By 2021, cloud data migration became an integral part of most comprehensive IT offerings and an essential component driving business development worldwide. The market for cloud solutions is still constantly growing and is expected to reach an astonishing $11 billion in 2022. This trend is hardly surprising, considering the benefits companies gain:
- Cost-efficient storage for digital assets
- Improved accessibility from multiple locations
- Easier implementation of “as-a-service” models
- Better security due to the shared responsibility model
- Fast and seamless disaster recovery
- Simplified synchronization and updating
As attractive as the list of advantages might look, there are some significant cloud data migration challenges that you should consider. Some of the most common ones include:
- Data gravity. Volumes of information grow along with a business, encouraging the introduction of new working principles and approaches like DataOps. Larger datasets attract smaller ones, forming massive structures nearly impossible to move or process.
- The lack of management. Poor quality, security, and management standards often result in corrupted, duplicated, or irrelevant data that must be sorted before initiating any changes.
- Wrong approach. Trying to move everything that you have to the cloud at once may lead to security breaches and information loss.
- Skills shortage. Migration of data to a cloud-based solution requires expertise and skills that your employees might not yet have.
- Business continuity. We are talking about a massive business shift, not just about moving information from one storage facility to another. Avoiding disruption of normal operations poses a challenge to many companies.
You can avoid these and other related problems if you approach the transition procedure properly.
Data cloud migration checklist: where should you start?
So, what is it all about? We are talking about the process of transferring your digital assets from on-premise to cloud infrastructure. Specific details may vary depending on the following factors:
- Data gravity scope
- Legacy technology in place
- Infrastructure specifics
- Financial issues, and others
Although the transition, in general, can still be described with the “extract, transform, load” (ETL) formula, there are nuances that you should consider. Here are some of the steps we recommend you take when planning your cloud data migration initiative.
1. Audit and prepare everything
As data accumulates fast these days, we recommend you double-check your digital assets before moving them from on-premise platforms. Here are some of the questions you might want to answer:
- What data do you have?
- Where is it stored?
- What exactly do you want to transfer?
- In what formats is it stored?
- Is it relevant or outdated?
- In what formats do you want to have your data after migration?
You might also need to perform a cleanup to get rid of corrupted, irrelevant, or incorrectly formatted information. Once you have only valuable and non-duplicate data left, the good idea is to document and back it up before proceeding to other operations.
2. Define the project scope
Once you identify the assets suitable for cloud data migration, you need to map out the project. Here are some essentials to pay attention to if you want to avoid bottlenecks:
- Who are the key stakeholders?
- How many people will be involved in the process?
- How much is it going to cost?
- How long will it take?
- Are there any dependent datasets?
Initial estimates like this can be challenging, but they will prevent you from the typical problem of insufficient resourcing.
3. Perform landscape analysis
Proceed with identifying and analyzing all the systems involved in the process, including your core source and target systems. By doing so, you will understand how the information is structured within these systems, how they work, and how they can be moved and adapted to the new environment.
There are many tools to facilitate your cloud data migration. They automate the transfer of your assets and help you monitor the selected cloud solution’s efficiency and performance. You can choose third-party software, but leading vendors such as Microsoft or Amazon have them already in-built into their products.
4. Choose cloud providers
Any vendor in 2021 can grant you access to amazing cloud computing possibilities, but this does not mean you should pick the first provider you come across. There are many aspects to consider when choosing a provider not least of all their reputation and position on the market. Below you can find a list of requirements that, in our opinion, should be taken into account during the planning stage.
Currently, among the best cloud solutions that you can find on the market are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, and Oracle. You can use software such as Densify to compare providers and choose the most prudent and cost-effective option.
5. Define KPIs
You need concrete performance indicators to evaluate the extent to which your cloud data migration process has been a success. In general, KPIs fall under costs, performance, security, user experience, stability, and other categories. Here are some recommendations on what to track:
- Dependency mapping costs
- Storage expenses
- Costs of app rearchitecting/data transformation
- Network latency
- Load and response time
- Frequency of execution errors
- Number of failed requests
- Indicators of unusual system activity
- Service availability and stability
- CPU utilization rates, and many others
Coming up with a complete list of metrics from the very beginning can be difficult. But as your migration project continues, you will be able to identify the most useful KPIs for you.
6. Beat cloud data migration challenges with a disaster recovery plan
To mitigate potential risks efficiently, you need a proper disaster recovery plan (DRP) with actionable and clear guidelines. Typically, such plans contain:
- Risk assessment
- Prevention tips
- Response and recovery measures
- A list of personnel responsible for plan execution
Before proceeding with an end-to-end cloud data migration plan, we advise conducting a series of test runs to detect potential problems.
7. Migrate, monitor, adjust
Selecting and introducing a data cloud migration solution is only half the battle. After your assets have been moved successfully, it is a good idea to sunset your on-premise hardware to avoid wasting resources on maintaining outdated infrastructure. Then, assess the success of your initiative against the defined KPIs, optimize resource allocation, and perform a post-migration audit.
Striving for efficiency and security of daily operations, many companies today opt for cloud computing. However, to make your migration a success, it is vital to start with unbiased assessment and proper planning. For a start, you can use our data cloud migration checklist, but if you feel like you need additional assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. With 30 years of experience, we can help you get the most out of popular solutions like Microsoft Azure, AWS Cloud, Google Cloud Platform, or any other service you decide to work with.
Are there cases when it is better to choose on-premise over a cloud?
Yes, there are some cases when it’d be better to proceed with an on-premise option. Among the reasons are:
- Poor internet connection in your region
- Large data sets that are immovable due to their size and complexity
- High long-term costs of available cloud solutions
- Security concerns
- The shortage of skills needed to move to the cloud
However, we believe that data cloud migration has already become an inevitable and crucial part of a successful business. Due to security and agility concerns, we still recommend you start looking for opportunities to move your business processes and operations from on-premise platforms.
What should be moved to the cloud?
Moving everything to the cloud at once is risky and impractical. It’s better to start with data categorization based on its influence and importance for your business and make migration decisions respectively. We recommend you move lower-risk workloads and backups of sensitive and business-critical information first. Also, it’s good practice to prioritize disaster recovery resources, as well as dependent datasets and workloads.
What are the popular cloud migration tools and services?
Most companies prefer software offered by reputable providers such as AWS Migration Services and Azure Migration Tools. However, you can explore plenty of other options including Velostrata, Corent SurPaas, Turbonomic, Carbonite Migrate, and more. The choice here mostly depends on cost and specific functionality of each solution; however, they all serve the same purpose: to help you transfer your information from on-premise to cloud platforms.