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Cloud Migration: Tools of the Trade

For many enterprises the main incentive for a cloud migration will be digital transformation, but the details of what, when, where, why and how can be vague. Regardless of the justification for the move to cloud, migration projects are seldom as straightforward as installing off-the-shelf software on a PC or adding a new virtual server.

In our recent whitepaper, a five-stage cloud migration approach was proposed: (1) Migration context, strategy and targets; (2) Current situation discovery; (3) Migration roadmap and plan; (4) Migration testing and execution; and, (5) Monitor and evaluate the results. For larger enterprises, tools and automation will be needed – the traditional paper and pencil methods will not be sufficient to ensure success.

Here are some thoughts to help you start planning your cloud migration project.  See also my recent IT World Canada article for more about cloud migration.

Setting the scene

The first step in the cloud journey is to establish the “rules of engagement” – this includes defining the scope of the move (Is it one or a set of integrated applications?), verifying the goals (e.g., implement the cloud-first strategy using domestic cloud providers), and assessing organizational maturity (for example, do we have trained staff?).  This analysis is needed both for the overall cloud transformation program and for individual migration projects.

As much as anything, this step is all about gauging enterprise need and readiness. Standard business analysis techniques will usually work but tools for traceability of requirements can be important.  It’s also safe to assume that end users do not know SWOT (the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for cloud solutions) - education will likely be needed.

Current situation discovery

Next, it’s important to know the starting point – this includes the people and the processes as well as the technologies. If your organization isn’t demanding functions that are best served by cloud systems, then the project may appear overly technology-driven.

The most fundamental question at this stage: Is this a replacement for a legacy application, or is an existing application simply being moved as is? A secondary question is how tight the integration with other applications is.  Performance, rates of change and data protection should also be considered up front.

Knowing the technical infrastructure for an existing application can help with making re-development or replacement decisions.  Is a migration even worthwhile; could a readily available SaaS application be used instead? It is equally important to know if a migration project has to implement new security, privacy and management functions, or if these already exist as shareable resources?

Tools to reduce migration “friction”

Friction in IT represents the degree of difficulty encountered when using, adapting or integrating a system, especially as it applies to the user experience. Cloud migration tools that help to reduce the “friction” involved in moving to the cloud are highly desirable.

For example, the discovery of assets and their dependencies can be automated. Tools available from companies such as Tidal Migrations, Velostrata, Dynatrace, Appdynamics, Turbonomic and AppZero all aim to make the migration process easier and more dependable. Major cloud service providers like Microsoft are also beginning to offer services aimed at making cloud migration faster and easier (Azure Migrate, for example).

The idea of Migration-as-a-Service (MaaS) has also emerged on the scene, especially for specialized moves (Binary Tree, for example, for Lotus Notes to Office 365 conversions).  Large consulting firms such as Accenture are now offering cloud migration consulting, usually based on their own experience with internal cloud adoption.

Summary

In summary, don’t re-invent the wheel – look for support and services to help your cloud migration, but don’t assume that the tools can automate everything.  And don’t rely on a cloud service provider’s services if you anticipate the need for multiple vendors!

Cloud migration is neither easy nor straightforward – there are many lessons still being learned!

 

Want to learn more about Cloud Migration with Don? Join us for a web seminar, Thursday April 19th at 2:00 pm EST.

Registration is open here.

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