Best Practices for AWS Migration

Apr 22, 2023 | Migration

In a recent survey, 33.4 percent of cloud leaders reported that they are planning to migrate from legacy enterprise software to cloud-based tools, with another 32.8 percent migrating on-premises workloads to the cloud. And with AWS enjoying a 33 percent market share, the biggest portion of that business is coming to it.

If you find yourself in this migration boat, you’re likely worried about getting it done right. To ensure you get the most out of your AWS migration, let’s break the best practices down into four stages: planning and preparation, data migration, application migration, and post-migration.

Planning and Preparation

Before you can begin an AWS Data Migration, your organization needs to put in plenty of prep work to ensure you know where you are, what you have, where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there. This will ensure that the coming migration goes smoothly. Here are four best practices:

1. Define migration goals, including target environment and expected outcomes.

Can you succinctly explain why you want to migrate to AWS in the first place? If not, take the time to consider the following questions as a team:

  • Will migrating help us to cut costs?
  • Will migrating resolve persistent problems we’ve been facing?
  • Will migrating help us expand our business moving forward?

Answer these questions and clearly define what you want to get out of AWS. Then, set goals by asking these questions:

  • How/when will we know whether or not our migration has been successful?
  • What KPIs should we be monitoring?

2. Conduct an inventory of your current infrastructure and applications to determine what needs to be migrated.

To know where you are going, you need to know where you are and where you have been. That means taking stock of your current infrastructure. Consider which applications in your ecosystem will be kept, which ones will be migrated to AWS, and which ones will be abandoned in favor of more efficient options.

3. Create a detailed migration plan that includes timelines, tasks, and responsible parties.

Now it’s time to create your migration plan. This will include the following:

  • A detailed timeline
  • Resource allocation
  • Cost breakdown and estimated savings
  • Workload selection
  • App portfolio analysis (application, server, network, storage data) of the current and future architectures
  • App backlog prioritization
  • How to handle downtime
  • A contingency plan for rolling back the migration if unforeseen issues arise

On top of all of this, you will need to assign tasks to specific individuals and teams who take ownership of their completion.

4. Test your migration plan thoroughly to identify and mitigate any potential issues.

Once your plan is in place, it is essential that you test it. “Functional and performance testing is an essential part of database migrations,” AWS advises. “Detailed functional testing will make sure that your application is working with the new database without any issues. You should invest time to develop unit tests to test out the application workflows.”

Data Migration

Simply put, data migration is the process of transferring existing data to a new database or format. However, it is not as simple as hitting a button and letting the system take care of everything. It requires monitoring, evaluation, problem-solving, and review of the results. With that in mind, here are four best practices:

1. Define your migration strategy, including the approach and tools to be used.

When it comes to AWS data migration, there are four main approaches:

  • Database Migration: Database migration involves transferring data from one database to another. In doing so, you adjust the data without changing its structure.
  • Application Migration: This is the process of transferring data from one framework to another system or vendor.
  • Storage Migration: This is the process of transferring data from one storage device (or medium) to another. For example,
  • Cloud MigrationThis is the process of moving data either in part or in whole to the cloud.

If you’ve chosen to work with AWS, cloud migration is the approach you’ve selected.

2. Verify the source data and ensure its quality.

Before commencing your data migration, make sure that the data being migrated is correct. The last thing you want is to spend hours or months moving data only to realize that it is out of data, contaminated, or otherwise unusable in your future endeavors.

3. Migrate data in batches, prioritize based on business impact, and ensure data integrity throughout the process.

Identify which data is most important to your business operations. Doing so will allow you to move the most important data first so you can start making use of it on the AWS Cloud.

Also, don’t try to marathon your migration process. Migrate your data in batches so you can verify it is all coming through correctly.

4. Test the migrated data to ensure its accuracy and completeness.

Always double-check your data following migration.

Infrastructure Migration

1. Determine the most suitable AWS services to be used.

When it comes to AWS infrastructure migration, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. In fact, there are seven migration strategies, referred to as the 7 Rs. It will be up to you to decide which is best for your organization and its data:

  • Retire: Decommission or archive applications that you no longer need.
  • Retain: Keep applications in your source environment without migrating them to AWS.
  • Rehost: Also known as “lift and shift,” this strategy involves moving applications from your source environment to the AWS Cloud without making any other changes to them.
  • Relocate: Transfer a large number of servers, which may include one or more applications, from an on-premises platform to the AWS cloud.
  • Repurchase: Also known as “drop and shop,” this strategy involves replacing your existing application with an equivalent already available on the AWS Cloud.
  • Replatform: Also known as “lift, tinker, and shift” or “lift and reshape,” this strategy involves moving the application to the AWS Cloud and optimizing it to perform more efficiently or at a lower cost.
  • Refactor or re-architect: Using this strategy, you would move an application to the cloud and restructure it to take full advantage of cloud-native features.

2. Establish the necessary connectivity between your on-premises infrastructure and AWS.

AWS provides services to connect your on-premises infrastructure with AWS, such as AWS Direct Connect.

3. Migrate your applications and infrastructure in a phased approach to minimize downtime and reduce risks.

Like with data migration, you don’t want to do everything at once. Move in phases so as to better ensure that everything is going as it should, correcting for errors as you go.

4. Test your migrated infrastructure thoroughly to ensure it is functioning as expected.

Again, always double-check your applications following migration.


Once the migration has been completed, your work isn’t done. Your new AWS infrastructure will require continuous upkeep and surveillance to deliver the promised benefits. Here are four best practices to get you off on the right foot:

1. Conduct post-migration testing to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

Once your new AWS infrastructure is established, take it for a spin. Make sure that the applications all work the way they are meant to.

2. Optimize your migrated applications and infrastructure for better performance and cost efficiency.

Hearkening back to the 7 Rs, replatforming and/or refactoring your applications is always preferable to simply rehosting your applications. After all, you’re migrating to the AWS cloud to improve performance and get more out of your applications. Unless you optimize your migrated applications and infrastructure, you aren’t taking full advantage of the better performance and cost efficiency afforded by AWS.

3. Monitor and maintain your AWS environment to ensure it remains secure and compliant.

While AWS does allow you to take advantage of automation, that isn’t an invitation to rest on your laurels. You will still need to keep an eye on everything to make sure it is running as it should. With applications like Amazon CloudWatch, you can monitor your AWS environment and stay abreast of any issues that may arise.

4. Establish a disaster recovery plan to mitigate potential risks.

One of the strongest selling points of AWS is its many disaster recovery services, which can be categorized into four approaches:

  • Backup and Restore: This approach mitigates data loss or corruption by replicating data to other AWS Regions. It can also mitigate redundancy for workloads deployed to a single Availability Zone.
  • Pilot Light: This approach replicates data from one Region to another, providing a copy of your core workload infrastructure.
  • Warm Standby: This approach ensures that there is a smaller but functional copy of your production environment in another Region.
  • Multi-site Active/Active: This approach involves running your workload in multiple Regions.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with each approach and its respective applications and costs.

As you contemplate the undertaking on which you’re about to embark, remember that an AWS data migration is an involved process. Everything, from planning and preparation to data migration and post-migration, will require boots on the ground, with employees planning, testing, and maintaining the AWS environment to ensure a successful migration.

If all of that sounds like too much to handle, that is why nClouds is here. We’re an AWS Premier-Tier Implementation Partner that specializes in helping organizations take full advantage of all that AWS has to offer. Contact us today to see how we can help you plan, test, and maintain your new AWS environment.


nClouds is a cloud-native services company that helps organizations maximize site uptime, performance, stability, and support, bringing out the best of their people and technology using AWS