Impressions from the AWS Transformation Day Online in DACH 2020 Part 2 – Focus Cloud Migration

In the first blog post on the AWS Transformation Day 2020 we focused on the potential benefits of the cloud during the Covid-19 pandemic. As this year’s presentations focused on both, innovation but also large-scale migration we now have a look on migration methodologies and tools highlighted during the AWS Transformation Day.

Companies need to increase efficiency and agility while they continue to invest in innovation. This is why large-scale cloud migration is considered as a serious option by many companies, not only in view of the crisis, but also triggered by, e.g., required hardware refresh, ending outsourcing contracts, or data center consolidation strategies.

And cloud migration is different from traditional IT outsourcing (ITO) transition.

Tooling and automation

It is particularly the variety of available tools, such as for discovery, planning, migration and documentation, and above all the level of automation that distinguishes a cloud migration from a classic ITO transition.

Both mean the transfer of IT services from CMO (Current Mode of Operation) to FMO (Future Mode of Operation). And the potential challenges and cost drivers of such a transfer are widely the same: the maturity of the CMO (e.g., the level of centralization and standardization), quality of CMO knowledge & documentation, geographic spread of the CMO, number and complexity of concerned services, timeline (the more ambitious the timeline the greater the risk and necessary controlling) and customer internal communication and expectation management.

However, responsibilities are different. In most cases, cloud customers rely on external support as they do not have the necessary resources and experiences, and as external providers promise access to best practices. But while in traditional ITO engagements, transition and transformation are typically integral part of the services contract – with correspondingly huge conflict potential – in the cloud market, the operation of the platform and the provisioning of cloud services, the initial consulting, the migration project itself, and potentially ongoing managed services are usually separate tasks.

All cloud providers and many IT services partners are offering tools that help clients migrating their IT landscapes into the cloud. Some of the tools highlighted by AWS and its clients and partners during the AWS Transformation Day include the following:

Preparation tools

Generally, customers can rely on the “AWS Cloud Adoption Framework”, a framework for analyzing a company’s IT environment considering six perspectives – business, people, governance, platform, security, and operations – to get a holistic view of the transformation initiative that is required for a cloud migration.

The “AWS Cloud Adoption Readiness Tool” is a lightweight cloud readiness assessment, based on a 16-question online survey, that provides first impulses. A one-day “Migration Readiness Assessment Workshop” can help to look into things more in detail. On the basis of around 70 questions, the readiness for a large-scale migration is evaluated, potential gaps are identified and recommendations provided.

Planning tools

AWS’ also offers “Migration Readiness and Planning (MRP)”, a method that consists of tools, processes, and best practices from customer migration projects to prepare an enterprise for cloud migration. For the Migration Readiness & Planning (MRP) phase of AWS’ so-called “Migration Acceleration Program (MAP)”, customers are working with AWS Professional Services and/or a MAP Partner to build the foundation for a large-scale migration and gain experience migrating and operating several workloads on AWS. The MRP method also aligns to the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework and is execution driven, comprising tools such as for application discovery, application portfolio analysis, migration planning, etc., from AWS and third-party providers.

Understanding the current and future architectures is an important first step in every migration process. AWS provides agent-based and agent-less technologies to capture system configuration, system performance, running processes, etc. in an automated way.

The “Migration Evaluator” (formerly “TSO Logic”) assessment provides a data-driven business scenario to make informed planning and migration decisions. Customers gain access to AWS expertise, insights into the costs associated with multiple migration strategies, and insights into software licensing optimization. I.e., it helps to find the best-fit, best-price, AWS configuration.

With AWS tools like query service “Amazon Athena” and the BI solutions “Amazon Quicksight”, the results can be visualized.

Migration tools

“AWS Migration Hub” provides a central location from which key figures on the status of all components - regardless of the migration tools used - can be easily tracked, incl. the status of migrations.

With “CloudEndure Migration”, AWS offers an agent-based solution for the highly automated, rapid mass migration of applications and databases. And various further tools support automation, planning and monitoring of migrations, including “AWS Database Migration Service” or “AWS Server Migration Service (SMS)”, an agent-less service that simplifies and accelerates the migration of thousands of local processing loads to AWS.

Application migration approaches

Typical “homework” prior to a cloud migration includes a thorough evaluation whether an application is suitable for a cloud migration, if it is relevant at all or if it can be retired, or if a replacement of the application might make sense, by migrating to another software or directly to a SaaS solution.

Most migration projects fall into one of the two categories of application migration approaches “re-factor/re-architect” (architecture, incl. operating system and database, is fundamentally changed to take full advantage of cloud-native features) or “re-host” (lift & shift; cloud migration of an application without making any changes).

AWS’ experience is that it is often easier to re-architect software that is already running in the cloud.

As a rule, despite all the available methodologies and tools, AWS recommends to not “over-analyze” at the beginning of a cloud strategy, but to rather start small. It is important for the success of the cloud journey to first gain experience, to train the teams, to establish accountability and achievable targets, and to involve the top management at an early stage.

Part 1 - The Value Proposition of the Cloud in view of the Pandemic