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7 min read

10 Cloud Migration Best Practices to Unlock Success

10 Cloud Migration Best Practices to Unlock Success

This post was co-authored with our Senior Engineer Mike Mackrory.

In recent years, the trend towards cloud migration has accelerated at a remarkable pace.  

The global cloud computing market is projected to reach $832.1 billion by 2025, reflecting a CAGR of 17.5% from 2020 to 2025. That comes as no surprise since cloud solutions offer greater agility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.  

However, the cloud migration process also comes with its own challenges and pitfalls. Concerns about data security, budget overruns, inadequate planning, and integration issues with legacy systems often loom large, leading to delays, disruptions, and potential setbacks.  

The good news? 

You can implement different best practices for cloud migration to mitigate the risks and maximize the potential benefits for your business.  

Let's explore the 10 main cloud migration best practices, offering actionable insights and strategies to navigate the complexities of the migration process successfully.  

Cloud-native, Microservices, and Other Terms You Need to Know 

Before diving into the cloud application migration best practices, it's essential to understand some of the key terms like:  

  • Cloud-native applications are those designed and developed specifically for cloud environments, leveraging cloud infrastructure and services for enhanced agility, scalability, and reliability.  
  • Microservices are small, independent applications that collectively form complex distributed systems. For instance, an address validation service within a system serves a focused purpose, allowing for easier updates, deployment, and problem tracing.  
  • Containers are ideal for managing and deploying microservices. Each container consists of an entire service, which can be deployed in different environments and thoroughly tested as a stand-alone unit.  
  • DevOps signifies the integration of development and operations teams into agile units responsible for the entire service lifecycle, from design to maintenance. This shift improves ownership and responsibility.  
  • CI/CD stands for continuous integration and continuous deployment. New code changes travel through an automated pipeline that executes various test suites and deploys the new service into the production environment. 

Cloud Migration Best Practices

1. Understand the goal and the costs

Undoubtedly, a cloud-native model can help you achieve better results. However, this decision should follow a meticulous evaluation of migration costs and a firm commitment from your organization to see the process through to completion. 

Why? 

If your primary goal for cloud migration is merely to ride the trend or to impress shareholders without a solid strategic purpose, you might not yield the expected outcomes.  

That's why, before initiating a cloud migration process, you should:  

  • Ensure that your objectives align with broader business strategies. 
  • Conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis, accounting for technology expenses and the resources required for staff training.  
  • Assess your organization's readiness and commitment to the cloud migration process.  

Remember, successful cloud migration is not just about following trends but about strategically aligning technology initiatives with overarching business objectives. 

2. Make Security a Priority from the Start 

Begin the discussion about security early in the process and implement best practices for secure cloud migration before you start development.  

The reason? 

While moving your application to the Cloud allows you to reach a broader audience, it also increases your security exposure.  

In addition to the risk of compromising sensitive data, new legal requirements such as the GDPR in the EU require organizations to implement specific practices around their users' data. These measures are far easier to implement at the beginning, rather than trying to retrofit them once a project is complete.  

In order to safeguard your data and stay compliant with regulatory standards, aim to incorporate security measures from the planning phase onward.  

3. Define All Your Interfaces First (API-first Development) 

An API (Application Program Interface) allows the exchange of information between two applications or services.  

In the context of cloud migration, API-first development emerges as one of the most essential cloud data migration best practices. This approach ensures seamless integration and efficient communication between diverse applications and services.  

By embracing API-first development, you can enjoy many critical benefits. For example:   

  • Engineers know the input and output formats for their applications upfront. 
  • Dependent teams can mock out APIs to accelerate development. 
  • Corporate security and data quality standards can be reviewed early on. 

By defining interfaces early, you can proactively address security concerns and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.  

Furthermore, API-based architecture enables engineering teams to introduce enhancements seamlessly without disrupting services that rely on the established APIs, enhancing agility and adaptability in the cloud environment. 


Updating a service behind an API as one of cloud migration best practices
Fig. 1: Updating a service behind an API

4. Assess and Prioritize

Cloud migration necessitates a meticulous assessment and prioritization of your IT assets. Here's how to navigate this crucial phase:  

  • Evaluate suitability: Begin by evaluating the suitability of each application and service for migration to the Cloud. Consider factors such as performance, scalability, and security requirements. Not all applications will be well-suited for the Cloud, so prioritize those that offer the most significant benefits.  
  • Categorize applications: Assess each app's importance, complexity, and readiness for migration. Identify mission-critical applications (vital to your business operations) and those with lower complexity that can serve as early wins in the migration process. Additionally, assess the technical debt associated with each application and prioritize those with the highest potential for optimization in the Cloud.  
  • Align with business objectives: Consider the strategic goals driving the migration initiative, whether it's cost optimization, enhanced agility, or improved customer experience. Aligning the migration strategy with business priorities ensures that resources are allocated efficiently and that the migration delivers tangible business value.  
  • Consider technical requirements: Take into account the technical requirements of each application and service. Evaluate dependencies, integration points, and compatibility with cloud-native architectures. Assess whether rearchitecting or refactoring applications is necessary to fully leverage the benefits of cloud migration 

5. Create a Dependency Mapping  

Dependency mapping involves identifying and understanding the intricate connections between various applications and IT infrastructure components. By mapping out these dependencies, you can form logical groups of applications (known as move groups) that share common dependencies and can be migrated together seamlessly.  

To create an effective dependency map, you should:   

  • Conduct thorough assessments and interviews with stakeholders to uncover hidden dependencies. 
  • Utilize automated discovery tools and manual reviews to capture all dependencies accurately.  
  • Avoid common pitfalls such as overlooking legacy systems or underestimating the complexity of interdependencies.  

A comprehensive dependency map minimizes disruptions by ensuring that all relevant components are accounted for during migration planning. It also allows you to prioritize move groups based on their dependencies and criticality. This leads to better resource allocation and reduced risk during the cloud migration process. 

6. Choose the Right Migration Strategies 

To choose the right migration strategy, first, you need to develop a clear roadmap outlining timelines, milestones, and resource allocation. Here are the main steps in the process: 

  • Assessment: Start by assessing your existing IT landscape, including applications, data, and infrastructure. Evaluate factors such as dependencies, complexity, and criticality to determine the most suitable migration approach.  
  • Strategy selection: Choose from various migration strategies, including rehosting (lift and shift), re-platforming, refactoring, or rebuilding. Each strategy offers unique benefits and challenges, so it's essential to align the choice with your organization's goals and technical requirements.  
  • Roadmap development: Develop a migration roadmap that outlines the sequence of migration activities prioritized based on business objectives and dependencies. Define clear timelines, milestones, and KPIs to track progress and ensure alignment with organizational goals.  
  • Resource allocation: Allocate resources effectively, including budget, personnel, and technology tools. Consider factors such as skill gaps, training needs, and external support requirements to ensure a smooth migration process. 

7. Choose the Right Providers: Use Existing Cloud Infrastructure 

Migrating your applications to the Cloud can require a monumental effort, but you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Instead of starting from scratch, leverage the robust infrastructure and services offered by leading cloud providers like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.  

In evaluating cloud providers: 

  • Assess whether the provider's offerings align with your organization's specific needs and objectives. 
  • Consider factors such as reliability, compatibility with existing systems, and the breadth of services available.  
  • Evaluate the provider's track record in terms of security, performance, and customer support.  
  • Understand their pricing models and service level agreements (SLAs) to ensure they align with your budget and performance expectations.  
  • Look for flexible scalability options to accommodate your evolving requirements. 

8. Make Monitoring a Priority 

The challenge with cloud-native applications is that you're building a distributed system. Understanding the health of your system at all times requires a robust and scalable monitoring system.  

The monitoring solution you select should include: 

  • Log aggregation: This allows you to centralize and manage logs from various sources to gain comprehensive insights into system activities and events. 
  • APM (Application Performance Management): This enables you to monitor critical performance metrics such as CPU usage, memory availability, traffic patterns, and error rates to optimize application performance and user experience. 
  • Automated alerts: Implementing automated alerting mechanisms can help you notify stakeholders easily when critical thresholds are exceeded or unexpected events occur. 

Similar to security considerations, initiating your project with a well-defined monitoring strategy is better than trying to retrofit solutions as the project advances. 

9. Test Thoroughly 

At every stage of the process, from planning to deployment, comprehensive testing ensures that applications and data function as expected in the cloud environment.  

  • Functional testing: Verify that applications perform their intended functions correctly in the Cloud. Test all features, interfaces, and integrations to ensure seamless operation.  
  • Performance testing: Assess the performance of applications under different conditions, including varying workloads and user loads. Identify bottlenecks and optimize resource allocation for optimal performance.  
  • Scalability testing: Test the ability of applications to scale up or down based on demand. Ensure that auto-scaling mechanisms function correctly to handle spikes in traffic or resource requirements. 
  • Security testing: Conduct rigorous security testing to identify vulnerabilities and ensure compliance with security standards. Test authentication mechanisms, data encryption, and access controls to safeguard sensitive information. 

10. Optimize Applications for the Cloud 

To fully harness the potential of cloud migration, optimizing applications for the cloud environment is essential. Cloud-native services and features offer unparalleled performance and scalability, but applications must be adapted to leverage these benefits effectively. 

  • Leverage cloud-native services: Identify cloud-native services and features that align with your application's requirements. Utilize managed services like AWS Lambda or Azure Functions for serverless computing or adopt containerization with Kubernetes for enhanced scalability and portability.  
  • Testing and fine-tuning: Thoroughly test applications in the Cloud environment to ensure compatibility and efficiency. Fine-tune performance parameters and configurations to maximize resource utilization and minimize costs.  
  • Rearchitect legacy applications: Rearchitecting legacy applications for the Cloud presents challenges but is crucial for long-term success. Break monolithic applications into microservices for improved agility and scalability. Adopt modern architectures like event-driven or serverless to optimize resource usage.  

Conclusion

Want to harness all the benefits of the Cloud but not sure where to start? 

Mertech is here to assist with your cloud migration journey. With an experienced team and proven track record, we deliver results that transform your business in the Cloud. Contact us today to learn more about our cloud migration services and start your journey to cloud success. 

Schedule a Free Consultation

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the 3 main phases to cloud migration?

The three main phases of cloud migration are: 

  • Assessment and planning: Assessment involves evaluating current infrastructure and applications while planning outlines the migration strategy. 
  • Migration: This involves moving data and applications to the Cloud.  
  • Post-migration optimization: Here, you focus on refining and optimizing the cloud environment for maximum efficiency. 
2. What are the 4 R's of cloud migration?

The 4 R's of cloud migration are:  

  • Rehost: Involves lifting and shifting applications to the Cloud without modifications 
  • Refactor: Involves making minimal changes to optimize for the Cloud 
  • Rearchitect: Involves redesigning applications for cloud-native environments 
  • Retire: Involves decommissioning outdated systems 
3. What is the most common cloud migration model?

The most common cloud migration model is the lift-and-shift approach, where existing applications are migrated to the Cloud with minimal changes. This model offers a quick migration path but may not fully leverage the benefits of cloud-native services. 

4. How long does cloud migration take?

The duration of cloud migration varies depending on factors such as the complexity of applications, the size of data, and the chosen migration strategy. It can range from a few weeks to several months or even longer for large-scale migrations. 

5. Is cloud migration expensive?

Cloud migration costs vary depending on factors like the size of the workload, the chosen migration strategy, and the cloud service provider.  

While there are upfront costs associated with migration, the long-term benefits of scalability, flexibility, and cost optimization often outweigh the initial investment. 

6. What makes a cloud migration successful?

Successful cloud migration involves thorough planning, clear objectives, stakeholder alignment, effective communication, and continuous monitoring and optimization. It also requires leveraging cloud-native best practices to maximize the benefits of the cloud environment. 

7. How do I calculate cloud migration costs?

Cloud migration costs can be calculated by assessing factors such as infrastructure expenses, data transfer costs, licensing fees, and ongoing operational expenses.  

It's essential to conduct a comprehensive cost analysis, considering both upfront and long-term costs, to accurately estimate the total cost of migration. Additionally, consulting with cloud experts can help in developing a detailed cost estimation plan tailored to your specific migration needs. 

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