Cloud Migration Strategy

Creating a comprehensive cloud migration strategy is paramount before embarking on any aspect of the transition. With a solid plan in place, the move can be seamless for end users and have fewer bumps for the IT team.

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Cloud Migration Strategy: Identify Which Environment is Best

There are three types of virtual environments one might move apps or data to. Depending on the needs of the organization, one type of virtual environment may work for everything that needs to be moved. However, larger organizations often use a mixture of the three environments, selecting the best one for each individual process or program that must be moved.

1) Software as a Service (SaaS): The most comprehensive type of virtual environment is software as a service. A common example would be something along the lines of Skype or Google Drive. With these programs, the software is run by the providers own infrastructure. A user may need to download an interface or access the program via a browser, but everything is managed by the provider, including updates, storing data, and maintaining the code. Its common for businesses to select a SaaS for things like payroll or ordering, but offerings vary by industry.

2) Platform as a Service (PaaS): When a platform is offered as a service, its like having SaaS with the software stripped away. Developers are given the bones with which to build apps, and these building blocks can speed up development drastically, while still allowing the team to customize apps for the needs of the organization. Google App Engine is one of the most well-known examples of a PaaS.

3) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): The most bare-bones virtual environment is the infrastructure. It simply consists of maintained hardware that an organization can tap into as needed. Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are well-known examples.

Best Practices When Creating a Cloud Migration Strategy

1) Get the execs on board. Oftentimes, IT departments and execs are at odds when it comes to making changes. Company execs look at things like profitability and company alignment, while the IT departments are eager to be agile and proactive. Moving to a virtual environment can meet the expectations of everyone, so its wise to bring an exec on board before taking any other steps. With the executive sold on the idea, or at least tentatively interested while awaiting more data, roadblocks can be cleared throughout the process.

2) Have a comprehensive assessment done. All apps will need to be looked in to see if there is a benefit to moving them and if they can be moved. Look for application portfolio management software that can analyze the health of current apps and help the team make data-driven decisions. Working with an independent virtual solutions expert is also beneficial, as someone who handles migrations on a routine basis will know how to pull the entire plan together smoothly.

3) Take a step back and look at the cloud migration strategy from a holistic point of view. Knowing which apps will help the company reach its goals better and which will help make daily work more productive and profitable will help the IT team determine the order in which apps should be moved. This, combined with the assessments, are generally crucial in terms of getting execs to give their final approval on projects.  

4) Create a roadmap with reasonable timeframes. Each app should be moved on its own to make it easier to troubleshoot if problems arise and to minimize downtime.

5) Plan time for testing, including testing by end-users. There is often a big rush to get changes deployed, but the testing phase should not be compromised. Members of the IT team should be testing long before deployment, but a group of trusted end-users should also be test-driving things before theyre rolled out to the masses.

6) Have a monitoring strategy in place. Its not enough to plan to revisit apps that have been moved to see if theyre working right or to wait for tickets to be filed. Metrics for determining the success and ongoing health of the app should be determined in advance, and a timeline for checking them should be created. If application portfolio management software was used during the planning stages, it can generally be used post-migration as well, provided it was developed for general use and not with a specific environment or program in mind. When data emerges that shows the transition was a successful and profitable venture, the IT team and execs should be notified.

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