Considerations for a Successful Cloud Migration Strategy

Everybody’s talking about the cloud, and why shouldn’t businesses be excited? Cloud migrations for apps and services come with some very promising benefits including zero-to-low infrastructure costs, remote access to standardized information and applications, and better team and application elasticity to respond to problems.

But getting from a traditional, localized IT infrastructure to a cloud model can raise a number of questions for decision makers who might not be familiar with the development and implementation needs they might face on the way to a successful migration.

Standard cloud migration processes generally boil down to the following options:

• Lift and Shift — This essentially means moving your apps as-is, without any modifications to take advantage of more technically complex features and implementations of the cloud platform. The simplest, cheapest, and most direct path to the cloud, its drawback is simply that more complex applications may not be optimized for their new environment.

• Complete Refactoring — This requires the completely reworking or changing your apps so that they fit better with the online platform. This often involves building the app from scratch again, and can be a costly venture in terms of time, money, and required development skill with cloud applications and environments, but comes with the benefit of ensuring the best possible workflow environment for your business applications in the cloud.

• Partial Refactoring — This involves partial modification of your apps to better suit the cloud platform you’re moving them to, as well as improve their output/functions. The logical “middle-ground” reflects a tailored option designed specifically around the needs of your business and the applications is seeks to move to a cloud-based infrastructure. This tends to reflect the optimized solution for many businesses with established workflow processes, but also requires a thorough analysis of the application landscape by cloud-savvy programming talent.

What Are the Biggest Challenges?

As you consider a cloud migration, one of things you’ll need to know is what the barriers to success will look like. A little knowledge of what to look out for can help make the migration easier and less stressful for you and your team, so we reached out to Workstate, an IT consulting firm that specializes in cloud technology solutions, to see what advice they had for businesses facing a cloud migration.

• Benchmark and Compare Performance in the Cloud

First, you need to determine how well your app will perform in the cloud versus how it’s currently performing. This means testing the speed, ease of use, execution, possible error codes, and rendering of the app and comparing it to a benchmark established in the native infrastructure. Closely monitoring the performance of your applications will give you the heads-up your team will need to address a problem during migration before it becomes part of the general workflow.

• Create and Use Training Tools for Adoption

As with any change in process, team adoption plays a huge role in determining whether your transition is painless or not. Communication and training are key to making sure that your team acclimates properly, and this should be done with the understanding that no matter how smoothly the migration is implemented, your team will be the final testers of what should still be seens as a new process.

• Allow for a “Teething” Period

Create a timetable for the migration and make sure that you allow some time for any final bugs or glitches to show themselves. Maintaining the local infrastructure can provide you with a backup process, if needed, as any final kinks are worked out.

Do’s and Don’ts of Moving Apps to the Cloud

• Do migrate slowly or in batches. Moving to the cloud from a business perspective is a binary choice, but implementing it from a development perspective involves, among other things, a continuous testing process and revision process. Allowing your in-house or rented development team to approach this methodically will generally result in a smoother transition with fewer, and shorter, roadblocks.

• Don’t kill the old app. If you are refactoring, keep the old app on the old platform active, while setting up the new one and give people ample time to warm up to the new platform. There are a number of reasons to keep the old infrastructure maintained until your applications and workflow are stable in the cloud. Think of the migration in terms of a soft, staggered roll-out.

• Do test for vulnerabilities. This will help ensure the long term security and stability of your apps in the new platform.

• Do know when it’s time to call on additional expertise. Your in-house development team is undoubtedly well-versed in the applications they’ve developed or supported for your organization, but even executing a simple lift-and-shift with your in-house team is better served by calling on the expertise of a cloud development team to advise on the migration.

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