Checklist: Cloud migration – with these 7 expert tips, the leap to the cloud will succeed

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How do I get my data and applications into the cloud? This is one of the most frequently asked questions today when it comes to moving from the on-premise environment to the virtual worlds of the public cloud. In addition to actual implementation of the migration, the preparation of all relevant steps is one of the most important parts of the migration. With the checklist for cloud migration, we give you seven important tips on the way, what you must not forget under any circumstances, and how it works faster, more efficiently and more cost-effectively. We have not learned these seven points from theory, but have experienced them in numerous migration projects with customers of various industries and sizes.

Before we get started, let's clarify a key question: what exactly do we mean by cloud migration?

Migration to the cloud describes the physical move of your data and applications from an on-premise, private or public cloud environment to a new or alternative cloud. The traditional way is definitely to jump from hardware-bound infrastructure to virtual worlds. But moving from one cloud provider to another, for example between the hyperscalers Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud is also called migration to the cloud.

Checkliste Cloud Migration: mit diesen Tipps gelingt die Migration in die Cloud
Checkliste Cloud Migration Tipp 1 Bestandsaufnahme

Migration Tip #1: The Inventory - Review Existing Applications and Data

Before you get down to business, it's important to know your existing environment. So you take stock of your current applications and data. The goal here, however, is not just to determine the status quo, but rather to understand which of your workloads should be migrated to the cloud.

When analyzing which workloads could be migrated to the cloud, it helps to look at the business goals. What is the company's overall goal? What milestones should be achieved in the IT strategy? If there is cloud strategy, it is your guide in terms of workload selection.

For example, your company is working with an overarching ERP system hosted on your own servers. The IT strategy clearly aims to connect all international locations to a common ERP system. You have thus identified a valuable workload for a cloud migration. Now you need to check whether the software is "cloud-ready".

Not every workload is made for the public cloud per se. A workload always includes a coded application, as well as its associated data, processes, network resources and user configurations. Therefore, when migrating to the cloud, not only the architecture of the workload must be compatible, but also the type of integration, the execution and the technology itself.

The result of your inventory is a list of all possible workloads for migration that meet your business but also IT objectives. You can then determine the scope of your cloud migration yourself.

Migration tip #2: know all migration strategies and choose the right one

Once the workloads to be migrated have been selected, the next question is how to move them to the cloud in a targeted manner. It is important to classify each workload in order to assign them a clear migration strategy.

The seven common migration strategies, which are also supported by the leading international hyperscalers AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, include:

  1. Refactor or Rearchitect: migrating an application to the cloud and adapting the architecture.
  2. Replatform or "Lift & Reshape": migration of an application with optimizations
  3. Repurchase or "Drop & Shop": purchase of a new software license in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model
  4. Rehosting or "Lift & Shift": Application is migrated to the cloud without any modification
  5. Relocate: Lift & Shift approach for VMware applications and workloads
  6. Retain: application or workload remains in the existing environment, as extensive refactoring would be required to migrate to the cloud
  7. Retire: applications are decommissioned or removed from the environment

You can also find a detailed explanation of the seven migration strategies in our article "Seven Strategies You Should Know for Your Cloud Migration."

Checkliste Cloud Migration Tipp 2
Checkliste Cloud Migration Tipp 3

Migration tip #3: Engage stakeholders for migration to the cloud

When is a project and its implementation most successful? Correct, when the decisive stakeholders are on board right from the start and give you their full backing. That's why it's essential to have the commitment of management, the board and other stakeholders when migrating to the cloud, whether for a small or large number of workloads, data and applications.

Ideally, you should already involve them in the development of your cloud strategy. Suggestions, wishes or even challenges and "show stoppers" can thus be identified and optimally addressed right from the start.

Especially when migrating to the cloud, there is also the possibility of getting backing from the finance department or the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) due to massive long-term cost savings. The more decision-makers are in favor of your migration, the easier it will be to implement and the fewer obstacles will be placed in your path during the project.

Migration tip #4: Know and analyze migration costs and exploit potentials

From a migration to the cloud, companies expect greater agility within their IT, scalability of the infrastructure as required and, above all, cost-efficient IT operations. It is no wonder that the question of costs plays a central role in a cloud migration.

There are various options for determining costs. The individual hyperscalers also provide their own tools and programs with which cloud costs can be estimated simply but accurately.

A proven model is the analysis of the total cost of ownership. In simple terms, this compares the existing operating costs of the selected workloads with the potential costs of the workloads in the cloud. In addition, migration costs are calculated and included in the process. If the cloud is the cheaper model, you also get a "breakeven point", i.e. a point in time when the migration costs have been offset by the savings and your infrastructure is now running more cost-effectively in the long term.

Expert tip: At this point, do not rely on online calculators to calculate your total cost of ownership. These calculate with standardized values and do not include any individual values. Therefore, the significance of these results is very low and you will have a bad adult if you rely on the information provided by the calculators. Instead, it is advisable to use a specialized service provider.

Checkliste Cloud Migration Tipp 4
Internationalisierung in der IT meistern

Migration tip #5: Assign responsibilities and form project team

A tip that could come from any project management book, but proves true time and again. You alone cannot manage a migration to the cloud, neither organizationally nor technically. That is why it is important to define responsibilities and form a project team internally.

At this point, it also quickly becomes apparent which personnel resources you have available for the cloud migration. With low staffing levels and little experience, the relevance of an external public cloud partner quickly becomes clear.

In this case, you can look around the market or even in your region at an early stage. The hyperscalers are also actively at your side here and map their certified partners on the one hand on the website, on so-called partner portals, or personally recommend a direct contact person at a partner after brief contact.

Expert tip: Contact the hyperscalers you have shortlisted at an early stage and ask them for recommendations for service providers. If you do not yet know or have a partner, this will save you valuable time for the actual migration.

Migration tip #6: Find the right public cloud provider

Depending on the company's target definition and the workloads to be migrated, it is also necessary to find a suitable public cloud environment. In the public cloud sector, there are the three major hyperscalers Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). They provide the basic components of a public cloud, consisting of virtual resources such as computing power, storage and network via a freely accessible platform.

Hyperscalers pursue a clear objective with their public cloud offerings:

  • Scalability: each customer can scale up or down their own public cloud environment to the appropriate size.
  • Agility: Public cloud resources and services of the hyperscalers are available to customers in real time via a platform. The start-up of various services takes only a few minutes. The public cloud environment is therefore quickly efficient.
  • Cost transparency: Hyperscalers work according to the "pay-per-use" principle, which means that customers only pay for what they have actually used in terms of public cloud resources.

The easiest way to find out which cloud environment best suits your needs and requirements is to conduct a cloud assessment. Here, partner companies of the respective hyperscaler compare your points with the existing conditions and also determine cost differences.

Gartner Magic Quadrant Cloud Infrastructure

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Migration Tip #7: Leverage Hyperscalers Financial Subsidies & Make Migration Cost-Effective

Admittedly, after starting the migration and commissioning the cloud environment, transformation costs are incurred in the first step. These are also calculated and listed in the analysis of the total cost of ownership.
However, you are by no means alone when it comes to bearing these costs.

The hyperscalers AWS, Azure and Google independently offer various support programs, so-called fundings, to help you financially here.

One example from Amazon is the Migration Acceleration Program - or MAP program for short. This program provides financial support for the entire migration process, from assessment and planning to implementation. You can find more detailed information about the MAP program in our video or on the information page.

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Alina Moser, Head of Digital Business bei Innovations ON GmbH
Alina Moser
Head of Digital Business
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