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Insights / Blog / DevOps & Cloud

11 tips for a successful cloud migration

June 20, 2023
Kevin SchuKevin SchuDirector Cloud & Devops

Cloud migration offers numerous benefits to businesses. For example, significant cost savings can be achieved. Additionally, it has a positive impact on scalability and flexibility, reducing time-to-market while increasing developer productivity. However, before a company embarks on the cloud journey, there are also challenges to overcome. In this article, we provide 11 tips for businesses to successfully navigate their path to the cloud.

This article first appeared on Computerweekly:

1. Business motivation for cloud migration

The first step in a successful cloud migration is understanding your own business motivation. Companies should ask themselves the following questions:

  • Why do we want to migrate to the cloud?
  • What is the value proposition for our company?
  • What goals do we want to achieve with the migration?

One of the most commonly cited reasons for cloud migration is cost savings. Cloud services offer flexible pay-as-you-go pricing models, reducing costs for IT infrastructure, maintenance, and support. Furthermore, by utilizing the cloud, companies can increase their productivity by accessing scalable, highly available, and secure platforms. Developers can focus on application development instead of infrastructure maintenance.

Another motivating factor for companies in cloud migration is reducing time-to-market. Thanks to the cloud, new services and applications can be deployed and scaled quickly and easily. This allows companies to bring their products and services to market faster, gaining a competitive advantage.

The increased flexibility and scalability resulting from cloud migration also provide companies with the opportunity to adapt resources to their actual needs. They can respond more quickly to market or internal changes and easily adjust their IT infrastructure accordingly.

It is essential for companies to be aware of their business motivation before starting a cloud migration project. Only then can they ensure that they fully leverage the benefits of the cloud and achieve their set goals.

2. Capture status quo

Before a company migrates to the cloud, it is important for them to gain an understanding of their status quo. This includes capturing and analyzing the application landscape. This involves documenting all applications and systems being used within the company, including their dependencies and interfaces.

Another crucial factor is the IT infrastructure. Companies should be aware of the hardware and software they currently possess and what they will need to perform the cloud migration. It is also essential to assess whether the existing infrastructure is compatible with the cloud or if it needs to be modified or expanded.

The technologies being utilized within the company should also be analyzed. This includes conducting a screening of programming languages, databases, and frameworks in use. It is important to ensure that these technologies are supported in the cloud and that developers are capable of utilizing them in a cloud environment.

It is recommended to consider the network topology and legacy components during the analysis of the current state. Companies need to determine the network architecture and topology that are most suitable for the cloud, as well as identify any existing legacy components and assess their compatibility with the cloud.

By conducting a comprehensive analysis of the current state, companies can develop an effective migration strategy and proactively identify and resolve potential issues and challenges.

3. Building expertise

A cloud migration requires a profound understanding of cloud computing technologies, cloud architecture, cloud security, cloud management tools, as well as compliance and data protection policies. IT teams responsible for the migration must possess in-depth knowledge in areas such as networking, virtualization, storage, security, and application design. Additionally, they should be able to evaluate and weigh the benefits and risks of different cloud models, such as IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, in detail.

It is important to note that not every company has the necessary resources and expertise to successfully carry out a cloud migration. In such cases, it is advisable to engage an experienced cloud service provider to assist with the migration. Cloud service providers typically have extensive experience and comprehensive knowledge in the field of cloud computing and can support companies in planning, executing, and managing a successful migration.

At this stage, it is not only the IT teams within the company that play a crucial role, but also decision-makers who need to have a basic understanding of cloud computing technologies and their impact on the organization in order to make informed decisions. Training and workshops to build the necessary knowledge and ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page can be helpful. Solid planning and collaboration with experienced cloud experts contribute to a successful cloud migration for the company.

" Know-how and experience are crucial to avoid common mistakes that can cost a significant amount of time and money. Experienced cloud experts are familiar with common pitfalls, provide IT teams with the necessary confidence, and complement any missing special knowledge."

4. Perfoming an assessment

Conducting an assessment is another crucial step in defining the right cloud migration strategy for the company. The company should analyze its existing IT systems, applications, and data to determine which parts are already in the cloud and which are not. It is possible that the company has already started cloud migration without the knowledge of the management. This so-called shadow IT can pose significant risks to a company if compliance or data protection policies are not adhered to. Therefore, as part of the assessment, it is important to identify the shadow IT being used within the company and assess the associated risks. Transparent communication and close collaboration between the IT department and the relevant business units can help develop a solid cloud strategy that takes into account and integrates the shadow IT into the migration.

A thorough assessment also helps in selecting the appropriate cloud platform for migration. It often becomes apparent that not all applications and data can be moved to the cloud due to compliance or other reasons. Making informed decisions about whether or not to migrate to the cloud can also be achieved through a careful assessment.

5. IT Organization and DevOps

In addition to sustainable impacts on the IT organization, transitioning to the cloud also affects the development process of a company. It is therefore important to involve affected teams and departments from the beginning of the migration process and, at the same time, define new roles and responsibilities.

One way to successfully achieve this is by establishing DevOps practices. DevOps is an agile methodology that improves collaboration between developers and IT infrastructure to increase the speed of software product delivery while accelerating issue resolution. However, implementing DevOps requires a prior cultural shift within the company, where agile practices, automated processes, and open communication should no longer be unfamiliar.

At this stage, it is once again crucial to avoid the aforementioned shadow IT, where departments or individuals implement their own IT solutions outside official structures. Shadow IT can lead to security problems and increased complexity, thus affecting the effectiveness of the IT department. Transparent communication and close collaboration between business units and IT contribute to avoiding this.

6. Requirements for the cloud infrastructure

When planning a cloud migration, all requirements that the company has for the cloud infrastructure must be taken into account. To make these requirements transparent, a thorough analysis of the current state (IST analysis) and a detailed assessment of the current situation are necessary. This includes both technical requirements and considerations for scalability, high availability, and performance. It is also important to question whether a private or public cloud infrastructure is appropriate and whether a multi-region or content delivery network solution may be necessary.

Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that the cloud infrastructure meets non-functional requirements such as compliance regulations, data protection, and security standards, in order to ensure that the cloud migration is carried out in compliance with all regulations.

To identify and prioritize all relevant requirements, it is useful to conduct a DevOps lifecycle assessment. This assessment examines all steps of the software development process, both from a technical and organizational perspective, from conception to operation. This systematic approach ensures that all requirements are captured and evaluated, ensuring that the cloud migration truly meets the needs of the company.

7. Cloud application compatibility check

A compatibility check of all applications is also part of a comprehensive cloud migration strategy. It is essential to assess the compatibility of all applications that are intended to be migrated to the cloud. Firstly, it should be determined which applications are already cloud-native and can be migrated to the cloud without major modifications. For other applications, changes to the architecture or code may be required to make them suitable for the cloud environment.

To classify the compatibility of an application, the use of the "6 Rs" is recommended: Rehost, Replatform, Repurchase, Refactor/Re-architect, Retire, and Retain. Rehost refers to the simple migration of an application to a cloud infrastructure, while Replatform requires adapting the application to run on a cloud platform. Repurchase means that the application is replaced by a cloud-based solution. Refactor/Re-architect involves modifying the application to leverage the benefits of the cloud infrastructure. Retire means that an application is no longer needed and can be retired, while Retain indicates that an application should be kept in its current form.

In addition to assessing compatibility using the "6 Rs," it is also important to consider the 12-factor app methodology. This provides best practices for building applications that work seamlessly in a cloud environment. Examples include the use of declarative configurations, support for scalability and resilience, and separation of configurations and data. By applying the 12-factor methodology, companies ensure that their applications are well-prepared for the cloud environment and ensure a smooth migration process.

It is also important to consider dependencies between applications to ensure that all necessary applications can be successfully migrated to the cloud. When migrating legacy applications, it may be necessary to use specific tools or make adjustments to ensure compatibility.

The detailed compatibility check helps identify and address potential issues early on, even before the actual migration begins. Another benefit is that the company gains a clear understanding of which applications are ready for cloud migration and which ones may not be yet.

8. Compliance

Compliance is another essential aspect of migrating to the cloud. Companies are required to ensure compliance with all applicable data protection regulations and security policies. This is particularly important when processing personal or customer data. Heterogeneous industries and locations may have varying compliance requirements. Therefore, it is advisable for companies to seek advice from designated compliance experts and obtain all necessary certifications and audit reports.

Sharing responsibility for cloud security with the cloud service provider is standard practice. The cloud providers are responsible for the security of their infrastructure and services. They must ensure that their systems and data centers are protected against cyberattacks, among other things. As customers, companies bear the responsibility for the security of their applications and data and are required to protect them from unauthorized access. Therefore, companies should always keep in mind that the responsibility for the security of their data cannot be entirely transferred to the cloud provider.

They are obligated to take all necessary security precautions to protect their data and applications in the cloud. This includes security measures such as encryption, access controls, network segmentation, and monitoring. It is important for all parties involved to assume their responsibility and take appropriate measures to ensure consistent security in the cloud.

To enhance cloud security, implementing a Zero Trust model is often preferred. In this model, the assumption that everything within the network is in a secure zone is no longer made. Instead, every user, device, and application is considered a potential threat. Therefore, authentication is required each time to access resources. Zero Trust helps minimize the security risk in the cloud and provides a comprehensive security strategy that covers all aspects of cloud security.

9. Cloud-migration: budget and costs

Migrating to the cloud can often involve significant investments. It is therefore advisable to establish a realistic budget in advance and keep the costs under control. This includes considering both capital expenditures (Capex) and operating costs (Opex). A detailed upfront cost estimation is essential to ensure realistic planning and successful implementation of the cloud migration.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) should also be taken into account. TCO refers to the overall costs of operating and maintaining applications and infrastructure throughout their lifecycle. While Software as a Service (SaaS) may initially appear more expensive than self-hosting systems, it offers significant savings in maintenance, scalability, and availability over the long term. Conducting regular cost assessments helps keep costs in check and maximize return on investment.

An additional aspect to consider in budget planning is scalability and flexibility. Companies should ensure that their cloud infrastructure remains scalable, enabling them to quickly respond to changing business requirements, whether due to market shifts or their own business needs.

Cloud migration not only offers benefits in terms of scalability and flexibility of IT infrastructure but also financial advantages. While traditional on-premises IT infrastructure often requires substantial investments in hardware and infrastructure (Capex), cloud migration eliminates any investment risk. Instead, companies typically pay a monthly or annual fee (Opex) for cloud services, which can be flexibly adjusted to the company's needs. IT expenses become more predictable, and companies gain more financial flexibility to invest in other areas of their business.

10. Strategy for cloud migration

A carefully planned and executed cloud migration strategy is a crucial component of a successful migration process. It ensures that the company's requirements are met and the migration proceeds smoothly.

There are different strategic approaches that vary in their methods of conducting a cloud migration. For example, the Big Bang strategy involves migrating all systems at once, while the incremental strategy gradually moves systems to the cloud. Each strategy has its advantages and disadvantages. Based on specific requirements and business goals, the appropriate strategy can be selected after careful consideration.

Kevin Schu

Kevin Schu

Director Cloud & DevOps / AOE
Cloud migration can bring many benefits, but it must be planned meticulously and with attention to detail. Factors such as cost, existing IT landscape, as well as security and compliance, must be taken into consideration during the planning process.

Another essential requirement is a solid governance strategy to ensure that the migration is carried out according to the company's guidelines. This includes having a clear decision matrix regarding which applications and systems should be migrated to the cloud and which ones should potentially not be migrated. To have full visibility and control over all IT systems and applications in the cloud, the issue of shadow IT must also be addressed.

To ensure an agile workflow and transparent communication, the relevant business units and IT teams should be involved in the decision-making process. Clear communication is crucial for tracking the progress of the migration and identifying and resolving potential issues early on.

A successful cloud migration strategy also includes the post-migration phase by ensuring that the systems and applications in the cloud are effectively operated and maintained to continue meeting the company's requirements.

11. Cloud-migration roadmap

On the path to a successful cloud migration, it is crucial to have guideposts and reference points to define the individual steps, milestones, and objectives clearly and to establish the timeframe for the migration. This is best achieved through a well-developed roadmap that covers all phases of the cloud migration, from planning and preparation to implementation and monitoring.

Additionally, it includes all relevant aspects that are important in a cloud migration, including strategic, technical, organizational, financial, and compliance-related aspects. This also includes conducting compatibility tests and security assessments, selecting the right cloud provider, and developing a governance strategy.

The cloud migration roadmap should be regularly reviewed and, if necessary, adjusted to ensure that it still aligns with the current requirements and goals of the company and that the migration remains on schedule. Once again, transparent communication and collaboration between IT teams and the affected business units are essential to ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page and agree on the implementation of the roadmap.

Conclusion for a successful cloud migration

The complexity involved in cloud migration leaves no doubt that such a migration project can result in unnecessary costs and delays without careful preparation and a clear strategy. It is therefore crucial to thoroughly assess the current state of the IT infrastructure and application landscape in advance and define the requirements for the cloud infrastructure and services accordingly. Compliance requirements, budget, and costs should not be overlooked.

DevOps and agile practices should be standard in the IT organization to ensure a smooth transition to the cloud. The migration itself should be carried out gradually. Suitable governance mechanisms must be implemented to ensure that the migration aligns with the business requirements and poses no risk to the company.

In conjunction with the migration, training should be provided for employees at all levels, from decision-makers to developers and IT teams. The goal is to prepare employees for the changes and equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively work with the cloud infrastructure and services.

Cloud migration can be a lengthy process that requires a detailed and forward-looking roadmap. Companies should ensure that they are well-informed and fully supported at every phase of the project.

In summary, cloud migration is a strategic decision that can have far-reaching implications for a company. It requires a comprehensive analysis of the existing IT infrastructure, precise planning, and a holistic strategy to ensure its success and positive impact on business success. Companies are well advised to involve experts early on to ensure they receive the necessary expertise and experience to facilitate a smooth migration. Ultimately, companies should view migration as an opportunity to optimize their business processes and enhance their competitiveness by becoming more flexible, agile, and efficient.

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