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A Cloud Migration Action Plan: 5 Essential Steps

Notice that the title doesn’t say “5 Easy Steps.” Nothing about migrating petabyte-sized datasets to the cloud is easy. But you can achieve your best outcome as long as you follow a proven process for your cloud migration strategy: the 5 Essential Steps.

What’s So Hard about Cloud Migration?

Migrating to the cloud doesn’t seem that hard if you’re doing a “lift-and-shift”, which is the process of removing workloads from on-premises storage and placing them in the cloud. Lift-and-shift is touted as the simplest of cloud migration types because IT doesn’t need to refactor the applications.

But lift-and-shift migrations aren’t quite so straightforward. Moving an optimized application from the familiar data center to the cloud involves a major learning curve that’s made more challenging when users  lack actionable information about cloud-based issues. Admins may see very well that the new cloud infrastructure is expensive, or slow, or opaque; but they don’t know how to change it.

NetApp executive architect Mark Hammons calls this phenomenon “DRIP,” for data-rich-information-poor. It’s a big challenge on the cloud—or it is for enterprises who skip crucial steps in a large migration. Follow the 5 AWS migration steps to help achieve your migration goals and avoid the dreaded DRIP effect.

The AWS Migration Checklist: 5 Essential Steps

Step 1: Discovery

The first step of cloud migration is to discover details about your applications and data, your metadata and configuration.

  • Understand application owners, users, usage patterns, and the application use case. Decide which applications you can and should migrate. If you want to migrate legacy applications, will they require refactoring? Is the time and cost worth the benefits?
  • What are the application’s network configurations, interdependencies, and external integrations? Which ones do we need to migrate or replace in the cloud?
  • What are your current SLAs, including RTO and RPO? Are they already optimal, and are they possible to achieve in the cloud?
  • Are the applications regulated? If so, which regulatory bodies and what do they require from cloud data owners and providers?

Step 2: Assessment

Assess your environment’s readiness for the cloud. A simple lift-and-shift migration isn’t so simple when your migrated application becomes slower and more expensive than its in-house version.

  • Assess requirements for compute, network, and storage resources in the cloud.
  • Review your third-party solutions to see how well they operate on AWS. Life will be easier if your preferred solutions are listed in AWS Marketplace, and if they have ready-made images or integration points to ease migration.
  •  Find out if you can apply your own on-premises licenses, or if you need a whole new set for the cloud.
  • Form a migration team with AWS migration experts. When you plan to use NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for AWS, tap NetApp Professional Services for a detailed assessment and migration project plan.

Step 3: Proof of Concept (PoC)

Migrate and test workloads to validate workload performance and costs. Use a phased approach to move an application and test it extensively. Once you have validated performance, capacity, management, user experience, and cost, move to the next workload and repeat.

  •  Determine the capacity and price-to-performance ratio for different types of workloads. One-size-fits-all definitely does not work on AWS, or any other cloud provider.
  • Familiarize yourself with AWS storage architecture; there are a lot of decisions around storage tiers, monthly subscriptions, and data movement costs.
  •  Understand and test AWS security settings, and research additional security offerings from AWS partners.

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Step 4: Migration Plan

Similar to phased Proof of Concept (PoC) projects, start small to prove value. A phased approach will allow you to build repeatable best practices for migrating applications and workloads as you go. (We currently have a webinar available for those migrating Windows workloads—specifically—to the cloud).

  •  Create the initial migration plan containing blueprint design, migration tools, team assignments, and consultant contacts. Add what-if scenarios to improve migration, and rollback capabilities in case something goes south.
  • Decide the best way to migrate petabyte-scale datasets. AWS offers migration tools like AWS Import/Export using transportable media and AWS Management Portal for vCenter. You can also use NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP to replicate data to AWS.
  •  Choose among several methods of moving file data to NetApp Cloud Volumes Service for AWS. AWS Direct Connect Data Transfer cost-effectively migrates data directly to CVS, and NetApp’s free XCP migrates on-premises data to the Cloud Volumes Service environment.

Step 5: Cloud Operations

Plan for cloud-based support and upgrades and include 24x7 application support in your SLAs. You will need access to AWS professionals to troubleshoot infrastructure issues and maintain system and upgrades. This involves hiring a cloud architect, working closely with AWS consultants, and/or opting for managed cloud services like NetApp Cloud Volumes Service.

  • Draft SLA requirements for governance, security, compliance, performance, and uptime. Keep in mind that AWS has different SLAs for each product, and you may have to pay extra for customized SLAs or simply not get the service levels that you want.
  • Supplement AWS durability and availability SLAs with additional tools like cloud-based backup for Office 365 or Salesforce data
  • Don’t assume that because AWS offers a tool, it’s your best option. For example, AWS snapshot technology is sophisticated and costly thanks to data movement charges. Cloud Volumes Service includes NetApp® SnapshotTM technology, which does not use extra storage for snapshots and does not impact application performance. This can dramatically reduce the cost of saving snapshots on AWS.

Guard yourself and your petabyte-sized workloads against a deceptively simple cloud migration. In so doing, you'll build the foundation, assign the resources, and form the partnerships that ensure smooth cloud-based operations— and save time and money.

You’re 5 Steps Away from the Cloud

Here are a few resources to get you started:

1. Download the 5 phases for enterprise migration AWS ebook—that's your first step. 
2. Watch our webinar on migrating your Windows apps to the cloud.
3. Not ready to migrate everything to the cloud? Learn how to connect on-premises storage to the cloud.

Product Marketing Manager, Cloud Data Services