Businesses must have a solid plan if they want to succeed in migrating their workloads to the cloud. Indeed, 59% of organizations surveyed by Jefferson Frank agree that poor planning is the leading cause of delays in their AWS go-live process. Other cloud platforms are no different. A transparent cloud migration roadmap helps avoid additional expenses, technical issues, and compliance challenges during cloud migration. More importantly, it ensures that businesses reach the goals they aim to achieve. How do you develop a roadmap that matches your needs? And what best practices can you use to ensure its success? Read on to find out.
Applying an effective framework to build a cloud migration roadmap
A cloud migration framework is a set of guidelines, principles, and best practices that serve as a high-level reference for planning and executing migrations across different scenarios and projects. It provides a structured approach to migration, offering a conceptual plan that can be adapted to an organization's specific needs. So, what does such a framework entail? Let's explore how N-iX–a global software and cloud engineering company–helps clients design a successful cloud migration roadmap.
Stage 1: Strategy development
The initial stage focuses on developing an effective strategy for migration. The steps involved are as follows:
- Analysis. Our Cloud Solutions team, consisting of certified cloud experts, solution architects, product managers, business analysts, and other tech specialists, performs a cloud readiness assessment to define your current cloud maturity level and the infrastructure state. We analyze the statistics and usage data of the client's servers to understand the migrating environment and workload interdependencies. We also generate a list of workloads that need to be migrated with their business priority. Based on the analyzed data, we choose one of the seven cloud migration strategies (rehosting, relocating, repurchasing, refactoring, re-platforming, retaining, and retiring) and present our client with a business case for cloud migration. This document contains a technical timeline and the Total Cost of Ownership report, enabling the client to see the big picture of the migration process, including potential benefits, costs, and risks.
- Architecture. In this step, we involve our cloud-certified architects to design hybrid or multi-cloud extensions, if necessary, and set up a cloud landing zone. It allows to promptly roll out cloud environments with automated setup and configuration of multiple accounts. The landing zone can be configured according to your needs and regulatory requirements, enabling independent management and configuration of each environment for better resource and permission control. N-iX experts also define your cloud operating model, develop a robust testing strategy, and plan CI/CD integration. To minimize the risk of data breaches in the long run, we apply best practices to design secure workload architecture. Finally, we develop an approach for Disaster Recovery in case of physical data center disruption or other unexpected events.
- Implementation. Once the target architecture design is ready, our cloud engineering team launches the implementation of the architectural plans and the roadmap into actual cloud infrastructure and services. Besides setting up the designed architecture, we implement Infrastructure as Code and execute pilot migrations. By running a pilot, our cloud engineers can seamlessly identify gaps in the cloud migration plan and readjust the strategy if needed. We also conduct workshops for our clients during this stage, sharing knowledge on implemented changes and providing a comprehensive understanding of the new cloud infrastructure and services.
Keep reading: Cloud assessment done right: where to begin?
Stage 2: Migration at scale
In this stage, N-iX specialists implement the roadmap in practice and start migrating your applications, databases, and data to the cloud. Here are the key steps of this process:
- Planning. At this point, the N-iX cloud team devises detailed strategies for workload, database, and data migrations. Before we conduct database migration, our team chooses one or several data environments that best match workflow requirements. Our cloud experts will prepare a tailored set of migration tools compatible with your target cloud environment and aligned with your migration goals. Finally, we classify and prioritize data assets to determine the order of transferring the client's data.
- Migration. Now it's time to transfer your data. Depending on your case, we migrate from on-premises to the cloud, perform cloud-to-cloud migration, or rebuild your selected projects and apps directly in the cloud. The N-iX team will consult the roadmap to move your workloads and data with minimum downtime.
- Integration. Once our team has performed the migration, we connect and integrate the workflows with third-party applications to extend your business capabilities. At this stage, our cloud specialists also integrate workloads with operational tools, such as solutions for system monitoring.
- Validation. When data workload migration is complete, the N-iX team conducts thorough data testing and validation to confirm that the transferred data is complete and consistent. By including this step in the cloud migration strategy roadmap, our cloud experts ensure you won't face issues related to missing data, data duplication, and format inconsistencies. At N-iX, we perform various types of testing, including data integrity, functional, integration, and performance testing, as well as run security and compliance tests.
- Cutover. We redirect the traffic to the target system and complete the cutover by shutting down the source servers.
- Training. After the migration, many enterprises face challenges related to knowledge gaps. To ensure that a switch to the cloud is smooth for your staff, N-iX conducts knowledge-sharing sessions and workshops for your internal team. During training, we help employees understand new technologies and processes, as well as skills needed to navigate the cloud environment.
Best practices to ensure the success of your cloud migration roadmap
Simply following a framework to develop a cloud migration roadmap does not automatically guarantee its success. Many issues and challenges can appear along the way. That's why utilizing best practices is essential, as it can be the difference between success and failure.
Establish a contingency strategy for every stage of the migration roadmap
Throughout the migration process, unexpected issues may arise during the execution of each phase. Develop a detailed rollback plan for every migration step to ensure swift recovery. To minimize downtime, adhere to the following guidelines:
- Regularly validate and assess the effectiveness of each rollback plan through testing.
- Assign a predefined maximum execution time for each migration step. Once this time limit is exceeded, initiate the rollback process.
Recognize that despite having rollback plans, specific steps may still pose potential disruptions, even if rolled back–such as data loss. Identify and evaluate the potentially disruptive phases of the migration. In case of automated tasks within the migration, establish predefined procedures to address automation failures. Similar to rollback plans, periodically review and validate each procedure. If communication channels are integrated into the migration, ensure the provision of backup channels. This precaution prevents being locked out of the environment and offers recovery options in case of failures.
Implement incremental rollouts and deployments
To mitigate potential challenges and complications during the migration process, steer clear of making extensive modifications. Instead, structure your migration blueprint to introduce alterations gradually. For instance, incorporate a plan for step-by-step deployments and incremental adjustments.
When opting for gradual rollouts, take measures to reduce the likelihood of unforeseen complications from implementing changes. This entails minimizing both the volume and scale of these changes. Once issues from the initial small-scale rollout are identified and resolved, subsequent rollouts can encompass similar alterations on a larger scale.
Remove proof-of-concept assets from the production environment before migration
Ahead of migration, remove any resources generated during the initial assessment and preparation periods from the production section of the intended environment.
While the migration is underway, retain these resources within a non-production zone of the target environment. They could prove valuable for diagnosing any potential issues during the migration process. For instance, comparing the configuration and data logs of production workloads against those of the proof-of-concept and experimental resources could help identify post-migration issues affecting production workloads.
After concluding the migration and validating the optimal performance of the target environment, delete the resources located in the non-production area of the target environment.
Establish clear criteria for the safe decommissioning of the source environment
Avert the continuous operation of two environments and its associated expenses. To achieve this, outline the prerequisites that must be fulfilled before retiring the source environment. These can be as follows:
- All workloads, along with their corresponding backups and high availability and disaster recovery mechanisms, are successfully migrated to the target environment;
- The migrated data on the target environment is coherent, accessible, and functional;
- The migrated data is accurate, complete, and aligns with predetermined standards;
- Any resources remaining in the source environment do not serve as dependencies for workloads that lie outside the scope of migration;
- Workload performance on the target environment conforms to your designated SLA benchmarks;
- Monitoring systems indicate an absence of network traffic directed toward the source environment that should instead be directed to the target environment;
- Following an interval defined by you, during which workloads operate without disruptions in the target environment, you are sure that you do not need the ability to fall back to the source environment.
A well-structured cloud migration roadmap emerges as a critical tool, steering businesses away from undue costs, technical complications, and compliance risks throughout their cloud migration journey. Mastering the art of cloud migration requires a balanced fusion of strategic roadmapping and practical implementation. By keeping an eye on the evolving frameworks and integrating best practices, you can confidently embark on your cloud migration journey and unlock the vast potential of cloud technology. And, if you require assistance along the way–consider consulting with an experienced cloud partner who will make the transition much easier.
Why is N-iX a reliable tech partner for building and implementing your cloud migration roadmap?
- N-iX is a global tech consulting and software development service company with over 20 years of market experience in cloud projects for manufacturing, logistics and supply chain, fintech, retail, and other domains;
- Our cloud team spans more than 400 skilled specialists that can guide you through all phases of the cloud adoption journey. N-iX also provides expert consulting services and meticulously plans your cloud migration process based on the results of cloud readiness assessment;
- N-iX holds the status of the AWS Consulting Partner, Microsoft Solution Partner, and Google Cloud Partner. Such partnerships help us to incorporate industry best practices, frameworks, and programs into the clients' migration strategies;
- Our cloud specialists have completed 200+ cloud projects and are experienced in both on-premise and cloud-to-cloud migration. Moreover, the N-iX team is well-versed in many cloud-related services, including DevOps, CI/CD automation, optimization, and modernization;
- We ensure the utmost protection of your valuable information by complying with key regulations, such as GDPR and ISO 9001.