The cloud migration process involves moving a company’s digital assets, operations, and processes to the cloud, or from one cloud to another. These assets include databases, applications, and services vital to the organization’s operations. This is why a methodical approach to cloud migration is crucial and why choosing the right strategy matters.
A cloud migration strategy establishes the process through which you execute the movement of critical business functions. Taking a data-first approach to cloud migration will help ensure the integrity and accessibility of your information, and also help you optimize your infrastructure to meet your organization’s unique needs.
Before exploring the leading migration strategies, we’ll examine the best practices to follow while implementing your migration.
Cloud Migration Best Practices
Migrating data to the cloud, or between cloud services, poses a number of challenges that can be avoided by following standard best practices.
1. Define your goals
Having a clearly defined destination will set you on the right path for successful cloud migration. Knowing where you’re going is always important before you begin a journey. What’s driving your migration? What business needs are you trying to meet through this process? Don’t forget to explore what’s new in cloud technologies so you understand the solutions available.
Above all else, make sure your goals are achievable. Research has shown that most cloud migration projects either don’t achieve the desired results or take far longer than expected. You may find you need to break your migration down into multiple smaller stages or phases.
2. Create cloud architecture to meet your business goals
During this discovery process, you may find that your optimal solution combines cloud migration with other data services, such as data warehousing.
A data architect can help you map out which structures you need to best meet your business goals.
3. Work with a cross-disciplinary team
Crafting your data migration strategy with data scientists, developers, and cloud architects is a good start. But don’t forget to bring other key stakeholders on board. This migration should be planned to meet the needs of other business units that rely heavily on this data.
Involve executive leaders who can help set optimization goals and gain buy-in from other business unit leaders. Doing this at the start of a migration project can prevent problems later.
4. Consider a multicloud strategy
While this approach is not for everyone, some organizations benefit from a multicloud strategy.
Reasons to consider moving your data to more than one cloud service include:
- Different vendors may have different applications or services that meet your industry-specific needs.
- Another vendor may be able to provide a cloud-based solution at a lower cost than your primary platform.
- If you have data that is subject to regulatory oversight, a second vendor may be ideal for handling this high-risk data.
- Not having “all your eggs in one basket” can mitigate the impact of cloud provider downtime, both expected and unexpected.
5. Tidy up your data before migrating
Before migrating your data, clean up any discrepancies, duplicates, misapplied fields, or other issues that might make it difficult for the cloud platform to parse where that data belongs.
Data hygiene is always a best practice. But a data audit ahead of migration will save you a great deal of time and frustration both during the process and when your information resides in the cloud.
6. Search out a low-code platform
Cloud migration requires a certain amount of one-time coding. This is known as “throwaway” code since it is useless after the migration is complete.
Integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a low-code option that reduces the burden of writing throwaway code and has features that allow your team to create any required temporary code quickly.
7. Optimize data management with iPaaS
Another benefit of iPaaS is that your integration process and data management systems are centralized on a single platform. Offsite data management requires regular backups to keep your cloud data current.
With an integrated iPaaS, your data is managed directly in the cloud. This allows you to directly add processes for data discovery, cleansing, and synchronization to your data management system, ensuring data flows smoothly and accurately between applications.
The 9 Rs of Cloud Migration
There’s more than one way to migrate data to the cloud. The following strategies are based on research originally conducted by Gartner and expanded upon by Amazon.
This is also referred to in industry-speak as “lift and shift.” Rehosting is simply moving a direct copy of an organization’s data infrastructure directly onto the cloud. This strategy benefits smaller organizations without complex data architecture, though it sacrifices the option of restructuring data to work with newer cloud-native technologies.
A step beyond rehosting, this strategy is known as “lift, tinker, and shift.” The data architecture remains the same, but strategic changes are made to ensure the full use of cloud-based services.
This approach involves making code and architecture changes to a system before migrating it to the cloud. This is done to optimize cloud services and integrations. It requires a complete understanding of the cloud architecture to which your organization is migrating.
This strategy involves a ground-up approach to rebuilding data architecture. While it’s a resource-heavy approach, the resulting data management and integration system should meet your business needs and scale as your organization grows.
Replacing involves scrapping existing architecture and migrating to a prebuilt architecture provided by the cloud vendor. This means that the only thing you need to migrate is your data. The drawback is that you must fit your processes into the cloud vendor’s framework – sacrificing control.
The least complicated technique, repurchasing involves purchasing a data management system as software as a service (SaaS). An example of repurchasing is an organization moving from its native CRM platform to a platform like Salesforce.
If your primary goal is to improve data management without any other significant changes, replatforming might be the best strategy. It involves making a few optimizations but retaining your existing data architecture.
An audit of your data management system may reveal that certain functions are no longer needed. Those can be turned off or retired. This will help you streamline any future cloud migration plans.
If your audits and analysis show that now is not the time to conduct your migration to the cloud, it is perfectly acceptable to hit pause and wait until there is a qualifying reason to make the move.