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Blog April 23, 2019

The Starter’s Guide to Migrating Workloads to the Cloud

How do I migrate to the cloud? That’s a question a lot of organizations are asking themselves these days.

Most organizations are migrating to the cloud as part of their digital transformation efforts. Cloud migration services have developed and changed radically over the past decades, and many IT departments discover, sometimes too late, that cloud migration is a far more complex process than they originally anticipated. Connectria is here to help. If you’re just getting started, we recommend downloading our Guide to Cloud Migration.

Despite the complexities, the benefits of migrating applications and data to the cloud are worth it, from better ability to scale, more effective use of resources, better cost control, increased security, and compliance. We could go on, and on, and on.

In our extensive experience, customers and end-users say they prefer cloud applications to on-prem ones. We’ve helped many clients find the right cloud migration services, make the transition to cloud, and migrate their existing workloads. What is the secret to Connectria’s cloud migration approach for seamless migration? Check out the helpful steps below.

8 Steps for Migrating to the Cloud

Naturally, these steps below are meant to be used as a rough outline. Your organization’s situation might require additional or fewer steps depending on the unique nature of your business. Also, additional steps might be required depending on the results of testing (see step 8).

1. Establish a strategy

Start by establishing a strategy for migration to the cloud and be sure to include goals and objectives. No organization migrates to the cloud “just because” (or shouldn’t, at any rate). Identify why the organization is migrating and get clear on what success will look like. Use this to set concrete goals.

2. Choose a cloud provider

Choose the provider that will help you best meet your goals. Where you build and host your environment should depend on the goals you are trying to achieve, as identified in the above step. For example, each public cloud platform is different, with different strengths and drawbacks. Private clouds will be different still. You might even want to consider a multi-cloud solution. Before any migration happens, you should do your due diligence by researching which providers will be the best fit—something Connectria can help you with, too.

3. Assess (legacy) application readiness

Applications typically perform best on a public cloud when they have been designed to take advantage of the specific architecture of the platform, relying on its strengths. In reality, though, you will likely have a number of existing legacy applications that will need to be migrated.

There are three basic methods for migrating legacy applications to the cloud:

  • Lift and shift. This method involves migrating an application or workload “as is” from one environment to another. Think of it as moving an old house from the country to the city. Nothing about the house changes, just the environment around it. For legacy applications, this is often the easiest method, but for applications built in the pre-cloud era, it can introduce the greatest risks.
  • Refactoring. On the other end of the spectrum, refactoring involves rearchitecting/recoding part or all of the application to create a cloud-native equivalent. Clearly the most expensive and time-consuming, this method is most often used for applications for which there isn’t a commercially available replacement option.
  • Modifying. This middle-ground option involves modifying enough components of your application to allow it to run on a cloud-native platform. The advantage of this approach is that it will allow you to realize more of the cloud benefits faster than the lift-and-shift method. However, this method can also increase your security and compliance risks if your team doesn’t have the requisite knowledge and skills.

Ultimately, you will need to assess your applications in terms of their infrastructure requirements to determine which method is appropriate.

4. Assess your current infrastructure

Your applications have all sorts of requirements when it comes to infrastructure. You’ll need to ensure that the cloud platform can accommodate them, or else that you are ready to re-platform your applications for the new environment. The main factors to assess include:

  • Amount of storage space needed
  • Amount of computational power
  • Networking requirements
  • Operating system compatibility

Most importantly, you will need to trace out all of the application’s dependencies, which will affect what needs to be moved, and in what order.

5. Run backup

The first part of any migration should be a full backup of your existing servers. Hopefully, nothing goes wrong as you migrate to the cloud, but one can never be too careful.

6. Begin deployment

Now the actual deployment to the cloud can begin. This will include provisioning and testing each individual component as it is shifted. It is important to do this at a time when disruption to the business will be minimal.

7. Migrate data

Once the deployment is done, you will want to migrate your existing data as well. This helps ensure business continuity.

8. Test the migration as a whole

Be prepared to test all components together once they have been deployed and data has been migrated. This should include load testing and vulnerability assessments. The user experience should be seamless, and security testing should reveal no issues.

A Note on Migrating to the Cloud and HIPAA Compliance

According to a recent HIMSS Analytics survey, 83 percent of healthcare organizations are already using cloud-based resources. Still, many organizations are asking about HIPAA compliance and the cloud, especially when migrating to the public cloud.

Firstly, keep in mind that no cloud platform, public or otherwise, is inherently HIPAA compliant. That said, most big-name public cloud platforms (AWS, Azure, IBMi) can be used to create a HIPAA/HITECH compliant cloud environment. The time to do this, though, is at the outset, when setting up the cloud environment. From there, you will need an experienced team to monitor and ensure HIPAA/HITECH compliance.

Connectria Helps Guide Organizations Migrating to the Cloud

There are many options available when it comes to cloud providers and their services. Connectria works with many different cloud vendors. This enables us to offer unique insight into vendors’ specialties and strengths. We can help you assemble or fortify your strategy for migrating to the cloud. We will help you ask the right questions.

Click here for more information about our approach or talk to one of our experts today for personalized recommendations.

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