May 14, 2018
Alexandra Bohigian

Enola Labs creates custom strategy and products for mobile and web.

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Best Practices for Migrating to AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a highly secure cloud services platform. The AWS cloud is arguably the safest and most secure way to store data, run applications, and provision a variety of cloud computing resources. AWS cloud migration is the process of moving a current system into the AWS cloud. This could involve moving your company’s on-premise data center into the AWS cloud, re-architecting an application in AWS, or even moving just some of your organization’s systems on the cloud while keeping some in their current environment.

Understanding AWS Migration

The AWS migration process is non-disruptive to business processes when working with an AWS certified architect who has deep experience in cloud migration. Below, we will go through some of our best practices for migrating to AWS. While there is no one right way to migrate to AWS, utilizing this cloud migration checklist will ensure your specific business functions are not interrupted and that your business is prepared for the move.

Cloud Migration Options

There are several options when it comes to migrating to the cloud in terms of what you choose to transition. There are also a large variety of tools to help you follow the cloud migration process to completion. Below we will go over some of the more popular tools and options for cloud migration.

Application Migration to Cloud

The migration of an application to the cloud is the more common route for organizations in the cloud migration process. Application migration to cloud may be ideal if your organization has a few different applications and wants to begin testing out the advantages of migrating to cloud. The organization can migrate as many applications to the cloud as they see fit, and tend to end up fully migrating over once benefits and efficiencies are obvious. Benefits of application migration to cloud include cost savings, ability to scale, tools for performance checks, AWS cloud security, and business continuity.

AWS Database Migration

Entire databases can be effectively migrated to the cloud with properly executed AWS database migration services. This service ensures that an organization’s database stays completely operational and secure throughout the migration, which is especially important for databases that the business heavily relies on. The benefits of AWS database migration are similar to that of application migration—optimized costs, higher reliability and security, and higher availability being the main draws.

AWS Migration Tools

There are several tools and resources available to businesses looking to migrate to AWS. Working with a certified AWS Migration partner is the first major tool to ensuring a successful cloud migration. A migration partner is a company that has gone through Amazon’s certification program and has extensive experience helping other organizations migrate to cloud.

AWS Migration Hub is another helpful tool at your disposal. This tool allows you to track all cloud migrations from one central location or “hub”. AWS migration hub gives you the flexibility to use the tools that will be most effective for your specific organization and migration—such as AWS Database Migration Service, AWS Server Migration Service, or a variety of other partner tools available. With centralized tracking and visibility features, the AWS migration hub is an excellent way to simplify multiple migrations to cloud.

AWS Migration Process

Each organization migrating to AWS will take a different approach and there are several factors that may influence how an organization should migrate to the cloud. Working with an AWS cloud architect to manage the migration to cloud ensures the best fit for your specific business and an approach that will be most efficient and non disruptive to internal processes.

Phase 1: Migration Preparation and Business Planning

Migration preparation and business planning is always the best place to start for these types of projects. Preparation begins with developing a realistic timeline for the migration process, taking into account the age and status of the existing application architecture. All key stakeholders and anyone who might be affected by the migration to cloud should be involved early on to ensure everyone is aware of how business processes may be affected.

The goal of preparation and business planning is to get everyone on board for the AWS migration. When everyone is aware of the goals of migration, including reasoning for making the switch and efficiencies that will be achieved—it makes the entire migration process smoother.

A discussion about migrations would not be complete without mentioning a rollback strategy. No matter how much you test and prepare for your migration, it’s possible that something may have been missed. Unfortunately, the only time this is made evident is when you cut over to your new environment. You can either release a hotfix to fix the issue, or you can rollback to your previous environment. Rollbacks can be extremely complicated and the stakeholders should be made aware of the negative impacts (if any) as a result of a rollback.

Phase 2: Portfolio Discovery and Planning

In phase 2, a full portfolio analysis of the current environment must be conducted. This analysis will include identifying and understanding the dependencies the applications have on one another, priorities that will be set out for the migration to cloud, and the main focus areas for the migration plan.

Next, evaluate how much of your business functions are affected by the application being migrated. Applications that are less critical and complex should be moved to the cloud first to give key stakeholders confidence in the process. To achieve a better understanding of how your business will be affected by a cloud migration strategy, it is important to work hand in hand with an AWS consultant.

Phase 3 & 4: Designing, Migrating and Validating Applications

After looking at the macro view of how the cloud migration will affect your business, the next step is to zoom in to focus on the individual application. There are six common application strategies known as the “6 R’s” utilized to when referring to migrations. Now that there is a plan for your organization to get behind, the migration process can be accelerated and scaled. Learn more below about the “6 R’s” which offer different approaches to cloud migration.

Image Source: AWS
Image Source: AWS


Also known as the “lift and shift” migration, is the most common migration method today. It involves taking non-cloud sources and moving them directly into the AWS cloud environment. This method is popular because it allows organizations to quickly implement the migration. This makes rehosting the most cost effective initially, however more cloud integrations may need to be added at a later time.

Pros of Rehosting:

  • Fast migration process
  • Can be highly automated and allow for multiple large migrations

Cons of Rehosting:

  • Post rehosting activities can get expensive. It is important to plan within your budget for making these fixes and tweaks as not doing them will also be expensive.


Replatforming involves making optimizations to the cloud without changing the actual architecture of the application. The cloud optimization is typically completed to achieve a specific goal, such as reducing time managing database instances or moving to a fully managed cloud platform.

Pros of Replatforming:

  • Will see immediate benefit of cloud nativeness, such as higher availability and lower management costs
  • Common components of the application can be easily replaced by AWS expert

Cons of Replatforming:

  • The cloud migration may take longer than other approaches
  • Skills in AWS are necessary, so working with a partner/AWS expert will be especially vital with the replatforming approach


A repurchase is a move to a completely different type of product than what was previously utilized. This is typically a move from their current system to a SaaS platform. Ideally, organizations with workloads that can be easily updated to newer versions will have smoother implementation with the Repurchase method.

Pros of Repurchase:

  • This is generally a cost effective migration approach
  • Frees internal IT team of common headaches (patches, upgrades, etc.)

Cons of Repurchase:

  • Integrations and reconfigurations can be challenging if they are not planned for or considered prior to the migration.


How can cloud native features be re-architected into your application? Organizations in need of features such as unlimited scaling capabilities or high performing applications will largely benefit from re-architecting in the cloud and getting to benefit from and utilize all of the native cloud features.

Pros of Refactor/ Re-architect:

  • Long term cost reductions are almost always observed when utilizing this approach and organizations see an impressive ROI
  • AWS managed services allow the application to benefit from the resiliency of the cloud

Cons of Refactor/ Re-architect:

  • This approach takes longer than other methods to complete the migration
  • More resources are required of the refactor/re-architecting approach


Just as it is important to decide which assets need more time and attention put into them to make your business function more smoothly, it is also important to determine when to retire an asset that is no longer useful. This increases business savings and helps IT teams in determining who has ownership of what.

Pros of Retiring:

  • Your organization no longer has to spend time and resources supporting the asset

Cons of Retiring:

  • Some resources and time may be spent retiring the asset and re-organizing a team’s focus


Many businesses may choose to retain one of their applications on premises rather than fully migrating to the cloud in this hybrid approach. This should be done on a case-by-case basis, as your team may feel then certain apps would be more comfortably kept in their current environment. Only migrate what makes sense for your specific business and continue to reevaluate regularly.

Pros of Retaining:

  • No changes are immediately made so costs are predictable

Cons of Retaining:

  • Any existing issues with the application will continue to be issues, including lack of agility and cost to maintain the app in its current environment

Validating a Product has Been Successfully Migrated

It is important to measure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for critical aspects of the system before it was migrated and again after the migration. KPIs should be the same before and after the migration to signal a successful product migration.

Business Drivers for Migrating to AWS

About 96% of business use cloud computing at some capacity right now. That is a massive shift that has happened only recently, so there are some obvious business drivers for migrating. Below are the top reasons businesses tend to choose to migrate to AWS, which currently makes up about 33% of the cloud market share (leading the second largest cloud provider by over 20%).

Cost Effectiveness

AWS is incredibly cost effective, which is why cloud migration to AWS makes so much sense for most businesses. AWS allows for scaling of resources, meaning businesses are only paying for the services and size of services they are utilizing. The cost of maintaining an on-premise environment is also completely eliminated. These services are significantly cheaper than on-premises environments. AWS also provides several tools for managing, monitoring, and optimizing costs in the cloud.

Workplace Productivity

Supporting a legacy system can be extremely difficult for your team, particularly when it utilizes languages that are no longer supported. Cloud migration is easy to adopt and can largely increase workplace productivity. It reduces time spent trying to support an on-premises environment and allows your business to focus on the actual needs of the organization.

Business Agility

Business agility is largely increased after migrating to AWS because businesses can rapidly react to market conditions to achieve a competitive advantage. Because agility is built into the AWS cloud environment, businesses are supported with the infrastructure to accelerate innovation at a moment’s notice.

Operational Resilience

The AWS cloud is highly secure and more supported than an on-premises environment—therefore, migrating to cloud reduces risk for your organization. The AWS cloud allows for businesses to address issues more quickly, add resiliency to applications, and reduce downtime. AWS boasts 16 Regions comprising 42 Availability Zones and has the global footprint to improve uptime. If your app has been properly migrated to AWS, risk-related costs your organization would otherwise have to dedicate will be reduced.

Schedule an AWS Migration Consultation Today

The cloud is the foundation for a more agile organization that can innovate faster. Migrating your on-premises or co-location workloads to the cloud is not a question of if, but when and how fast. Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides you with scalable, cost-effective, and secure products and services designed to seamlessly scale your business. To help facilitate an efficient migration to the cloud, AWS and Enola Labs offer a suite of cloud migration tools and services.

When you migrate to the cloud with Enola Labs you can let go of the limitations of on-premises data centers, such as the costs associated with data center repair, maintenance, and upgrades. AWS and Enola Labs allow you to spend less time managing your infrastructure and more time focusing on innovating for your customers.

If you are interested in AWS migration, contact the Certified AWS Cloud consultants at Enola Labs for a free 30 minute consultation.