Cloud computing has transformed how we store and share data, and 94% of businesses already use some form of cloud infrastructure. But taking the leap to convert your operations can be daunting. 

Different organizations report different reasons behind their reluctance to adopt cloud migration, which include the overwhelming task of migrating your data to the cloud. Still, the most commonly-reported challenge is actually one of the easiest to remediate: the complexity of large-scale business changes. 

Despite these challenges, the benefits of cloud migration far outweigh the costs, as we’ll explore in this article. We’ll explain the crucial steps you can take to simplify the cloud migration process and make the shift as seamless as possible.

Are You Ready to Migrate to the Cloud? 

Before you take the first step in your migration journey, you need to ask yourself a big question: is my business ready? Here are a few signs to help you come up with the answer:

  • Your current data center can no longer support your organization’s growth.
  • Your current data center has too many points and is at risk of outages.
  • Your organization has recently undergone significant change, such as a merger or acquisition that requires you to restructure your data centers.
Data Transformation and Transfer Logic

If you found yourself nodding your head at any of these statements, you know it’s time to move forward. Although a successful cloud migration is a massive undertaking, you can simplify the process by preparing your team for the task at hand:

  • Maintaining your agility – Cloud migration requires keeping an eye on many moving parts, and ensuring that none of these block the others.
  • Educating your team – Help your team become familiar with cloud migration before starting the process by providing a foundational education that covers the basics of cloud computing.
  • Informing your stakeholders – Inform your external stakeholders about your planned migration early in the process so everyone’s on the same page.

Cloud migration has huge business benefits that will reward you for your hard migration-related work. It generates ROI, which makes the investment of time, resources, and finances completely worth it. Above all, a robust cloud infrastructure future-proofs your business, giving you the scalability you need to grow and change. 

4 Steps to Migrate a Data Center to the Cloud 

Once you’ve established that cloud migration is the right step for your organization, it’s time to begin the process. You’ll need to take all your digital assets, including applications, IT resources, and databases, and move them to the cloud. Below we break down the process into four simple steps:

1. Research 

You know what they say: fail to prepare, prepare to fail. At this stage, the goal is to get a detailed view of your existing infrastructure and resources, identify a solution that works for you, and examine your goals. You can begin by analyzing and mapping your existing infrastructure, which encompasses:

  • Hardware
  • Software
  • Applications
  • Databases
  • Operating systems
  • Network configurations
  • Security and compliance requirements

During this process, you’ll reach key milestones, such as building an inventory footprint of all your shared data and creating a preliminary cloud infrastructure design. The research stage is all about collaboration with other teams like IT and finance to ensure you all agree on a common vision and are aware of the upcoming changes. 

The Phases of Migration

Don’t forget about your data engineers, too. At this point, you can ask your data center staff if they require any additional training or education they may need. To help you get started, pitch some of the following questions to your teams:

  • What network space do you want to occupy?
  • What access restrictions do you want to add to your cloud?
  • Do you want to store your data in multiple centers for easy access or data recovery?
  • How and when do you want your infrastructure to scale?
  • What security features do you want in place? Do you need to comply with privacy and security regulations?

2. Planning 

Planning means gathering all the assets and resources identified during the research phase and grouping them into migration waves, which are a logical series of groups that will be sequentially deployed into the new environment. This means you can migrate your most essential resources in order of priority and break down the migration process into manageable chunks. 

Throughout the planning stage, you’ll design the future of your IT infrastructure and any adjustments to your organization to support your new cloud workflow. As you deploy your migration waves, you’ll see where adjustments or improvements are needed step-by-step. 

Cloud computing forecast humour

Above all, this is the time to consider which cloud migration approach to use. The three most common are:

1. DevOps Approach

The DevOps approach relies on transferring resources to the cloud using a cloud-native agile approach as often as possible. You’ll use DevOps-oriented tools throughout the process and emphasize the use of infrastructure-as-code. While this approach offers agility and flexibility, it’s also the most challenging, disruptive, and complex to implement. 

2. Automation Approach

The automation approach involves modifying your resources using automation technology to achieve cloud-native capabilities. Adjustments are made throughout the migration process to advance automation and standardization, and optimize existing capabilities. You’ll regularly assess your workloads for resiliency, security, and cost-efficiency, and you’ll be able to optimize them as necessary. This is the best choice for organizations that aim to implement technology at fast speeds and avoid running their own data centers.

3. Re-host (Lift & Shift)

The re-host method relies on shifting applications from on-premise hosting to cloud services (either as infrastructure or as a platform service). Generally, this process is led by the simplest items with the fewest dependencies, lowest business impact, and fewest regulatory constraints. As the infrastructure maturity increases, more complex items are transferred.

This approach differs from the others as you resources will remain unchanged when they’re shifted. For example, IT operations and management tools will be deployed into the cloud environment as is and are changed only when necessary. Although the re-host approach is the easiest to implement, it provides the least added value and can become pricy without delivering on the cost savings you expect from cloud migration.

3. Execution 

Thirdly is the execution phase, where you’ll take the plans you’ve developed in the first two stages and turn them into a reality. It’s important to know what steps you’re taking and the order you’re taking them in, as these processes are often repeated during the non-production and production migration waves. 

Before execution, you’ll need to put key infrastructure components such as IAM, networks, firewall rules, and service accounts in place and ensure they’re correctly configured. At this point, you’ll also need to test the applications in your infrastructure to guarantee that each one can access:

  • Databases
  • File shares
  • Web servers
  • Load balancers
  • Active Directory servers
  • Other services or resources they need to perform

Debugging and testing are critical parts of this process, and having backup plans or mitigation strategies to resolve any challenges is a must. Hence why it’s crucial to monitor your applications to ensure their performance isn’t affected by the transition. 

Congrats – you’re now ready to migrate your testing environment to the data center. Wait, there’s one more thing before you go live: complete one last test to ensure your production environment matches your testing environment and that everything works correctly. At this point, you’ll repeat the steps you performed during the testing phase in your new cloud environment.  

4. Continuous Monitoring

Your cloud environment is live, but the hard work isn’t quite over yet. You may think the time for testing and monitoring is over, but maintaining your cloud applications requires constant work. Although the testing phase is mostly considered a fundamental step of the deployment process, the truth is that testing is essential at every phase. Periodic performance reviews can help you engage in optimization activities such as increasing agility, improving integration with external tools, and adopting management services to reduce overhead.

Now you’ve put in the effort to migrate your data to the cloud, you can benefit from the enhanced visibility that comes with this success. By monitoring this data, you can identify obsolete services, devices, or applications that are overusing resources, which you can optimize to minimize cost and waste. 

Success kid: Power went out in the warehouse. Data's already hosted on the cloud.

Alternatively, there is another way to make these four key steps a whole lot easier. Tools such as Equalum help streamline the data migration process by automating some of the most complex, time-consuming, and labor-intensive tasks. While many organizations like yours are keen to move their legacy systems to the cloud, it’s worth keeping in mind that most legacy data integration tools are complex and difficult to manage. To combat this, seek the support of solutions like Equalum to speed up the data delivery process and reduce costs.

Cloud Migration Doesn’t Have to Be a Headache

Despite involving many complex steps, delaying your cloud migration journey can do more harm than good. By following best practices and using the right tools, you can mitigate many of the challenges that make the process so daunting and enjoy all the benefits of the cloud, without the frustration of a challenging migration process. Book a demo today to enjoy smooth data migration that makes your big leap into the cloud a whole lot easier.