Planning & Management Methods for Migration to a Cloud Environment

January 2018
Topics: Cloud Computing, Project Management, Strategic Planning, Analysis of Alternatives, Information Systems, Computing Methodologies, Computing and Information Systems Management, MITRE's Systems Engineering Role, Architectures (General)
Donn K. Kearns, The MITRE Corporation
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Migrating to a cloud environment, or any other large-scale IT transformation, is a highly complex undertaking. It requires significant upfront thought and in-depth planning to ensure effective resource use and risk management, on-time and within budget implementation, and ultimately operational success. Without a standardized approach to planning (e.g., a planning template), each organization must independently create its plan from scratch. Such an approach is inherently inefficient, slow, and duplicative of similar work done elsewhere. In addition, it may not fully leverage lessons learned and/or best practices from other activities, and may be risky due to possible oversights. This problem is compounded if personnel in charge of the migration are not experienced in planning complex IT projects.

This document describes ways to develop an effective and efficient planning approach, and helps provide a roadmap for an inexperienced team. Its purpose is to introduce and describe a set of high-level planning and management concepts and approaches to support efforts to migrate a data center (e.g., services, applications and data) to a cloud-based architecture. It identifies and introduces a variety of “best practice” management approaches to help a project manager begin the planning process and to manage key aspects of its execution and operation. While it is focused on cloud migration activities, much of the content is applicable to planning any large-scale, complex Information Technology (IT) transformation.

It identifies a broad list of considerations to help federal organizations “jump-start” their planning process. It is generic in nature because it is not focused on a specific customer or solution, but rather on high level concepts and factors to help ensure important migration issues are not overlooked. In reviewing them, if a given concept/factor is not applicable after consideration, it can be discarded. If it is applicable, however, the implementing organization needs to assess its impact, define a plan to address it, and then manage the plan.

This is not a technical document. Rather, it focuses on the planning and management aspects of a migration and not the technical aspects. The primary target audience is an organization or a team who may not be experienced in planning cloud migration or other large-scale IT projects. It is not intended for qualified acquisition program managers who are trained, certified, and experienced in such activities.

It assumes (and therefore does not address) that organizational leadership has made the decision for such a consolidation/ migration. It further assumes the reader is familiar with the basics of data center operations and cloud computing.

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