Many businesses and government organizations are struggling with the strategy for AWS migration. Nobody wants to fail and nobody wants to end up on the front page of NYTimes having left S3 open with customer or citizens personal information. Top organization IT professionals ask themselves a series of questions.

  • Where do I start?
  • How do I make sure what I am doing is secure?
  • What is the best pattern to follow?
  • How does this change my organization overall?

Here are the top considerations for AWS Migration:

1) Define a strong Identity and Access Management policy going into the Cloud.

Define who should have access to provision and control resources:

Why: Unchecked access to the various services on AWS can lead to several problems. For one, it is a large security risk to have too many hands in the cookie jar. Employees may inadvertently leave an S3 bucket open to the world to see. In addition employees love to spin up new services to learn and test and the downstream impact is on your cash!. These services cost money and we’ve seen countless times unchecked access leading to services not being utilized and costs being incurred. AWS migration is one thing, it’s another to do so safely and with security in mind.

Solution: Define the policies upfront, who has access, what the services are being utilized for and the strategy for having lower environments and code promotion. All of this leads to higher security and cost optimization.

There is a great AWS Best Practice guide for IAM here.

2) Have a framework for prioritization and what goes to the cloud and when.

Why: If your organization is small and you have just one or two resources migrating to AWS, then this is a no brainer. Just identify a window of less criticality for the business to perform the migration. Make sure you have a plan to regression test and roll back if needed!

If you are a large organization, this becomes much more critical. It is far too risky to the organization to migrate everything in a Big Bang approach. Just imagine the chaos that will ensue when services do not work or do not operate correctly day one. Chaos…

It is important to prioritize the services migrating to AWS then roadmap in when they need to occur. The roadmap will take into account the following aspects. One) How critical is this for the business. Is it moving to achieve high scalability, immediately lower costs? Two) When is the best time to migrate given the potential impact to business operations? An example of this is a retailer may choose to migrate post holiday season to avoid impacting revenue. Do not impact revenue! Say it again, do not impact revenue!

A hybrid migration strategy could be achievable as well. Partially migrate components and achieve full migration over time. Don’t forget a cost optimization strategy! AWS migration should always consider the bottom line… reduced costs… and achieving operational scale.

3) Define what service maps to which cost drivers.

Why: Don’t just get to the cloud to “get to the cloud”. AWS migration shouldn’t be a buzzword. Map your business drivers and functions to available cloud services. For example: Need High Scale? Consider Elastic Load Balancer and Auto Scale groups. For Business Intelligence, define what AWS Redshift truly enables for you organization. Need new custom applications developed? Maybe Stateless Lambda architecture would be a great cost optimized application pattern to adopt? Same for micro services.

4) Consider your long terms strategy and your business model against whether you want to go to AWS in the first place.

Why: AWS has done an amazing job making it easy and highly adaptable to business needs. What once took months, now takes hours to deploy. Development cycles are sped up, and you can leverage partners to develop because you can provide them access to your account VPC in a safe manner. However, even with all this, you may want to consider not migrating to AWS for the long haul. What if AWS ends up raising prices? Are you a technology company that should really own everything soup to nuts?

Most companies are going to reap major competitive advantages from the Cloud. However, consider whether your core business product should be tied to just one Cloud vendor.

5) Choose your AWS partners carefully!

Why: Not everyone has the same level of knowledge or experience with AWS migration. Find a provider that has the goal of achieving your roadmap for strong value. Ignore or avoid providers that are “One and done”. Find a long term partner and scale them and you.