How to migrate your legacy workloads to the cloud

Cloud is increasingly becoming the standard for most processes. Last year, corporate research and advisory firm Gartner predicted 80% of enterprises will have migrated away from in-house to Cloud data storage by 2025. They also suggested that 2019 would be the year that many businesses took the decision to migrate. It’s already receiving a lot of investment with big firms and the biggest names are already on the case. Wall Street firm Panzura which holds over $2 trillion of investments, began a modernisation process to future-proof their business.

Cloud is already here

It’s true to say that technology moves fast. What was once an emerging technology and a luxury, will quickly become mainstream. What is now mainstream will soon become minimum expectation. Cloud migration services have never been busier as many businesses are still in the process of this move. Cloud is no longer the future, it is the here and now, so much so that many organisations are operating on a “cloud-only” basis. Yet some are still reluctant to fully embrace The Cloud.

The reason is the outward cost. For big organisations, the cost is potentially millions. Others feel they do not have the resources while others still feel the time to recode their systems is vast. These fears are justified. Storage is complex, especially while most applications still operate on file-based storage.

Moving workload to the cloud is undoubtedly complex. However, it is necessary and is relatively straightforward with the right plan and execution.

Use a migration checklist

An old saying goes “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. To make the cloud transition as smooth as possible, it is advisable to devise a checklist. Distribute this to all team members so they know what will happen and when. Once complete, each task should be checked off. Such a list would differ from organization to organization and depend on the size of the organization and the industry.

Think about the “what” and the “how” of:

  • The workloads to be migrated and when, preferably on a priority basis, taking into consideration complexity and size
  • A cost analysis, ideally broken down by stage – including lost productivity during planned downtime
  • Define the procedures for how you will go about migrating each part of the system, and when
  • The tools and resources required to do it, including personnel hours and technology, and the roles of each resource
  • A list of optimizations required for the migration. Where possible, these should be ready to go the moment the migration takes place
  • How you will measure performance
  • A communication strategy for customers, employees, those responsible for the migration, and any other stakeholders
  • A security plan for both the pre and the post-migration period
  • Define migration KPIs
  • Regular testing, system review, and a contingency plan for making adjustments if things do not go to plan

It can take mere moments to move an application. It could potentially take weeks to move all your data, depending on the size of your enterprise. Therefore, you must have a strategy in place, preferably with a checklist like this. During that time, changes to your native data might occur. If so, you’ll need to synchronize the data too.

Data security must be maintained

As an organization that holds data, you don’t need the importance of security, privacy, and compliance explaining. GDPR has a number of specific and specified regulations, including covering data residency. It is likely concerns over security that has led to many businesses not migrating to The Cloud in the first place. These concerns have been around since the dawn of IT outsourcing.

Your plan must contain steps on data protection before, during, and after the migration. You will need to understand which data will be migrated and how it will be protected. Not all of it will contain sensitive or personal information, and you may need to examine the regulatory framework for protecting it during migration, including risk management. Use the opportunity to update your authentication and authorization process. It’s likely there will be no impact, but some systems such as Single Sign On (SSO) may require integration.

The migration

Begin migration only once you have a management plan in place. You will find that the main challenge is to execute the migration with minimal disruption to productivity. This is an expensive process and there is an understandable desire from all concerned not to add to this cost. Depending on what you migrate (data, infrastructure, software), there will be times when this is inaccessible. Administrators will need a plan for synchronising data between the source and the eventual migration destination.

This is where the checklist’s final point is vital. Before you consider migrating the next part of your legacy workload, ensure that the previous one is working as planned. It is strongly advised to select several applications as a test to examine the effects of the migration. Treat it as a pilot, obtain feedback and take note of the problems that occurred or could occur. Ensure this pilot is fully complete before proceeding with the remainder of the migration.

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