On-Premise to Cloud Migration: 7 Best Practices for 2024

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The cloud market is growing exponentially. The utter convenience, speed, and efficiency of cloud operations are becoming obvious to many companies around the world.  

Business owners who were hesitant about cloud computing and cloud migration in the past are making a choice to initiate the process. While hardly all of them are planning to operate solely on the cloud, they are choosing to implement this type of operation into the company’s work process.

Cloud operation is no longer a nice option. It’s a necessity that businesses are taking a close look at. Here, you'll learn the best practices for migrating from on-premises to cloud environments in 2024.

1. Make a Plan

Cloud migration is always a complex process that requires a close focus of many specialists. This process affects your entire team and may even cause certain downtime. To make sure everything proceeds smoothly, it’s important to create a comprehensive migration plan.

Here is what you need to do before you start the on-premise to cloud migration process:

  • Choose a migration architect – this person will have the leading role in the migration process. Their responsibility is to ensure the success of the migration by creating an effective strategy and controlling the playing field. This architect is the key cloud migration decision-maker.
  • Make choices– before the migration you need to choose whether you are doing full or partial migration and whether you need a single cloud or a multi-cloud. These choices depend on your goals, budget, and capacity.
  • Establish KPIs– when you are migrating a service or software to the cloud, you need to review the KPIs (e.g., user experience, infrastructure). The performance may change after the migration and you need to know how to adapt to the new developments.
  • Set the pace– you need to figure out whether you’ll migrate the entire app and all assets to the cloud simultaneously or you want to do it step by step.

Another important issue to consider when doing cloud migration planning is the budget. Cloud migration is rarely a cheap project. Depending on your budget, you could make certain adjustments to the plan or change some of your provider and tool-related choices.

Also read: IT Cost Reduction: A Strategic Guide to IT Budgeting

2. Train Your Team

Your entire team should have a clear understanding of what to expect during the migration process. Even if you outsource cloud migration to a third party, your employees will still need to understand the details and have an overview of migration tools.

Your internal staff has to understand how this upcoming migration will affect their day-to-day operations. In rare cases, they may be able to proceed as usual. However, most likely, they would be at least partially involved in the process.

Employees should also provide insight into what type of backup needs to be done before the migration so they can maintain downtime-free operation during the process.

3. Choose the Right Migration Strategy

While several cloud migration strategies exist, the majority of companies use the available six Rs. They are re-architecting, retiring, retaining, repurchasing, re-platforming, and rehosting.

  1. Re-architecting – this often costly yet effective cloud migration strategy involves adjusting your app’s code to make it work better on the cloud.
  2. Retiring – when reviewing your tech stack, you need to find the apps that your team no longer uses. Then you decide if they can be retired instead of being relocated to the cloud. The migration of unused or rarely-used apps is an unnecessary cost that can be avoided with timely evaluation.
  3. Repurchasing – in some cases, you may learn that you can’t migrate certain apps to the cloud. For example, your cloud license may not allow you to do this. If this happens, you would need to stay on-remise and choose another cloud service provider that doesn’t have this kind of limitation.
  4. Retaining – you could find that you have to suspend or delay your migration project. Reasons vary from compliance issues (e.g., you can’t store sensitive data on third-party servers) to budget surprises (e.g., license costs are too high). If this happens, you would need to rethink your cloud migration plans.
  5. Rehosting – this is the easiest option when you move the app to the cloud without any changes. However, this isn’t always cost-efficient.
  6. Replatforming – for this migration method, you need to adjust the solution to the cloud infrastructure elements. The core architecture stays the same. However, the app is slightly adjusted to fit the cloud platform.

4. Establish KPIs

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) can guide you through the cloud application migration process, help you understand whether cloud migration tools are working, and allow you to make educated decisions along the way.

The most common cloud migration KPIs are:

  • Accessibility – when you move to the cloud, will the product become more accessible to your audience or clients? You can measure this by downtime hours per year.
  • Upkeep costs – how much will maintenance on the cloud cost you? Will you have to spend more money on maintaining your solution on the cloud? How much more, and is this worth the effort?
  • Flexibility– does the cloud solution satisfy your scalability needs? Are you willing to pay monthly maintenance fees for cloud solutions that you may not need all year round (if you are a seasonal business)?
  • Speed– will the speed of access change for your migrated solution users? Will it become faster or slower?
  • Cost savingshow much money will you save in the long run by migrating to the cloud? What is the expected ROI (Return on Investment)?

Your company’s individual cloud migration KPIs can vary. However, they should help you understand whether your migration decision is working.

Further reading:

5. Choose Cloud Migration Tools

When you decide to migrate to the cloud, you will need to obtain cloud migration tools that make the process easier. Cloud migration can be a highly automated process. By choosing the right tools, you are saving money, reducing downtime, and avoiding manual errors.

Cloud service providers typically present a wide range of such tools, as do third-party vendors. It's crucial to select the most suitable tool that aligns with your unique migration procedure and budget constraints.

6. Settle for A Suitable Cloud Provider

The cloud provider you choose depends on the model you decide on (public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud). Figure out which cloud providers are the most suitable for your needs. Take your time to read the «best cloud providers» reports from authoritative resources.

For example, Computer World has an excellent comparison of major cloud providers: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Check them out and compare features and prices. Keep your industry needs and compliance requirements in mind.

The criteria for choosing a cloud platform include migration support, reliability, performance, fair prices, certifications, and cloud technologies. If you choose to outsource cloud migration to another company, they can help you choose a suitable platform depending on your requirements. 

Check these sections:

7. Review Your Backup System

When you are migrating to the cloud, you need a strong disaster recovery plan. Even a well-thought-out strategy doesn’t protect you from cloud migration challenges. When your data is stored on-premises, you can always use it to reload or restore an app. When the application is on the cloud, this option isn’t available.

That’s why it’s imperative to rethink your backup system. Some cloud service providers offer high-quality backup as a service solutions so you can review them before starting to migrate. You can also set up a new backup policy to suit your new mode of cloud operations.

Final Thoughts

On-premise to cloud migration is a complex process that requires extensive planning. While highly beneficial, the migration comes with a variety of challenges. From choosing the right cloud vendor to backing up existing data, you need to implement top practices.

Take the time to plan the process and make sure that cloud migration is a suitable solution for your business.

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