Lift and Shift 

Three simple words with an understated level of complexity for migrating to the cloud. Let us be honest for a second though – if migrating to the cloud was easy to do, most companies would have already done it and more than likely, done it themselves. Any form of cloud migration can be difficult and if you extend a ‘Lift and Shift’ migration to include aspects of application modernisation to make the best use of the cloud services available, we have a level of complexity that can soon become very significant.  

The migration ecosystem has a vast array of tooling available from many vendors. With this choice comes the rabbit hole of complexity and necessary expertise that a lot of organisations would rather avoid. At Kainos, our experience lets us take the pain out of cloud migrations, simplify the process and deliver real value to our customers quickly. Our promise to our customers is to prioritise getting you to the cloud quickly and more importantly, safely and securely. 

As a Delivery Manager, I look after Kainos’ delivery of, and migration to, cloud platforms across our public, commercial and healthcare sectors. I work closely with our customers to support migrating their existing workloads (a catch-all term for applications, files and anything that sits on a server on-premises) to the cloud. This may involve moving virtual and sometimes physical machines to Azure or AWS, optimising their existing services to be better aligned to working in the cloud or even redevelop their older applications to become cloud-native.

Simplifying the delivery of a cloud migration 

As a leading delivery partner in UK public sector since 2012, we have first-hand experience in delivering the combined benefits that cloud and digital transformation can bring across customers including DVSA, DEFRA, HMLR and the Cabinet Office. All of these solutions were built using a modern approach to delivery, by facilitating Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment on cloud platforms. This approach allows us to deliver value quickly, in an iterative, agile manner.

As an organisation either considering a move to the cloud or in the early stages of your transformation, you may be wondering how to approach this work. Whilst there are many architects within Kainos who can articulate how to build a cloud business case or how to unlock cost savings in the cloud much better than I could, what I can do is offer some insight into how we can simplify the delivery of a cloud migration for you. Significant time has been spent within Kainos honing our collective experience to devise a phased and simple delivery approach, allowing us to prioritise our customers’ needs at all points.

This diagram covers a standard cloud migration, but where modernisation and optimisation of existing workloads are included, this work will occur in parallel with the broader delivery in most cases. In certain circumstances, an initial ‘lift and shift’ migration to the cloud may be prioritised with modernisation coming later. Either way, Kainos will work with your team to refine our approach and collectively decide on what works best for your organisation.

We break our delivery down into the five phases below:

Plan – we don’t believe in spending weeks building overly complex project plans, but we will work closely with your team to build a delivery timeline which meets any particular milestones that matter to you e.g. a datacentre exit. We use this time to foster strong relationships with the business and technical stakeholders as we find this helps delivery progress swiftly in later phases.

Discovery – it’s a rarity that all requirements are known upfront on a cloud migration project, so we always undertake a Discovery exercise which will allow us to better understand your IT estate. Diving through your application stack, server and network infrastructure to the business streams that they serve, we will look to build out a full picture of your assets which will support a successful and pain-free migration to the cloud. During this phase, we believe it is essential to work closely with business owners to ensure that we fully understand requirements around downtime, devise an approach to User Acceptance Testing and ultimately build a migration plan that works for everyone.

The migration plan will be created in draft form during this phase and will be refined as we progress towards the migration but it is not enshrined in stone. As our collective understanding evolves through the pilot migration and even the early migration waves, the plan will be iterated upon to minimise migration risk. Where there are applications to be optimised and modernised we will use this phase to understand, at a granular level, how the applications work and how they may be transformed into cloud-native architecture.

Design – our architects will use the output gained during the Discovery phase to design a cloud solution which aligns to your requirements. We will produce a high-level design for your technical teams’ consideration with a view to signing this off before the build phase commences. As delivery continues, we will provide low-level designs as required which for the platform creation can be Infrastructure-as-Code artefacts. We will also help upskill your teams on using these modern tools and techniques so that they can manage the platform post-migration. This is a key part of the journey and we will work closely with you to ensure that we get this right.

Build – with over 100 successful cloud delivery projects over the last decade, Kainos has a significant cache of automation templates to facilitate the build of a secure cloud landing zone. We use Infrastructure-as-Code to rapidly build the cloud infrastructure which would take weeks or even months by more traditional practices. There is rarely a standing start when undertaking the build phase because of the sheer amount of reusable templates and patterns our engineers have, but rest assured that we will be building you the right cloud infrastructure for your organisation, aligning to both best practice and the agreed design principles. 

Migrate – off the back of an agreed migration plan, we will begin to migrate your on-premise workloads to the cloud. The team will usually start with a pilot migration, allowing your team to be involved in the migration process and validation of functionality after the services are spun up in the cloud. Once the pilot wave is signed off, we will then migrate your workloads in agreed “waves”, with logical groups of applications moving together as per the migration plan. The importance of planning leading up to the migration phase cannot be understated, and this planning is one of the key priorities of the Delivery Manager.

These phases are underpinned by our core principles that we weave into all that we do – security, iterative delivery, stakeholder engagement and customer enablement. In the case of cloud delivery, these sit atop a migration and optimisation roadmap which will be designed for your organisation.

No two cloud migrations are the same as customers often have varying levels of requirements and complexities within both their IT and application estates – my job is to make your migration as transparent, smooth and painless as possible. We use modern architectural principles, alongside delivery tooling such as JIRA to facilitate teams working in an Agile manner. Similarly, we embed a DevOps culture into all of our work, seeking to enable and empower customer IT teams as we go. For us, successful enablement is in having members of your team join our own cross-functional teams to work alongside us.

Whilst a ‘Lift and Shift’ migration to the cloud may be your necessary or desired starting point, it is often the enabler for so much more. The ability to unlock cost savings, modernise your applications and enable your developers to build and release their work faster is just for starters. Modernisation may not be as simple as your first step, but it’s a leap in capability and potential business value.

If you’re ready to make the move to public cloud but don’t know where to start, or have started but need help completing the journey, then Kainos can help, drawing on the breadth of experience we have of designing, building, modernising and delivering services on the public cloud. To learn more about our cloud services and to speak to a cloud expert click here.