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6 Tips for a Successful Cloud-to-Cloud Migration

You're thinking about taking the plunge on a cloud-to-cloud migration. You know that moving from one cloud platform to another isn't the easiest project... but in your case, you've decided that it's worth it.So what can you do to avoid the pitfalls and maximize your chances of a smooth transition? These seven tips will help you ensure a successful cloud-to-cloud (C2C) migration:

1. Start with change management

Cloud-to-cloud migrations can be messy, stressful, and confusing. While most employees understand the rationale for moving to the cloud in the first place, the business imperatives for switching between cloud platforms are often less obvious, doubly so if little time passes between changes. Due to this, you may have less enthusiastic buy-in, less tolerance for setbacks, and less overall support from the front lines when it comes to C2C.

A good change management program can fix all of that through instituting direct communications, opening easy feedback channels, anticipating user issues before they arise, and keeping the organization's focus on the end goal.

2. Move data first

Moving your data from one cloud platform to another can sometimes provide a quick win for your C2C migration. Data is easier to move than applications and much of your bandwidth is used for transporting data. So if you're moving platforms due to lower data costs, enhanced security, or better warehousing tools and facilities, then moving your data first could be a smart decision.

Keep in mind, there are a plethora of applications out there that stores data in a proprietary way, meaning that just simply moving the data may not be enough to get everything up and running. Moving data works best if we are talking about something like a user accessible file system instead of say a database. It is much easier to move documents and spreadsheets around between cloud providers than it is to move complex databases that may be quicky out of date.

3. Research the right tools to migrate your data

There are a growing number of tools and utilities designed to migrate data between clouds. New ones are popping up all the time, so make sure to investigate which ones are working best for your particular situation. You might even find a tool specifically designed for your exact needs, so don't skip this step!

In some cases, however, data translation tools might not even be necessary. If you keep copies of all cloud data in a local cache, for example, your transition might be as simple as repointing your cache to the new cloud. Drawing your data back into in-house storage and then porting it out to the new cloud can sometimes be easier than a direct C2C transformation, too. Keep in mind though that since many public cloud applications have an extensive API, a direct cloud to cloud migration through a purpose built tool may be not only faster but have a higher rate of success.

Also, since tools like these are cropping up every day, make sure you always check for new developments each time you prepare to migrate software. Especially when your migration plan is spread over several months or years, new tools might be available by the end that weren't there in the beginning.

4. Prioritize applications that already exist on both platforms

Some common applications – such as office and productivity software – may already exist natively on both your current and your target platforms. These applications are good to prioritize early, because cloud-to-cloud migrations of this sort are typically much easier (and might even have built-in vendor support for doing so).

If moving these applications are not on your critical path or don't factor into your primary reasons for switching cloud platforms, however, you can save this step for later. But keep in mind that these "easy targets" can also be a good way of getting acclimated to your new platform before tackling those more complicated projects down the road.

5. The fewer custom-built apps you have right now, the better (save these for once your already in the cloud)

Many commercial applications have developed versions and configurations for each of the major cloud computing providers. Smaller apps – such as those custom-built for your own proprietary use – are less likely to be portable from one platform to the next. These apps are generally built for one platform's capabilities and infrastructure, without much concern paid to the strengths and weaknesses of other platforms, or future portability. For example, if your company uses a lot of applications that are built to run on an AS/400, you will have a much more difficult time than if all your applications run on Windows Server or Linux.

It's easy to see why this can become a problem when seeking to port such applications to a new cloud platform: they simply weren't built for it. In this way, each custom-built application will ratchet up the challenge level of a cloud-to-cloud migration. You'll have to decide on a case-by-case basis if it makes more sense to re-engineer those custom-built apps or select consumer software that's already available on the new platform.

6. Design your apps with future possibilities in mind

When creating applications for the cloud, you should design them to be as interoperable as possible. You might be 100% devoted to your current cloud platform now, but that might not always be the case. And, as we explained in the previous tip, porting custom-built applications between cloud platforms is not an easy business. When designing a new custom application, always be sure to think in terms of microservices and containerization to more easily change clouds in the future.

That's why organizations like The Open Group are developing standards to improve cloud computing portability and interoperability. By incorporating ideas like these into your application designs, you might just save yourself a lot of complications when you undertake a cloud-to-cloud migration later on.

Help for Your Cloud-to-Cloud Migration

Of all the C2C migration tips presented here, the most important was #1: change management. With the challenges being mainly technical and the benefits less obvious for your users, you need a good change management program to keep your C2C efforts on track.

At Cloudbakers, we bake best-in-class change management into all of our cloud migrations. Find out today how our unique processes can help you achieve success with your own cloud-to-cloud migrations.

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Originally published on April 05, 2018

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