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Tips To Help Businesses Efficiently Plan and Implement Cloud Migration

Increasingly, businesses of all sizes are migrating to Office 365. Whether you’re considering a hybrid email platform or you’re planning on solely utilizing Office 365, there are bound to be roadblocks and challenges throughout the cloud migration process.

The good news is that smart planning and considered execution can help prevent problems from holding up any aspect of cloud migration.

Of course, migration needs to begin with an understanding of the process.

Assess and Plan

Typically, businesses migrate to the cloud to simplify IT infrastructure while improving agility. This means that migration must begin with an assessment and informed plan.

Initial assessments by IT specialists focus on gathering vital information about your existing IT environment and infrastructure. This assessment seeks to identify potential risks to help optimize your cloud migration.

What’s more, the assessment stage incorporates business goals and plans to help determine the best course of action while supporting your initiatives and efforts.

Typically, the assessment helps your migration team:

  • Understand your organization’s current workload and requirements – this helps identify necessary components and what they will be used for.
  • Plan and budget appropriately for both initial and recurring costs, helping keep IT efforts on or under-budget. At this point, it’s not uncommon to calculate operational costs.
  • Map business services and applications, including dependencies.
  • Build security and compliance requirements.
  • Identify metrics that directly impact quality—e.g. current downtime, acceptable downtime, and your ability to respond to downtime.
  • Determine what the acceptable amount of risk is.

Considering Downtime

Will your users be able to deal with downtime during the migration? If not, you will need to come up with a strategy to ensure the transition is smooth and without downtime.

Application Profiling

As the term itself suggests, application profiling collects and organizes key metrics and information about the applications your organization uses. Profiling helps determine an optimal migration strategy that addresses your needs more directly.

Furthermore, application profiling helps you:

  • Collect and categorize key application information—e.g. the application’s role, level of criticality, and level of infrastructure automation.
  • Determine workload categories you currently support—e.g. compute-intensive, database-intensive, and user-interface-intensive workloads.
  • Identify how end users use your applications and your baseline, current-state environment.
  • Determine critical-to-quality metrics, which may include current and acceptable downtime.
  • Match the right cloud platform and configuration with the requirements for each workload category.
  • Determine which workloads will easily migrate without the need to refactor or re-platform. These will be the ones you migrate first.

Designing a Migration

Once you determine the workloads to migrate, you can design the migration down to exact details.

  • Align migration and platform-build activities and develop a comprehensive project plan for team reference.
  • Develop and build a runbook based on your migration strategy, which will include and provide details regarding the procedures you will follow. This runbook should align with your project plan.
  • Notify all stakeholders of any potential risks involved with the migration.
  • Assemble your migration team—even with outside expertise from IT analysts and migration experts, an in-house team may be necessary to ensure a smooth transition.

Migrate

With your runbook and team of migration experts, you are ready for migration. To get a feel for the process and fix any problems early on, start with data and applications that are the easiest and least critical to migrate. These will be the most suitable for the cloud environment.

Moving Data

Most of your migration will rely directly on an Internet connection, but may involve other data transfer methods, in certain situations. Larger workloads will warrant data compression prior to any migration work.

Before any data migration, archive and backup all data in the event of hardware failure or unplanned outages.

Security

Security is important when you’re moving data. Any temporary storage locations used during the migration process should be secure to protect your data.

Migration Tools

You should understand how to use the migration tools from your cloud provider. Consult with an expert before you use these tools.

Once you’re ready for the migration, follow these steps:

  • Perform a rehearsal of the runbook and fix as needed.
  • Determine the optimal migration window.
  • Inform your business of the migration plan.
  • Develop a contingency plan.
  • Make sure all migration testing and rollback criteria have been agreed upon and captured.
  • Execute the migration according to the plan.
  • After the migration, use an automated testing strategy to validate applications, data, and network accessibility.
  • Cut over and go live.

Avoid Migration without Expert Help

If you’re tempted to save money and execute the migration on your own, don’t. IT migration is a difficult task with plenty of room for error if you don’t have experience performing these tasks! You will be far better off working with an experienced cloud migration team. The experts can foresee and prevent costly problems, saving you more money over time.

Migration specialists can:

  • Run a cloud migration while supporting your current technologies.
  • Meet security and compliance requirements.
  • Adopt new processes required to operate effectively in the cloud, such as automation.
  • Design applications to meet uptime, security, and scalability goals.
  • Maintain the function and health of your cloud. This includes monitoring, upgrading, patching, and capacity planning.
  • Cloud migrations are complex. To protect your data, minimize downtime, and ensure you have a successful migration, get help from professionals who have plenty of knowledge of cloud migration best practices.