The Before You Migrate to the Cloud To-Do List

July 09 2020
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Purchasing cloud services — including those from AWS — is easy. Just enter a few pieces of information and a credit card number and push “Go.” But ensuring you make the most of a move to the cloud entails much more.

That’s why the pre-migration phase is critical. This is when you determine what workloads can and should be moved to the cloud and what will be required to optimize their performance once there. It also provides you with the opportunity to calculate the costs of a cloud migration.

The IT Asset Inventory

Among the most important steps in the pre-migration phase is taking stock of your IT assets. Among the categories to include in your inventory are:

  • Hardware and virtualized hardware
  • Software
  • Applications
  • Data – structured and unstructured
  • Network and communications infrastructure
  • Facilities equipment for IT Services (HVAC, generators, batteries)
  • Mobile devices
  • Internet of Things devices/sensors
  • Cloud services

Gather asset specifications, performance data, and the details for all running processes and network connections. Note relevant information such as purchase dates, maintenance contracts, warranty expiration dates, usage, and life cycle status.

Reach out to all departments to account for resources you may not be aware of due to shadow IT. For applications, in particular, meet with representatives from each department to go over the apps they use, how they use them, and what business needs they are trying to meet with them. Ask about regulatory or other requirements that they may be required to meet as well.

Document legacy apps that perform poorly or have become cumbersome. They may be candidates for redesign. Apps that currently run behind a firewall may be as well. This would allow for some functions to continue to run on-premise if required, while others would be refactored to run in the cloud.

You can use AWS Application Discovery Service to expedite this process and better understand your workloads. It collects server specification information, performance data, and details of running processes and network connections. The data can also be used to create a detailed cost estimate prior to a cloud migration or to group servers into applications for planning purposes.

Application Dependency Mapping

Even a smoothly run cloud migration can encounter issues that disrupt business operations. Application dependency mapping provides visibility into the interdependencies of your business services and apps. If something goes down, you’ll know what else may be affected so you quickly troubleshoot and implement failovers and backups to protect critical apps.

There are numerous application dependency mapping tools available, including professional solutions, free and open-source options. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

The Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

A business impact analysis (BIA) will help you understand the value of your workloads. Like BIAs used in disaster recovery planning, a workload-specific BIA provides insights into the operational, financial, and reputational effects to your business if the workloads weren’t available or didn’t perform as needed.

The structure of a BIA can vary but should attempt to answer questions such as:

  • If the app is used to generate revenue, will moving it increase revenue generation or affect it in any way?
  • If it’s a customer-facing app, will moving it to the cloud increase the number of customers accessing it?
  • Will improvements in availability or response time as a result of moving to the cloud increase user satisfaction?
  • Will the move shorten the time it takes to deliver functional enhancements to end users? Will moving the workload affect the company’s ability to meet specific regulatory requirements?
  • If the workload were to become unavailable for any reason during a cloud migration, what would be the costs including, but not limited to, lost revenue, delayed sales, regulatory fines, customers who move on to competitors, and brand damage?

The Cloud-ready Workload List

Some of your workloads may be better suited to the cloud than others. Compile a list of them. They may include:

  • Service-oriented architecture (SOA) apps
  • Cloud-native apps
  • Apps used by mobile employees to manage their time and activity, and that contribute only limited information to the company’s broad management information databases
  • Apps that run infrequently but require significant computing resources
  • Apps that run in a time zone different from that where your IT personnel are

Workloads that aren’t cloud-ready will need work to ensure they can move to the cloud and perform as needed (or better). You can learn more about modernization in ClearScale’s free eBook, Modernize and Migrate Windows Workloads with AWS.

Know Your Workload Requirements

Next up, assess the characteristics and requirements of your workloads. Some of this information will be available because of the IT asset inventory. Use these questions as a guide:

  • How often is the app used, who uses it, and what business requirement does it meet?
  • Is it mission-critical?
  • Does it have specific performance requirements?
  • Is it up for a refresh or approaching retirement?
  • Can it or does it need to be redesigned or undergo a technology refresh for cloud computing?
  • Will there be efficiency gained by moving to the cloud?
  • In what language is it written?
  • How difficult or expensive is it to refactor it for the cloud?
  • Is it monolithic, two-tier, three-tier or n-tier?
  • Is the data bound by regulatory compliance, and/or are there data sensitivity, privacy, or integrity issues?
  • What quantity of resources (CPU, memory, network, and storage) are needed?
  • Are specific monitoring or security agents required?
  • Does it experience periodic or unpredictable traffic spikes?
  • Does it need to scale?

Next Steps

The information gathered thus far will provide a good understanding of what can and should be migrated. However, there’s still a lot of work to do before commencing with the cloud migration. That includes calculating the various costs associated with the move and determining the appropriate modernization and migration methods. You can learn more about that in our upcoming blogs.

If you’re considering a cloud migration project, now is the ideal time to talk to ClearScale. We’ve helped hundreds of organizations move to AWS. You can read about some options on our website www.clearscale.com.

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