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Migrating to the cloud: Tips and best practices

When migrating mission-critical applications to the cloud, the importance of strategic planning can not be understated.

There are many benefits cloud technology offers businesses today, from reduced costs to higher scalability. Making the decision to migrate is easy. It’s the actual implementation and execution where things get a bit trickier.

As with any business transformation, particularly those that deal with new systems and technology, success hinges largely on proper planning. You’re probably eager to complete the migration, but it’s certainly not something that happens overnight. Rushing the process for the sake of getting it done is a risky and potentially damaging approach, often leading to unplanned outages and downtime, as well as necessary performance issues and costs.

Of course, you want to make sure that the migration project stays within budget and on schedule, causing as little downtime or disruption as possible. Below are some tips for making sure that happens:

Assess applications and detail project scope

Generally speaking, cloud services are beneficial, but they aren’t necessarily the best option for all workloads. When deciding which applications to migrate, take context into account, getting as specific as possible. It’s not just about how many applications you want to move, it’s also about how each one is different and how their compatibility, licensing, security and performance needs vary between existing and new environments. What dependencies does the application have now and what will it need to perform in the cloud? Also take into account who uses the applications and how. The more details you gather on each application, the better decisions you’ll make for migration scheduling, automation and execution.

“The more context you have on applications, the better migration decisions will be.”

Cost considerations

Keep in mind that immediate costs are not the only expense to factor into cloud migration. You may also have licensing and support fees to deal with. Furthermore, when you move a server or other application from on​-premise to the cloud, what investments are you abandoning?

According to research conducted by Gartner, over the next couple years, each dollar a company spends on an innovation will yield an additional $7 investment on its deployment, including costs associated with design, implementation, integration and management.

Make communication a priority

Your infrastructure isn’t the only thing you need to prepare for cloud migration; you also need to ready your people. By now you’ve probably learned employees don’t always view IT in the best light. After all, it’s a department many tend to only interact with when something breaks. But for cloud migration to go as smooth and seamless as possible, cooperation at all levels is necessary. Therefore, as with any business process, it’s important to exercise clear and ongoing communication. Let users – whether internal or external – know ahead of time what they can expect from the change and when. Make sure it’s understood that the purpose of the migration is to help, not inconvenience, them.

This is another reason why proper planning is so important: Understanding how each application is works and what will be different for users post-migrations helps determine how to best prepare and train for the transition.

Start small, tread lightly

If you’re new to cloud services, it’s best not to dive in head first. The Cloud Standards Customer Council recommends starting the migration process with the applications that are most “cloud ready.” What constitutes as a cloud-ready application varies between different organizations, but could refer to those that don’t have a lot of sensitive data or stand to benefit the most from migration. Pilot testing should be conducted and feedback should be gathered in these initial trial phases – allowing you to get your footing and iron out any possible performance issues ahead of the deployment of mission-critical workloads.

Have a monitoring tool in place

To optimize the performance of applications, you need to be able to monitor them. This is true regardless of where your workloads live, but particularly so if you have applications running both on premise and in the cloud. Cloud migration is a long-term process that, in most cases, requires businesses to have some in-house applications for a while. Leveraging an interface that enables you to track the performance and gain complete, end-to-end visibility into all network operations, regardless of where they run, is critical.

The CSCC advises organizations to look for transparent monitoring tools that offer full integration and real-time tracking, as doing so will ease the burden placed on IT teams and automate a lot of the administrative-related functions of configuring components.

Hybrid IT monitoring solutions, such as those offered by Science Logic, makes it easy to ensure cloud-based applications are performing optimally in their new environments, without neglecting legacy workloads.

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