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Cloud Migration Checklist — The Definitive Guide

This article was updated on March 27, 2022

Driven by accelerating digital transformation (thanks to a global pandemic), the embrace of cloud migration — moving data, applications, and other elements of the business from localized hardware or software to a cloud environment — has picked up considerable speed.

Illustration of a checklist, pen, and headset on a desk. Beside them sit an illustration of a cloud.

In fact, more than 45 percent of IT spending on system infrastructure, infrastructure software, application software, and business process outsourcing will shift from traditional solutions to cloud-based ones by 2024, according to Gartner.

If your organization is considering a move to the cloud, a cloud migration checklist is key to the overall cloud migration strategy. Here are a checklist and timeline you can use to successfully plan and carry out the big move.

Cloud Migration Timeline and Checklist

Your approach should include creating a timeline for migration and determining how to get all stakeholders — including your employees — on board with a move. As a starting point, consider consulting with employees from various departments about which peak periods to avoid so you don't unnecessarily strain the organization during the migration. Outlining these details ahead of time is essential to good technology change management, and it will help the migration go more smoothly.

Month One: Develop a Cloud Migration Strategy

No cloud migration process should be undertaken without a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish and how you will evaluate success. With that in mind, developing a detailed strategy is a must. Here are four cloud migration strategies that organizations often adopt:

  • Shift to SaaS: You can outsource your application to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider that specializes in that type of solution — for example, unified communications as a service (UCaaS). 

  • Rip and replace (also known as refactoring or re-architecting): You rebuild your application from scratch as a cloud-native solution.

  • Lift and shift (also known as rehosting): Move an existing application from an on-premises data center to the cloud. The organization usually keeps the application as-is, and there is a minimal learning curve for users.

  • Move and improve (also known as replatforming): You move the existing application from an on-premises data center to the cloud while making some optimizations and enhancements — for example, automating processes or enabling scalability.

As part of your strategy, you’ll also need to determine which cloud migration tools you will use. Preparing for a move to the cloud involves reflecting on your current tools and communications channels and assessing how a cloud integration will benefit your employees and clients.

If your organization has multiple offices, or if you think that some employees and teams may be using their own communications channels without IT involvement (often referred to as shadow IT), ask them how they are currently using these tools. Seek their input on which features they would most want to see in a UCaaS solution, and why.

While making sure the communications tools your organization uses have properly migrated is critical, it's also important that you set up employees for success. By taking the time to understand their communications needs in advance, you will have a much better chance of delivering a UCaaS solution they'll want to use.

Once you've selected your migration strategy and necessary tools, you will need to build it out:

  • Determine what benefits of a UCaaS solution are most important to achieving your business goals.

  • Evaluate which applications you use frequently and would benefit from being housed in the cloud.

  • Establish the baseline metrics of your current solution.

  • Set key performance indicators (KPIs) for a post-migration cloud environment.

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Month Three: Find the Right Partner

Choosing the right partner is one of the most important aspects of successfully moving to the cloud. You want a service provider who will walk you through the complex cloud migration process, provide the appropriate level of service and data protection, and be responsive to your needs on an ongoing basis. Here are some key questions to ask about the provider you're considering:

  • Do they have an established reputation hosting a UCaaS platform?

  • Is the provider compliant with the regulatory requirements of your business, i.e., Payment Card Industry (PCI), Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), or other standards?

  • Does the provider have safeguards in place, such as multifactor authentication, entry login, and database encryption? Can they provide a private cloud environment if your business requires an extra level of security?

  • Do they offer to monitor key performance and availability metrics?

  • What is the provider's service-level agreement, and do they offer a guaranteed level of uptime?

  • Can you get support for, and prompt answers to, technical questions or help with any issues?

Vetting third-party cloud providers according to these questions can help you choose the right partner for the job. It'll also help you ensure that your provider is aligned with the specific needs of your organization.

Month Six: Execute Your Migration

It's now time to make your move to the cloud, which can be both scary and exciting. If you follow these cloud migration best practices, you can minimize downtime and other issues:

  • Assess your data privacy requirements. Any storage location for HIPAA- or PCI-compliant systems will need an extra level of security.

  • Determine what dependencies you have and consider those dependencies when deciding the order in which you'll migrate applications.

  • To test the process, move your least critical applications first. When these have successfully migrated, move on to the larger, more disruptive applications and tools.

  • Have a plan in place to limit the impact of downtime as much as possible. Consider doing most of the legwork during off-hours.

  • Use an automated or manual test to check that everything migrated successfully.

Remember, while it's critical to make sure the communications tools your organization uses have properly migrated, it's also important that you set up employees for success. Including them in the process and regularly checking with them to ensure they are familiar with cloud-based tools is essential.

One Year: Evaluate Your Success

You've planned, strategized, and implemented — now it's time to determine if you're meeting the KPIs you established a year ago and if everything went as planned. You'll want to consider the following:

  • Are you pleased with the level of service, protection, and support you've received from your provider?

  • What benefits, such as faster service, lower costs, or better performance, have you achieved? How can you streamline processes to achieve even more?

  • Have your employees successfully adopted the new technology? What can you do to help your employees with the adjustment?

Reaping the Benefits of Cloud Migration

According to the International Data Corporation, a lot of cloud migration is happening in the unified communications (UC) market. It makes sense that this is one of the largest areas being converted to the cloud as it provides easy-to-manage and consistent telephony services across employee locations in different geographies — perfect for your virtual workforce going forward.

While it's clear that migrating to the cloud can be a complex process that requires extensive planning, companies large and small are seeing that the benefits of cloud-based solutions like UCaaS outweigh the costs. By migrating to the cloud, many organizations are already benefiting from reduced overhead costs, streamlined management of UC infrastructure, remote access, and improved performance.

Successful cloud migration requires appropriate planning and thoroughness. But the benefits of being able to scale your business, increase availability, and provide your team with real-time access to cloud-based collaboration and communications tools while lowering overhead are well worth it. And with a detailed cloud migration checklist and timeline in place, you can make sure your move to the cloud goes off without a hitch.

Vonage Staff

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