AWS Public Sector Blog

Top tips for a successful cloud modernization or migration

Digital transformation is a concept that is high on the agenda of many governments, including Australia who developed the Secure Cloud Strategy in 2017 to help agencies move towards a more agile method of service improvement and capabilities.

Many large public sector organizations are undertaking mass migrations: the movement of a meaningful portion of your organization’s existing IT assets to the cloud. This might consist of a data center, a collection of data centers, a business unit, or some other portfolio of systems that is larger than a single application.

Here are some top tips and real-life learnings for public sector organizations looking to execute a successful cloud migration strategy:

Have a well-planned migration strategy

A well-planned strategy considers readiness in terms of both technology and culture. Take advantage of the AWS Migration Acceleration Program (MAP) to help structure the lifecycle of your mass migration. The AWS Migration Readiness Assessment (MRA) phase of the MAP is based on the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF) and evaluates cloud readiness along eight dimensions.

have a well planned migration strategy

Choose a great partner (if you need one)

A partner, including members of the AWS Partner Network (APN), can help with your migration. Find the right partner that aligns with your organizational culture and has your best interest at heart with a track record of success. Make sure that the statement of work has a well-defined scope with no room for ambiguity. Investing the time during the assessment phase can save time in the long run and de-risk both parties.

Ensure cost optimization and visibility

Most mass migrations will adopt the lift and shift migration strategy. But the issue with the lift and shift strategy is that it will likely increase your total cost of ownership (TCO) and goes against the main reasons for migrating to the cloud—cost and scalability.

Right size before migrating. Discovery tools such as Migration Evaluator, Cloudamize, and CloudChomp are suitable for large migrations and can provide insights into the best fit for your applications at the lowest TCO.

Ensure ongoing visibility of costs across the organization to avoid any surprises. Take advantage of services like AWS Organizations, AWS Budgets, AWS Trusted Advisor, and AWS Instance Scheduler combined with approaches such as monitoring using Amazon CloudWatch and tagging.

Use reliable discovery tools

Tools like Migration Evaluator provide insights into your existing platform. Tools like Cloudamize can provide additional information on the application dependencies and their usage. Invest the time in choosing the right tool or combination of tools for your environment. Make sure those tools provide the coverage you need and are reliable.

Include application prioritization

Group your applications by importance to your organization—not rank. Consider factors such as types of applications, usage patterns, internal versus external applications, architectures and technologies used, dependencies, etc. This helps avoid wasting time debugging an application whose dependencies were missed because an inadequate discovery tool was used.

Group these applications into waves with each wave having a start date and a cutover date. This roadmap will provide visibility into the timeline of the migration and clarity on how the migration is tracking. With a lift and shift approach, you can use CloudEndure Migration coupled with Migration Factory. This provides the ability to automatically build multiple “environments” so the business can validate both user functionality and operational readiness before cutover.

Use multiple staging environments

Build multiple staging environments in the cloud. We recommend version controlled, individual, parameterized stack definition templates to provision multiple environment instances. This can help with consistency and reliability and contribute to a successful migration outcome.

Ensure ongoing knowledge transfer and enablement

If you use an APN Partner, make sure your own teams are still taught the skills and given the confidence to take advantage of the benefits of the cloud. Common approaches for knowledge transfer are structured training and certification backed by regular brown bag sessions, immersion days, and documentation. These approaches should be identified during the Migration Readiness Assessment (MRA) phase. Ideally, a skills center of excellence established within the organization will augment broader technology teams to train and build the required cloud skills

Plan business testing and availability

Business testing should be a part of every stage of your migration plan, allowing you to spot potential issues at the earliest possible stage. Secure the time and availability of business owners for the appropriate times in the migration cycle and factor it into the migration timeline and communicate it. This becomes part of cultural change. Ensure business testing is mandatory as part of the deployment/cutover/migration phase.

Implement organizational cultural change

Culture is the foundational element that needs to evolve from the beginning of the cloud journey. Don’t wait until your migration has been completed before building up your Cloud Enablement Engine (CEE). The CEE is comprised of small teams of cloud experts, drawn from different roles within the organization, such as developers, network engineers, database administrators, or security or finance experts. CEE team members evangelize and institutionalize best practices and frameworks, and manage the organization’s move to the cloud.

Start by building a comprehensive approach and developing an action plan that can set you up for success. The Cloud Adoption Framework action plan can help you focus on business and technical perspectives to achieve a successful migration outcome.

Getting started

Operating in the cloud enables you to increase operational efficiency, reduce costs, improve security and agility, and allows you to focus on your core business and end users. Removing those migration risks can help ease the transition. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for mass migrations, but these strategies can help.

Whether you are about to embark on your journey or find yourself already on the path, it is never too late to assess your alignment with each CAF perspective and take advantage of the years of experience and reduce your risk. Start today with the AWS Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool (CART) which provides you with a free self-service online assessment, complete with a detailed report to help your organisation achieve maximum benefits of cloud adoption.