CMC Telecom will explore the five guiding principles that CMC Telecom recommends you address before initiating the large-scale migration process from On-Premises infrastructure to the AWS Cloud. CMC Telecom recognizes the importance of transitioning...

The five guiding principles are developed to address common challenges encountered during the large-scale AWS migration process, including: inconsistency among stakeholders, lack of cloud adoption strategy, insufficient cloud knowledge, cloud cost comparison trends, overlooking the flexibility that the cloud provides, delayed service activation, inadequate conversion backlogs, project initiation errors, post-migration technical issues, and the assurance of compliance verification processes. Embracing these principles can bring the benefits of a fast and predictable migration schedule, cost minimization, and overall reduced cloud migration risks.
Once your applications have been migrated to AWS, consider modernizing your applications to fully leverage the features and services offered by AWS."

1. Issuing Top-Down Directive 

The first step in the enterprise cloud migration process is to receive a clear directive from the top-down, issued by the executive management. The top-down directive serves as guidance for the entire organization, a call to action, and provides a clear goal and success criteria for the enterprise, leading to the engagement of the entire organization. Receiving this directive helps the enterprise develop a common understanding of the current state and alignment on goals for the cloud journey. It also paves the way for resource allocation and sponsorship for the cloud migration.

Without a clear mandate for cloud adoption, the migration process may become chaotic, and there might be a lack of consensus on the migration direction among members of the organization.

Clearly Define Objectives and Success Criteria

A top-down directive clearly outlines the objectives, outlining what the business aims to achieve by migrating to the cloud and how it benefits the enterprise. Examples include: "Enterprise A needs to transition from its on-premises data center by 2025 to reduce the total cost of IT ownership (TCO).
We will move all workloads from On-Premises systems to the cloud by 2026 to shorten time-to-market and maintain security posture as we grow.

Issuance of Directive 

Directives are typically communicated through various channels, starting from Top Managers down to Business Managers and Technical Managers. 
An effective example of top-down directives is when a high-ranking Vice President and CTO of a customer A promote the cloud adoption strategy in company-wide town hall meetings. Their direct reports emphasized the message in monthly meetings. The CTO and Vice Presidents reinforced the messages through short videos recorded for offline viewing via internal portals. This helped their employees understand the cloud adoption strategy and change how they perceive cloud adoption in their business. 

By making a clear statement of goals and success with tightly aligned messages, leadership can paint an appealing picture of the future by highlighting the benefits of cloud transformation and emphasizing how it aligns with the long-term goals of the business; thus, reducing conversion risks due to inconsistency among stakeholders and a lack of buy-in for the cloud strategy. 

Once a directive is issued, monitoring goals and KPIs throughout the transformation process is equally crucial. Measuring directive implementation through clear and well-defined KPI targets helps streamline the conversion effort by keeping the entire focus on necessary outcomes.

2. Building a Learning Mindset and Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE)

Learning Mindset:

Businesses need to immerse themselves in adapting to the practicalities of cloud computing, an environment that evolves rapidly and offers unprecedented opportunities for transformative business change. Proficient cloud-ready businesses provide diverse learning methods such as teacher-led workshops during Immersion Day sessions, certification programs offered by AWS or AWS training partners, and AWS Sandbox. The sandbox environment is an AWS account for employees to perform hands-on labs, enhancing their cloud skills and experimenting with the cloud without affecting business applications. A diverse AWS training program helps identify gaps in cloud knowledge, recognizing the flexibility that the cloud brings to services by enhancing the skills of the entire enterprise as a unified entity.

Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE)

Forming a small team of five to ten individuals from various business departments with diverse skills and experiences, they are responsible for developing approaches and procedures for cloud adoption. This small team is the Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE), playing a crucial role in building trust and establishing a common framework and best practices for cloud adoption. CCoE members view the cloud as a product, and cloud users as customers. They create mechanisms for their customers to effectively embrace the cloud within their business.
The CCoE team often grows as the demand for cloud adoption in the business increases and may no longer be necessary once cloud adoption reaches maturity within the business. CCoE is typically tasked with developing a framework for cloud service adoption and is responsible for identifying, assessing, and implementing new cloud services or tools necessary for large-scale transformation. 

3. Identify and Activate Necessary Services 

Policies and barriers implemented in large enterprises during the initial cloud adoption process are often not reviewed to keep up with changes in cloud services and best practices.

Starting with the Basics: 

AWS currently offers more than 200 services, and this number continues to grow. The abundance of these services can be overwhelming when deciding which ones to prioritize for listing in your enterprise. If your business is approaching the cloud for the first time, ensure that fundamental services are prioritized, including compute resources (Amazon EC2, AWS Lambda), storage (Amazon S3, Amazon EFS), networking (AWS VPC, Amazon Route 53), databases (Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB), and security (AWS IAM) that can be listed and used by users within the enterprise before embarking on the transformation journey. 
Once foundational services have been activated and utilized, you can then shift focus to enabling other services that your enterprise needs to migrate. AWS provides a range of custom migration services for various use cases. Services that should be prioritized for activation include AWS Application Migration Service (MGN) for copying your servers to Amazon EC2, AWS Database Migration Service (DMS) for converting databases to Amazon RDS, and AWS DataSync for migrating network sharing and data to Amazon S3 and other AWS native storage solutions. As your enterprise matures in adopting AWS services, additional migration models are built to optimize large-scale transformations, such as the Cloud Migration Factory on AWS. 

Activating Cloud Services: 

Typically, enterprises with robust CCoE practices will have a streamlined process for activating necessary cloud services through requisite approvals. For instance, a CCoE may establish a cross-functional approval team with representatives from each domain to meet, review, and approve services on a bi-weekly cycle. 
Understanding the enterprise's approach and expectations for cloud service activation helps mitigate the risk of delays. Furthermore, integrating your CCoE into the listing and implementation process can expedite the transformation project.

4. Build Queues for Entities Needing Conversion 

Building a queue for entities that need conversion before initiating large-scale conversion phases is a crucial requirement for efficiently utilizing resources, driving customer business goals with detailed cost breakdowns, and an anticipated implementation timeline. The queue-building process should consider business priority factors from stakeholders such as customers, application owners, infrastructure, and business teams.

Define Priority Criteria 

Utilizing a predefined approach with clearly defined priority criteria provides transparency to workload owners regarding the rationale for arranging tasks in the queue and grouping them into specific phases. Predefined work queues make the process understandable and predictable for all involved members, facilitating task prioritization and suitable conversion time.
Conversion queues help identify technical limitations and underlying issues that need addressing before starting the conversion. They allow delving into technical requirements and adjusting the queue order if necessary. This minimizes the likelihood of unforeseen risks turning into problems during the implementation, preventing costly post-conversion steps or forced rollback to the initial state.

Plan for Different Conversion Phases

Once your queue is established, implementation teams can prioritize less complex applications first, applying experiences gained from earlier phases to later ones. They can strategically address complex applications to achieve the desired conversion speed without introducing unnecessary business risks. During the conversion, there may be conflicts between the conversion schedule and the conversion support capabilities of application teams. Therefore, it is crucial to have enough conversion candidates in the queue to compensate for delayed or excluded applications from the conversion scope. A comprehensive conversion queue and a well-structured conversion phase plan directly counteract conversion shortages and minimize technical risks that could hinder your conversion journey.

5. Testing Methodology 

Notify early in the conversion process that application testing ownership belongs to the application team. Focus on functional groups that are changed or impacted by the conversion process. Typically, extensive regression testing is not necessary for Rehosted or Replatformed applications when using AWS tools like AWS MGN and AWS DMS. AWS MGN và AWS DMS.

Testing Based on Conversion Method 

The number of necessary application testing steps is listed as part of the conversion and heavily depends on the method used to migrate the application to the cloud. Simple testing is usually acceptable for Rehosted workloads. Conversely, comprehensive regression testing is essential if an application is Refactored or restructured. You should communicate to the application team the impact of the conversion on their workloads based on the conversion method, then assist in identifying the testing scenarios that need to be examined. This may include integration testing for functions dependent on databases, external storage (Network File System, Server Message Block) systems, load balancers, cluster caches, and functions of any other application subsystems affected by the conversion. Customizing the testing method based on the conversion approach will avoid unnecessary testing costs and reduce the risk of post-conversion technical issues by focusing on testing for specific services or components changed by the conversion process.

Testing According to Industry Regulations

Your business may need to adhere to specific post-conversion testing requirements based on industry or country regulations. For instance, businesses in the financial sector must comply with PCI DSS standards when storing and processing cardholder data. Understanding the applicable regulations in your business's industry from the outset will help you proactively plan for any specific testing requirements to maintain compliance. For applications that adhere to regulations, identify, assess, and document areas affected by the conversion, develop test cases to validate these affected areas, and ensure that the authentication methods used and evidence collected fully comply with regulatory agency guidelines. Always remember to update the application architecture, infrastructure changes, and operational method changes post-conversion. Evaluating and documenting the results of testing according to industry regulations will reduce the risk of post-conversion compliance issues.

Ready for the Conversion Journey Today

In this blog post, CMC Telecom has covered five principles you should take the time to address before embarking on a large-scale business conversion journey. Applying these principles will help lay the foundation for starting your project. To begin, contact CMC Telecom, an AWS Partner Network, for support in planning the conversion for your business.
Finally, your journey doesn't end after the conversion. As the title of this blog suggests, the conversion is just a part of the cloud ecosystem. Developing a comprehensive AWS Cloud operational model will also be crucial for the sustainable growth of your business.

Thanh Dang
MultiCloud Director at CMC Telecom | | Website

Thanh Dang is a technology leader with extensive experience in project management and strategic cloud solutions, with 14 years of experience in application development, IT infrastructure, and cloud management.

He's also AWS Ambassador, AWS Community Builder and AWS User Group Leader in Vietnam.