Cloud Migration Strategy: Trust You Are Ready to Perform a Migration and Then Do It!

Published on: May 21, 2020
David Mendez, Cloud Architect

Cloud Migration Strategy: Trust the Process

You have developed a business case for moving to the Cloud, done all of the proper planning and preparation, and ensured that your team has acquired the necessary skill sets to perform your cloud migration. You are all ready to go, and all of sudden the migration plan is halted. I have seen this situation many times in my years of working with the Cloud.  Everything is in place, but the migration process is put on hold. I find in these cases that it’s not a matter of not being prepared, but a matter of not trusting that your plan is correct.     

One thing to understand about migration plans is that they are not cookie-cutter plans. Each plan is unique, and your plan is yours and yours alone. Trusting in your plan and executing it is the final step. If you have read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series, then you have understood and conquered the “paralysis by analysis” phase, and the “refining your plan“ phase. 

One point that is often forgotten is that your migration strategy is not set in stone. Your strategy can and will change as you begin to migrate into the Cloud. You will uncover issues in your plan that were unknown at the time of plan development. Perhaps you had a plan to migrate five applications (a.k.a. workloads) within a month and discovered issues that prevent even one from being successfully migrated. This can seem like a failure, but in the world of cloud migrations, it is not. Failure is the greatest teacher when it comes to migrations.

In fact, a migration process that is tried and true is one that embraces and expects issues to occur in your migration process. Below is the AWS best-practice workflow for migrating an application::

Cloud Migration Strategy Migration and Validation image

In each successful migration to the Cloud that I have performed, the client takes a workload, executes their plan for that workload, and discovers what is successful and what has failed. This part is shown in the graphic above in the Application Design and Migration & Validation loops. Using that knowledge, the client adjusts the plan and executes it again until the results are what is expected. This process is then repeated for each application.

Below are two examples of unique migration projects that were executed using this process. The process works no matter if it's a small migration or one that is large and complex.

Small College: A small college needed to migrate their production website quickly into AWS to avoid an automatic shutdown of the site at the current provider. The client had no previous workloads in AWS. Unicon worked with the client to develop a cloud strategy that addressed their immediate needs but also set them up for future migrations. Unicon then executed the migration of the website using a “lift-and-shift” approach, following the process in this blog. Issues were discovered with specific customizations in the website that required an adjustment to the plan to incorporate a refactoring of the workload for the Cloud. By using AWS, the website was able to have its migration tested multiple times with no disruption to the production website. After testing the process, the production migration was performed with no issues and the college website was in AWS with minimal disruption.

Large University: A large university faced an obstacle when a critical content delivery application that was hosted for them experienced an immediate end-of-life issue. Unicon worked with the client to perform an application discovery, then the client turned the entire migration process over to Unicon. Unicon determined that a refactoring of the application would be the best option, converting from a SQL Server back-end database to an AWS Aurora PostgreSQL database. In addition, Unicon refactored the application from a Windows-based system to a Linux-based system.  This provided the client with considerable cost savings and a better alignment with existing team skills. Unicon executed the plan, tested what worked and what did not, adjusted the areas that were presenting issues, and achieved a successful migration of the application in a refactored form within thirty days.      

As you can see in these examples, each client had different needs, and as a result, different plans. Applying their plans to the best practices for migration allowed each one to be successful. Trust that this process will work for your own unique migration plan.

To help you along, AWS provides migration tools to help you track and execute your workload migrations. Take advantage of these as they will make your cloud journey easier.

  • AWS Migration Hub This is a service that lets you track your migrations across multiple AWS solutions
  • AWS Server Migration Service This is an agentless service that makes it easier to migrate on-premise workloads into AWS. It provides automation, scheduling, and tracking of incremental replications of live server volumes.
  • AWS Database Migration Service This service allows you to migrate your on-premise database with minimal downtime, allowing your database to stay online the entire time that the migration is occurring.
  • CloudEndure Migration This offering from AWS simplifies, expedites, and reduces the costs of migrations with a fully automated lift-and-shift solution.

All of these tools can help you in your journey to the Cloud by giving you the right tools to execute your migrations following best practices.

One final tip: Never be reluctant to ask for help, no matter what level of help you require.

I have been involved with migrations where the client bounced ideas off of Unicon, and we gave them expert advice on their migration plans. The client has then done the work, performed scheduled check-ins with what they have discovered, and asked for further advice. I’ve been involved with migrations where the entire strategy and plan was developed by Unicon working with the client, and then Unicon performed the actual migration. I’ve seen migrations involve just one application by the client to get experience and confidence in AWS, and I’ve been involved in “all-in” migrations.

The point is, each migration plan is unique and is suited to your needs. Apply the best-practice process to your plan.  A cloud migration is a journey, one that takes on a unique path for your requirements but also has a guide to help you through the process. Trust in all that you have done to this point, and don’t be shy about asking for help if you get stuck. The benefits you will see at the end of your journey will be worth it.

Additional Resources:

Don't miss our complimentary webcast Steps on the Cloud Migration Journey!

Register to View the Webcast Now

For more information on cloud migration readiness

Unicon’s AWS Cloud Migration Readiness Guide. Presents a methodology for migration readiness and cloud adoption.
Unicon’s Building Your Hybrid Cloud Strategy.   A guide to extending and optimizing your campus hybrid cloud environment.

Cloud Migration Strategy Blog Series:
Part 1: The Timing is Always Right
Part 2: How to Know What You Don’t Know

 

David Mendez photo

David Mendez

Cloud Architect

Dave Mendez is a Senior Cloud Engineer and Senior System Administrator at Unicon.  With over 20 years’ experience, he has been involved in all aspects of IT ranging from cloud solutions and implementations, network administration, programming, system administration, and IT management.  Dave currently specializes in Amazon Web Services, designing and implementing large scale cloud solutions and leading Unicon's Hosting and Managed Services team.  His passion is for developing lean, effective AWS architectures that decrease costs and increase the resiliency of applications. Prior to working at Unicon, Dave was Director of IT at John Wood Community College and Assistant Director of IT at Quincy University, where he was responsible for budget management and developing long-term IT strategies for processes and policies. Dave also served as lead network and system administrator for both institutions. Dave is a recognized Subject Matter Expert (SME) in AWS technologies. He holds six AWS Certifications, including both professional level certifications of Solutions Architect, DevOps Engineer, and Security Specialist.