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Cloud migration checklist: 7 Expert tips for success

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 world of the public cloud. In addition to the actual implementation of the migration, the preparation of all relevant steps is one of the most important parts of the migration.

With this checklist for cloud migration, we give you seven important tips for the journey, what you must not forget under any circumstances, and how it can go faster, more efficiently and more cost-effectively. We didn’t derive these seven points from theory, though. We gathered them directly from our own experience 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 scenario refers to jumping from hardware-bound infrastructure to a virtual environment, but moving from one cloud provider to another (for example between the hyperscalers Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud) can also be referred to as “cloud migration”.

Migration tip #1: The Inventory — Review existing applications & 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. However, the goal here is not just to determine what you have, but also to understand which of your workloads should be migrated to the cloud.

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

For example, your company might be working with an overarching ERP system hosted on your own servers and the IT strategy has a clear aim 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".

However, not every workload is necessarily made for the public cloud. 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, you should also consider the type of integration, the execution and the technology itself and not only whether the architecture of the workload is compatible.

The result of your inventory will be a list of all possible workloads for migration that meet your business objectives, as well as specific IT objectives. You can then determine the scope of your cloud migration yourself.

Migration tip #2: Know all migration strategies & 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 optimisations
  3. Repurchase or "Drop & Shop": Purchase of a new software licence in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model
  4. Rehosting or "Lift & Shift": The 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

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

When is a project and its implementation most successful? 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 have involved 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.

When migrating to the cloud, it’s often possible to get the backing of the finance department or the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) due to the massive long-term cost savings. The more decision-makers that are in favour of your migration, the easier it will be to implement, and the fewer obstacles that will be placed in your path during the project.

Migration tip #4: Clarify & analyse migration costs — Leverage potentials

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

One proven model is the analysis of the total cost of ownership (TCO Analysis). 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.

Bonus Expert Tip: At this point, do not rely on online calculators to determine your total cost of ownership. These tools calculate with standardised values - not individual values - and may not account for your specific needs, making their results potentially misleading and unreliable. For a better, more accurate assessment, it is advisable to consult with a specialised service provider.

Migration tip #5: Assign responsibilities & form a Project team

A tip that could come from any project management book; perhaps sounds cliché but proves to be true time and again: You cannot manage a migration to the cloud alone, neither organisationally nor technically. That’s 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 having an external public cloud partner quickly becomes clear.

In this case, you can explore the market or even your region early on. Hyperscalers can also assist you greatly here: they list their certified partners on their partner portals, feature on their websites, and they can provide direct contact information for recommended partners upon request.

Bonus Expert Tip: Contact the hyperscalers you have shortlisted at an early stage and ask them for recommendations for service providers. If you haven’t chosen a partner yet, 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 cloud environment. In the cloud sector, there are 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 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 will compare your needs with the existing setup and also determine cost differences.

Migration tip #7: Use financial subsidies from Hyperscalers for maximum cost-effectiveness

In the early stages of the cloud migration, you will encounter what is known as Transformation costs, which are calculated and listed in the total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis.

But don’t worry—you are by no means alone in covering these costs. The hyperscalers AWS, Azure and GCP, all offer various programs for significant financial support to help you out.

For example, Amazon’s Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) provides financial assistance throughout the migration process, from initial assessment and planning to implementation. To learn more about the MAP program, you can watch our video or visit the designated information page.

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