Six Steps to Cloud Migration

Drew Bixby
Read Time: 6 minutes

Migrating to the cloud is a choice that more companies are making now than ever before, and the reasons for this decision are clear.

Moving to the cloud takes you out of the data center business and enables you to focus your company’s efforts on what it does best. Cloud providers have a massive advantage over in-house and on-premises solutions in that they are backed by millions of dollars of research and development, as well as an international network of hardware dedicated to providing the best possible IT solution for their clients.

Take a look at our latest whitepaper On-Prem VS. The Public Cloud, where we break down the full scope of what the various cloud providers have to offer and help you determine how successful, and cost-effective, it would be to migrate to the cloud.

In this guide, we’ll break down the six steps that every enterprise should take when migrating to the cloud.

Step 1: Cloud Strategy

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Creating a comprehensive strategy is the first step to a successful cloud migration. Planning ahead will put your organization in a better position to more efficiently carry out your migration strategy, and prevent costly setbacks during throughout the process.

Assessing your organization’s cloud readiness is an essential first step. Take inventory of your data assets and determine which systems, if any, are primed for an easy transition.

Evaluate whether or not your organization has the bandwidth required to execute a cloud-based solution. If not, upgrading your local infrastructure ahead of the migration will help you to avoid a bottleneck and achieve optimum efficiency on day one.

Take time to set goals and educate your team on what is required throughout the process. Your IT department will take the brunt of the new responsibilities, but even your non-IT team members may need some training on any new processes or security procedures that emerge during the migration.

Most importantly, you want to set goals. What do you want your cloud solution to achieve for your business? What are the main pain points you want to address, and when do you need to have milestones met? This will make it easier to establish projections and timetables, and help you to better plan asset allocation and budgetary responsibilities.

Step 2: Discovery

In the first step, we tackled doing a general assessment of the readiness of your organization for cloud migration.

In the second step, discovery, we will begin by cataloging your IT portfolio to get a detailed outline of each system and what is required for a successful cloud transition.

This process can include physical auditing and even more advanced IT modeling tools. Once the audit is complete, an experienced cloud expert can evaluate that information to determine what your cloud requirements are.

An experienced cloud consultant can assess virtually every node of your company’s network, collect log information to determine usage metrics and to discover an equivalent in the public cloud that is optimized to meet your specific needs. Here is a short list of factors that should be evaluated during the discovery phase:

  • Hardware: VM, physical server, shared storage, Disk I/O, network config data
  • Usage metrics
  • Equivalent services among major providers
  • Value of current on-prem assets
  • Account for compute needs, including room for growth
  • Network capability analysis and inventory

Doing this will ensure that you are paired with the right cloud provider and plan to achieve optimal results. The goal of any sound cloud migration strategy is to reduce waste while setting your business up to scale efficiently as it grows.

Step 3: Design

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The design stage of cloud migration is where a broker or experienced cloud solutions guide makes all the difference. This is where solution architecture is determined, along with the selection of cloud providers and plans that meet the company’s unique needs.

Here are some of the areas that focus should be made during the design phase:

  • Security
  • Performance
  • Speed Optimization
  • Time to Migrate & Transition
  • Long-term Compatibility with Emerging Technologies

Security should be a top priority, and because of that, any solution should have all the security measures in place that your company needs to keep its data and IT resources safe from malicious parties. Doing due diligence on security early will save your organization a lot of heartache down the road. This applies to every type of cloud migration from a simple storage bucket to a full-scale enterprise transition.

Performance and speed optimization are critical considerations at this phase in cloud migration. Is the solution you’re crafting capable of meeting your company’s needs both today and tomorrow? Ideally, the solution you decide on should work better than your existing on-premise network.

This is also where long-term compatibility comes into play. Does the cloud provider you’re choosing have the tools in place to enable you to transition to emerging technologies down the road? If your business opts to move into machine learning and artificial intelligence, does the cloud provider have a method of providing these solutions that works seamlessly with your existing structure?

Finally, this is where you’ll have a very real idea about how long your migration will take, and what type of resources need to be allocated to getting it done.

You should have a better sense of what’s required for the project’s completion. This includes detailed plans, documentation, a project schedule, risk analysis, and cost assessments.

Step 4: Cloud Provisioning

Now that you’ve selected a cloud provider and planned out your migration, it’s time to start executing. The first step in this process involving execution is focused on cloud provisioning.

This is where your cloud network resources, compute (server) resources, storage resources, and accompanying services and software are activated and initially configured.

A good rule of thumb at this phase is to set everything up with no-trust security policies, granting access only to individuals or entities as they are needed. This gives you a secure foundation on which to launch your cloud solution. It’s easier to add permissions later on than to audit and close security gaps after the fact.

Finally, the cloud solution should be tested. This includes benchmarks and stress tests to ensure that the solution you’ve chosen is capable of meeting your needs within the budget and plan you have selected.

Step 5: Cloud Migration

Cloud migration is the meat and potatoes of this whole process. It’s the first time your company’s digital assets will be moved over to your new cloud infrastructure.

A good broker or cloud consultant will have frameworks in place to enable a smooth and speedy migration. This includes determining if online or offline migration methods should be utilized.

A company with limited bandwidth and a lot of data to transfer over tends to prefer an offline data migration solution, where data is moved to a physical storage medium, such as Amazon’s Snowball or Azure DataBox, and input directly through the cloud provider’s data center. This option typically saves organizations a lot of time, especially when an online option would take weeks or months to complete.

For enterprises with a lot of bandwidth to spare and a negligible amount of data to transfer over, online migration tools such as a storage gateway is generally preferred.

Deciding between third-party and native tools which are provided by the cloud provider will also make a difference in the efficiency of your migration. For example, some migrations benefit greatly from a third-party tool such as CloudEndure while others find cost-reducing native tools like AWS VMImport to be of greater benefit.

WAN acceleration tools (Aspera, SoftNAS, etc.) should also be compared and considered. It all comes down to choosing the right tool for the job. Not every migration method works for every organization.

Finally, another round of testing is recommended. This is where any final development and benchmarking takes place, ensuring that your company’s assets are ready to be made available from the cloud on a production basis.

Typical testing metrics include:

  • Intrusion
  • Performance
  • Load
  • Connectivity
  • Cloud Vs. Legacy Benchmarking

Step 6: Production

At this step, you are not ready to bring your cloud infrastructure online and transition your business from on-premises architecture to the cloud. This is where ongoing support and maintenance come into play.

A good broker or cloud consultant will offer post-migration services such as ops support, cloud billing analysis in the form of an interactive dashboard or reporting solution, a comprehensive SLA and consolidated billing to make life easier for your CFO, CTO, and accounting department.

Running on the public cloud has a number of important advantages for your business. Doing so has the advantage of eliminating the need for you to provide the low-level infrastructure such as hardware and hypervisor systems. You no longer have to be in the data center business.

There are areas in which your company has a shared responsibility with the cloud provider on mid and high-level portions of your cloud solution. For example, security solutions are developed and provided by the cloud provider, however, the onus is on the user to configure and manage the cloud environment to utilize these security features properly.


Cloud migration is no small undertaking, however, the benefits both in initial investment and ongoing costs are clear. Having a sound plan in place before committing to a cloud provider or plan will save you both time and expense.

Having a good broker on your side will not only save you money on the actual cloud services (brokers often work out considerable discounts with the cloud providers) but assist you throughout the process to ensure that your company is paired with the right provider and plan to meet its needs. 

The who, what, where, when, and why need to be answered throughout the cloud migration process. A broker can guide you through finding the answers to these questions. More importantly, they’ll handle the most difficult one of them all: how. Contact a DoubleHorn expert on Cloud Service Brokerage and receive a complimentary consultation, we will provide an estimate of your organizations’ readiness for Cloud transformation.

We recently hosted a full webinar on the Six Steps to Migrating to the Cloud. Don Mackenzie our Solution Architect at DoubleHorn, discussed the six steps for migrating to the public cloud. Providing answers to common concerns and tips for success to help your business implement a successful cloud migration.