Top practices while migrating applications to the cloud

No one should be fooled into thinking a cloud migration is a simple process. It is anything but. However, as with most things in life, a well-structured and sensible plan that can remain flexible and adjusts with the facts on the ground, implemented by a team of well-trained staff can ensure a cloud migration will help businesses reach their true potential. Cloud implementations have the potential to modernize business in a way nothing that has come before it could, except maybe with the initial introduction of computers and IT. Suddenly, a business will have the ability to utilize data in ways it never previously had.

To succeed with a cloud implementation, the following three-steps should be adhered to:

Pre-Migration

Map out a migration strategy, obviously, but consider your data governance, security, data workflow, IT, and modeling requirements. Understand your software licenses, staffing levels, as well as education requirements. Clarity of vision is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Share the vision far and wide.

Data governance

Proper data governance is the foundation of a successful cloud migration and this is a great time for a company to ensure its data house is in order. Today, data governance is not a nice-to-have, it is a must-have. Data governance is about enablement, control, and security. In today’s fast-moving, Big Data environments, organizations need strong data discipline to maximize their data’s value, as well as to manage its risks, and reduce the cost of its management.

Data governance provides a common understanding of data, which will make the data far more manageable and exponentially more useful throughout the organization. It also provides strong data compliance, which can simplify governmental regulatory oversight.

Strategy

Have one. A clear and understandable one. And share it broadly. Many IT implementations fail because the department adding a new software tool doesn’t embrace it properly and never envisions how it will improve their department data or processes. Company personnel often fight against new tools because they don’t want change. This cannot happen with a cloud migration, so outline a clear cloud governance model and use it to create a deeper understanding of a company’s data and data structure. Document everything; create data dictionaries, workflow procedures, process roadmaps, information security tenets, administration doctrine requirements, data discovery techniques, and benchmarking practices.

Empower your people

Your people know your data best, so empower them to contribute to your data stewardship. Train your staff on the tools before the migration begins. Most cloud providers offer considerable training about their solutions, much of it free, so take advantage of this.

Select the right partner

Many IT companies have recognized the enormous profit potential in cloud services and are jumping into the market. The big players – AWS, Azure, Google, Salesforce, IBM, and Oracle – are finding there’s enough demand in the market for everyone to thrive. Smaller players are creating niche products for unique market segments. For example, with its ‘China Connect’ service, Alicloud helps companies reach the Chinese consumer market in ways that AWS and Azure can’t.

Because the options are so plentiful – and varied – it is important to understand each player’s unique set of offerings. Take the time to understand each service’s strengths and weaknesses.

Migration

Start small. The ‘KISS’ principle – Keep it simple, stupid – should be kept in mind. Don’t bite off more than you can chew in the early days. Get staff comfortable with your cloud provider’s services, then expand your footprint.

In today’s IT world, POC’s (proof of concept) can be completed within weeks, if not days. Put some quick wins on the board. Automation might be a good place to start, so find a good Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tool and look to automate away simple processes. As the little wins come in, your staff and company executives will get more comfortable playing on a bigger stage, handling more complex tasks, which will lead to bigger business gains. Once stakeholders see the benefits of utilizing the cloud, it will be easier to sell the bigger vision.

Utilize Cloud Discovery Tools

Cloud discovery tools let users get a holistic view into the consoles of different cloud providers, letting them manually navigate through the various cloud provider’s service pages. This helps users spot application security holes as well as apply new patches or upgrade entire software packages automatically.

Automate

One of the fastest ways to get users to embrace IT change is to show them how it can simplify their lives. The cloud’s potential is truly realized with automation. The main goal of an RPA is to reduce the burden of repetitive and almost mindless tasks on employees, freeing them up to handle more complicated and important ones.

Beyond RPA is Automation of IT processes (ITPA), which improves efficiency by reducing the manual work required in measuring and executing routine IT tasks. The next generation of solutions is hyperautomation and its promise of real-time organization intelligence along with the substantial business benefits that come with it would not be possible without the cloud.

Embrace Fully Managed Services

A cloud provider’s managed services can be incredibly helpful with the migration and beyond. Amazon’s managed services include Amazon RDS, AWS Directory Service, and Amazon DynamoDB. Microsoft has a strong partner network of managed service providers. Companies like Atlas Systems offer managed services. They can handle the day-to-day maintenance activities, allowing the migrator’s team to concentrate on more pressing operational or client issues.

Post-Migration

Monitor everything

Now that you’ve embraced the cloud, it is time to keep tabs on everything to ensure cloud investments are justifiable. Monitoring tools like Microsoft Cloud Monitoring, New Relic, APPDYNAMICS, and AWS CloudWatch Logs provide application-level insights and monitoring on the cloud. These tools assess the state of cloud-based infrastructure, help track performance, safety, and the availability of crucial cloud apps and services.

Create a Cloud Center of Excellence (CoE)

The CoE should be a place that collects and collate all technical knowledge that explains how the cloud strategy was built and executed across the entire organization. A dedicated team to evaluate and approve tools that will be used in the migration should be also set up. A secondary responsibility for them would be to look for efficiencies and patterns unique to the company’s cloud environment.

Conclusion

If you’re thinking about a cloud migration, you’re in good company; Gartner predicts that by 2021, over 75% of midsize and large organizations will have adopted a multi-cloud or hybrid IT strategy. Today’s IT systems have become incredibly complex, with distributed architectures, multi-cloud containers, microservices, Big Data, and real-time streaming data flowing through in-memory systems and out to customer facing applications. It is almost impossible to keep up with it all, but cloud computing helps. Businesses should approach the cloud as transformational because this is one of the best opportunities for a business to revolutionize both its processes and its very business.