Migrating your organisation to the Cloud

The number of organisations migrating from on-premise data centres to the cloud is accelerating at a rapid pace; this has grown significantly during the last 12 months as companies look to mitigate risk during the pandemic and enable rapid scaling of infrastructure.  

SQA Consulting are often engaged by organisations that have been running unsuccessful cloud migration projects for months if not years, and this is typically caused by failure in the strategy and planning phase. 


Migration strategy 

A clearly defined migration strategy is critical for success otherwise you will fail before getting out the blocks; here are some key points to consider when defining the correct approach for your business; 

  1. Migration vs Modernisation is the strategy to migrate the existing workloads to the cloud or is your organisation looking to modernise and rearchitect its applications as part of the migration? What is the rationale behind the chosen approach? 
  2. Stakeholder buy-in – do you have engagement across all areas of your business and has the migration impact been assessed against your business-as-usual activity? 
  3. Skills assessment – do you have the prerequisite skills required to migrate within your business or do you require a cloud migration partner? Often the cost of a cloud migration partner is offset by credits from the cloud providers. 
  4. Existing technology partners – is your application built on a particular technology that lends itself to specific cloud provider? Often Microsoft technology stacks are more costefficient when run on Microsoft Azure rather than the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) or Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

Planning Migration 

Organisations need to plan and conduct a cloud migration with an organised and methodical approach. Do not fall foul of thinking you can simply ship your data and services to a public cloud provider, and that everything will work out fine. SQA Consulting have been bought in by numerous companies who have tried this approach and have quickly found that the planned efficiency and cost savings initiative has become a massive challenge, as timelines slip out and costs escalate due to the unforeseen service utilisation,  as they have moved to a consumption-based subscription model. 

All cloud providers have developed models for managing the cloud migration process. SQA Consulting is provider agnostic, however in this article, we focus on the AWS approach. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provide some tried and tested tools for helping organisations tackle their service utilisation and consumption-based planning. Their Migration Readiness and Planning method is one of these.  

At SQA Consulting we use this methodology to help organisations prepare for the journey ahead. We work closely with AWS during the planning phase to properly identify the right approach, tools, target architecture, and migration plan so that potential pitfalls are avoided further on down the road. 

Let’s look at each of the phases that AWS draws attention to: 

1. Assessing Migration Readiness 

a. Here we look at the scope and initial business case of the migration; are these clearly defined? Have the applications and environments to be migrated been evaluated? Is the “landing zone” secure in context of the in-scope applications? Do the operations teams have the necessary skills in cloud technologies? Does the organisation have the experience necessary to move the technology stacks in scope? 

2.  Application Discovery 

a. This is a critical step. Understanding the on-premise environments and the applications that are being hosted is a mandatory requirement for building the business case and planning the migrations. “You can’t migrate what you don’t know!” 

3.  Discovery Tools 

a. Tooling can be used to help with application discovery. Various toolsets can provide automated inventory and application discovery, map dependencies between systems, capture OS versions, determine performance baselines, and help to categorise applications in a meaningful way. 

4. Application Portfolio Analysis 

a. Next, we take the information captured during application discovery and use this to create logical groupings of applications and services. This is used to quantify the migration size and strategy based on the grouping. 

5. Migration Planning 

a. The migration plan sets out the scope, schedule, resource plan, risks and issues. It also includes a communication plan. The migration plan takes into consideration crucial factors such as the migration order and what resources are needed. 

6. Technical Planning 

a. Planning migration waves helps to create a manageable iterative process. Using the portfolio analysis output assists in creating the backlog of tasks and in prioritising them accordingly. At this point, organisations may begin to size the migration teams required to consume the backlog so that migration waves are completed in short sprints avoiding long-running work packages, which tend to slow or limit migration progress. 

7. The Virtual Private Cloud Environment 

a. When creating the target cloud environment for the migration waves, three items need to be considered; 

i. Security 

        1. Ensure that the architecture is secure by design and adopt industry best practices for securing public cloud infrastructures and services. 

 ii. Operations 

        1.  Make sure time taken to understand how a new cloud base operating model will change the organisation’s day to day business activities. Examine the current ways of working and review those in line with your to-be model. 

 iii. Platform 

        1. Standardising the way platforms are implemented and services are consumed creates a cookie cutter repeatability to the process. This should be balanced with a level of flexibility to accommodate the changing requirements of the business. 


Following the steps above, gives a structured and logical approach to planning cloud migrations 

It is important for organisations to consider the benefits of partnering with an organisation that completes migrations as part of its DNA such as SQA ConsultingThere is a wealth of savings and time to be found when leveraging the knowledge of a cloud migration partner, be it credits from the cloud provider for using an approved partner or leveraging their experience to accelerate the migration and thus accelerating the delivery of benefits.  

This article references the AWS Migration Whitepaper which can be found here.

For more information relating to how we can help you with your cloud migration and business transformation please contact; 

Steve Ruston – Chief Transformation Officer – steve.ruston@sqa-consulting.com  

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