Cloud Migration Strategy: A step by step guide to moving to the cloud

Tim Grethler May 5, 2020


Daniel is a busy entrepreneur and head of a medium-sized Swiss Tech company. For more than 10 years he and his team have been offering software consulting, software engineering and basic IT consulting. Since his focus is mainly on business strategy and day-to-day business, some questions about his own working environment are still unanswered:

  • When and how do we take the next step? Should we switch to container and cloud services? What are our benefits from this and how does it work? 
  • Which system architecture and which tools can help us in this? Do we want to outsource our environment to the public cloud?  
  • How do we move forward without neglecting our customers? Do we need support? If so, in what form and from whom? 
  • Is there a cloud migration strategy to help me make the move to the cloud? 

Agility as a driver of cloud migration

10 years ago, Daniel actively helped to develop the foundations of his current company. Meanwhile he has moved away from the technical side of things and is busy with other, less technical topics. For him it is important that his company finds a solution that is secure, permanently accessible and easy to use. 

Cloud services and infrastructures were already available for purchase 10 years ago, but they were not very standardized and had a high vendor lock-in, which meant that they were very expensive and extremely complex to support. 

Today, many companies are almost forced to increase their agility to keep up with the rapid developments in the market. Increasing agility enables companies to react flexibly to changes and thus to adapt quickly to new conditions or business areas. This is one of the reasons why small start-ups are now turning into large companies relatively quickly. They are agile. 

Many already established companies want to jump on this trend. The step into the cloud, i.e. cloud migration, is closely linked to this. This step enables companies of all sizes to increase their agility and, in addition to the administrative burden, to reduce the load associated with extensive IT resources. From cost-effective IT to simplified management, freeing up static infrastructure offers many benefits.

Cloud Migration Strategy- a step by step guide  

A successful move to the cloud depends on the complexity of the application architecture, the degree of application coupling, and the amount of work you are willing to invest in migration. As a strategy, we recommend a sequential approach to cloud migration that enables a step-by-step move.

The individual steps make it possible, on the one hand, to acquire a knowledge base and make good decisions based on it and, on the other hand - quite simply - to get the best out of cloud migration. 

In the following we describe which steps are involved and what needs to be considered in each case.

1.Assess - Moving sensitive data to an external environment can be risky and requires a lot of thought. Security is one of the biggest challenges that needs to be addressed. Before migration, the following questions should be asked and answered: 
  • How well does this selected application already fit into the available services (standardization)? 
  • Are there any licenses or compliance requirements that need to be considered?
  • Which hardware and performance requirements must be considered?
  • What optimization potential can the application still offer?

In order to benefit from cloud services of any kind, the logic of the applications must be questioned and at the beginning the Cloud Service Provider (CSP) suitable for a company must be found. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the chosen service covers all central requirements and functions. 

2. Pilot - Once an application has been found that is naturally suitable for a cloud migration, it is worthwhile to test this in a proof of concept. For this it is important to acquire a certain amount of know-how, reference architectures, best practice guides and cloud-specific characteristics in advance in order to be able to understand and use the design and characteristics of the selected cloud. It is often worth talking to a Managed Service Provider. This step is extremely important to gain initial experience. A fallback plan should also be defined in advance. The aim of this step is not yet to get the best out of the app, but rather to ensure that a migration is possible and target-oriented. 

3. Data migration - Data should always only be migrated after a first pilot test has been successful. On the one hand to ensure the fallback already discussed and on the other hand to avoid unnecessary costs. If the pilot test was successful, it is necessary to consider what type of data is best stored in what form. Again, the more familiar you are with the various options available from a cloud provider, the more costs can be saved. 

4. Migrate application - The pilot was successful, the data is on the right storage, the application can now be migrated. Depending on the assessment and criticality of the application, a soft launch can be preferred to a big bang and only part of it can be outsourced directly to gain initial experience. Relevant questions for this step are:

  • How heavily is the app used?
  • Are there dependencies, how critical are they?
  • How well can complexity be decoupled in order to carry out a soft launch? 

5.Optimize - From now on the software developers are in demand, specifically the DevOps Engineers. It is best to work hand in hand with an experienced and knowledgeable Cloud Service Provider (CSP) to find out what optimization potential the application still has. It should also be looked at where the booked service resources can be reduced in order to reduce operating costs. Furthermore, bottlenecks and sources of error must be quickly identified and eliminated during operation.  

Migration to the Cloud - What else needs to be considered?

Your new CSP will play a key role in supporting your future IT and business goals. That's why choosing the CSP best suited for your business is a critical step on the path to the cloud. To do this, you must first define your business requirements and then choose a service provider that can meet them. If you're uncomfortable with a complete move to the cloud, moving to a virtual server or outsourcing application logic to containers can be a good first step towards greater agility. Honest discussions with the providers and good advice are therefore of great importance. 

When delivering cloud services, CSPs use different methods: private cloud, collaborative cloud, public cloud and hybrid cloud, each model meeting different business and security requirements of the companies.

Workload disruptions during the transition can be minimized by integrating a data management system. It may be obvious, but backing up all your data before the transition is a must. Remember, in close consultation with your Managed Services Provider (MSP), to plan monitoring and adaptation measures regarding your new cloud environment: what indicators show that your expectations are being met? 

Practice oriented cloud solutions: Managed Services from nine

Choosing from the huge range of CSP currently available can be very difficult - even if you know what you are looking for.

The nine cloud navigators offer consulting and managed services for cloud hosting. We can assist you before migration, during the transition phase and after successful migration and navigate you into the cloud. We define a suitable cloud migration strategy together with you, tailored to your needs. And you can concentrate on your core business. 

Would you like to learn more about Cloud Migration? In our whitepaper "Step by Step to the Cloud - A guide for businesses" you will learn more about the Cloud, its potential and opportunities as well as its limitations. Interested? Click here to download it.


Download whitepaper here