Cloud Nine or Cloud Chaos? Preparing for Cloud Migration!

As part of our Great Minds Series, Marcus Bailey, Head of Cloud has been getting under the bonnet of what it takes to migrate to the cloud.  In this article, he discusses the preparation needed in the early stages to avoid cloud chaos and make sure your migration stays on cloud nine.

In the current economic climate, making your budget work harder for your technology infrastructure has never been more important.  If you’re fearful of the rising costs of server, network and storage hardware and frustrated with long lead times on delivery, you may well have thought about taking the initial bold step of migrating your organisation’s data and computing services into the cloud. This is an exciting opportunity to allow you to harness the power of cloud computing to leverage new technology and use agile computing.

So what happens now?

Assuming you have constructed a business plan, defined motivations, considered business outcomes/financial implications, and have the backing of the business, you need to get the wheels in motion and initiate the project. We find that many organisations at this point do not have the required experience for a cloud migration and start to ask questions such as:

  • How do we get started?
  • What does a cloud migration involve?
  • What components that we need to consider?
  • What is it going to cost?

The answer to the first question is that the process starts now. The sooner you can prepare for a cloud migration, the better your chance of ensuring a successful migration. No matter the size of your organisation or Information Technology environment, you have some important decisions to make. By gaining the insights you need to make those decisions early in the journey, you will stand a much better chance of delivering a successful outcome.


The first part of the process is the initial discovery. During this phase, the entire environment should be reviewed and documented. Use tools such as Azure Migrate to evaluate each application’s architecture, dependencies, and resource utilisation.

Focus on the application landscape and ensure all applications are documented and reviewed.

A well-constructed discovery allows you to understand the applications deployed within your organisation, evaluate their usage, and potentially reduce the number of applications used and the associated costs.

The devil is in the detail, and spending sufficient time to explore the application landscape will reap benefits in the later parts of the project. Application interaction and process flow will dictate migration strategies and long-term deployment goals. Understanding and documenting these are vital at this stage of the journey.

Now it’s time to engage the IT and business teams who use these services. By bringing these teams into the process as soon as possible, you can ensure they can offer migration guidance, feedback, and support.

You will now be able to model costs and confirm migration strategies accurately.

Migration strategy

Awesome! You have taken the time, engaged the project team and completed a thorough discovery process. You now know what’s in your environment, what the interdependencies are, what will be easy to migrate and what will be hard to migrate. Now you can decide how you will migrate each application. Using this knowledge, you can outline a plan for migrating each application in the portfolio and in what order.

Get this done early  – Advanced planning and confirming the migration strategy is essential to give you time to prepare the application landscape and lay down the foundations for the migration.

The migration plan will be dictated by decisions made when you complete the discovery and must be aligned with your organisation’s cloud strategy. It doesn’t have to be a one fits all approach, and the migration strategy can be adapted and customised for individual applications.

The complexity of migrating existing applications varies. Start with an easy application with a low impact on the organisation.  This is a common approach, which provides a chance to work through the migration steps, iron out any issues and gain confidence in the process and platform.

Gartner outlined the 5R’s of rationalisation migration strategies, which most major Cloud platform providers have adopted. These strategies can be a guideline to help you plan your migration. They are not steadfast rules. Every organisation has its unique blend of constraints, budget issues, politics, culture, and market pressures that will guide its decision-making process.

The five Rs of rationalisation describe the most common options:

  • Rehost – Better known as lift and shift. This approach will migrate the platform in its current state. This is one of the most common approaches as it is quick and straightforward. We have found that applications are often easier to re-architect once they are already running in the cloud.
  • Refactor / Re-architect – This approach uses the platform as a service (PaaS) component in the cloud platform without changing the core architecture of the application. For instance, you could use PaaS database instances by migrating to a database-as-a-service platform.
  • Replace – Move to another application. A cloud migration offers a great opportunity to modernise and rejuvenate the applications used within your organisation. Sometimes software as a service (SaaS) applications can provide all the necessary functionality. In these scenarios, a workload can be scheduled for future replacement.
  • Retire – We’ve found that as much as 20% of an enterprise IT portfolio is not providing benefits and can be turned off. These savings can boost the business case, direct your team’s precious time and attention to what staff use, and lessen the surface area you must secure.
  • Retain – This commonly means revisit or do nothing for now. You should only migrate what is right for the business. There are many reasons why an application might not be migrated at any given time and can be left as is to be addressed later.

These are just some steps involved when embarking on a cloud migration project. There are no concrete rules to follow, as no two businesses are alike. Each organisation will follow a slightly different migration process base on their vision, goals, and defined outcomes.

You will meet roadblocks, delays, and unforeseen issues in your journey to the cloud. In our experience, getting the initial planning with a solid discovery and predefined migration strategy is the key to a successful cloud migration.

If you’re thinking about making the move to the cloud, get in touch.