Cloud Migration Strategy -“The 6 Rs”​ To A Successful Migration

OK, so you’ve gone through your environment discovering, inventorying, and identifying the applications and systems that need to move to the cloud. Not only do you have a laundry list of system specifications, performance metrics, and other relevant data to make critical decisions, but also you have team Ravyn’s cloud migration experts from Ravyn Systems by your side. Now What?

Migrating to the cloud -the psychological effect

Well, for starters, the psychological effect of moving a production workload to the cloud could be detrimental to stakeholders, customers, and systems owners. We all know that once our systems are running “Perfect,” we don’t like to disrupt them. Therefore, if a strategic approach isn’t taken to communicate what’s happening on the ground, these stakeholders, customers, and systems owners can become very problematic for the duration of the migration. In fact, on many occasions, approval will not be granted. Therefore, it’s critical to develop a migration strategy that houses an effective communication plan, communication schedule, and project plan.

One of the things I like to do initially is calm the nerves of my customers by providing those quick and easy wins. They love it, so don’t start the migration by moving 50 VM’s or applications all at once. Instead, start small and simple; test-drive your pilot and migration plan by rehosting a VM. Create a landing zone and upload your OVA file (or VMDK, VHD, or RAW) to Amazon S3, Azure Blob, or Google Cloud Storage.

Make the right move to get that quick win to bring everyone onboard with your migration plan.

According to AWS, “A Landing Zone is a solution that helps customers quickly set up a secure, multi-account AWS environment based on AWS best practices.” As a side note, if the data is too large, one should also consider using AWS Import/Export service such as AWS snowball, to transfer large amounts of data from physical storage to AWS, so there are plenty of options to get that quick win. However, the folks on the ground need to make the first move.

Additionally, configure a new instance: AWS EC2, GCP Compute Engine, or Azure VM, and once it’s up and running and you are satisfied with its performance, conduct a demo for your customer. Be prepared to be asked plenty of questions, so I recommend if you’re not ready for questions or you don’t do well in front of an audience, have someone else conduct the demo. Remember, the goal of the demo is to show your customers they are in great hands because you are an expert at this.

The 6 R's to Cloud Migration

Now let’s discuss how “The 6 Rs” drive the migration efforts. Gartner and AWS concluded that “The 6 Rs” is the most effective strategy to-date to move workloads to the cloud regardless of the size of the load. As a result, let’s start with Re-hosting; it’s easier to complete because it’s normally less complex and provides a quick win, which is what we need initially to get things going.

Re-hosting (“Lift and shift”): As organizations look to scale quickly in the cloud, meets the requirements tied to their business cases, and addresses their business drivers, re-hosting has become the number one approach to get a buy-in that everything is moving as planned. While this can be done manually, in almost 90% of the time, we like doing this using automation. Tools such as AWS Server Migration Service (SMS), AWS Database Migration Service (DMS), VMware Cloud on AWS, Amazon S3 Transfer Acceleration, AWS Direct Connect, and AWS Snowball are just a few automation tools out there to get the job done.

Re-platforming (“Lift, tinker and shift”): As the name suggests, this one requires a little work. For example, we’ve had to do some optimization to improve performance; we’ve reduced database management time by migrating to a Database as a Service platform such as Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) or even migrate to Amazon Elastic Beanstalk again for that quick win. Just to point out, if your team is relatively inexperienced with provisioning EC2 instances, Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Network Access Control List (NACL), and Security Groups, RDS, or AWS Elastic Beanstalk is a great way to get your developers up and running with highly scalable web applications.

Migration Strategy: Re-purchase ("Drop and Shop")

Re-purchase (“Drop and Shop”): This is sometimes very political; one group wants one thing and the other wants another. In some cases, I’ve seen the use cases and business drivers influence the decision to purchase or change course. Nonetheless, the decision to drop and shop is because the organization is willing to change course on an existing solution. Workloads may be upgraded to newer versions; licenses models may need changing, or I’ve also seen the re-purchasing move from a CRM to Drupal, Salesforce.com, Workday, or another Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.

Refactoring/Re-architecting: Normally, when we get into this arena, it’s about delivering cloud-native applications or features based on a well-developed business need. Such an approach improves performance and increases scalability; in other cases, the performance indicator would be difficult to achieve within the existing environment. Amazon states that “If your organization is looking to boost agility or improve business continuity by moving to a service-oriented architecture (SOA) this strategy may be worth pursuing – even though it is often the most expensive solution.”

Retire you legacy applications  and use business cases to decide the road ahead.

Retire: Applications that are no longer useful and can’t be turned off drives the business case to retire them. In many cases, we’ve seen upwards of 10% of an enterprise IT portfolio can be turned off or is no longer useful. Therefore, while it’s a relief to retire these legacy systems or applications, it’s even more important to use one’s resources wisely during the migration. Therefore, shifting the team’s attention to the systems, people, and applications that need them most will boost the justification for your business case.

Retain: There are many reasons why organizations keep certain applications on-premise. In most cases, the general consensus is that they are not ready to migrate these applications; however, in some cases, departmental policies, recent upgrades, or prioritization could also drive this decision.

As such, moving applications to the cloud requires great planning; moreover, keeping the business case front-and-center and establishing a robust implementation and migration strategy are all key elements to reinforce one’s migration plan. Therefore, focusing on the business cases will help company executives champion one’s strategy for an effective cloud migration approach.

Tell me, what’s your story? How is your migration plan and decisions shape your migration strategy?

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