No time to waste in migrating to cloud

Google Cloud’s migration checklist helps organisations plan the move.

Johannesburg, 04 Jul 2022
Read time 4min 30sec
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For many organisations, cloud migration strategies were interrupted by the pandemic and a need to focus on more immediate priorities. But as business settles into the ‘new normal’, organisations that have not yet made the move should now migrate.

This is according to Louis van Schalkwyk, Head of Technical Operations at Digicloud Africa, who says delaying the move to cloud could leave companies at a severe competitive disadvantage. “The cloud offers advantages such as scale, access to managed services, and – crucially – business resilience in uncertain times. Some of our large enterprise clients reported that having their infrastructure in the cloud enabled them to continue operating despite disruptions such as the recent floods and last year’s riots, for example,” he says.

Van Schalkwyk says: “On-premises resources seldom provide any tangible benefits. In fact, they can be a burden. Legacy systems do not add value to businesses and constrain staff due to continuous infrastructure procurement and maintenance, and as legacy systems become older, they become increasingly difficult to maintain. Organisations running legacy applications on-premises aren’t taking advantage of what the cloud can offer – such as managed services and analytics, and the ability to scale easily.”

However, some organisations could be slow in migrating to cloud because of a lack of in-house cloud skills, or simply because they don’t know where to start, he says.

Google Cloud’s migration checklist

Van Schalkwyk says Google Cloud makes migration and cloud management easier, with guides and toolkits to help organisations make the move smoothly and securely.

He notes: “Provisioning new services and applications in the cloud is relatively straightforward and makes perfect sense when rolling out new applications. Migrating applications that currently run on in-house infrastructure takes a lot more planning to get right, especially when there’s a lot of data involved. With the right planning, organisations can establish good migration practices to help accelerate migrations, migrate more complex applications, all while reducing the risk involved.

Organisations can have hundreds or even thousands of applications, so it’s important to follow a repeatable process. Once you’ve established your core migration team with individuals from various teams (eg, security, network, dev and application support) you can follow the four fundamental phases when migrating applications to the cloud: Assess, plan, migrate and optimise.”


Van Schalkwyk says: “Start by creating an inventory of all applications and then determine which ones should be moved to the cloud first. Factors to consider include dependencies, cloud-readiness, runtime environment, licensing, bandwidth requirements and integration with other systems. Using questionnaires to collect information from applications is a good starting point.”


During this important phase, the organisation will choose a strategy for each application to migrate. Van Schalkwyk says there are typically three high-level options:

Rehost – lift and shift the application to the cloud without making substantial changes.

Replatform – modernise applications (either on-premises or after rehosting them) in order to take advantage of managed services, especially managed databases, in the cloud. Applications can also be containerised so that they can run more resources efficiently in the cloud.

Rebuild – decide that an application is too old to migrate and not worth the effort. Rebuilding the application on the cloud from the ground up might be the best option.

All three options are viable and organisations could end up using all of them during the migration journey, he says.

He adds: “Although it might be tempting to use disaster recovery solutions to migrate to the cloud, especially if you’re already using the cloud for DR, it’s probably not the best option. Migration software should be designed not only to help you migrate applications and data to the cloud, but also test migrated applications before cutting over, configure appropriately sized machines, monitor progress and, importantly, roll back should something go wrong.”


With all the planning complete, it’s time to start migrating applications and data to the cloud. Van Schalkwyk says it is important to have the right migration tools to help: “You need to be able to validate data synchronisation and consistency throughout the migration. Being able to roll back to the legacy environment is a huge benefit during this phase.”


Once in the cloud, organisations should continue looking for ways to improve applications, Van Schalkwyk says. “Try to use managed services as far as possible as this will reduce the amount of time your team spends on maintenance. Some large customers have been able to free up 50% of their engineering time, which they in turn use to investigate and work on value-adding innovative solutions.”

To download Google’s white paper on migration planning and the full checklist for each phase ->

Digicloud has an ecosystem of 73 cloud partners across Africa who can help organisations with their journey to Google Cloud. To find a partner to assist, click here.

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15 Aug
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