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AWS Migration Checklist: 5 Steps to the Cloud

What Is an AWS Migration Checklist?

An AWS migration checklist is a detailed list of tasks, processes, and best practices that need to be followed when migrating applications and data to the AWS cloud. This checklist serves as a guide for organizations to plan, execute, and manage their migration projects, ensuring that all necessary steps are taken and potential risks are mitigated.

Our AWS migration checklist is divided into five main phases: Discovery, Assessments, Proof of Concept, Migration, and Cloud Operations. Each phase plays a critical role in the overall success of the AWS migration project and should be carefully considered and executed.

In this article:

Why Do Businesses Migrate to AWS?

Amazon Web Services is the leading cloud provider and provides many advantages when compared to on-premise deployments and other clouds. Here are some advantages that cause businesses to migrate to AWS:

  • Cost ━ AWS is famous for its pay-per-use pricing, but in addition, it provides a large variety of services that allow you to consume exactly the level of services you need, to control costs. For example, you can perform object storage tiering and can save cold data to a low-cost storage service like Amazon Glacier.
  • Scalability ━ AWS offers infinite scalability and also provides many ways to manage that scalability━from auto-scaling on EC2 instances to containerized deployments, serverless functions, and more. 
  • Agility ━ AWS provides very comprehensive automation capabilities, integrates with DevOps workflows and allows teams to instantly spin up development, test and production environments to iterate quickly. Amazon also makes it easy to provide self-service IT and allows organizational units to set up their own infrastructure.
  • High availability and disaster recovery ━ Amazon offers multiple data centers around the world, with a Multi-AZ feature that lets you run cloud services in multiple data centers, so even in the case of a catastrophe that affects an entire Availability Zone, your services would continue to run.

How Do I Migrate to the AWS Cloud? A Complete Checklist

Phase 1: Discovery

  • List, categorize, and evaluate your applications
    Create an inventory of all your applications, including active and inactive ones, group them based on purpose, complexity, and criticality, and assess their performance, stability, and security.
  • Identify user groups, analyze usage patterns, and define access requirements
    Determine the different user groups interacting with your applications, analyze how they use them, and determine the appropriate level of access for each group.
  • Map network architecture, assess data flow, and evaluate dependencies: Create a visual representation of your network, analyze the flow of data between applications and systems, and determine the dependencies, including third-party services or APIs.
  • Review security policies, compliance requirements, and security tools
    Examine existing security policies, identify compliance requirements like GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS, and review security tools and technologies for compatibility with your cloud provider.
  • Define, evaluate, and plan for RTO and RPO in the cloud
    Determine the RTO and RPO requirements for each application, assess the current environment's RTO and RPO performance, and develop a plan to achieve these objectives in the cloud, including implementing high availability, failover solutions, backup, and disaster recovery technologies.

Phase 2: Assessment

  • Consider migration strategies
    Consider Rehosting (Lift and Shift), Replatforming (Lift, Tinker, and Shift), Repurchasing (Drop and Shop), Refactoring (Re-architecting), Retiring (Decommissioning), and Retaining (Hybrid) approaches for migrating applications to the cloud.
  • Assess internal resources, identify skill gaps, and consider outsourcing: Evaluate your IT staff's expertise, identify any training needs, and consider outsourcing the migration process to a trusted partner or consultant if necessary.
  • Leverage AWS Training, AWS Professional Services, and AWS Partner Network: Take advantage of AWS Training and Certification programs, work with AWS Professional Services, and utilize the AWS Partner Network (APN) to build the required skills and receive expert guidance throughout the migration process.
  • Identify, evaluate, and plan migration for third-party solutions: Keep an inventory of third-party solutions, assess their compatibility with AWS services, and develop a migration plan for each solution to ensure a smooth migration process.

Phase 3: Proof of Concept

  • Plan your POC
    Start with a low-risk workload, adopt a phased approach to validate the migration process, and establish success metrics such as improved performance or cost reduction.
  • Estimate cloud costs
    Analyze your existing IT costs, employ AWS cost estimation tools, and optimize AWS expenditures by selecting suitable instances, using cost-saving features, and conducting regular cost reviews.
  • Determine compute and storage requirements
    Evaluate your existing workload's performance and capacity, choose the appropriate AWS services considering factors like performance, scalability, and cost, and ensure scalability for future growth.
  • Understand security requirements and network controls
    Recognize your organization's security and compliance needs, configure security groups, NACLs, VPCs, and additional security measures, and ensure ongoing security through regular policy reviews and audits.
  • Assess network performance
    Understand your current network performance, perform tests with AWS services to identify potential issues and design an appropriate network architecture, and enhance network performance using services like Amazon CloudFront, AWS Direct Connect, and AWS Global Accelerator.
  • Select tools and solutions for migration
    Identify the necessary tools for discovery, assessment, migration, and management, evaluate AWS and third-party migration tools considering factors like usability, functionality, cost, and support, and test the selected tools in a non-production environment.

Phase 4: Migration

  • Create a blueprint of your desired cloud environment
    Visualize your desired AWS environment by creating a blueprint outlining its architecture, components, and services. Consider key AWS services like Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Amazon RDS, AWS Lambda, and Amazon VPC, while prioritizing security and scalability.
  • Establish a rollback plan
    Develop and test a rollback plan to minimize the impact of potential issues during the migration, such as data corruption, compatibility issues, or performance degradation.
  • Identify tools for automating migration and syncing data
    Leverage AWS and third-party tools like AWS Migration Hub, AWS Database Migration Service, AWS Server Migration Service, and AWS DataSync to automate various aspects of the migration and maintain data consistency.
  • Understand the implications of moving data on production day
    Plan and coordinate the migration to minimize downtime during the production day data move. Closely monitor the migration process, and validate its success by conducting thorough testing of applications and services in the new environment.

Phase 5: Cloud Operations

  • Embrace cloud-native architectures
    Embracing cloud-native architectures allows your applications to be highly available, scalable, and resilient. Leveraging AWS services like Lambda, API Gateway, and DynamoDB helps to reduce operational overhead and cost. Stay informed about AWS updates and invest in continuous learning for your team through certifications and training courses.
  • Utilize AWS support and partner resources
    Subscribe to appropriate AWS support plans to access skilled AWS resources. AWS Support provides technical assistance, best practices guidance, and troubleshooting help. Engage AWS consulting partners, MSPs, and ISVs for architecture design, application development, migration, and ongoing management of your cloud environment.
  • Implement system maintenance and robust monitoring
    Implement a comprehensive monitoring strategy using AWS monitoring tools like Amazon CloudWatch, AWS CloudTrail, and AWS Config. Set up alarms and alerts to proactively address potential issues. Use AWS Systems Manager for automating patch management and configuration updates, and AWS Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing for high availability and performance during maintenance and upgrades.
  • Consider SLAs, governance, security, and compliance
    Understand AWS SLAs and ensure your applications comply with their requirements. Implement strong governance, security, and compliance controls using AWS services like AWS IAM, AWS Security Hub, AWS Config, and AWS CloudTrail. Optimize performance and uptime by designing scalable, resilient, and redundant applications using AWS Auto Scaling, Elastic Load Balancing, Availability Zones, and Regions.

Lift and Shift Your Data with Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

There are many methods for migrating to AWS, however the lift and shift approach remains the quickest, simplest, lowest-risk and most cost-effective.

A successful lift and shift migration strategy, however, requires the right tools. That is why many companies are using solution providers such as NetApp to help them with migration and to assist them with ongoing data management.

The lift and shift migration approach involves migrating your application and connected data to the cloud with little or no changes. Applications are “lifted” from their current environments and “shifted” in their existing state to a new premise, such as the cloud. Typically, there are no marked changes to make to the application data flow, architecture or authentication processes.

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP is a native AWS managed service powered by NetApp technology. Leveraging a full suite of enterprise data services and driven by industry-leading multi-protocol support for Linux, Windows, and iSCSI instances, FSx for ONTAP customers can migrate, accelerate, analyze, and protect more mission-critical applications. This feature-rich, AWS native cloud storage, is fine-tuned to provide you with proven enterprise-grade data performance, security, and management capabilities, typically found in the data center. Using AWS cloud infrastructure technologies, FSx for ONTAP opens capabilities for you to achieve unmatched performance with analytics, compliance, compute optimization, and enterprise data efficiencies.

In particular, FSx for ONTAP assists with lift and shift cloud migration.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager