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How to Develop an Effective Cloud Migration Strategy for 2024

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Last updated on
January 22, 2024

A QUICK SUMMARY – FOR THE BUSY ONES

Why you should have a strategy for cloud migration:

  • Risk management and disaster recovery.
  • Predictability of cost and time.
  • Implementation schedule.
  • Integrate migration into overall company strategy.
  • Reduction of staff shortage and skill gap.

Step-by-step plan to build a cloud migration strategy:

14 Steps of developing a cloud migration strategy

Proceed to the main part of this article to get a practical advice on each step.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

How to Develop an Effective Cloud Migration Strategy for 2024

Introduction

Since you're reading this article, it means you're already convinced about cloud solutions. Now it's time for the next level - preparing your implementation strategy!

Many businesses don't like to take the time to plan and prefer to go straight into action. However, we encourage you to take your cloud migration strategy very seriously and carefully. A well-thought-out roadmap and analysis of your goals and resources will allow you to reduce the risk of mistakes and choose the solution best suited to your needs.

<h2 id="strategy">How to develop a Cloud migration strategy step-by-step? </h2>

Step 1: Characterize the current state of your business

The foundation of any successful change is knowing the status quo. Understanding your business's nature, strengths, and weaknesses is the key to deciding how to carry out the migration most effectively. Evaluate your existing IT infrastructure, applications, and data to understand their dependencies and requirements. Identify any potential challenges or constraints that may arise during the migration.

Step 2: Identify the goals you want to achieve

At this point of the strategy, answer the questions "Why are you migrating?" and "What are you migrating?". This will help you estimate the needs of your business that can be met with cloud solutions.

"WHY?"

Define the main goals of the migration. Greater scalability, cost efficiency, the flexibility of development, unlimited resources, easier cooperation within the company, business continuity, greater automation, increased agility, and innovation. Cloud technologies allow you to achieve all these goals, but choosing the right provider, business model and scope of services depends on your priorities.

"WHAT?"

Migrating to the cloud is more than moving all the folders from your hard drive to Dropbox. Each type of data requires different procedures and infrastructure, which is why one of the key elements of a cloud migration strategy is to determine what needs to be transferred. 

You can move to the cloud:

  • Technologies, for example, systems and applications.
  • Storage, including files, archive data, and retention policies.
  • Databases, including product information, customer data, and documentation.
  • Management services and business systems.
  • Networking assets and configurations.
  • Components for developers.
  • …and much more

Step 3: Evaluate your resources

The cloud migration strategy depends on the resources you have in your organization, so you need to determine your capabilities. 

First, the money. Even though cloud solutions themselves are cost-effective because you only pay for the resources you use, the migration process itself is an investment whose price depends on the scope of work and capacity needed. 

Second, timing. Migrating to the cloud is a step you certainly won't regret, but count on the fact that the process itself involves a lot of changes, so choosing the right time is crucial. If you're planning big milestones for your organization, such as the start of international sales or a merger with another company, conduct the migration early so that your company is prepared for the new challenges and your team has time to get used to the new working model.

Third, human resources. Some technology companies that have experienced developers on board can perform the migration in-house, but most choose to work with a software company specializing in cloud solutions. Assess the competencies of your team and decide the areas you will need support with.

Step 4: Choose cloud environment

When planning a cloud implementation strategy, you will have to choose the environment in which you want to work. There are three main models to choose from:

Single cloud - an organization uses services and resources from a single cloud service provider. The main advantage of this solution is the ease of use and management, which is often valued by smaller companies with a limited number of workloads deployed to the cloud. The main downside is dependence on a single provider and the potential difficulty of switching (vendor lock-in).

Multi-cloud - the organization uses services from multiple vendors to support different applications, assets, and workloads. Such a solution provides the customer with a lot of flexibility, independence, and diversification, which is why it‘s currently the most recommended model. On the other hand, multi-cloud is more complex and less consistent than single cloud.

Hybrid cloud - some companies don’t want to move all their resources from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud because they fear downtime or want to test whether the cloud is right for their needs. In such a situation, a hybrid cloud, which is a combination of on-premises and cloud environments, can be implemented.

Choosing cloud environment

Step 5: Choose a cloud provider

Research and select a cloud provider that aligns with your organization's needs. Consider factors such as pricing, security, performance, availability, and the services offered by the provider. Among the most popular cloud vendors are: Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), and Google (Google Cloud).

Step 6: Design cloud architecture

Create a cloud architecture design that outlines how your applications and data will be structured in the cloud. Define the necessary networking, storage, and computing resources required to support your workloads.

Step 7: Prioritize workloads

Determine which applications and workloads will be migrated to the cloud first. Consider factors such as complexity, dependencies, and business criticality. Start with less complex workloads to gain experience and confidence before migrating the most critical applications.

Step 8: Create data migration plan

Plan to move your data from the on-premises environment to the cloud. Identify the most accurate procedure such as a direct transfer, database replication, or utilizing cloud-based migration tools. Ensure data integrity and security during the transfer.

Step 9: Migrate applications

Transfer your applications to the cloud based on the prioritization defined earlier. Test the migrated applications thoroughly to ensure they are functioning as expected. Monitor the performance and implement necessary adjustments.

Step 10: Optimize and refactor

Once your applications are running in the cloud, evaluate opportunities for optimization and refactoring. Leverage cloud-native services, such as serverless computing or managed databases, to improve performance, scalability, and cost-efficiency.

Step 11: Establish security measures

Data security is one of the most important parts of your cloud migration strategy. Remember that this is an ongoing process, not a one-time action. Implement robust security measures in the cloud, including identity and access management, encryption, and network security. Ensure compliance with industry and regulatory standards. It’s a good practice to conduct a security audit after the migration is complete.

Step 12: Train and educate teams

Provide training and education to your teams to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to manage the cloud environment effectively. Foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement. You can take advantage of consultations and workshops from an external company specializing in cloud technologies.

Step 13: Monitor and optimize

Continuously monitor the performance, availability, and cost of your cloud infrastructure. Use analytics tools from a cloud vendor or third-party providers to gain insights and optimize accordingly.

Step 14: Choose a trusted business partner

Let's be honest – implementing a cloud migration strategy is not a piece of cake, but a multi-step process that requires enormous research and technical competence. Fortunately, you don't have to carry it out alone. Many software companies specializing in cloud solutions provide consulting, strategic planning, auditing, migration, and implementation services. Outsourcing of cloud-related services is standard business procedure today, so if you want to be sure that the migration process will be carried out smoothly and safely, entrust it to an experienced business partner. You can easily verify technology companies using Clutch or Google or check rankings like Top custom software development companies.

Challenges and risks of Cloud implementation

Challenges and risks of Cloud implementation

Data security

Migrating your data is always a challenge, especially if you are dealing with an external transfer like on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. You need to make sure that all data is secured and not damaged. What's more, when choosing a cloud provider you have to reckon with the fact that its position in the market also affects the security of your data, so it's better to use a proven vendor than a start-up. During the migration, it’s also worth noting that the cloud environment has different security requirements than on-premises infrastructure. Make sure you adapt security measures such as Hardware Security Module (HSM), encryption, and policies following SOC 2, PCI, and HIPAA standards.

Changing internal procedures

Implementing solutions involves changing internal procedures and workflows. Your teams will have to learn new standards for working with data, as well as a more agile approach to sourcing and releasing resources. 

Staff shortage and skill gaps

Migrating to a new environment can put you in a situation of staff shortages and skill gaps requiring a reorganization of the company's structure. Even if you additionally train your team, migrating to the cloud may require you to expand your IT team and find the right professionals with the needed skills.

Cost management

Cloud solutions are cost-efficient because they allow you to use only the resources you need and manage them nimbly. But this is a skill you need to learn. When working in the cloud, you need to constantly monitor your company's needs and not only add the resources you use but also subtract those you don't use to avoid overpaying for technology.

Temporary downtime

Cloud solutions increase business efficiency and speed, but the migration process itself is often a period of chaos and temporary downtime. Take this into account when planning your cloud implementation strategy and prepare your business for a period of reduced efficiency.

Best practices for Cloud migration implementation

Include Cloud migration in your overall strategy

Migrating to the cloud is a big step and you shouldn't do it ad hoc. Analyze your company's strategy and choose the right moment. If you are planning a major change in your company, such as expansion, operations in new markets, or restructuring, migration to the cloud should take place in advance. All procedures must be completed before you start a new major project so that your business runs smoothly. This includes training your team so it can operate at full capacity in the heat of the moment. Every industry has times of the year when there is less going on, so it’s best to choose a relatively quiet period for the migration. 

Cost management

Carefully evaluate what resources you need to avoid overpricing or underutilization. You can use cost-monitoring tools to track and analyze your cloud spending. This way you can flexibly increase and decrease the amount of resources you use. Also, carefully analyze different pricing models (e.g., pay-as-you-go, reserved instances, or savings plans) and select the most cost-effective option based on your workload and usage patterns.

Disaster recovery

As Zig Ziglar said, "Expect the best, prepare for the worst." In the context of the cloud, this means that while you have many new growth opportunities ahead, you need to be ready for something to go wrong. And that's what we call a disaster recovery plan.

Set up regular backups and data replication within the cloud provider's infrastructure. This ensures data durability and availability in case of infrastructure failures. 

Establish recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO) based on your business requirements. Test and validate your disaster recovery processes regularly to ensure they work properly.

Leverage automation tools to accelerate the recovery process. Automate the deployment of resources and configurations to minimize recovery time and human error.

Data management

Analyze your data requirements, including volume, types, and sensitivity, to determine the best approach for data migration and storage in the cloud.

Prioritize data migration. Classify your data based on its criticality and migrate it in phases.

Take the migration as an opportunity to clean and optimize your data. Remove outdated or trivial files to minimize storage costs and improve overall data quality.

Cloud vendor management

Since you've made the migration, the cloud vendor will be of great importance in the operation of your business, so it's worth ensuring smooth cooperation. At the very beginning, clearly define your expectations and needs, not only at the moment but also in the future, to make sure that the solutions you receive are sufficient for you. Also, determine the payment model and the level of flexibility you expect. Going back to Zig Zigler's quote, already at the stage of adopting the contract, also establish an exit strategy if you would like to change a cloud provider. This will allow you to avoid troublesome vendor lock-in. To make the cooperation satisfactory for both parties, establish open communication channels with your vendor's support team. Engage in regular meetings to discuss issues, requirements, and enhancements.

Strategic tips for effective Cloud migration

Strategic tips for hospital management software

Migrating hospital management software to the cloud requires a well-planned strategy, considering the criticality of healthcare data, regulatory compliance, and the need for uninterrupted service.

Compliance with healthcare regulations:

  1. Ensure strict adherence to healthcare regulations such as HIPAA (in the US), GDPR (in Europe), and other local healthcare data protection laws.
  2. Choose cloud service providers with a proven track record of compliance in the healthcare sector.

Prioritize data security and privacy:

  1. Implement robust encryption for data at rest and in transit.
  2. Ensure comprehensive access controls and authentication mechanisms are in place to protect sensitive patient data.

Plan for high availability and disaster recovery:

  1. Ensure high availability of hospital management systems as any downtime can critically impact patient care.
  2. Develop and implement disaster recovery and business continuity plans specific to the cloud environment.

Seamless integration with existing systems:

  1. Ensure the cloud solution integrates seamlessly with existing healthcare IT systems like Electronic Health Records (EHRs), diagnostic tools, and other clinical systems.
  2. Plan for data migration and interoperability between systems to maintain data integrity and continuity of care.

Strategic tips for banking system

Migrating a legacy banking system to a modern cloud-based or digital platform is a complex task that requires careful planning and execution. Legacy systems in banking often involve outdated technologies, but they also support critical business processes and contain valuable data.

Comprehensive assessment of legacy systems:

  1. Conduct a thorough audit of existing legacy systems to understand their architecture, dependencies, and functionalities.
  2. Identify which components are critical and need to be retained, modernized, or phased out.

Understanding regulatory compliance:

  1. Ensure a deep understanding of the banking regulations and compliance requirements that impact your systems (like Basel III, GDPR, Dodd-Frank Act, etc.).
  2. Plan the migration in a way that maintains or enhances compliance throughout the process.

Phased Migration Plan:

  1. Opt for a phased approach to migration rather than a big-bang switch. This reduces risk and allows for testing and adjustment at each stage.
  2. Prioritize the migration of less critical systems and gradually move to more critical ones.

Data Integrity and Security:

  • Ensure that data migration maintains the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data.
  • Implement robust encryption, access controls, and security protocols in the new system.

Integration with Existing Infrastructure:

  • Plan for seamless integration between new systems and existing infrastructure.
  • Ensure that the new system can communicate with other critical banking systems without disrupting services.

Scalability and Future-Proofing:

  • Ensure that the new system is scalable and can adapt to future technological advancements and business growth.
  • Consider adopting cloud services that offer flexibility and scalability.

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The economics of the Cloud adoption

During an economic crisis or a recession, many companies freeze their growth and decide to wait it out. This is a mistake. In uncertain times, ensuring your business is flexible and reactive is more important than ever because it allows you to adapt to new conditions. When the business landscape changes, you can't stay the same. That's why cloud solutions are so highly valued today.

Cloud statistics

Cloud statistics

  • Over 60% of the world's corporate data is stored in the cloud.
  • 90% of large enterprises have adopted a multi-cloud infrastructure.
  • 200 ZB of data will be stored in the cloud by 2025.
  • Public cloud services spending will reach almost $600 billion in 2023 (20.7% more than in 2022).
  • Cloud infrastructure services generate $178 billion per year in revenue.

The flexibility and agility of the cloud allow you to dynamically increase and decrease resources. In this way, you can reduce available storage and capacity during periods of lower traffic, which saves you money. At the same time, when your business is growing, you are not locked in by the capabilities of on-premises infrastructure and can take advantage of opportunities that present themselves by adding more resources to your cloud.

The cloud is also a huge support for companies working remotely, as it gives the same access to all data and assets to employees from anywhere in the world. This is crucial in the era of outsourcing and international cooperation.

Next steps

Now that you know all about how to plan an effective cloud implementation strategy there is only one thing left for you to do. Let’s make it your new business reality! Follow the next steps and get ready for a new stage of your company's growth. While good preparation will allow you to make better, more informed decisions, remember that you don't have to do everything yourself. Migrating to the cloud is a big thing, and the support of a trusted business partner will help you get the maximum benefit from your investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Our promise

Every year, Brainhub helps 750,000+ founders, leaders and software engineers make smart tech decisions. We earn that trust by openly sharing our insights based on practical software engineering experience.

Authors

Olga Gierszal
github
Software Engineering Editor

Software development enthusiast with 6 years of professional experience in the tech industry.

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