Cloud Migration Guide, Checklist & Best Tools

Cloud Migration Guide

Moving to the cloud is a competitive necessity for many companies in 2020 and beyond. As enterprises attempt to adopt future proof technology migrating on-premises workloads to services like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud has become increasingly common.

In this cloud migration guide, we’re going to look at what migration is alongside a basic checklist and some of the top software you can use to support your journey.

If you want to skip ahead past the cloud migration guide, here is our list of the top five cloud migration tools:

  1. Datadog – Top cloud monitoring tool you can use during migration. Real-time monitoring for on-premises and cloud-based hosts, custom dashboards, graphs, charts, AI alerts, and more.
  2. Dynatrace – Application performance monitoring software with real-time application monitoring, dependency mapping, graphs, charts, alerts, and more.
  3. AppDynamics – Application performance management tool with real-time application monitoring, flow maps, analytics, custom dashboards, anomaly detection, and more.
  4. AWS Database Migration Service – Database migration service designed for migrating databases to AWS with a schema conversion tool, and more.
  5. Azure Migrate – Database migration service for migrating infrastructure to Azure with server assessments, recommendations, dependency visualizations, and more.

What is a Cloud Migration? (And What Types of Cloud Migration Are There?)

Cloud migration is a term used to describe the process of moving data, applications, and workloads from legacy infrastructure and on-premises applications into a cloud service. During a cloud migration, enterprises can choose which assets they wish to migrate to the cloud, and which assets will remain on-premises.

There are four main types of cloud environments that you can migrate to:

  • Public cloud – Cloud computing services environment available over the public internet where your data is stored in a cloud provider’s data center.
  • Private cloud – Private cloud computing services environment available over the internet or a private network
  • Hybrid cloud – A mixed environment of on-premises, public, and private cloud infrastructure
  • Multi-cloud – A combination of cloud computing services from multiple cloud providers.

Every company is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all cloud environment. For example, if you don’t want to invest in a complete private cloud migration then you could use a hybrid cloud environment to reduce the costs while still migrating some of your infrastructure.

What are the Advantages of Moving to the Cloud? 

Broadly speaking, moving to the cloud is advantageous because it enables companies to cut costs. Hosting applications in the cloud reduces the amount of on-premises infrastructure, equipment, and staff you need to maintain on-site. In short, it eliminates the need to run a data center.

At the same time, adopting cloud services gives companies an opportunity to pay for applications and services with a subscription-based model, making it easier to upscale and downscale IT resources.

Another key benefit of cloud computing is greater operational agility. Cloud service enables employees to access key resources from any location, whether on a smartphone, desktop, or laptop. It also provides protection from natural disasters like earthquakes, fires, and floods, which can damage on-site equipment.

Cloud Migration Strategy Checklist 

To migrate to the cloud safely there are a number of things you need to do:

1. Set Goals

Establishing goals before you begin your cloud migration will help you to measure the success or failure of the entire process. For example, if you’re moving your databases to the cloud to improve user experience, then you need to monitor the performance of your database before, and after the migration to prove that the changes you’ve made have had a positive impact.

2. Decide what applications/data to migrate

Assess your current environment to decide which data and applications you’re going to migrate. Migrating only those applications that you need will help you to maximize cost-efficiency. The type of data you migrate will also dictate the cloud environment you adopt. For example, if you want to store credit card data in the cloud, you’ll want to avoid the public cloud.

3. Identify a New Cloud Environment 

Another key factor you need to consider is the type of cloud environment you’re going to move to, whether that’s public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud. You should also consider the type of provider (AWS, Google Cloud, AWS, etc.) you’re going to adopt based on the pricing, availability, security, and support options they offer.

4. Calculate costs and ROI 

During the planning stage, start to calculate the cost of migrating your data to the cloud environment you have chosen. Try to calculate the cost of your on-premises IT environment and compare it to your proposed cloud setup to work out the ROI of the transition.

5. Develop New Security Processes

Outsourcing your infrastructure to a cloud provider comes with a new set of security and regulatory concerns, as you have to verify that the measures they have in place are sufficient enough to protect your data. Evaluate the security controls and features of each cloud provider, and compare which has the greatest protections in place, and use additional security measures like a web application firewall to secure cloud traffic.

6. Monitor Performance 

Monitoring the performance of your systems and applications is a must for identifying bottlenecks and performance issues throughout the migration. Using monitoring tools like Datadog, Dynatrace, and AppDynamics will enable you to monitor the performance of your systems, so you can identify whether you’ve lived up to the initial goals you defined during the planning stage.

The Best Cloud Migration Tools 

As mentioned above, monitoring applications during the migration process is a must for making sure that you’re achieving your goals and optimizing performance. In this section, we’re going to look at some of the top tools you can use to help you migrate including application performance monitoring tools and database migration systems.

1. Datadog


Datadog is a cloud monitoring tool that you can use to monitor hosts based on-premises and in the cloud in real-time. For example, you can create custom dashboards, view metrics on response time, CPU utilization, DTU utilization, requests, response codes, and failed connections with graphs and charts for services like Microsoft Azure. All the information provided allows you to detect performance bottlenecks, high latency, and slow queries that affect end-user performance.

Alerts driven by machine learning can automatically detect performance anomalies in your environment and notify you immediately. The AI is sophisticated enough to be able to identify false positives and will only raise an alert when it is a cause for concern.

There are over 500 integrations with tools like Jenkins, Spinnaker, and PagerDuty that help you to deploy new code into production. When you make changes, workflow integrations with tools like Slack and Jira make it easier to collaborate with the rest of your team.

Datadog is ideal for enterprises that require a monitoring tool for infrastructure-based on-premises and in the cloud. The Infrastructure package starts at $15 (£11.60) per host, per month. It is available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can start the 14-day free trial from this link here.

Key Features:

  • Monitor hosts on-premises and in the cloud
  • Custom dashboards
  • Graphs and charts
  • Over 500 integrations
  • AI Alerts

2. Dynatrace


Dynatrace is an application performance monitoring tool that you can use to monitor application performance. Dynatrace can automatically create an application dependency map that visualizes the topology of your applications and identifies dependencies.

Real-time application performance monitoring enables you to monitor metrics on applications, users, and transactions. Visual elements like graphs and charts provide you with an in-depth look at performance trends. For example, you can view a graph of throughput for AWS, which can help you identify performance bottlenecks.

AI-powered alerts provide anomaly detection to automatically detect unusual activity in your environment. Whenever the software detects an anomaly, it sends you an alert with an additional root-cause analysis that you can use to address the underlying cause of the program. Alerts can also be customized so you can set thresholds for certain metrics that you want to be alerted on.

Dynatrace is one of the top application performance monitoring tools on the market and stands as a formidable choice for monitoring a cloud migration. Pricing starts at $69 (£53.34) per month for Full-stack monitoring. You can start the 15-day free trial from this link here.

Key Features:

  • Application dependency map
  • Real-time application performance monitoring
  • Graphs and charts
  • Anomaly detection
  • Custom alerts

3. AppDynamics

AppDynamics screenshot

AppDynamics is an application performance management solution that can automatically collect and monitor application data in real-time. With AppDynamics you can monitor application dependencies with flow maps. Flow maps visualize all the business transactions throughout your environment with a topology map, enabling you to monitor the user journey.

For more general monitoring, analytics displays provide you with graphs and charts to monitor performance and business metrics. Custom dashboards allow you to alter the monitoring experience to match your needs and prioritize the metrics that are most relevant to your environment.

Anomaly detection uses machine learning to detect performance issues automatically. For example, if metrics like Average Response Time or Errors Per Minute spike unexpectedly, the platform will send you an alert so you can investigate further. You can also schedule reports to periodically check up on application performance.

AppDynamics is suitable for enterprises on the lookout for a comprehensive application monitoring tool. To view pricing information you need to contact the company directly to request a quote. It is available for Windows and Linux. You can start the 15-day free trial from this link here.

Key Features:

  • Real-time application monitoring
  • Flow maps
  • Analytics
  • Custom dashboards
  • Anomaly detection
  • Reports

4. AWS Database Migration Service

AWS Database Migration Service

AWS Database Migration Service is a solution that you can use to migrate databases to AWS. With AWS Database Migration Service you can migrate existing databases such as Oracle, Azure SQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and Apache Cassandra to Amazon Aurora, Amazon Redshift, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon DocumentDB.

The AWS Schema Conversion Tool automatically converts the schema of the source database so that it’s compatible with the new database. If an object can’t be converted then it’s tagged so that the user can convert it manually.

AWS Database Migration Service is a simple but effective solution for migrating databases to AWS. The price depends on the number of instances you need to support and the amount of storage. Costs approximately $3 (£2.32) to migrate a 1TB database to AWS. It is available on Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can sign up for free use of the solution from this link here.

Key Features:

  • Migrate databases to AWS
  • AWS Schema Conversion Tool
  • Six months free

5. Azure Migrate

Azure Migrate

Azure Migrate is a database migration service that you can use to migrate on-premises services to Azure Virtual Machines, Azure VMware Solution, Azure App Service, and Azure SQL Database. You can also use the dashboard to monitor assessments (such as server assessments) with the support of built-in recommendations.

For example, you can conduct a Server Assessment, and the software will collect performance data and recommend the VM size and disk type you require based on your current usage activity. There are also dependency visualizations that display dependencies between on-premises devices, which helps you to see which devices you need to migrate together and those that you can decommission.

Azure Migrate is a useful tool for organizations that need a solution for managing migration to Azure. The Database Migration Service is free for the first 180 days. Dependency visualization is free for the first 180 days and then costs $25 (£19.33) per month per instance. You can create an Azure account here.

Key Features:

  • Migrate workloads to Azure
  • Experience and progress dashboard
  • Server assessments
  • Built-in recommendations

Performance Monitoring: The Key to Cloud Migration Success?

Performance monitoring should play a key part in your cloud migration strategy. Setting performance goals and continuously measuring them will make sure that you optimize the performance of your new environment. If there’s been a considerable increase in performance after migration you can consider it a success.

From then onwards, performance monitoring will be critical to conducting long-term maintenance and ensuring your end-users always enjoy a high-quality experience. Application monitoring tools like Datadog, Dynatrace, AppDynamics will be extremely useful for making sure that your computing resources perform at their best.

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