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A Cloud Migration Checklist for Success - Device42

In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, cloud migration has become crucial for businesses seeking to enhance their agility, scalability, and overall performance. However, the journey to the cloud has challenges, and careful planning and execution are vital for a successful migration. To ensure a seamless transition to the cloud, organizations must meticulously follow a well-structured checklist encompassing all of the migration process’s essential aspects.

This article presents a definitive cloud migration checklist. This comprehensive guide actually features 12 sublists of specific checks that cover every aspect of your cloud migration strategy. From defining clear objectives and business goals to reviewing and refining your migration approach, this guide serves as a roadmap for businesses of all sizes and in all industries.

Summary of cloud migration checklist

Checklist category Specific checks
#1: Define clear objectives and business goals
  • Understanding the why
  • Align with business goals
  • Employ measurable success metrics
  • Ensure flexibility for evolution
  • Emphasize communication and education
#2: Assess your infrastructure
  • Perform an inventory and create documentation
  • Analyze performance and capacity
  • Conduct a security and compliance assessment
  • Determine application compatibility and dependencies
  • Determine an appropriate timeline and milestones
#3: Choose the right cloud provider and service model
  • Consider public vs. private vs. hybrid cloud
  • Evaluate data center locations and compliance
  • Carefully consider security and compliance
  • Beware of vendor lock-in
  • Assess cost
  • Consider customer support and SLAs
#4: Plan and design your cloud architecture 
  • Analyze and prioritize applications
  • Appropriately size cloud resources
  • Consider scalability and elasticity
  • Determine the best cloud data management and storage approach
  • Remember networking and connectivity
#5: Ensure security and compliance
  • Implement robust identity and access management (IAM)
  • Encrypt sensitive data at rest and in transit to safeguard it from unauthorized access
  • Set up appropriate security measures to protect your cloud resources
  • Institute security monitoring and incident response
  • Ensure data compliance and governance
#6: Determine your data migration strategy
  • Assess and categorize your data
  • Map data and ensure compatibility
  • Cleanse and transform data
  • Choose the right migration method
  • Perform data validation and integrity checks
  • Ensure data privacy and security during the migration process
#7: Establish a governance framework
  • Develop a comprehensive set of cloud policies and standards based on best practices in key areas
  • Collaborate across various business units
  • Establish a cloud center of excellence (CCoE)
  • Implement consistent resource tagging and naming conventions across the cloud environment
  • Integrate cost management and optimization practices into your governance framework
  • Employ risk management and compliance monitoring
  • Institute auditing and reporting
#8: Set up disaster recovery and backup
  • Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA)
  • Define a clear recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) for each critical component of your cloud infrastructure
  • Develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan
  • Implement backups and data replication
  • Design your cloud infrastructure with redundancy and multi-availability zones to ensure high availability
  • Regularly test your disaster recovery and backup procedures to ensure that they work as intended
#9: Optimize for cost and performance
  • Monitor cost
  • Right-size resources
  • Employ reserved instances and savings plans
  • Identify and manage idle resources to avoid unnecessary costs
  • Optimize performance
  • Implement automation and auto-scaling policies to adjust resources based on real-time demand dynamically
#10: Train and upskill your team
  • Identify cloud roles and skill gaps
  • Conduct cloud training and implement certification programs
  • Emphasize hands-on experience and sandbox environments
  • Promote cross-training and collaboration among different teams within your organization
  • Recognize and reward learning achievements
#11: Test and validate
  • Perform data integrity, performance, security, user acceptance, failover and redundancy, auto-scaling, and recovery and rollback testing.
#12: Review and refine
  • Implement cloud performance monitoring
  • Regularly conduct security audits and vulnerability assessments
  • Periodically review your cloud spending to identify opportunities for cost optimization
  • Continuously analyze resource utilization to optimize your cloud resources for performance and cost efficiency
  • Review cloud governance policies
  • Incorporate new cloud services and features

#1: Define clear objectives and business goals

Establishing a clear sense of purpose and direction lies at the heart of any successful cloud migration. Before embarking on this transformative journey, organizations must define explicit objectives and align them with their broader business goals. A cloud migration undertaken with a deep understanding of the “why” will not only smoothen the transition but also unlock the full potential of the cloud to drive tangible value for the organization.

Consider the following actions.

Understand the why:

  • Investigate and conduct a comprehensive analysis of the organization’s needs, pain points, and aspirations related to cloud migration.

Align with business goals:

  • Align cloud migration objectives with broader business goals, such as increasing market share, accelerating time to market for products and services, or fostering innovation.

Employ measurable success metrics:

  • Define measurable success metrics tied directly to the established cloud migration objectives. Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) targets. For example:
    • Improved application response times
    • Reduced infrastructure costs
    • Increased customer satisfaction and business agility

Ensure flexibility for evolution:

  • Anticipate future changes and design a cloud infrastructure to accommodate the organization’s growth and evolving needs. 
  • Cloud services and resources should be readily scalable to meet increasing demands, ensuring that the organization remains future-proof in changing market conditions.

Emphasize communication and education:

  • Employ effective communication across all levels of the organization to raise awareness about the cloud’s benefits and to dispel misconceptions, fostering a culture of cloud-savviness and excitement.

#2: Assess your infrastructure

Assessing your existing infrastructure is a critical phase of the cloud migration checklist, as it sets the stage for a smooth and successful transition to the cloud. Understanding the strengths and limitations of your current IT landscape is essential in crafting a well-informed migration strategy that maximizes efficiency and minimizes potential roadblocks.

Take into account the following.

Perform an inventory and create documentation:

  • Conduct a comprehensive inventory of your organization’s hardware, software, applications, and data. This inventory should be meticulously documented to ensure that nothing is overlooked during migration.
  • Explore third-party tools such as Device42 for auto-discovery and accurate mapping. These tools can help generate a comprehensive inventory of your on-premises servers, devices, services, applications, and their interconnections.

Analyze performance and capacity:

  • Analyze historical performance to identify peak usage times, resource bottlenecks, and potential scalability issues. This analysis provides valuable insight into the types and sizes of cloud resources needed for a seamless migration.

Conduct a security and compliance assessment:

  • A thorough security assessment helps identify potential vulnerabilities and risks during migration and in the cloud environment.
  • Consider compliance requirements specific to your industry or region to ensure that data and applications remain compliant in the cloud.

Determine application compatibility and dependencies:

  • Assess compatibility issues and complex dependencies relevant to the existing infrastructure.
  • Understand application requirements to determine the best migration approach for each, rehosting, refactoring, or replacing with cloud-native alternatives. Application dependency mapping and CMDB from Device42 can be instrumental here. These tools visually depict your IT infrastructure, emphasizing the dependencies and interactions that require attention during migration. Moreover, they aid in conducting a cloud readiness assessment, pinpointing applications prepared for migration and identifying those that may necessitate additional preparation.

Determine an appropriate timeline and milestones:

  • Create a realistic timeline with achievable milestones to keep the migration project on track. 
  • Break down the migration process into manageable phases, so it is easier to track progress, address challenges, and adjust the strategy as needed.

#3: Choose the right cloud provider and service model

Selecting the right cloud provider and service model is a pivotal decision that profoundly impacts the success of your cloud migration. With numerous cloud service providers offering a wide array of services, making an informed choice requires a thorough evaluation of your organization’s needs, technical requirements, and long-term business objectives.

Here are some things to do.

Consider public vs. private vs. hybrid cloud:

  • Understanding the nuances of cloud models is essential to making the right choice for your business:
    • Public: Scalability, cost-effectiveness, and a vast range of services.
    • Private: Greater control, security, and compliance for sensitive data and applications
    • Hybrid: Leverages the benefits of both public and private cloud models, but with added complexity and integration requirements

Evaluate data center locations and compliance:

  • Ensure that the provider’s data centers comply with relevant regulations and meet your organization’s specific data residency requirements to maintain data sovereignty and regulatory adherence.

Carefully consider security and compliance:

  • Assess the cloud provider’s security measures, including data encryption, identity and access management (IAM), and network security. 
  • Evaluate the provider’s compliance certifications to ensure that your data and applications comply with industry standards and regulations.

Beware of vendor lock-in:

  • Consider the potential risks of vendor lock-in. 
  • Adopt a strategy that promotes interoperability and portability to mitigate the risk of lock-in. Such a strategy provides greater flexibility in the long run.

Assess cost:

  • Analyze the cost implications of the services you plan to use and understand how pricing changes with varying resource usage levels. 
  • Optimize your cloud spending by selecting a provider and service model that aligns with your budget while providing the necessary performance and scalability.

Consider customer support and SLAs:

  • Review the cloud provider’s support options, response times, and SLA commitments to make an informed decision about the level of support you can expect.

#4: Plan and design your cloud architecture

A well-thought-out cloud architecture is the backbone of successful cloud migration. As you transition your applications and data to the cloud, meticulous planning and design are essential to ensure seamless integration and to fully capitalize on the benefits of cloud technology.

Take these steps.

Analyze and prioritize applications:

  • Examine your applications thoroughly and classify them according to their importance and intricacy. 
  • Assess the viability of cloud-native application architecture. This can be exemplified by refining the application’s structure and underlying code to harness the benefits of cloud-native services and design principles. Another approach is migrating the application to a cloud-oriented platform or service that suits its specific needs.
  • Determine which applications are most suitable for transitioning to the cloud and then prioritize them based on the following criteria:
    • Business value
    • Interdependencies with other systems
    • Potential impact on end-users.

Appropriately size cloud resources:

  • Assess existing infrastructure and application workloads to determine the appropriate resource specifications for applications moving to the cloud:
    • CPU
    • Memory
    • Storage
    • Software licenses

Consider scalability and elasticity:

  • Plan for vertical and horizontal scalability to accommodate fluctuations in workload and traffic. 
  • Take advantage of auto-scaling capabilities to automatically adjust resources in response to changing demands.

Determine the best cloud data management and storage approach:

  • Choose appropriate database solutions.
  • Set up data replication for disaster recovery.
  • Implement data backup strategies.

Remember networking and connectivity:

  • Plan the network architecture to ensure secure and efficient connectivity between cloud resources and on-premises infrastructure. 
  • Implement virtual networks to create isolated environments and control resource access.

#5: Ensure security and compliance

Security and compliance are paramount considerations in any cloud migration strategy. As you transition critical applications and sensitive data to the cloud, ensuring a robust security framework is essential to protect against cyber-threats, maintain data integrity, and meet regulatory requirements. Organizations can confidently embrace the cloud by prioritizing security from the outset while mitigating potential risks and vulnerabilities.

Make sure to cover these areas.

Implement robust identity and access management (IAM):

  • A robust IAM system entails user authentication and authorization, centralized identity management, access governance, single sign-on (SSO), identity federation, and lifecycle management. 
  • Employ multi-factor authentication (MFA) and role-based access control (RBAC).
  • Regularly review and update user privileges to prevent unauthorized access.

Encrypt sensitive data at rest and in transit to safeguard it from unauthorized access:

  • Utilize encryption technologies, such as TLS/SSL, for data in transit.
  • Manage encryption keys through a critical management service to maintain data confidentiality and integrity.

Set up appropriate security measures to protect your cloud resources:

  • Segment and isolate resources with: 
    • Network security groups
    • Access control lists (ACLs)
    • Virtual networks
  • Utilize firewalls to control inbound and outbound traffic.

Institute security monitoring and incident response:

  • Implement robust security monitoring tools to detect suspicious activities and potential security breaches.
  • Establish an incident response plan outlining the steps to be taken in the event of a security incident.
  • Regularly conduct incident response drills to ensure that your team is prepared to respond effectively.

Ensure data compliance and governance:

  • Depending on your industry and geographic location, ensure that your cloud migration adheres to relevant data compliance regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS.
  • Assess and mitigate data-related risks and monitor data access, usage, and retention to ensure that data is handled in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

#6: Determine your data migration strategy

An effective data migration strategy ensures the secure and efficient movement of valuable data while minimizing downtime and avoiding data loss. By carefully planning and executing the data migration, organizations can accelerate their cloud adoption and unleash the full potential of the cloud for data-driven insights and innovation. In addition, scheduling the migration activities ensures a smooth data transfer to the cloud within the desired timeline. 

Here are some actions to consider.

Assess and categorize your data:

  • Conduct a comprehensive inventory of all data assets within your organization. 
  • Categorize the data based on its type, sensitivity, and criticality. 
  • Identify and prioritize the data to be migrated.

Map data and ensure compatibility:

  • Understand your on-premises systems’ data structures and formats and then map them to the corresponding formats supported in the cloud environment.
  • Ensure that data elements are compatible and can be seamlessly integrated into the target cloud platform without losing information or integrity.

Cleanse and transform data:

  • Before migrating data, perform data cleansing and transformation activities to ensure data accuracy and consistency.
  • Remove duplicate or outdated records and standardize data formats to prevent inconsistencies during migration.

Choose the right migration method:

  • The appropriate migration method depends on the volume and complexity of data and the desired migration speed. Some common data migration methods include:
    • Bulk data transfer: In this method, data is moved in bulk using physical storage devices or direct network transfer. It is suitable for large volumes of data.
    • Incremental data transfer: Ideal for minimizing downtime, in this technique, data is transferred in smaller batches or continuously synced until the migration is complete.
    • Database replication: This approach is useful for real-time synchronization of databases to minimize data lag between on-premises and cloud environments.

Perform data validation and integrity checks:

  • Verify the integrity of data after migration to ensure that it has been transferred accurately and without corruption. 
  • Implement data validation checks and perform tests to confirm that the migrated data behaves as expected in the cloud environment. 

Ensure data privacy and security during the migration process:

  • Encrypt data during transit and at rest to protect it from unauthorized access. 
  • Adhere to compliance requirements related to data privacy and protection.

#7: Establish a governance framework

Establishing a governance framework enables organizations to define policies, procedures, and best practices that govern the use of cloud resources, ensuring efficient resource management, cost optimization, security, and regulatory adherence. A well-defined governance framework empowers businesses to fully harness the benefits of the cloud while minimizing risks and maintaining control over their cloud assets.

Here are some actions to take in this area.

Develop a comprehensive set of cloud policies and standards based on best practices in key areas:

  • Cloud operations
  • Security requirements
  • Data handling guidelines
  • Compliance protocols. 

Collaborate across various business units:

  • Include areas such as IT, security, compliance, finance, legal, and operations. 
  • Bring these teams together to ensure that diverse perspectives are considered when crafting policies and procedures aligning with the organization’s objectives.

Establish a cloud center of excellence (CCoE):

  • A CCoE is a dedicated team responsible for driving cloud governance and best practices. It can provide guidance, enable knowledge sharing, and be a central point of contact for cloud-related decisions and initiatives.

Implement consistent resource tagging and naming conventions across the cloud environment:

  • Properly tagged resources facilitate resource tracking, cost allocation, and governance reporting.
  • This practice enhances visibility and accountability within the cloud infrastructure.

Integrate cost management and optimization practices into your governance framework:

  • Define policies to monitor and control cloud spending, optimize resource utilization, and leverage cost-effective pricing models to maximize ROI.

Employ risk management and compliance monitoring:

  • Implement risk management processes to identify, assess, and mitigate potential cloud-related risks. 
  • Regularly monitor the cloud environment for compliance with internal policies, industry regulations, and data privacy requirements.

Institute auditing and reporting:

  • Regularly audit your cloud environment to evaluate its adherence to governance policies and standards. 
  • Generate comprehensive reports that provide visibility into resource usage, security posture, compliance status, and cost metrics.

#8: Set up disaster recovery and backup

Unforeseen disasters, hardware failures, or cyber-attacks can disrupt operations and lead to data loss. A robust disaster recovery (DR) and backup strategy are essential to protect critical data, applications, and services while minimizing downtime and enabling swift recovery from adverse events.

Remember the following areas for action.

Conduct a business impact analysis (BIA):

  • The BIA identifies mission-critical applications, data, and services. 
  • Understanding the potential consequences of disruptions helps prioritize resources and determine recovery objectives.

Define a clear recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) for each critical component of your cloud infrastructure:

  • The RTO specifies the maximum acceptable downtime
  • The RPO defines the maximum acceptable data loss in case of a disaster.

Develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan:

  • The plan should outline the steps to be taken during a disaster, including:
    • Roles and responsibilities
    • Recovery procedures
    • Communication protocols
    • The priority order for restoring services.

Implement backups and data replication:

  • Implement regular backups and replication to a geographically separate location to protect against data loss. 
  • Leverage cloud-native backup solutions or third-party tools that offer automated and secure data backups.

Design your cloud infrastructure with redundancy and multi-availability zones to ensure high availability:

  • Distributing resources across different data centers or regions provides added resilience against data center failures.

Regularly test your disaster recovery and backup procedures to ensure that they work as intended:

  • Conduct simulated disaster scenarios, recovery drills, and backup restoration tests to validate the effectiveness of your DR plan.

#9: Optimize for cost and performance

Cloud environments offer unparalleled scalability and flexibility, but without careful management, costs can escalate rapidly. By implementing cost optimization strategies and fine-tuning performance, organizations can achieve a well-balanced cloud infrastructure that meets their requirements efficiently and cost-effectively.

Follow these steps.

Monitor cost:

  • Gain a comprehensive view of your cloud spending using cost visibility and monitoring tools. 
  • Analyze spending patterns, identify cost drivers, and track expenses to gain insights into areas that require optimization.

Right-size resources:

  • Regularly assess resource utilization to identify overprovisioned or underutilized resources. Right-sizing involves:
    • Adjusting resources to match actual workloads
    • Potentially saving costs without sacrificing performance

Employ reserved instances and savings plans:

  • Take advantage of cloud providers’ reserved instances or savings plans to commit to long-term usage in exchange for significant cost savings.
  • These options provide discounted rates for upfront commitments, making them suitable for stable workloads.

Identify and manage idle resources to avoid unnecessary costs:

  • Automated shutdown mechanisms for non-production environments during off-hours can lead to substantial savings.

Optimize performance:

  • Fine-tune the performance of your cloud infrastructure by optimizing application configurations and adopting best practices. 
  • Optimized performance leads to better resource utilization and reduced operational costs.

Implement automation and auto-scaling policies to adjust resources based on real-time demand dynamically:

  • This approach ensures that resources are available when needed and helps avoid over-provisioning.

#10: Train and upskill your team

Cloud technologies continuously evolve, and a skilled and knowledgeable workforce is essential for effective cloud management, security, optimization, and innovation. Training and upskilling your team will create a pool of cloud champions who can drive successful cloud initiatives, enhance productivity, and foster a culture of continuous learning.

Consider the following.

Identify cloud roles and skill gaps:

  • Identify the critical roles required for your organization’s cloud strategy. These roles may include:
    • Cloud architects
    • Engineers
    • DevOps specialists
    • Security experts
    • Data analysts
  • Assess the existing skill sets of your team members to identify skill gaps and areas that need improvement.

Conduct cloud training and implement certification programs:

  • Motivate your team to engage in cloud training initiatives and acquire pertinent certifications before migration starts. This proactive approach ensures that they develop the necessary skills and capacity to provide robust support during migration.
  • Certificates provide credibility and demonstrate commitment to excellence.

Emphasize hands-on experience and sandbox environments:

  • Provide opportunities for your team to work on real-world cloud projects.
  • Encourage the use of sandbox environments to experiment with cloud services and test new ideas without impacting production environments.

Promote cross-training and collaboration among different teams within your organization:

  • By fostering a culture of knowledge exchange, team members can learn from each other’s expertise and broaden their skill sets.

Recognize and reward learning achievements:

  • Acknowledge and reward team members who are committed to learning and significantly improving their cloud-related skills. 
  • Recognition fosters motivation and reinforces a learning culture.

#11: Test and validate

Testing and validation are integral components of a successful cloud migration process. Rigorous testing ensures that applications, data, and services work seamlessly in the cloud environment, identifying and addressing potential issues before they impact business operations. By thoroughly testing and validating the migration, organizations can minimize risks, enhance user experience, and achieve a smooth and successful transition to the cloud.

Do testing in all of the following areas.

Data integrity testing:

  • Perform data integrity tests to verify that data is accurately migrated to the cloud and remains consistent with the source data.

Performance testing:

  • Evaluate the performance of your applications in the cloud environment to ensure that they meet the desired performance benchmarks. 
  • Load testing, stress testing, and performance profiling help assess how applications handle varying workloads and traffic.

Security testing:

  • Conduct comprehensive security testing to identify and remediate potential vulnerabilities in your cloud infrastructure.
  • Penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and security audits are essential to protect against security breaches and data exposure.

User acceptance testing (UAT):

  • Involve end-users in UAT to validate that applications and services meet their requirements and expectations. 
  • UAT provides valuable feedback and insights into user experience and identifies functional issues.

Failover and redundancy testing:

  • Simulate failure scenarios to verify that failover processes are seamless and effective.

Auto-scaling testing:

  • Test auto-scaling to ensure that resources scale up and down accurately based on demand.
  • Monitor the auto-scaling behavior and verify that applications can handle dynamic resource allocation.

Recovery and rollback testing:

  • Test the recovery procedures and rollback plans to confirm that you can revert to earlier states in case of migration issues.

#12: Review and refine

The cloud migration process doesn’t end with the completion of the initial migration phase. Reviewing and refining your cloud environment is an ongoing process that involves continuous monitoring, evaluation, and optimization. By regularly assessing the performance, security, cost, and alignment with business goals, organizations can ensure that their cloud infrastructures remain efficient, reliable, and aligned with evolving needs.

Here are some things to consider.

Implement cloud performance monitoring:

  • Implement continuous monitoring of your cloud environment to track the following:
    • Resource utilization
    • Application performance
    • User experience. 
  • Proactive monitoring helps detect performance bottlenecks and ensures that your cloud resources deliver optimal results.

Regularly conduct security audits and vulnerability assessments:

  • These steps identify potential weaknesses in your cloud infrastructure, enabling you to address security gaps promptly to enhance the overall security posture.

Periodically review your cloud spending to identify opportunities for cost optimization:

  • Analyze spending patterns.
  • Evaluate the return on investment from cloud migration versus on-premises solutions. 
  • Assess the effectiveness of cost-saving measures.
  • Adjust cloud resources as needed.

Continuously analyze resource utilization to optimize your cloud resources for performance and cost efficiency:

  • Right-size instances.
  • Adjust auto-scaling policies.
  • Decommission unused resources to maximize utilization.

Review cloud governance policies:

  • Regularly review and update your cloud governance policies to adapt to changing business requirements and industry regulations. 
  • Ensure that your governance framework aligns with your organization’s goals and practices.

Incorporate new cloud services and features:

  • Stay informed about new cloud services and features that your cloud provider offers. 
  • Evaluate how these offerings can enhance your existing infrastructure and consider incorporating them into your cloud ecosystem.
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Final thoughts

Successfully migrating to the cloud requires careful planning, meticulous execution, and a commitment to continuous improvement. The cloud migration checklist presented here is a comprehensive guide encompassing twelve essential sets of steps organizations must undertake to ensure a smooth and efficient transition to the cloud. By diligently following this cloud migration checklist, organizations can confidently embrace the cloud’s transformative power, unlocking new possibilities for innovation, growth, and efficiency. 

Device42’s auto-discovery plays a vital role in the early stages of the migration process by creating a detailed inventory of physical, virtual, and cloud assets. Furthermore, application dependency mapping and CMDB tools visually represent the IT environment, highlighting crucial dependencies and interactions that must be considered during migration. These capabilities are invaluable for conducting a cloud readiness assessment, identifying applications ready for migration and those needing further preparation.

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