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Yogi SchulzIt should be easy to migrate a web-based application from its in-house computing environment to a vendor-managed, cloud computing environment.

While migration is not a high-risk, stress-inducing project, there are significant considerations for your cloud migration project plan. Addressing the essential considerations that can trip up companies will ensure you achieve a smooth migration to the cloud.

Will the in-house application run in the cloud environment?

Most in-house applications rely on more pieces of computing infrastructure and more software components than is immediately evident. Here are the major cloud components you will require:

  • A compatible database management system, equivalent middleware, application development tools and operating system versions for the computing infrastructure layer.
  • Compatible database servers, application servers and web servers for your transaction operation.
  • A compatible data warehouse and analytics software with a development capability for your business intelligence operation.
  • Email and document management software.

Discovering that you’re missing a component can easily extend your migration project.

Will the cloud environment satisfy non-functional requirements?

Your end-users have high expectations for non-functional requirements, including online response time, batch performance elapsed time, availability, remote accessibility, failover, backup and recovery, and disaster recovery.

While your in-house application may or may not meet various expectations today, end-user expectations of the cloud environment will likely increase once the plan for migration to the cloud is announced.

These heightened expectations often trigger:

  • A wide area network (WAN) upgrade between end-user premises and the cloud environment.
  • An increase in the capacity of the cloud environment that has been acquired.
  • A need to test application performance, failover, backup and recovery.

These non-trivial items are often underestimated in the migration project cost estimate.

Can the cloud environment comply with applicable requirements?

Every organization is expected to comply with various security, privacy and regulatory requirements that contracts, governments and regulators define.

These requirements are an inescapable part of the scope of the migration project to the cloud. Examples include PCI, the Privacy Act, Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the Patriot Act in the United States and the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Testing to ensure a reasonable level of compliance as part of the migration project will consume significant resources and time.

How will the cutover to the cloud environment occur?

Once you’re satisfied that the application is running well in the cloud environment, the moment to migrate your end-users to the cloud is usually at hand.

Suppose your number of end-users is modest, and the need for moment-to-moment application availability isn’t high. In that case, the Saturday night cutover is typically preferred because it’s fast, cheap and low risk.

However, if your number of end-users is significant, external organizations access the application and the need for moment-to-moment application availability are high, your cutover becomes a more expensive multi-stage process. Now end-users will migrate in carefully-scheduled groups. Also, during the migration period, the in-house database must be well synchronized with the cloud database.

If you chose the Saturday night cutover, and it turns out later that you should have selected the multi-stage process, your migration project will experience lots of difficulties.

Is it really a cloud migration or an application upgrade?

Sometimes the migration project to the cloud isn’t really a simple migration but a much more ambitious effort to add various application improvements under the guise of a supposed migration project. This tricky situation is fraught with risk and future disappointment. For example, your migration project to the cloud may also be expected to deliver:

  • Functionality enhancements such as notifications, more historical data or improved integration.
  • Non-functionality enhancements include migrating from a Windows operating system to Linux or 24/7 availability.

In one of these situations, consider that there are at least five ways to migrate applications to the cloud that go beyond the simple migration I’m describing here. The added scope of these alternatives dramatically adds cost and risk to your migration to the cloud.

Cloud-hosted applications offer many advantages compared to on-premises applications. Here are some of the benefits. However, an inadequately planned migration will bring many headaches.

Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of information technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy and project management.

Yogi is a Troy Media contributor. For interview requests, click here.

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