5 Things to Consider When You’re Thinking About Cloud Migration

"City or suburbs?" "Apartment or 1-acre lot?" "Cable or Satellite?"

When you’re moving your home or office, you have a lot of questions to answer-and the stakes are high. Every choice you make will have a significant impact on your day-to-day life-and once your move is finalized, undoing big choices will be difficult and costly.

Moving to the cloud is no different. You must decide:

  • "AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud?"
  • "Which applications to migrate vs. keep on-premises?"
  • "IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS?"

And that’s just the beginning. With so many decisions, it’s extremely common for CIOs and CTOs to find themselves overwhelmed at the beginning of their cloud journey.

If you’re under pressure to move to the cloud but uncertain about where to start, breaking down this complicated project into manageable pieces will help. With a methodical approach, you can reduce the risk of making a mistake that forces you to go over time or over budget. We recently published a guide, What to Think About When You’re Thinking About Moving to the Cloud, that discusses 10 key considerations address when you're starting to think about cloud migration. Here are 5 of the considerations highlighted in the guide:

1. Why Are You Thinking About Moving to the Cloud? It’s important for your organization to understand why you’re considering or moving to the cloud. What is your primary goal of moving to the cloud? If you don’t know, you won’t know if you’re hitting the target or not. The cloud is no different from any other project in that you need clear goals, objectives, and projects leads, as well as executive sponsorship.

2. Which Cloud Should You Move To? To decide between the three main public cloud providers - Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) - you’ll need to consider three key areas: cost-performance optimization, security, and your business needs.

cloud tco.png

  • Cost Performance Optimization: Each cloud offers different compute, storage, and network options. By doing a performance analysis of your on-premises infrastructure and comparing that to what’s available in each cloud, you can project both your performance and your TCO in each cloud and identify the one that meets your performance requirements at the lowest cost. It’s important to conduct thorough right-sizing, otherwise you may end up with an inaccurate estimate that leads you to make a wrong decision.
  • Security: Understand how each cloud provider secures their network and your data, as well as what security certifications each has. Analyst Chris Wilder states "As the internet of things (IoT), big data and the connected enterprise grow, so does the need for companies to implement data governance policies to ensure their strategy defines how they manage data about customers, systems, processes, partners and employees. As part of a data governance program, companies must include how data interacts with their cloud provider from a storage, applications and services perspective. Understanding the cloud provider’s data ownership and sovereignty policies is one of the key decision points when choosing a provider."
  • Business Needs: Lastly, you’ll want to consider which cloud will help you meet your organization’s goals. AWS, Azure, and GCP each have differences that may align better with your needs. For example, according to Wilder, AWS is high volume, low margins. It offers many services, but it also requires the most planning to avoid cost issues when choosing between on-demand versus reserved instances. GCP was designed to support data-centric companies that are born in the cloud and has a more integrated platform, while Azure provides "the broadest set of choices for organizations from WAN connectivity, developer and data management tools, to application vendors and third-party service providers."

3. Which Applications Should You Migrate vs. Keep on Premise? Some applications will be more suitable for the cloud than others, especially applications with variable usage patterns. Their bursty CPU/IOPS behavior often creates waste on-premises that you can eliminate by migrating to the cloud and taking advantage of auto-scaling.

Another technical consideration to keep in mind is whether you can identify suitable compute, storage, and network options for your application. If you analyze the performance profile of an application and compare it to what’s available in the cloud but can’t find a virtual machine that meets your performance requirements at a reasonable cost, then it’s not a good option for moving to the cloud.


Consultant Keith Townsend says that three non-technical factors should also factor into your decisions about which applications should stay on-premises: licensing, support, and regulatory.

  • Licensing: Some specialty software may require additional licensing for the cloud, and some solutions might not even offer a cloud option.
  • Support: Software vendor support is an important consideration because many high-performance or business critical applications have strict requirements around the infrastructure supported. While the solution may work in the public cloud, the software provider may offer limited support, or none at all, when issues occur.
  • Regulatory: Lastly, Townsend notes that some governments require that certain types of data remain within their borders. If data location is a consideration, he says you shouldn’t stop at the validation of a primary workload's location. Failover is also a consideration. If a provider has only a single region within your country, you have just a single point of failure due to regulatory requirements.

4. What deployment model should you use? Each of the cloud service providers offers three different deployment models: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Each presents various levels of control, flexibility, and management. Where IaaS brings a high level of flexibility and cloud management control, it’s more resource intensive. PasS requires fewer IT resources and offers a faster speed to market, but also has restrictions on technical functionality and compute resources. Although SaaS frees up IT resources and offers rapid deployment, it gives you minimal control of your applications and little to no flexibility.

Determining which deployment model to use will be much easier if you’ve set your organizational goals. Understanding the differences can help you decide which model aligns best with your needs. Setting your priorities will help change the question from "which deployment model is best?" to "which deployment model best supports our goals?" (which will also make it easier to answer).

5. What Organizational Changes Do You Need to Consider? Once you’ve decided it makes sense to move to the cloud, you’ll need to determine how roles, culture, and policies will need to change. You’ll need new security policies to manage sensitive data that can now be accessed from any device, anywhere. You’ll need new skills to manage your infrastructure and to decide whether to train your existing team on how to be successful in their new cloud role or if you will hire new talent with cloud experience.

Perhaps most importantly, you’ll need to adopt a new organizational mindset based on active management. a href="https://www.cloudamize.com/blog/infographic-active-cloud-cost-management-essential-for-reducing-cloud-costs">Active management of your cloud deployment is an essential (and often overlooked) ingredient in making the promise of the cloud a reality. To be successful in actively managing your cloud, you’ll need new technology-including cloud migration, management, performance monitoring, and analytics platforms-to analyze, monitor, and manage your cloud infrastructure.

Your Cloud Optimization Begins Before You Leave the Ground

The decisions you make at this early stage can have a lasting impact on your long-term cloud success, which is why it’s so important for you to have a framework for the considerations you address before you begin your cloud migration. It’s only by closely considering your organizational goals that you will be able to make the decisions that deliver the full promise of the cloud.

Of course, these 5 considerations are just a few of the many that you’ll need to consider as you think about mogration. To read more about these and the other 5 key considerations you must address before moving to the cloud, check out our guide.

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