Cloud Migration Checklist: 10 steps for a Smooth Transition

Published on June 21, 2021 by

Andrew Sweeney

Migrating enterprise applications and data to the cloud is no small feat. Interconnections between applications tend to grow over time, and data may be shared between multiple applications. One application can crash when an entirely different application is migrated. Moving a data set at the wrong time can bring an application to a halt. It can be challenging to determine which applications are no longer in use and which are still critical but used only occasionally. 

There are numerous factors to consider when planning your migration. Here are 10 tips to help you plan your migration.

Step 1: Determine Your Cloud Migration Strategy

The first step on your cloud migration checklist is to determine your strategy, which should flow from the answers to the following questions:

  • Which applications will we move to the cloud?
    • Do security, compliance or legal concerns prevent moving some of our applications to the cloud?
    • Do we have applications that cannot migrate to the cloud? If yes, do we want to replace them?
    • Do we have applications that will not function well on the cloud?
  • Is a single cloud solution, with a single vendor and all of our applications moving to the cloud, our best solution?
    • Is a single-cloud solution feasible?
    • Is a single cloud solution cost-efficient?
    • Will a single-cloud solution be more or less effective than what we’re doing now?
  • Does a multi-cloud solution make more sense for us?
    • Will a multi-cloud solution be more secure?
    • Do we need a multi-cloud solution due to requirements about which country we store customer and other private data in?
    • Would a multi-cloud solution allow faster access to applications and data, based on where our users are located?
    • Will a multi-cloud solution be more cost-effective?
  • Should we use a hybrid solution, with some applications in physical data centers and others in the cloud?
    • Do we need to maintain on-premises data centers for some applications?
    • Will a physical data center enhance security for sensitive applications?
    • Are key stakeholders uncomfortable with a cloud-only solution?

Step 2: Assess Applications and Workloads

The next step on your cloud migration checklist is to get a clear, real-time view of your current applications and workloads. You can divide this into several sub-steps:

  1. Collect information: Pull together information about applications, data sets, owners, and users.
  2. Understand interdependencies: To minimize the risks of disruption during migration, create dependency maps showing interdependencies between applications, data sets, owners, and users. This may require some extra data gathering.
  3. Gauge each application’s level of importance: Group your applications by whether they’re critical, important, or low-usage and/or low-risk. This will help you understand how much time and resources to put into testing, as well as when applications need to be moved.
  4. Decide which applications must be moved together: With an understanding of their interdependencies, determine which applications need to be moved together to prevent breaking dependencies.
  5. Determine your cloud requirements for each workload: Assess computing, storage and connectivity needs for each workload so you can accurately scope out requirements for virtual servers, storage, and network throughput. Just as importantly assess security, governance, and compliance requirements for apps and the data they use. This will be crucial in determining whether you can move a workload to the cloud, as well as what requirements that cloud provider must meet.
  6. Identify efficiency opportunities: You may find low-usage applications that can be eliminated entirely from your company’s workflow, or similar applications that can be consolidated into a single application to save money and reduce complication. In addition, look for applications that can be turned off at certain times, thereby saving money when you’re paying per-minute in the cloud.


Step 3: Determine Each Workload Target Destination and Integration Level

Using the data gathered and strategy decisions made in the first two steps of the cloud migration checklist, decide which workloads are good candidates for cloud migration. Also ascertain whether you’ll do a shallow integration (sometimes called “lift and shift”) or a deep integration that modifies your application to take advantage of cloud capabilities.

Concentrate on the workloads most likely to benefit.

Your first candidates for moving should be those workloads that are most likely to benefit from the cloud – whether those benefits are in the form of cost savings, computing power and speed, or access. So, which types of workloads are most likely to befit from cloud migration?

  • Unpredictable workloads are more likely to benefit from cloud migration. The more difficult it is to predict demand for a workload, the more likely it is to benefit from cloud migration. This often applies to externally facing applications, such as websites, mobile apps, or API gateways.
  • Overprovisioned workloads may also benefit from migrating to the cloud. Because you have to overprovision for their peak requirements, you may be paying for more resources than you actually need. A move to the cloud may allow you the flexibility to accommodate peak requirements and scale back during other times.
  • Efficiently-running virtualized applications may not be as likely to benefit. These are predictable, steady-state applications that don’t have peak workloads and are already optimized.

Choose shallow or deep cloud integrations.

  • Deep cloud integration means you’ll modify your application and/or its implementation to take advantage of cloud capabilities, such as:
    • Auto-scaling
    • Dynamic load balancing
    • Cloud-specific data storage
    • Serverless computing
    • Other cloud-only services
  • Shallow cloud integration is a simpler migration, in which you move an on-premises application to the cloud, making only the server changes required to relocate it.


Step 4: Create Your Migration Plan

Assuming you’re not doing a “lift and shift” and just moving everything to the cloud at once, you’ll need a cloud migration plan. The steps you’ve already completed in your cloud migration checklist will help you form your plan.

Your first step is to use the information you’ve gathered to determine your migration priorities – essentially, which applications should be moved and when. Prioritize moving applications that:

  • Are no longer secure in their current iteration, and must be migrated to the cloud for security reasons.
  • The developer no longer supports in non-cloud instances.
  • Are running on servers approaching end-of-life.
  • Offer the greatest cost-savings opportunities.

Create a project timeline and migration waves, including pilot testing. Your timeline should:

  • Group interdependent applications, based on your assessment in Step 2 of the cloud migration checklist.
  • Contemplate migrating data with applications.
  • Make sure everything is replicated in the cloud and tested before you migrate production servers.
  • Match your team’s capacity to handle the migration.
  • Work around any “blackout” dates or times during which migration cannot take place.


Step 5: Create a Communications Plan

You will probably need application owners and users to take steps at certain point in your migration. And, individuals throughout your organization and in management will need updates. You may also need to communicate with vendors and other third parties as your migration proceeds.

Plan how, when, and what you will need to share with stakeholders at various points in your cloud migration. Leave room in your timeline for required responses or actions.


Step 6: Orchestrate Your Migration

If you’ve been following this cloud migration checklist, you’re ready to put your plan into motion:

  • Schedule team tasks, preferably with an automated system that understands dependencies.
  • Leverage a command-and-control platform to schedule and execute system tasks from a single place.
  • Monitor task completion, communicating with team members if tasks aren’t completed on time and changing dependent dates.
  • Use status triggers to rollback migration should a problem arise.


Step 7: Maintain Real-time Status Visibility

As you execute the migration, you’ll need to keep project owners, participants, and stakeholders up-to-date with progress. You may provide reports when requested or compile reports periodically. Or, you could create real-time dashboards customized to managers, project owners, project participants and others.

In addition, security and compliance teams also require reporting, so you’ll need to document and report for them, maintaining both real-time status reports and an audit trail.


Step 8: Make Sure the Applications are Working in the New Environment

As your migration of applications and data sets to the cloud finishes, you’ll need to make sure they’re stable, functional, and secure in the new environment. This step in your cloud migration checklist should include operational and performance testing, access testing, security testing, and vulnerability testing. This testing will be ongoing.


Step 9: Decommission Equipment no Longer in Use

As you near the end of your cloud migration checklist, you’re ready to decommission equipment that you no longer need. This means identifying which equipment is no longer needed and deciding whether it is ready for disposal.

As you decommission equipment, you’ll need to track how and when it was decommissioned. Audit trails for data-bearing equipment need to be maintained.


Step 10: Leverage lessons learned

After all the work you’ve put into your cloud migration, you’ll want to make the most of all the information you’ve gathered. Now that you have an accurate view of your data center environment – including applications, business owners, users, and interdependencies, continue to keep it current. You can leverage this information to manage other It programs, including Windows Lifecycle Management, Office 365, asset management, IoT, IT Asset Disposition, and other endpoint lifecycle management programs.


How ReadyWorks Helps You Complete Your Cloud Migration Checklist

ReadyWorks helps you reduce the risks of a cloud migration by giving you a real-time view of your data center environment, applications, users, data sets, and interdependencies. It also reduces execution-related risks by helping you schedule and automate human and systems migration workflows. Its single command-and-control platform helps you automate, monitor, and document your cloud migration. And, when you’ve finished migrating, it can continue to provide an always-up-to-date, 360-degree view of your data center operations.

ReadyWorks gives you:

  • A single source that aggregates all information about applications, data sets, business owners, and users.
  • A visual view of the interdependencies and interconnections between all that information, including dependency maps.
  • Automation of systems tasks execution in a single platform.
  • Automation of communication emails.
  • Real-time status dashboards customized for each stakeholder, from project managers to business leads.
  • An always up-to-date, 360-degree view of your data center, whether single cloud, multi-cloud, or hybrid. 

Business Outcomes

Customers who use ReadyWorks:

  • Lessen the risks of business disruption during cloud migrations.
  • Reduce manual efforts by 50% by automating data analysis, workflows, and reporting.
  • Shorten migration timelines by 30% or more.

Learn how ReadyWorks can help you with your cloud migration. Schedule a demo today.