The goal of this article is to understand how the cloud migration process works, the workflow involved, business case preparation, use case scenarios, methodology, tools, KPI’s and more. Key touchpoints -
The strategic vision is likely to be underpinned by strong business drivers such as cost reduction, increased business agility, improved security and availability, or preparedness for rapid growth.
To help you better understand the varying motivations behind certain cloud migration use cases, here is a comparison list to help you focus on the key value areas that your business may want to accelerate in the cloud.
|Scenario||Solution||Use Case||Motivation for Migration||Additional Benefits||Services Used|
|Company A||Web Application||Marketing and collaboration Website||Scalability & Elasticity||Auto Scaling, pro-active event-based scaling||EC2, S3, EBS, Simple|
|Company B||Batch processing pipeline||Digital Asset Management Solution||Faster time to market||Automation and improved development productivity||EC2, EBS, S3, SQS|
|Company C||Backend processing workflow||Claims Processing System||Lower TCO, Redundancy ||Business continuity and Overflow-protection||EC2, S3, EBS, AS, SQS|
Combining what we know about technology migrations there are two models for approaching migrations, which we combine in order to achieve the optimal outcome.
These models are not hard and fast rules. Every business has its own unique blend of constraints, budget issues, politics, culture, and market pressures that will guide its decision-making process along the way.
Successful cloud migrations are most commonly led by an ambitious individual who can communicate an unwavering vision for cloud adoption to people at all levels of the organisation. This person is vital for directing successful outcomes.
A cross-functional team of senior leaders from across the business should form an Executive
Steering Group that drives cloud migration with respect to the strategic vision. This group of individuals helps to translate the vision, understand dependencies, answer questions and remove impediments. Bringing together representatives from all departments in order to synergise and expedite outcomes.
This cloud migration process consists of the following steps -
|Cloud Migration Process|
|Step 1||Step 2||Step 3||Step 4||Step 5|
|Migration Evaluation & Business Planning||Portfolio Discovery and Planning||Design||Migration & Validation||Operate & Optimise|
Each cloud migration project is unique. The success of any migration depends on understanding your organisation’s current and target state, and the steps required to get to the target state. Equipped with this information, you can set the right goals and help your team succeed and accelerate in the cloud.
The need for business cases and or compelling events to drive organisation-wide behaviour are becoming more common. Examples of triggers for migration could be data centre lease expiry, additional developer productivity, global expansion, and or to the drive for standardised architectures.
Even if your organisation does not require a formal business case to migrate to the cloud, it is important for leaders to provide clarity of purpose and set ambitious but achievable goals that their businesses can rally behind. Many migration efforts have failed/stalled without this.
In order to gain traction with any cloud migration project, it is vital to bring together key stakeholders to discuss and finalise your goals for moving to the cloud.
The AWS team created The AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) to provide guidance for each unit in your organisation. CAF helps each business unit understand how to update skills, adapt existing processes, and introduce new processes to take maximum advantage of the services provided by cloud computing. CAF is organised into six focus areas to help organise migration efforts. In addition, the AWS Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool (CART) helps you develop plans for cloud adoption and enterprise cloud migrations by assessing your cloud migration readiness across the following six perspectives.
By breaking down the process into focus areas, each business unit can better plan for the impact of cloud adoption. CAF is usually delivered in the format of a live, in person workshop, facilitated by a cloud partner like Lean Accelerate Consultancy.
The ultimate goal of the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework is to unify stakeholders and create an action plan designed to move your team from cloud goals to cloud implementation.
Service and application discovery services help systems integrators quickly and reliably plan application migration projects by automatically identifying applications running in on-premises data centres, their associated dependencies, and their performance profile.
The complexity will also influence how you migrate. Because it’s easy to lift and shift a modern application hosted on a virtualised environment, and there’s typically less technical debt associated with something developed 3 years ago versus 20 years ago. There is a strong bias toward rehosting / lift and shift. When this is not possible to lift and shift a mainframe, we also find a strong bias toward feature rationalisation and rearchitecting.
In order to identify the right applications for migration, you must have a common method for analyzing, documenting, and evaluating your current infrastructure.
Using a SaaS architecture assessment solution tool is far more efficient than asking individual data centre teams to inventory application infrastructure, which can take many days or even weeks. Data collected from various teams may be in a different format, making comparisons difficult. A unified, SaaS based assessment process helps business decision-makers compare apples to apples in order to make the right migration decisions.
In this section, we look at the KPI’s measuring application performance that you gather about your application or service to measure how it is performing against your expectations. Later on, we will also look for KPI’s related to measuring and delivering business value.
The Application Performance Indicators may well be in place for on-premise solutions, but are they correct for the cloud post-migration? KPIs for a cloud migration show how your in-progress migration is doing, illuminating visible or invisible problems that may be lurking within your application. The KPI’s should be formulated by measuring current pre-migration performance of your application or service in order to determine if it’s future post-migration performance expectation.
These baselines help you determine your migration success and whether it is on track or not on meeting the KPIs which should also be aligned with the business goals set out in step 1. These should put in place prior to the First Wave / PoC of cloud migrations. Some KPI examples can be seen below.
|Measure||Application Performance KPI|
|User Experience||Page load timeLagResponse timeSession duration|
|Application / Component Performance||Error ratesThroughputAvailabilityApdex|
|Infrastructure||CPU usage %Disk performanceMemory usageNetwork throughput|
Once all data has been collected and collated for your current systems, it is time to determine the best applications for migration. In the earlier step 1, you identified your business priorities, and can decide whether you are simply looking for the applications with the greatest cost savings on public cloud, or the applications whose developers require greater agility.
Another approach is to start with the workloads that have the most over-provisioned, or idle resources. Industry research suggests that as many as 30% of on-premises servers, both physical and virtual servers, are zombies, showing no signs of useful compute activity for 6 months or more. These workloads will see the greatest price/performance improvements once migrated so long as they are right-sized.
The particular strategy builds upon the 5 R’s as outlined by Gartner (2010). Once you have determined your end state and which workloads you will begin with, you must decide on a migration strategy. You may have multiple different strategies depending on each of the workloads, applications, and or business unit, but organisations typically pick one of the following options -
|7 R's Cloud Migration Strategies|
|Rehosting||Lift and Shift can be automated andscripted and highly effective. Allows you to keep the application mostly as-is, adjusted to run on the cloud. But this approach may not offer cost-saving services of like horizontal scaling or managed databases.||Medium|
|Replatforming||Opportunities to address significant infrastructure upgrades can be realised which positively affects compliance, regulatory and long term cost efficiency drivers.||High|
|Repurchasing||Either a replacement through procurement or and upgrade.||Medium|
|Refactoring||Rearchitecting and recoding require investmentin new capabilities. This is the most time-consuming approach and a great opportunity to break the system into more manageable components.||High|
|Retire||Decommission and archive data as necessary.||Low|
|Retain||This is the do nothing option. Legacy costs remain and obsolescence costs typically increase over time.||Low|
|Relocate||Move existing VMWare virtual machines into AWS.||Low|
In a large legacy migration scenario where the organisation is looking to scale its migration quickly to meet a business case, AWS has found that the majority of applications are rehosted. Even without implementing any cloud optimisation, cost savings of roughly 30 per cent were made by rehosting. Tools that can aid this process are AWS VM Import / Export, Azure Migrate Server Migration or GCP Cloud Build and GCP Gcloud Compute.
Experience to date has shown that applications are easier to optimize/re-architect once they’re already running in the cloud. Partly because your organisation will have developed better skills to do so, and partly because the hard part of migrating the workloads has already been done.
Here you might make a few cloud optimisations in order to achieve some tangible benefit, but you aren’t otherwise changing the core architecture of the application. You may be looking to reduce the amount of time you spend managing database instances by migrating to a cloud database-as-a-service. Another example of license cost savings would be to move from WebLogic that requires an expensive license fee to Apache Tomcat, an open-source equivalent.
A common use case for repurchasing is a move to a SaaS platform, swapping a self run email system for an online email-as-a-service offering. Swapping a self-built VPN server for a vendor built appliance. The procurement team and procedures need to become familiar with four methods
The migration strategy doesn’t come without risk if you replace your on-premises Active Directory system with a cloud version, which clients and applications must you reconfigure to use the new cloud service? This is why a detailed assessment of cross-system dependencies is vital, and combining in-house process knowledge with external consultancy experts, ensures a successful migration.
If there is a strong business need to add features, scale, or performance that would otherwise be difficult to achieve in the application’s existing environment, then the cloud migration refactoring process can be used as a catalyst to introduce this new value.
Prime candidates are monolithic workloads that can be streamlined into a service-oriented or serverless architecture to boost agility and or improve business continuity. This pattern tends to be the most expensive, but if you have a good product-market fit, it can also be the most beneficial. The general rule of thumb, to successfully refactor an application you need more application and cloud skills than any other migration method.
Refactoring transforms everything about the application, it’s components, the application code, and the data itself. It is not for the unskilled, inexperienced, nor faint of heart. It is, however, the most rewarding method in terms of long term business outcomes because it truly exploits the pace of cloud innovation that continuously reduces cost while increasing performance, resilience and responsiveness.
What you most need for Refactor is the reason and ability to do it, and therefore Refactor is often only found in large, niche and technology-driven companies. Uber, for example, completely rewrote their application. As have Twitter and Facebook. But all of these companies are niche, special cases.
The only way to get cloud-native if you aren’t a niche company is to leverage a cloud consultancy partner that has these specialist skills that can get you there.
The leading cloud provider has found that as much as 10% to 20% of an enterprise IT portfolio is no longer useful post migrations and can simply be turned off. These savings can boost the business case for cloud migrations.
Usually, this means to revisit or do nothing for now. Maybe you’re still riding out some depreciation, existing licenses, hardware write off and or aren’t ready to prioritise an application that was recently upgraded in return for migrating to the cloud. You should only migrate what makes sense for the business, as the gravity of your portfolio changes from on-premises to the cloud, you will have fewer reasons to retain.
If you are using VMWare’s VSphere products to host virtualised servers, these can be migrated directly to AWS using vMotion or VMWare HCX. Relocation of existing VMs requires little change in configuration and a few new technology skills. It is ideal for where the primary business driver is to retire an existing data centre or hardware.
Architecting and managing a growing cloud environment requires the same level of expertise as someone managing any complex system. Your team can choose either to train in the new cloud-based methodology, outsource work to an external team, or to partner with a consultancy like Lean Accelerate that will build, migrate, and manage your cloud alongside your in-house team.
Many companies hire a consultancy partner to go through the first phases of migration alongside their own team. This allows the internal team to get some experience with the cloud, while having the support of a cloud expert to reduce risks and help you avoid common mistakes.
The goal of the design phase is to deliver a target reference architecture that is approved by all stakeholders identified in step 1. This process usually involves the following steps.
As part of the design phase you need to account for the move of critical business workloads into the cloud, consider how you will backup your systems for compliance and DR needs, and how you would restore them in the event of failure. Third-party software vendors provide DR and backup solutions that can complement your cloud environment with minimal additional overhead. Before exploring your DR options, research and understand the Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) requirements for each application or service you migrate to the cloud.
Your RTO will govern the availability and uptime of each system and should shape the architecture chosen in the cloud. Applications with a low RTO will need to ensure redundancy through multiple instances and use of multiple availability zones/regions to ensure high availability.
Creating agile teams focused on some type of migration theme. You might have a few teams dedicated to one or more of the migration strategies, to common application types (website, Sharepoint, back-office). Finding themes for teams to focus on will increase the chances that they learn from common patterns and accelerate the pace at which they migrate applications. Ideally, you have established a Cloud Center of Excellence that can advise and guide teams on their migrations and what to expect as they progress.
Many teams make the mistake of building AWS resources manually using the CLI or console. While this may be a quick, short term solution, it makes the build-out of future test/dev environments complicated and causes long term management issues.
When you automate infrastructure build out from day one, you enable your team to build consistent, documented, easily updated cloud environments. It is well worth your time to learn Terraform or Cloudformation to produce IaC.
In terms of cloud migrations, here is a sample of some tools that can help with the migration process.
As applications are migrated, you iterate on your new foundation, turn off old systems, and constantly iterate toward a modern operating model. The migration process can be used as a catalyst to adopt Lean, Agile and DevOps culture.
The key to long term success on the cloud platform is ongoing optimisation. By necessity, you will have some inefficiencies during the migration stage. As environments are tested and instances are changed to meet the demands of the application, there will be some unexpected costs. After migration, you will have time to examine those inefficiencies and continually improve your infrastructure.
In order to demonstrate the value of cloud migration projects, we need to focus on KPI’s not just seen earlier on in this article in Step 2 Portfolio Discovery and Planning > Application Performance Indicators, which focus on application / component performance gains.
In addition, this section we need to formulate business value KPI’s that provide visibility of the value of changes being made to operational procedures and technologies. Each measure needs to demonstrate value towards the overarching strategy. Areas in which to define Value of Cloud Migration KPIs -
|Measure||Business Value KPI|
|Total Cost of Ownership||CapEx in favour of monitorable OpEx|
|Availability & Resilience||High availability and uptime to meet SLAs|
|Mean Time to Recovery||Lower MTTR increases customer satisfaction and helps to meet SLAs|
|Release Cadence||The more frequent application release cycle for increased business agility|
|Customer NPS||Customer satisfaction levels increased due to stability of service and speed of delivery|
In order to understand if a proposed cloud solution is viable or not in terms of return on investment, we need to consider several cost and growth factors so to provide an accurate financial model. Here are some tools that can help with this process.
This calculator compares the cost of your applications in an on-premises or traditional hosting environment to AWS. Get an instant summary report which shows the three year TCO comparison by cost categories. Here is a link to AWS TCO Calculator.
Discover IT assets across your application portfolio, identify dependencies and requirements, and build your comprehensive migration plan with this technology suite. Available on AWS Marketplace via AMI. One such product is CloudScape.
Based on data from Discovery, the product provides an analysis of TCO for running customer workloads on AWS and comparisons of the TCO with the cost of continuing the workloads on-premises. The product automatically determines target resource types and sizes through source-to-target resource mapping and right-sizing with the lowest cost possible. Available on AWS Marketplace via AMI. One such product is Turbonomic.
AWS Snowball is a petabyte-scale data transport solution that uses secure appliances to transfer large amounts of data into and out of AWS.
AWS Database Migration Service (DMS) helps you migrate databases to AWS easily and securely. The source database remains fully operational during the migration, minimizing downtime to applications that rely on the database. The AWS Database Migration Service can migrate your data to and from the most widely used commercial and open-source databases.
Azure Database Migration Service is designed as a seamless, end-to-end solution for moving on-premises SQL Server databases to the cloud.
VMware Cloud on AWS solution that makes it easy for customers to run VMware workloads on the AWS Cloud. Customers can use VMware’s virtualization and management software to seamlessly deploy and manage VMware workloads across all of their on-premises and AWS environments.
AWS Server Migration Service (SMS) is an agentless service which makes it easier and faster for you to migrate thousands of on-premises workloads to AWS.
AWS CloudEndure Migration is an automated rehost (lift-and-shift) solution for migrating workloads to AWS.
Azure Migrate a central hub for starting, executing and tracking your Azure migration.
GCP Migrate for Compute Engine Fast, flexible, and safe migration to Google Cloud.
GCP Migrating from Compute Engine to GKE for containerised VMs.
The AWS Well-Architected Tool helps you review the state of your workloads and compares them to the latest AWS architecture best practices. The tool is based on the AWS Well-Architected Framework, developed to help cloud architects build secure, high-performing, resilient, and efficient application infrastructure. This tool can be found here.
The Cloud Pathway chosen by business needs some formal thought leadership to ensure the business outcomes are married up the strategy for delivery of the technology model. In turn, this can be mapped into various cloud streams, depending on the organisation's current structure, be it a startup with no legacy, then why not go for XaaS, or if an existing business with legacy technology and they want to open up their internal work process to their global partner baes, then again, XaaS may serve as the right cloud pathway. By partnering with Lean Accelerate Consultancy we can help clarify and quantify these cloud pathways dilemmas, and our client onboarding process helps to streamline the strategy for achieving this.
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