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A 10-step Cloud Migration Checklist: Key Elements for a Successful Transition

ITGix Team
ITGix Team
Passionate DevOps & Cloud Engineers
16.01.2023
Reading time: 14 mins.
Last Updated: 12.02.2024

Table of Contents

What is Cloud Migration? 

Cloud migration is the process of moving databases, applications, services, IT resources, and other digital assets either partially or wholly from an organization’s on-premises infrastructure to a cloud computing environment. This process can include moving data to a public cloud, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, etc., or to a private cloud, which is basically a cloud environment that is dedicated to a single organization. Cloud migration can also involve moving data between different cloud environments. The primary benefit of cloud migration is that it allows organizations to take advantage of the scalability, reliability, and cost savings of cloud computing.

Why migrate to the cloud? Benefits of Cloud Migration

Benefits of cloud migration, moving to the cloud

Businesses often turn to the cloud to move on from outdated and progressively inefficient legacy infrastructures (due to aging servers, and fickle firewall appliances), or to abandon hardware or software solutions that are no longer operating at desired capacity. 

We believe that cloud migration is a critical course of action for many companies to achieve updated efficiency and performance. As such, the cloud migration process requires mindful analysis, design, and execution to ensure the cloud solution’s compatibility with the business prerequisites.

There are several reasons why organizations may choose to migrate to the cloud:

  • Cut costs: Cloud computing can be more cost-effective than maintaining on-premises infrastructure, as organizations only pay for the resources they use and do not have to invest in expensive hardware and maintenance.
  • Scalability: Cloud environments can easily scale up or down to meet changing business needs, which can be more difficult and expensive to achieve with on-premises infrastructure.
  • Flexibility: Cloud computing allows organizations to access their data and applications from anywhere with an internet connection, which can improve productivity and collaboration.
  • Reliability: Cloud providers typically offer high availability and disaster recovery options, which can help ensure that data and applications are always available.
  • Security: Many cloud providers offer robust security features and compliance certifications to protect data and applications in the cloud.
  • Innovation: Cloud providers are constantly updating their services and tools, which can give organizations access to new technologies and capabilities faster than if they were to develop them in-house.

How does cloud migration work?

Cloud migration typically involves several steps:

  1. Assessment: Organizations must assess their current on-premises infrastructure and determine which data, applications, and workloads can be moved to the cloud. They should also assess the cloud provider’s services and options to identify which will best meet their needs and plan accordingly. Identify the cloud provider and services that will best meet the organization’s needs.
  2. Planning: Organizations should develop a comprehensive migration plan that outlines the steps required to move data, applications, and workloads to the cloud. This plan should include timelines, resource requirements, and contingencies.
  3. Preparation: Organizations must prepare their data, applications, and workloads for migration. This may involve cleaning and organizing data, configuring applications to work in a cloud environment, and testing to ensure that everything will work as expected.
  4. Execution: The actual migration process can be done in several ways depending on the complexity of the migration project. For example, if the data is relatively small and less complex, it can be done through manual uploads. For larger, complex data, it can be done through migration tools and services provided by cloud providers such as AWS DataSync, Azure Migrate, and GCP Data Transfer Service.
  5. Validation: After the migration is complete, organizations should validate that all data, applications, and workloads have been successfully moved to the cloud and that they are working as expected.
  6. Optimization: Once the migration is done, organizations should optimize their cloud environment for performance, cost, and security.

It’s important to note that cloud migration can be a complex and time-consuming process, that’s why many organizations choose to work with a cloud migration partner or a managed service provider (MSP) to assist with the process. It’s important to note that the process may not be a linear one and organizations may need to go back to previous steps to rectify any issues that may arise during the migration process. 

Key Elements for a successful transition: A 10-step cloud migration checklist

1. Define your business purpose for cloud migration to establish a preliminary migration strategy

Make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve before starting your journey to the cloud. To map workloads to your assets and apps, you must first collect baseline measurements of your IT infrastructure. Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs), such as page load speeds, response times, availability, CPU consumption, memory utilization, and conversion rates will be easier if you have a baseline understanding of where you stand.

These metrics will allow measurement across a variety of areas, therefore strategy formulation should be done early and with business objectives taking precedence over technology.

2. Evaluate your migration costs and needs

The costs and needs associated with cloud migration can vary depending on the specific requirements of the migration project. Some factors that can affect the costs and needs of cloud migration include:

  • Data volume: The amount of data that needs to be migrated will impact the cost and complexity of the migration project. The larger the amount of data, the more resources will be required to migrate it.
  • Complexity: The complexity of the migration project will also affect the cost and resources required. For example, migrating a simple application will require fewer resources than migrating a complex, multi-tier application.
  • Cloud provider: The cost of cloud services can vary depending on the cloud provider and the specific services required. It’s important to compare prices and features from different providers to find the best fit for the organization.
  • Staffing: Organizations will need to have the necessary staff with the right skill set to perform the migration and manage the cloud environment. This may require additional resources and training.
  • Downtime: Organizations must minimize downtime during the migration process and ensure that their applications and workloads are available to users during the migration. Downtime can affect the operations and productivity of the business.
  • Compliance: Organizations must ensure that their data and applications are compliant with regulatory requirements in the cloud environment. This may require additional resources and compliance certifications.
  • Security: Organizations must ensure that their data and applications are secure during the migration process and in the cloud environment. This may require additional resources and security measures.

It’s important to note that cloud migration costs can also include not just the migration itself but also ongoing costs for cloud services, staff training, and ongoing maintenance and management.

3. Assess the environment and identify the right applications

Not every application is compatible with the cloud. Some outperform public clouds while using private or hybrid clouds. Others may require extensive code modifications, while some only require small adjustments. It is simpler to do a thorough review of the architecture, complexity, and implementation prior to the move than after.

As you examine which applications to move to the cloud, keep these questions in mind:

  • Which applications may be transferred unchanged, and which ones need to be redesigned?
  • What level of complexity is needed if a redesign is required?
  • Does the cloud provider have any services that allow migration without altering workloads?
  • How long will it take to obtain the ROI for each application you plan to move?
  • Which form of cloud environment—public, private, or multi-cloud—is ideal for applications where shifting to the cloud is regarded as secure and cost-effective?

Determining what should be migrated can be aided by conducting a study of your architecture and a close examination of your applications.

4. Choose your level of cloud integration: shallow or deep cloud integration

There are two methods you may use to migrate an application to the cloud from an on-premises data center: a shallow cloud integration or a deep cloud integration.

  • “Lift and shift” or Shallow cloud integration

The on-premises application is moved to the cloud as part of shallow cloud integration, often referred to as a “lift-and-shift,” with little to no changes made to the cloud servers that you create to execute the application. You don’t make use of cloud-specific services.

  • Deep cloud integration

You must change your application throughout the migration process to benefit from cloud capabilities. This might be as simple as employing dynamic load balancing and auto-scaling, or it could be as complex as using serverless computing tools like AWS Lambda for some of the applications. It might also entail using a data store designed specifically for the cloud, such as Amazon S3 or DynamoDB.

5. Choose a cloud environment (single or multi-cloud)

Choosing between a single-cloud environment or a multi-cloud environment depends on the specific needs and requirements of the organization.

  • A single cloud environment is where all data, applications, and workloads are hosted in one cloud provider’s infrastructure. This can simplify management and reduce costs as all resources are centralized in one location. A single cloud can also provide a higher level of service integration as all services are provided by the same provider.
  • A multi-cloud environment is where data, applications, and workloads are distributed across multiple cloud providers. This can provide greater flexibility, as organizations can choose the best cloud provider for each specific workload or application. It can also provide a level of redundancy and disaster recovery, as organizations can store data in multiple locations. However, multi-cloud environments can be more complex to manage and may require additional resources to ensure compatibility and data transfer between different cloud providers.

Ultimately, the choice between a single- or multi-cloud environment depends on the organization’s specific requirements, such as compliance, security, and the specific needs of the workloads and applications. Some organizations may choose to have a hybrid approach, where they use a single cloud environment for certain applications and a multi-cloud environment for others.

6. Determine deployment model (IaaS, PaaS or SaaS)

When migrating to the cloud, you must determine which deployment model best fits your needs: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), or Software as a Service (SaaS).

  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): IaaS provides virtualized computing resources, such as virtual machines, storage, and networking, over the internet. With IaaS, organizations are responsible for managing the operating system, middleware, and applications, and the provider is responsible for the infrastructure. Examples include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): PaaS provides a platform for developing, running, and managing applications over the internet. With PaaS, the provider is responsible for the infrastructure and the platform, and the organization is responsible for the applications. Examples include AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Azure App Service, and GCP App Engine.
  • Software as a Service (SaaS): SaaS provides access to software applications over the internet. With SaaS, the provider is responsible for the infrastructure, the platform, and the applications, and the organization is responsible for the data. Examples include Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365, and Google G Suite.

Organizations should consider the level of control and responsibility they wish to have over the infrastructure, platform, and applications while choosing the deployment model. IaaS provides the most control and responsibility, while SaaS provides the least. PaaS sits in the middle and provides a balance of control and responsibility.

7. Choose your cloud provider

Some factors to consider when choosing a cloud provider include:

  • Services offered: Different cloud providers offer different services and features. You should determine which services they require and which cloud provider offers the best match.
  • Cost: Cloud providers typically charge for services on a pay-as-you-go basis, but prices can vary. You can easily compare prices and features from different providers to find the best fit for your budget.
  • Security: You must consider the security measures and certifications offered by different cloud providers and choose the ones that meet their security requirements.
  • Compliance: You may evaluate the compliance certifications offered by different cloud providers and choose a provider that meets your compliance requirements.
  • Service level agreements (SLA): Pay attention to the service level agreements (SLA) offered by the different cloud providers and choose a provider that meets their uptime and availability requirements.
  • Technical support: Consider the level of technical support offered by different cloud providers and choose a provider that meets your future needs.
  • Scalability: Match the scalability options offered by different cloud providers to meet your requirements.
  • Location: An important factor to also have in mind is the location of the cloud providers’ data centers and choosing a provider that meets their data sovereignty and latency requirements.

Ultimately, organizations should evaluate the cloud providers based on their specific requirements and choose the one that best meets their needs. It’s also worth noting that organizations can also use multiple providers, depending on the specific needs of their workloads and applications.

8. Prioritize migration components

This step is individual again, but a general approach for prioritizing migration components can be as follows:

First, your should migrate your business-critical applications. Those are the applications that are essential to the operation of the business and should be given the highest priority. Those include applications that are used by multiple departments.

Next, data that is critical to the operation of the business should be given the next highest priority for migration. It includes data that is used by multiple applications.

Third, the non-business-critical applications, are comprised of applications that are not essential to the operation of the business.

Non-critical data is the next component to be migrated. 

Throughout the process, you should keep in mind that applications or data that have specific compliance and security requirements should be prioritized accordingly. It’s also important to have a clear understanding of the dependencies between different components to ensure that the migration is done in a logical and efficient order.

9. Migrate applications

10. Transfer domain and IPs to the application

Transferring a domain and IP addresses to a cloud-based application involves several steps:

  • Update DNS settings: Update the DNS settings for the domain to point to the IP address of the cloud-based application. This will ensure that traffic to the domain is directed to the cloud-based application.
  • Update IP address: Update the IP address of the cloud-based application to match the IP address associated with the domain. This will ensure that the domain name resolves to the correct IP address and traffic is directed to the correct application.
  • Update CNAME or A records: Update the CNAME or A records in the domain’s DNS settings, if the application is hosted in a subdomain, to point to the new IP address of the cloud-based application.
  • Verify the updates: Verify that the DNS settings, IP address, and CNAME or A records have been updated correctly and that traffic is being directed to the cloud-based application as expected.
  • Test the application: Test the application to ensure that it is working correctly and that there are no issues with the domain or IP address transfer.
  • Monitor the application: Monitor the application and its performance to ensure that it is working as expected, and troubleshoot and resolve any issues that arise.

It’s worth noting that different cloud providers may have different procedures for transferring domains and IP addresses, it’s recommended to follow the provider’s documentation for specific instructions.

Сloud migration tools

There are several types of tools that organizations can use to facilitate the cloud migration process. These include:

  • Data migration tools: These tools are used to move data from an on-premises environment to a cloud environment. Examples include AWS DataSync, Azure Data Box, and GCP Transfer Appliance.
  • Application migration tools: These tools are used to move applications and workloads to a cloud environment. Examples include AWS App Runner, Azure Arc, and GCP Anthos.
  • Server migration tools: These tools are used to move virtual machines and physical servers to a cloud environment. Examples include AWS Server Migration Service, Azure Site Recovery, and GCP Velostrata.
  • Backup and recovery tools: These tools are used to back up data and applications in a cloud environment and to restore them in the event of a disaster. Examples include AWS Backup, Azure Backup, and GCP Backup.
  • Cloud migration services: Many cloud providers offer migration services that can help organizations move data, applications, and workloads to the cloud. Examples include AWS Migration Hub, Azure Migrate, and GCP Migrate.

It’s important to note that different migration tools are suitable for different types of data, applications, and workloads and that choosing the right tool will depend on the migration project. If you’re currently wondering what tools to choose for your migration process and other DevOps operations, then you may check out our exclusive guide on how to choose the right DevOps tools for your business as per each phase of the DevOps lifecycle

What are the types of cloud migration?

There are several types of cloud migration that organizations can choose from, depending on their specific needs and requirements:

  • Re-hosting (lift and shift): This type of migration involves moving existing applications and workloads to a cloud environment without making any changes to the applications themselves. This is the simplest and quickest form of migration.
  • Re-platforming: This type of migration involves making some changes to the application or workload, such as modifying the database or changing the operating system, to make it compatible with the cloud environment.
  • Re-architecting: This type of migration involves making significant changes to the application or workload, such as breaking it down into microservices or using a different architecture, to take full advantage of the cloud environment.
  • Cloud-native development: This type of migration involves developing new applications or workloads specifically for the cloud environment, using cloud-native technologies and best practices.
  • Hybrid cloud: This type of migration involves using a combination of on-premises infrastructure, public cloud, and private cloud to run different workloads and applications.

It’s worth noting that the choice of migration type will depend on the specific requirements of the organization and the migration project. For example, an organization that needs to move large amounts of data quickly and with minimal changes to its applications might opt for re-hosting. On the other hand, an organization that wants to take full advantage of the scalability and flexibility of the cloud might opt for re-architecting or cloud-native development.

Key challenges of the cloud migration

Cloud migration can present several challenges for organizations, including:

  • Complexity: Migrating data, applications, and workloads to the cloud can be a complex process that requires careful planning and execution.
  • Security: Organizations must ensure that their data and applications are secure during the migration process and in the cloud environment.
  • Data governance: Organizations must ensure that their data is properly governed and compliant with regulations in the cloud environment.
  • Cost: Organizations must ensure that the cost of the migration and ongoing usage of cloud services is within budget.
  • Dependencies: Applications and workloads may have dependencies on other systems and applications, which can make the migration process more complex.
  • Integration: Organizations must ensure that their applications and workloads integrate seamlessly with the cloud environment and with other systems and applications.
  • Testing: Organizations must test their applications and workloads in the cloud environment to ensure that they work as expected.
  • Staffing: Organizations must have the necessary staff with the right skill set to perform the migration and manage the cloud environment.
  • Change management: Organizations must manage the changes that come with migration and ensure that their employees are able to adapt to the new environment.
  • Downtime: Organizations must minimize downtime during the migration process and ensure that their applications and workloads are available to users during the migration.

ITGix cloud services and solutions

Our cloud consulting services and cloud solutions

ITGix’s cloud services help companies navigate the cloud landscape with public, hybrid, or multi-cloud solutions that accelerate the full business value of the cloud. We evaluate your company’s needs, uncover opportunities, and suggest the best cloud migration approach to facilitate your smooth transition to the cloud. 

With the support of ITGix’s Cloud Solutions, our clients can modernize their current applications and achieve “future-ready” business outcomes. With our extensive knowledge and expertise in all scenarios of cloud migration, we will be able to provide you with a tailored cloud migration project plan to make sure your cloud migration process passes smoothly and securely. 

Our enterprise application migration services offer thorough and reliable procedures for transferring sizable application portfolios to cloud platforms, and they are scaleable from one to many apps. We can assist you with application inventory, assessment, code analysis, migration planning, and execution.

Our Cloud success stories range from Cloud Migration to the ongoing monitoring and optimization of the existing cloud infrastructures. Read our Automated spin-up of Amazon Web Services and Azure accounts using GitLab Pipelines and Improvement of IT infrastructure’s availability: Amazon Elastic Container Service.

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