Ten Steps of Migration
Blog post 1
Ten Steps of Migration
ONE: Evaluate the complexity of applications and data.
A critical consideration when determining an application’s complexity is its connections. You will need to map your applications dependencies to understand what other applications and servers it communicates with, how often they communicate. As well as whether it is bidirectional or unidirectional. Look for multi-tier dependencies and dependencies between different parts of the organization.
We will need to gather detailed migration requirements through a focused discovery and assessment process. Understanding what you’re dealing with is an essential first step in any migration.
We have partnered with Transitional Data Services (TDS) who, over many years have designed and refined a powerful visualization tool called TransitionManager. With this, we can map all known data points, applications, servers, storage devices etc. as well as – and this is vital – how they are interdependent.
Customers should have clear visibility into the inner workings and dependencies of all applications. A successful discovery phase consolidates information from multiple available sources of information with focus on quality and speed. As with any data aggregation initiative, the information must be normalized, validated, and transformed into an actionable “vault of truth” to allow for predictable change management.
TWO: Take a dual approach.
As a rule of thumb, you should migrate the least complex applications first with a clear plan of first stage testing in place. Beginning with complex applications can create major headaches for an organization even with your best practices in place.
Mobile workloads provide the most flexibility (single server, no external storage) – and are quickest and easiest to move; complex applications require greater planning and coordination.
THREE: Outline how operations will take shape in the cloud
Outline and share a clear cloud governance model; establish a clear set of roles and responsibilities. With this in place you can, you are able to say, “There is a governance process in place which enables bringing in the new application, this in turn allows business owners to get the job done.”
FOUR: Start small and simple but think big.
Once a decision is made to adopt a cloud into your IT infrastructure, there is often a level of excitement to get started and implement some of the benefits the business will gain with the move. This can lead to, too much being attempted at once – planning a business case, scoping a change, and formulating a cloud strategy all at once will likely lead to chaos or analysis paralysis.
Starting with a small project or a pilot is a great way to lay foundations to support and accelerate cloud adoption in the future and prepare for your future cloud migration at scale. Identify the core cloud capabilities needed to support your first project and organize a core group of experts to deliver it. Once the first project is complete, various aspects of your cloud capabilities can be extended to support more complex applications.
Small, quick wins are the best proof points for future projects and can turn sceptics into supporters.
FIVE: Develop a migration strategy that incorporates both business goals and technical requirements.
Just because you can move something quickly to the cloud does not mean that this is the best practice, at least not until you understand both the business and technical requirements as well as accuracy and confidence on the dependencies for the target application. This includes availability, performance, manageability, security, and recoverability in case of any failover.
We find the below questions will give you a good grounding before any move:
- What are the performance requirements for an app and what are its dependencies?
- What other applications and servers does it connect to, and where are they?
- Are they mainframes and will latency be a problem?
- Does your HR app integrate with a legacy application?
- What are the availability and security requirements?
- Can you easily identify which applications have HIPAA data?
It’s critical to ensure that your migration strategy takes a comprehensive approach to understanding all aspects of your applications. The use of the correct tools and processes will help you to easily identify and understand these aspects.
SIX: Build a robust migration plan made up of teams, tools and processes all centered around the migration activities.
It’s important to make informed decisions about which assets must be migrated together. Once you have discovered all your assets and their dependencies, you will be able to create the road map for making these “move bundles” and sequence the move events.
Be sure you have a platform that effectively assigns, manages, and tracks tasks. Team members should have the ability to check off their tasks in real-time and tasks should be sequenced automatically as each predecessor is completed.
Without a properly developed roadmap, the approach will bring unnecessary interruptions and delays to the project, these could drastically slow down progress and increase the risk for errors.
Status updates, although important, can also be disruptive to stakeholders. With a weekly or bi-weekly reports being published; this can form a narrow view on how the consumption of valuable resources is being allocated. To alleviate this concern, at Towers Associates, we offer a collaborative, real-time dashboard with information visible to all appropriate levels of management and IT. With this tool you can see the allocation of resources as well as project progression for full visibility.
SEVEN: Verify your migration through testing.
Testing is crucial and should be performed throughout the migration process. With a solid testing plan, you can identify and remediate issues in almost real time with minimal to no impact on the project. As well as the ongoing testing that will be performed by our practitioners, our clients can test alternative scenarios and see the impact on application dependencies and the overall migration.
We’ve seen many clients come to us for help after projects have stalled at this stage when they are experiencing “analysis paralysis” – they don’t have all the information to make decisions, and everything slows down to a crawl or stalls altogether. Our team our able to deploy quickly to bring their knowledge and experience in to get these projects moving in the right direction once again whilst also helping to bring you back on track.
EIGHT: Maintain everything to be sure it remains resilient.
A data center migration is much like moving into a new home or buying a new car. Everything is clean, organized, and landscaped, set up just the way you want it on day one. However, it can fall into disarray and disrepair if you fail to perform regular maintenance.
We strongly advise you to consider implementing a robust maintenance plan to ensure your environment will continue to run smoothly and at its best over time, as well as be ready for future updates and upgrades. Test the processes you have used for all phases of the data center migration to ensure maintenance of best practices and long-term resilience of your IT environment.
Don’t let all the discovery and cleaning up from the last several months go to waste.
NINE: Automate and implement automation frameworks and prepare for migration at scale.
Consider how you will adapt to new information and even new requirements along the way. Imagine it’s two weeks before the migration event and new business or technical information suddenly arises and will likely impact your plan; how do you respond?
It’s very common to receive notice of an addition or deletion in the week prior to a move event. Can you easily factor in the change and continue with your plan without missing a beat?
At times like this, automated runbooks can empower the team to be responsive without introducing risk or working through the night validating all the revised plan elements. We insisted on building automatically generated runbooks into the TransitionManager tool. These runbooks are instrumental in ensuring that all shutdown, migration and start up procedures are properly sequenced and can be replicated in seconds. Making any last-minute changes achievable, de-risking them and implementing the change with very little or no trauma to the timeline.
TEN: Be prepared to manage change – both planned and unplanned.
Managing change in an organizational setting requires careful consideration of the users, customers, vendors, and partners that will be participating in the new cloud IT landscape.
If you follow a prescriptive approach to implementing a cloud program, and have the right tools, it can streamline your transformation, accelerate time to value, and reduce risk.
For years Towers Associates has been helping companies – often large, with complex environments, across all industries – plan, design and build their cloud migration programs and transform their IT organizations. As industry experts in making change happen, let us help guide your organisation in to tomorrow.