a thorough assessment, businesses can gain a better understanding of their current infrastructure, applications, and data, as well as their organisational capabilities and requirements.

Before you undertake a migration readiness assessment, it’s worth addressing the essential steps and questions to kickstart your cloud migration planning. So where to begin? Kinetic IT Solutions Architect Nathan Alberti breaks down his step-by-step guide for a successful cloud migration, from the initial planning to ensuring ongoing optimisation in the cloud.

Statista graph on the value of the public cloud market in Australia 2018-2013
Statista: Value of the public cloud market in Australia in 2018 with a forecast for 2023, by segment

Set the stage for success

1. Align your business objectives and IT strategy

When embarking on a successful cloud migration journey, it’s essential to align your cloud migration strategy with your overarching business goals, such as improving operational efficiency, increasing agility, and enhancing security. To achieve this alignment, start by identifying your organisation’s key priorities and objectives, then map them to specific cloud capabilities and features. This will help you create a targeted migration plan that addresses your unique business needs and maximises the potential benefits of cloud adoption.

2. Get executive sponsorship and stakeholder buy-in

Gaining executive support and ensuring key stakeholders participate in the decision-making process is crucial for a successful cloud migration. Begin by identifying the key decision-makers and influencers within your organisation, such as C-level executives, IT leaders, and line-of-business managers. Communicate the benefits and strategic value of cloud migration to these stakeholders, focusing on the specific advantages that align with their roles and responsibilities.

By securing their buy-in, you can facilitate smoother decision-making and foster a collaborative environment that supports the cloud migration process. Cloud migration projects may not always follow the planned trajectory, and the relationships forged during this effort could become especially valuable in navigating challenging situations.

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3. Define your cloud migration success criteria

As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets managed.” Establishing clear, measurable outcomes that reflect your organisation’s strategic objectives is essential for evaluating the success of your cloud migration project.

Work with your stakeholders to define key performance indicators (KPIs) that capture the desired outcomes, such as reduced IT costs, increased application performance, or enhanced data security. Ensure these KPIs are quantifiable and can be tracked throughout the cloud migration process, allowing you to measure progress and make data-driven decisions. Regularly review and adjust the success criteria as needed, ensuring they remain relevant and aligned with your organisation’s evolving goals and priorities.

Evaluate the cloud landscape

4. Choose the right cloud provider

Carefully evaluate leading cloud providers, such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, by considering various success factors including the range of features and services offered, pricing structures, compliance with industry standards and regulations, and the level of customer support and documentation available. You’ll also need to consider the provider’s global infrastructure, data centre locations, and any existing partnerships or integrations with your organisation’s existing technology stack.

5. Get to know the cloud service models

It’s crucial to become familiar with the different cloud service models, including Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and identify which models best align with your previously defined business requirements. You may even choose to mix and match service models based on individual use cases or start with one and conduct transformation activities after successfully migrating.

Many successful cloud migrations begin using an IaaS solution for a legacy application that requires more control over the underlying infrastructure. Once migrated, you could then transition specific components or services to a PaaS model, which helps you take advantage of other managed services and reduce administration overhead. This approach allows you to gradually transform your applications and infrastructure while still aligning with your business objectives and reducing risk during the cloud migration process.

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Develop a comprehensive cloud migration strategy

6. Assess your IT portfolio

Before building an effective cloud migration strategy, your organisation will need to perform a detailed assessment of your existing IT infrastructure, applications, and data, to identify which resources should be included in the cloud migration process. This involves cataloguing your IT assets, understanding their dependencies, and evaluating their suitability for a successful cloud migration. Consider performance, security, and compliance requirements to help determine the best approach for each resource.

7. Select the appropriate migration approach

There are several cloud migration strategies to choose from, such as rehosting, refactoring, replatforming, or replacing, based on your specific needs and goals. AWS’s 7 R’s provide a useful framework for evaluating these options.

Rehosting (lift-and-shift) involves moving applications to the cloud with minimal changes, while refactoring involves making modifications to take advantage of cloud-native features. Replatforming includes upgrading components without changing the application’s core architecture, and replacing involves retiring existing applications and adopting new, cloud-based solutions.

Carefully evaluate each strategy’s pros and cons to select the most suitable approach for your organisation. As mentioned earlier, you can always choose to rehost and get workloads successfully migrated, then work on digital transformation in future work efforts. This is a common strategy when organisations want or need to get out of their current hosting facility quickly.

8. Prioritise migration candidates

Develop a prioritisation matrix based on factors such as business impact, technical complexity, and potential benefits to figure out the order in which resources should be migrated. Avoid starting with the most challenging resources, as early successes can help build confidence and momentum within the organisation. Instead, focus on lower-risk, high-reward resources that can show the benefits of cloud migration and help refine your migration processes before tackling the hard stuff. This approach reduces risk and ensures a smoother, more successful cloud migration journey.

Build a skilled, multidisciplinary team

9. Assemble a dedicated cloud migration team

Create a diverse team of professionals with expertise in various areas, such as cloud architecture, security, networking, and project management. Since cloud technology encompasses all traditional disciplines, having a well-rounded team with a wide range of skills is crucial for a successful cloud migration project. Additionally, consider including representatives from different business units to ensure their unique perspectives and requirements are addressed throughout the cloud migration process.

10. Invest in training and certifications

You’ll need to provide your team with access to training resources and certification programs, to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge for a successful cloud migration. Major cloud vendors like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud offer excellent free training resources, including documentation, online courses, and hands-on labs, which can help your team develop their expertise.

Encourage your team to pursue relevant certifications from these providers, as they can validate their knowledge and enhance their understanding of best practices. Incorporate cloud training into your team members’ professional development goals, and promote a culture of continuous learning and growth. This approach not only equips your team with the latest industry knowledge but also supports their career progression, ensuring your cloud migration project remains on track and aligned with current trends and technologies.

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Implement a phased cloud migration approach

11. Conduct a proof of concept (PoC)

To ensure the feasibility of your cloud migration strategy, start by executing a PoC with a small, low-risk workload. This initial step allows you to test your chosen migration approach, tools, and processes in a controlled environment.  You can validate your assumptions, identify potential challenges, and evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy before fully committing to the migration.

The lessons learned during the PoC phase provide invaluable insights that help shape your overall migration plan, enabling you to adjust and improve, avoid potential pitfalls, and ensure a smoother migration process.

12. Planning and executing pilot migrations

After the successful completion of the PoC, continue with migrating a few non-critical workloads to the cloud. This pilot phase provides your team with valuable hands-on experience, helping them identify potential issues and refine your cloud migration strategy. Use the insights and feedback from these first migrations to optimise your processes and address any challenges before moving on to more complex or business-critical workloads.

13. Scaling up the migration

As your team gains more proficiency and confidence in the migration process, gradually increase the scale and complexity of workloads being migrated. Continuously refine your approach based on lessons learned from previous phases, adapting to any new challenges or requirements that may emerge. This iterative, phased approach helps mitigate risks, ensures better control over the migration process, and ultimately leads to a more seamless cloud migration journey.

Ensuring ongoing success

14. Establish a cloud governance framework

It’s crucial to implement a solid governance framework that will help manage risks, ensure compliance, and maintain control over your cloud environment. A good governance framework should cover areas such as cost management, security, resource organisation, and access control. Your organisation should leverage tools provided by cloud providers or third-party solutions to streamline governance tasks and ensure consistency across your cloud resources.

15. Embrace a culture of continuous improvement

Cloud migration is only the first step in your digital transformation journey, not the ultimate destination. Once you have migrated, focus on continuous improvement by monitoring, optimising, and updating your cloud environment. Adopt a proactive approach to identify and resolve issues, drive efficiency, and reduce costs. Encourage innovation within your team by exploring new cloud features, services, and best practices. This mindset will help you maximise the benefits of cloud adoption and maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Working with a partner to achieve a successful cloud migration

It’s important to note that not all migrations are the same, and the size, scope, and level of transformation can vary significantly between organisations. However, the Cloud Adoption Frameworks provided by Azure and AWS are designed to be scalable and adaptable, ensuring they remain relevant and valuable regardless of the specific needs and goals of your business.

If you’re looking to further de-risk your cloud migration, it’s recommended to engage with a certified cloud migration partner, such as Kinetic IT. Experienced partners possess deep knowledge of both AWS and Azure environments, as well as the necessary expertise to guide organisations through every step of the cloud migration process. Migration partners can offer invaluable support and services tailored to your business, from initial assessments and planning to execution and ongoing optimisation.

Working with a cloud migration partner like Kinetic IT not only helps to minimise risk and overcome potential challenges but also allows you to tap into a wide range of value-added services, such as customised architecture design, security and compliance consulting, and application modernisation. All this is critical to achieving a successful cloud migration and reaching your digital transformation goals.

When you get it right, you’ll unlock the full potential of the cloud, transform your business, and enjoy long-term success in the ever-changing digital world.

ISG Provider Lens™ ServiceNow Ecosystem Partners 2024 Report.

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