Migration to the cloud involves many steps and considerations. It makes no sense to just migrate virtual machines (VMs) with little or no planning or forethought. There are many websites and blogs out there that talk in detail about how to migrate to the cloud and the strategies you need to get there. In this blog, I want to talk about a framework for migration — things you need to consider when planning one. Once you have decided that you want to migrate VMs to the cloud, the next step is to do an assessment. This framework is a high-level overview of what is involved in that assessment.

Consisting of both tools and processes, the framework for migration includes decision points and conversational directions needed to ensure a comprehensive analysis and successful implementation. If you follow this process for implementation, it will provide consistency for the next time you need to implement a migration. And if you have multiple branch offices, you will definitely need it.

The Elements of a Migration Framework

A third-party, on-premises tool is a must-have for any migration efforts to the cloud. There are many out there and they all have their own value proposition, but in general, they provide the same core set of information. I will touch on the key aspects of how to use the tool and how to plan a migration based on it.

The figure below, “Migration Framework,” is a model of how the process works. First, the organization installs the on-premises tool and uploads data to a Software as a Service (SaaS) portal. Once it documents requirements for the migration, the organization can then start to analyze the data pulled from the vendor’s portal. After assessing the costs for the intended VMs, the organization can begin dependency mapping and analysis. This will involve application owners to ensure that their application requirements are met. Once the dependencies between applications, workloads and data are known, organizations can develop a strategic roadmap. Only then can the migration begin, and it should initially be done in a pilot mode to ensure that the planning process produced accurate mapping.

Migration Framework

The tool itself only provides information obtained from your environment. Being able to analyze the data is the key to a successful migration. Any tool used will require some type of on-premises installation, usually in the form of an appliance. Normally, a financial assessment requires only that appliance. Some tools will require the installation of an agent for application dependency; some tools do not, using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to gather dependency and port information.

In any case, the recommendation is to install the minimum necessary to perform the action needed. Each environment will be different, but the tools are usually designed for self-installation. In other cases, you may need a vendor or consultant to help walk you through the installation, providing the technical requirements of the appliance, and helping resolve issues during the installation. Since the data-gathering phase should take a week or two, you can begin working to gather requirements while the tool uploads data to the tool vendor’s portal. Although some vendors may say that you can begin analyzing the data immediately, I recommend waiting at least two weeks to get a more consistent view of performance.

Check back soon — my next blog post will cover data-gathering, analysis, dependencies and strategic roadmap phases. I’ll talk about the migration in a second follow-up post.

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