Best practices for cloud migration

The digitally native world is more and more a reality not just a prediction. In this context digital resiliency is of utmost importance. Moving to the cloud is one of the things that takes companies from traditional processes to agile. Best practices for cloud migration have become a core requirement for success in this instance.  

According to a 2020 survey, more than 92% of organizations interviewed have at least part of their operations in the cloud. Yet, cloud migration is not an easy feat from an organizational and technical point of view so, it is key to find the best strategies to do it right. 

One of the most important things is to have a thorough plan that establishes procedures for as many details as possible and prevents mistakes, the break-down of the system and any other issues. 

Not having a strategy when migrating can make the process harder than it needs to be and organizations lose some of the benefits because of the extended time it takes to reach the initial goals. 

The migration plan – general recommendations 

Once you decide to first move to the cloud or to expand your digital systems learn what the process entails, what are the different services and their pros and cons. Then research providers to find the ones who work in line with your company values and that can offer the type of service you will benefit from. 

Next, map your goals and define very clearly why you are interested in moving to the cloud. Decide what will be the benefits long-term and if this moves the company forward or not. It is best to go cloud first for all new technology where possible to make implementation, management and maintenance of the application easier. 

Remember that exit strategies are a form of protection and it is good business sense to create one. Be very clear about data ownership, how and where you do back-up, what are the ways in which you will get your data back and the timeframe when this will happen. If you make sure your data is portable, the process will be as painless as possible. 

Multiple ways to adopt the cloud 

Gartner proposes some strategies for cloud migration. Depending on your needs you can only rehost the data and applications on the cloud server. This is useful when you want to migrate applications intact because it’s impossible or too difficult to change the code. 

Another option is to refactor. In this case your applications are optimized for the new context in which they will function. The architecture is not changed but modifications are made for them to integrate better with cloud-based tools. 

The third possibility is to revise, that is to make more extensive changes to the architecture and the code to make everything fit as nicely as possible in its new digital home. Such an endeavour needs planning and an experienced team. 

A step further than the previous option is to rebuild. If your company chooses to go this route it embarks on a longer journey of replacing the old codebase with completely new code. This solution is time intensive and should be used only when there is no other choice.  

The last path is to replace. You acquire new systems and software, and only migrate the data. A company that can afford to commission teams to do this work might reap huge benefits since they are cloud native and thus part of the hassle of managing hybrid systems disappears. 

All of these steps build on each other and your company can choose which ones are more suitable and to what degree to implement them on a previously established timeframe.  

Best practices for cloud migration

No matter which one or ones you choose you have to keep in mind some key approaches that apply to all situations. These are necessary to ensure a smooth transition from current practices to new and improved ones offered by the cloud. 

Customization 

Applications and datasets are very individual to each company and management needs to plan rigorously as they have different requirements. Go over what type of data you have and the security it requires. Knowing exactly what you are working with will help you choose the right tools for a successful migration and decide what type of support is necessary before, during and after. 

Costs  

Since the cloud is a dynamic environment costs are not fixed and they depend on a variety of factors. Planning to include unexpected costs depending on various scenarios is a smart way to minimize your losses in the face of uncertain outcomes. Being ready for failure by coming up with an estimate for the long run, and having strategies to mitigate setbacks makes any company more resilient and better able to stay on the market despite risks and instability. 

Choose carefully 

With enough forethought, unfortunate situations like vendor lock-in can be avoided. Consider very carefully the provider you want to choose because it might be very hard or even impossible to change to another one if you find out the initial choice is not a good match, or in case your needs change. Incompatibilities, in the long run, can end up being very expensive. 

Step by step adoption 

Move forward prudently. Don’t expect the process to include all the activities and operations. A better choice is to make the transfer element by element with proper testing. Ensuring full functionality before moving to the next step is the right way to go through such a transition.

The initial stages should focus on non-critical tasks and types of data. There you can take the time to test exhaustively, archive, and refine your strategy. Find out if the architecture of the cloud is right for your workloads and if you can bring your own licensing to the cloud in case you are in an industry that is more strictly regulated. Before you give the go-ahead, try a pilot. This will give you sufficient data and experience to adjust the process and will save you prolonged downtime, especially when your activity cannot afford it. Remember back-up and recovery. This is when they will prove most valuable. 

Be prepared for failure 

Make a list of all the things that can go wrong and have a plan in place for each of them. Standardization of methods and procedures leads to dealing with changes swiftly and effectively and it reduces the number of mistakes that can occur. Being prepared has never hurt anyone and it might just be the detail that puts you ahead of the competition.  

Security 

In the cloud, security is a complex and nuanced affair, and the main concern when it comes to managing data and the proper functioning of company processes. One of the drawbacks of any migration is the amount of lost visibility that happens. The process of deleting the information is not verifiable. The loss of control is always problematic so, some thought has to go towards dealing with failure situations due to it.  

While the provider is responsible for ensuring security for the physical infrastructure, the network, and the service they offer, you, the customer, are responsible for how you use the service acquired. 

The more services you use, the greater the risk. The best way to minimize it is to have end-to-end encryption and to be very diligent about updating software. Understanding how identity management happens in the cloud and considering different encryption techniques at rest and in transit will ease your adaptation to the new environment by offering you peace of mind when it comes to your data. 

Security tried and tested strategies 

Some well-known modalities to improve your security are cheap and effective, others include more sophisticated technology, but they are all a great time and financial investment since they protect you from data breaches. 

Have multifactor authentication. Stealing credentials is one of the easiest ways for hackers to get access to your data.  It is also the cheapest and one of the most effective controls.  

Manage how your users access the system. Allow varying degrees of control and let people see and use only what they need. In case of a breach, limited access might just be the thing that saves your sensitive data. 

Implement machine-learning-powered monitoring and analysis as that is more likely to alert you to any irregularities or anomalies and prevent a possible breach or catch it as early as possible. 

Have a thorough offboarding process and revoke access to the system to any employee that leaves.  

Do anti-phishing training regularly because threats become ever more sophisticated, techniques change and they are, in many situations, context-dependent to better lure people to click links and open sites that can steal their data.  

Having cloud-to-cloud backup solutions decreases the possibility that human error will make you lose your data. It will easily restore whatever was lost. 

Conclusion 

An effective migration depends on a team with the right skills, qualifications and expertise. Also, lucid and careful leadership is key, as the vision comes from the top and all new strategies and changes must be introduced with an eye to the employees and the dynamics of the business. Modifying huge chunks of how the work is done requires a change in mindset. Helping people you manage adapt to the pressures of the market is to everyone’s benefit. In some cases, being there to prepare, support and help people understand how it all works and why is the way to build strong, flexible environment that can take on any challenge.  

  

 

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