Cloud migration – how to ensure success one step at a time

According to Gartner, by 2022, cloud shift across key enterprise IT markets will increase to 28 per cent (up from 19 per cent in 2018).

Furthermore, research from IDG suggests that 73 per cent of organisations now have at least one application or a portion of their enterprise computing infrastructure, already in the cloud. The report also found that enterprise organisations have invested an average budget of $3.5 million to spend on cloud apps, platforms and services.

Migration can be a daunting and time consuming process but there is already increased demand from enterprises and government agencies to move off legacy systems and move to the cloud. There are many compelling reasons for this, including a fundamental need for organisations to be more agile or to minimise costs; The cost benefits of the cloud are considerable, with Forrester recently finding the ROI to be as much as 148 per cent, when analysing the possible return on investment with Alfresco Content Services in AWS.

With cloud solutions, companies can also take advantage of quality, scalable, elastic storage. By contrast, an on-premises solution requires sufficient investment in hardware, software, and IT staff to cover peak storage requirements. Cloud offers more flexibility for redundancy and elastic scalability for compute, rapid roll-out of new applications and ready access to advanced cloud-based services like Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

Things to consider when migrating

Migrating to the cloud provides both application and cost advantages, however the process must be properly planned. As part of the migration process, it is important to understand what makes up your existing content management system, including documents, metadata, and the custom components that need to be migrated.

When it comes to migrating to the cloud, a basic ‘lift and shift’ strategy of moving an existing Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform can be ineffective and risky. As a result, organisations will need to adopt an approach that provides an uninterrupted service, while also de-risking the overall migration. Although there is no such thing as ‘a push button migration’, a programmed approach that kick-starts the migration process can enable businesses to continue the migration at their own pace, while enjoying the benefits of a modern, cloud-native platform.

However, migration projects do not have to be ‘big bang’ endeavours. At Alfresco, we believe a well-managed process based on best practices and industry experience over a clearly-defined period of time and at a fixed price is simply a better way. This approach ensures that customers have the necessary tools, skills and support to achieve a successful migration to the cloud.

Migration step-by-step

To help enterprises successfully move off outdated, legacy platforms, while mitigating the risk of migrating content to the cloud, organisations will need to provide a step-by-step approach that comprises three key components:

Migration Toolkit– Use a broad set of user tools, dashboards, analytics, content services connectors and migration servers that provide a comprehensive migration solution to plan and execute moving ECM systems to the cloud. By using a toolkit that is scalable with automated capabilities, organisations can enable discovery, migration, auditing and validation of data from multiple repositories, as well as easy integration with third-party tools to provide additional categorisation, classification or analytics. 

Skilled People – Utilise experienced consultants, who have planned and delivered many large-scale, legacy system migrations, and integrate best practices and transformation initiatives during the migration journey.

A Robust Process – Adopt a robust migration process that’s focused on efficiency and risk-mitigation. By using professionals that can audit the existing system, organisations can set up the migration tools and process with ease, and educate all users on how to manage the migration. This ensures enterprises get the skills and knowledge they need in a clearly-defined process, to execute the migration. Alternatively, the organisation can opt to manage the execution of the migration themselves, allowing them to run their migration continuously over time using their own resources, and at their own pace.

Planning Migration 

As an enterprise builds a migration plan, it is important to also understand the migration timeline. For example, are there specific applications that must be migrated by a set date or is a phased migration an option? To adopt a phased, step-by-step approach, organisations should prioritise migrating recently accessed content first and leave content that has not been accessed for some time to a later phase. Grouping data by last time accessed or by application/department and then phasing the program is also a good approach to support user adoption of the new system, as well as de-risking the migration.

Typical migrations can incorporate billions of documents that are stored across a multitude of repositories, databases and file stores. As organisations start to analyse their content, methods for moving content from on-premises to the cloud should also be reviewed. For small content migrations, this may include being able to stream the data over a high-speed Internet connection; however, this will not be sufficient for large scale migrations. For larger migrations, physical appliances, such as Amazon Snowball for example, are often preferred. Both techniques come into play as organisations consider the initial migration and any content deltas after the initial migration is complete.

Migrating to the cloud can be a complex process and seen quite daunting, but with enough forethought and strategic thinking, it can run so smoothly that the rest of the organisation will hardly even notice the change. 

About the Author

Paul Hampton, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Alfresco. Paul is the fountain of all knowledge when it comes to Alfresco. He’s a highly experienced product marketer who is able to translate technicalities to meaningful words, he is especially good at describing visionary pieces in real world scenarios.

Cover image: Ra2 studio