AWS Migration: How to Successfully Migrate Your Business to the Cloud

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As per the Flexera State of Tech Spend Report, 55% of enterprises plan to decrease on-premises spending. With on-premises systems turning out to be expensive and unmanageable, migrating to the cloud makes for sound business sense. The cloud is a means for organizations to escape a slow, high-cost legacy-bound infrastructure and achieve greater operational efficiencies and faster time-to-market. 

Ever since its launch in 2006, AWS has occupied a dominant position in the cloud computing space. It is the most popular cloud service provider (CSP) among the hyperscalers with 41% market share, followed by Google, Microsoft, and IBM, which together account for around 35% of the market share. With millions of users, tens and thousands of partners, and more than 200 services, AWS is a preferred option for businesses looking to migrate to the cloud. 

“AWS has continuously delivered outsized business benefits to Tidal Migrations customers on their journey to the cloud,” says David Colebatch, CEO Tidal Migrations, an AWS Advanced ISV Partner. “With a broad service offering and a rate of innovation that only seems to accelerate, customers with urgent missions will continue to choose AWS.”

Also read: Public vs. Private Cloud: Cloud Deployment Models

What Are the Benefits of AWS?

While not an exhaustive list, here are the reasons why you should choose AWS as your cloud partner:

Location: Spread over five continents and comprising 81 availability zones (AZs) and 25 geographic regions, AWS’s global footprint is unmatched, giving customers vast options to choose from. 

Scalability: AWS keeps a check on your applications and ensures they are operating at required performance levels. When demand spikes, the auto-scaling function of AWS kicks in to increase the capacity of constrained resources. 

Usage-based pricing: With a utility-based pricing model, businesses pay only for the infrastructure they have used, resulting in immense savings. 

Operational resilience: Operational resilience is a crucial factor when choosing AWS. AZs are fault-tolerant and highly available, so even when outages occur, the impact on services is minimal. Also, each AWS region comprises isolated and separate AZs, and thus, even if one AZ goes offline, the others are still functioning.

High agility: Migrating to AWS can significantly accelerate business agility. AWS Lambda comes with automatic scaling technologies that enable businesses to innovate and respond to changes faster.  

Data storage: AWS offers a complete package of services for companies to store and access their data to reduce costs, expedite innovation, and increase agility. A few options are:

  • Amazon S3 is an object storage service designed for 99.999999999% (11 9s) durability to store data for a broad spectrum of use cases.
  • Elastic block storage (EBS) is an easy-to-use block storage solution used with Amazon EC2 to store persistent data.
  • Elastic File Storage (EFS) is a scalable storage solution for Linux-based workloads that supports many use cases, from highly scaled-out to latency-sensitive workloads.

Best Practices for AWS Cloud Migration

While migrating to AWS will differ on a case-by-case basis, below are some best practices that businesses must consider before migrating to AWS. 

1. Do a Portfolio Discovery

Portfolio discovery is probably the first thing you need to do before migrating to the cloud. The portfolio discovery phase involves conducting a detailed analysis of your IT portfolio, the goal being to gather as much info as possible about interdependencies and levels of abstractions in IT workloads. 

Once you have identified your portfolio and thoroughly assessed your IT landscape, you then need to compare it with the 6Rs (see below) to categorize and plan a migration roadmap. Some points to keep in mind when analyzing your portfolio are:

  • What is the return on investment (ROI) on moving a particular application?
  • Can the application be rehosted, or does it require extensive changes?
  • Is the application better off on-premises?

While a manual discovery is possible if you have few applications to migrate, you’re better off using discovery tools if you require large-scale migrations. For example, you can use AWS Application Discovery Services (ADS) to gather details about on-premises server inventory and provide insights into your IT environment.

 2. Do a Business Case

Before migrating to the cloud, companies have to build a solid business case that clearly explains how the migration will take place and effectively maximize their ROI. A business case should systematically analyze IT costs and then show how migrating to the cloud is justified. Your business case should cover:

  • The current cost of maintaining legacy infrastructure
  • Cost-benefit of moving to AWS
  • The projected costs of migrating to AWS
  • Depreciation costs for legacy apps

AWS’s Migration Evaluator tool can aid you in your efforts. 

But simply measuring migration costs is not enough. A business case should not only identify the direct benefits (lower costs, scalability, business continuity) but also focus on the full scope of migration while highlighting the transformational impacts it would have on your organization. 

“The process of creating the business case is equally as important as the final business case itself, forcing teams to ask questions of their business strategy and current IT that will shape the direction of organization for years to come,” Colebatch explains. “For example, are you completely exiting your datacenter now? Is the business expecting some level of modernization or enhanced business capabilities that we need to budget for?  

“With these answers in mind, performing “what-if” analysis with budgeting tools like allows teams to estimate what their cloud hosting costs would be if you Refactored 10% of your applications or 100%.”

3. Form a CCOE (Cloud Center of Excellence)

For a successful migration, your cloud strategy has to match your company’s strategy. The optimal way of doing that is to form a CCOE consisting of a select group of people from within the company who provide guidance, leadership, and support for the move to the cloud. The function of the CCOE involves charting out the cloud policy and implementing best practices for desired outcomes. A cross-functional CCOE not only shapes cloud policies but, most importantly, acts as a driver of organizational change.

 4. Train Your Teams

A lack of cloud expertise can be daunting for your staff. Hence, it is essential to train staff in AWS basics, so they can segue into the cloud smoothly. To assess the gaps in your team’s AWS knowledge, you can use AWS Learning Needs Analysis, a free self-assessment tool. Once your employees complete the survey, an AWS expert reviews the score and creates a targeted certification plan that’s appropriate for them.

AWS also offers a 3-day training course called Migrating to AWS, where an instructor teaches employees on every step of the migration process. The labs give teams practical experience and equip them with a solid foundation to complete migration steps confidently. 

5. Assess the Security Risks

During migration, confidential information of your company moves into a shared environment outside the company’s firewalls. Assessing the security risk is therefore necessary. But at Amazon, security is a shared responsibility. So, while security is inbuilt in the AWS platform, you may need to put additional safeguards in place when migrating workloads to AWS.

Evaluating the security requirements of your applications and then choosing an appropriate AWS security solution is an excellent strategy. Also, defining IAM policies beforehand is essential to control who has access to data. AWS Managed Services (AMS) and AWS Professional Services help you manage the migration process more securely.  

 6. Choose the Right Migration Plan

Amazon recommends the 6R model to migrate effectively to the cloud.  

  • Rehost—Rehosting is a quick and straightforward process where applications are transferred from on-premises to the CSP with no internal code changes.
  • Refactor—Refactoring is a complex process involving significant code changes to be more compatible with the cloud environment. Since the process involves significant changes, do regression testing on applications to check for code defects.  
  • Replatform—Replatform migration involves making some modifications to the apps to adjust to the new cloud environment.
  • Repurchase—The Repurchase strategy involves replacing on-premises apps with new cloud-native software.
  • Retire—In the retire method, you remove legacy applications you no longer use.
  • Retain—Retaining is keeping back some applications on-premises primarily because of latency or regulatory requirements. 

“In mass-migrations, consistency of migration methodology and execution is important as you scale out your migration factory into multiple teams,” Colebatch says. “To provide consistency of 6R assessment at scale, look for cloud migration tools that provide an automated 6R recommendation based on a minimum of application architecture, source code, and database analysis, as well as business drivers.”

Also read: What You Need to Know About Cloud Automation: Tools, Benefits, and Use Cases

AWS Migration Tools

Some important AWS migration tools are: 

Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool (CART): CART is a 16-question survey that helps organizations assess their readiness for AWS migration. 

AWS Migration Hub: Migration Hub provides you with a unified location to track the progress of application migrations.   

AWS Server Migration Service (SMS): AWS SMS is an agentless service that speeds up the migration of on-premises workloads to AWS. 

AWS Database Migration Service (DMS): AWS DMS helps to migrate data from open-source and commercial databases to AWS. It supports both homogeneous and heterogeneous migrations. 

AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP): Through MAP, AWS provides targeted help from Amazon and its partners to organizations looking to make large-scale migrations. 

The Importance of Cloud Migration

The cloud is growing at an incredible pace, with IDC estimating cloud spending to surpass $1.3 trillion by 2025. Enterprises that do not adapt to the cloud will be left behind as they try to compete with cloud-savvy competitors. Migrating to AWS and following the best practices mentioned above will ensure that you stay ahead of the curve.

Read next: AWS Turns its Focus to Cloud WAN, 5G Networking

Susnigdha Tripathy
Susnigdha Tripathy
Susnigdha Tripathy is a full-time writer and editor based in Singapore, and a regular contributor to Enterprise Networking Planet. She has over 10 years of experience writing, editing, and delivering exceptional content for a variety of international technology brands such as Virtasant, a cloud technology company, and Krista Software, a provider of intelligent automation solutions. She has also appeared in ServerWatch and other industry publications.

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