AWS Smart Business Blog

How to Simplify Your Cloud Migration with SMART Goals

As an SMB, we know you often have to take innovative approaches to solve problems when you don’t have the headcount or funding to do so. After all, it’s a balancing act, where you actively seek ways to achieve positive business outcomes while being mindful of your resources. We recognize that migrating any amount of workloads from a legacy system to a cloud environment can be daunting when so much is on the line. However, SMB customers frequently find cloud delivers advantages like agility and cost savings, which leads to becoming more competitive in the market.

Cloud migration projects are often stalled because of perceived complexities of the migration activities. Without a structured and cohesive approach and the right tools, you may encounter hurdles. Organizations across the globe trust Amazon Web Services for deploying their workloads. AWS is often their first choice because of its experience in helping organizations of all sizes migrate their workloads to the cloud. You can migrate any workload – applications, websites, databases, storage, physical or virtual servers – and even entire data centers from an on-premises environment, hosting facility, or other public cloud to AWS. Every step along the way, you can leverage AWS’s years of experience to build your organizational, operational, and technical capabilities, so that you can gain business benefits faster.

Whether you’re totally new or regularly moving workloads to a cloud environment, efficiency gains can be made when undergoing major modernization. Setting realistic goals can help you to continue to seek that balance which is so important to ongoing business operations.

What are SMART goals?

Peter Drucker was a management consultant and educator who advocated for a business framework known as “management by objective.” This ultimately sought balance between organizational and employee goals all while monitoring, evaluating, and rewarding progress. Drucker applied the framework with a helpful acronym: SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, repeatable, and timely).

We feel this is especially relevant to SMBs because it will help you anticipate hurdles and achieve your migration goals while underscoring team accountability. In this blog you will see how AWS can help you address your cloud migration strategy with SMART goals.

Specifying the scope of work

When initiating an IT migration, ensure the the scope feeds into a business case or benefit, such as reducing costs, improving security, or increasing resiliency. While most SMB customers have a rudimentary inventory of their IT resources, many de-prioritize it. The challenge is to get an accurate scope or inventory of resources within a reasonable amount of time while reducing effort.

Creating a business case for migrations on your own can be a time-consuming process and does not always identify the most cost-effective options. With Migration Evaluator (formerly TSO Logic), you can gain access to insights and accelerate decision-making for migration to AWS at no cost. Following data collection, you will receive an assessment including a projected cost estimate and savings of running your on-premises workloads in the AWS Cloud.

The Migration Evaluator assessment is a report that identifies important elements such as:

  • Quantity of servers (both on-premises and virtual)
  • Attached storage volumes
  • Peak CPU and memory utilization
  • Licensing details (such as quantity and type of Microsoft Windows and SQL licenses)

It also provides details of the estimated annual costs for using Amazon-specific cloud services and licenses. The results are captured in a business case report that can be discussed with your business stakeholders to further align business and technology stakeholders. A 2021 study by the AWS Central Economist team found that customers with a Migration Evaluator assessment are more likely to migrate within 12 months.

business case listing

Figure 1: Sample Business Case listing the on-premises inventory

Measuring and tracking progress

Now that you have a full view of your IT landscape, it’s time to plan for the modernization. Define your success criteria for this migration and what constitutes completion. But, how do you measure it? How do you track the progress of your migration and make it visible?

The AWS Migration Hub is the one stop shop when it comes to planning, running, and tracking a portfolio of applications migrating to AWS or for modernizing applications already on AWS. It offers a single place to store IT asset inventory data while tracking migrations to any AWS region. After migration, you can also use Migration Hub to accelerate the transformation of your applications to native AWS.

You can use its connectors for importing application inventory from AWS Migration Evaluator. It also provides way to import from other discovery tools. You only pay for the cost of the migration tools you use and the Migration Hub functionality itself is free to use.

migration hub discovery tools

Figure 2: Migration Hub Discovery tools

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Achieving your goals

A well-planned Proof of Concept (PoC) identifies potential pitfalls, instills confidence and allows you to visualize your workloads in the cloud. For those who are new to PoCs, they can confirm if the target workload migrations are achievable. If so, you can explore these common migration strategies:
1. Re-hosting (lift-and-shift)
2. Re-platforming (lift-tinker-and-shift)
3. Re-purchasing (leave-and-new) often to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products
4. Re-architecting (leave-tinker-and-move) often to achieve 12-factor app benefits
5. Retire (lose)
6. Retain (leave)

If you choose to re-platform or re-architect, you would specifically want to see a working demo. If you rely on a tech vendor, inform them of the AWS Architecture Center, which provides reference architecture diagrams, vetted architecture solutions, Well-Architected best practices, patterns, icons, and more. This expert guidance was contributed by cloud architecture experts from AWS, including AWS Solutions Architects, Professional Services Consultants, and Partners. If you’re more on the business or operational side of your company, you may wish to explore our foundational architecture blog posts, which provide opinionated guidance on AWS services and their usage.

Repeating and optimizing your tasks

As you pursue migrations, it is important to scale and document the successful approach. A successful PoC should already have automated templates for deploying the cloud infrastructure. Whether you have your own IT team, work with a vendor, or have a relationship with an AWS Partner, they can start adopting these templates and create blueprints for common migration patterns. Blueprints can provide a quick start for similar workloads in your organization. You can also create these automated deployment templates by practicing infrastructure as code (IaC), which means applying the same rigor of application code development to cloud infrastructure provisioning.

All configurations should be defined and stored in a source control system such as AWS CodeCommit (the same as application code). Infrastructure provisioning, orchestration, and deployment should also support the use of the IaC. AWS offers the following services to help you define your needs:

Timely expectations

Arguably the larger challenge is not technical at all. It is agreeing to and maintaining a timely schedule for the migration journey. Staying on track ensures that Migrations are completed on time and you avail of the benefits AWS offers. AWS Partners specializing in SMBs have the skills and experience to help you conduct time sensitive migrations.

To address friction points, dependencies, and blockers during migration, you can leverage Experience-Based Acceleration (EBA). EBA is a transformation methodology that uses hands-on, agile and immersive interactions to accelerate cloud adoption. If you’re already an AWS customer, you can ask your account manager. If you’re considering working with AWS, contact us to learn more about EBA for SMBs.

Next steps

Migrations don’t need to be overly complicated or result in the all-too-common analysis paralysis. Using SMART methodology we have attempted to set clear, actionable steps to help guide your migration plan. Want to take a deeper dive into how you can make your small or medium business a smart business? Learn more about specific use cases and solutions available to your organization. If you’re ready to take action, read the recommended next steps.