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How Long Does a Cloud Migration Actually Take?

One of the most common questions our customers ask when considering a migration to the cloud is, “What’s the timeline for completion?” It’s a really good (and really important) question to ask, but the problem is, there’s no definitive answer. There so many variables that come into play during a migration that it’s almost impossible to accurately peg how long things will actually take.

At Shamrock, we’re not in the business of simply saying, “It depends,” because that’s not a real answer and it’s certainly not the kind of answer customers want to hear. Instead, we’re going to illustrate a couple real-world examples to give you a good barometer of expectation for your own potential cloud migration.

Let’s look at two different types of migration scenarios: One will focus on a small (2 to 3-person) migration team, and the other a simple ‘lift and shift’ type of migration (where applications and services are not being refactored and rebuilt to be cloud native).

It’s important to note that lift and shift migrations, also known as “shallow cloud integration,” has some distinct disadvantages. The main ones include the risk of reproducing insecure configurations and malware in a cloud environment; spending too much capital by over-provisioning resources; and missing out on cloud services such as dynamic load balancing and autoscaling.

Some Rules of Thumb

Cloud migration timeline: Let’s say you are moving a single server with no integrated services over to the cloud. This is something that can be done in much less than a week, and possibly less than a day.

Thing is, businesses do not tend to move single assets into the cloud by themselves. For more complex but commonly used systems for email, document management and communications, a realistic timeline to expect is 1-2 months.

That same timeframe applies to moving more complex server setups and configuring your data center and networks to connect to the cloud. This part of the migration would be done separately to that of migrating systems though, so in this instance you’d most likely be looking at 4 months or more for all of the above to be successfully completed.

Additionally, you’d still have to run the necessary tests and train employees to work within the cloud environment, which could increase the time frame even further.

In order to migrate a large data center properly, you’ll need to refactor all of your applications for deep cloud integration. While this will ensure that you can take full advantage of all the cost and performance optimization tools the cloud has to offer, be prepared to exercise a lot of patience because it will take a lot of time. In a perfect world, this entire process would take just a few months. In reality, though, it could take years (but it’s worth it!).

The good news is, every asset you successfully migrate reduces the amount of on-prem hardware that you need to run and maintain. You won’t reach the cloud overnight, but your infrastructure will gradually become lighter and lighter over time.


Critical Factors to Consider

Trying to accurately estimate the timeframe for a complete cloud migration is an exercise in futility. A more useful exercise is to carefully review all the various factors that will affect how long a migration is likely to take.

For instance, the age and size of your business will have a big effect. Older businesses tend to have more legacy infrastructure and copious amounts of data. Big businesses also handle large amounts of data and tend to have a complex IT infrastructure encompassing multiple networks. Large, established businesses and older businesses, therefore, can take a very long time to move.

One of the most critical factors is the expertise of your migration team. If your team is led by a designated migration architect and includes cloud computing experts with deep experience working with your applications, this will speed up your migration considerably.

In most cases, though, the team that built many of your applications are long gone and the current IT team know very little about how existing applications are architected, and they may even be learning about the cloud migration process on the fly.

Another key factor is the operational needs of your business during a migration. If you only provide services during the day, you’ll have free time during the evening where you can work on your migration. If you are a 24/7/365 globally-active corporation, you’ll likely have to carve out some time for replicating systems and data since there will be no convenient time to power down your data center.

Speed Up Your Migration with Shamrock

In most migration cases, we strongly recommend working with a partner who has dozens if not hundreds of previous successful migrations under their belt.

Shamrock Consulting Group is an industry leader in cloud migration solutions and we’ve helped some of the largest enterprise companies in the world complete full cloud migrations effectively and efficiently.

We understand that many businesses don’t just jump headlong into the cloud but rather begin with a hybrid architecture configuration so that they can ‘burst’ into the cloud during times of peak demand. Shamrock can help.

We provide free consultations to run through your full market of options while detailing all the highs and lows you can expect. We’ll also highlight the pros and cons of the different public cloud providers and help you to choose and configure the best and most secure cloud services for your specific business needs.

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson is the Vice President and Senior Network Architect for Shamrock Consulting Group, an industry leader in digital transformation solutions. Since his departure from Biochemical research in 2004, Ben has built core competencies around cloud direct connects and cloud cost reduction, enterprise wide area network architecture, high density data center deployments, cybersecurity and Voice over IP telephony. Ben has designed hundreds of complex networks for some of the largest companies in the world and he’s helped Shamrock become a top partner of the 3 largest public cloud platforms for AWS, Azure and GCP consulting. When he takes the occasional break from designing networks, he enjoys surfing, golf, working out, trying new restaurants and spending time with his wife, Linsey, his son, Weston and his dog, Hamilton.

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