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5 Cloud Migration Steps to Successfully Move Data-Intensive Workloads to the Cloud

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No matter the industry, IT departments are running into data storage problems and looking at cloud migration for a solution. This article is designed to help IT leaders understand why it’s necessary to migrate to the cloud, and develop a game plan to move their strategic workloads off-premises.

Exploring the case for cloud migration

Between ever-increasing capacity requirements, new remote collaboration needs, stringent budgets, and the long data center lifecycle – capital expenditures (Capex) are becoming increasingly difficult to justify. Migrating to the cloud is a scalable solution for unlimited performance and capacity while enabling remote work, and lowering TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

Free yourself from the limitations of the traditional NAS environment

Unstructured data management vendors, including Qumulo, enable organizations to migrate, build, and scale file-based workflows to the cloud while offering more options for the storage of data than the traditional NAS environment. Data storage is no longer just a matter of performance or capacity – it’s about unlocking data value and enabling the entire data lifecycle. Hybrid cloud solutions such as Qumulo Cloud Q provide scale and performance equal to that of  NAS. In this way, storage is truly hardware independent and software defined. 

How does this relate to cloud migration?

In short, the needs of storage are no longer a factor in staying on-premises. Enterprises migrating to the cloud to run data-intensive workloads no longer need to worry if latency or scale will diminish workloads in the cloud, or be restricted on cloud vendor object storage or by on-premises hardware that is not compatible. Qumulo’s unstructured file data platform unlocks petabyte-scale workloads running in several major clouds with no latency issues. 

Once your organization opts to store its data in the cloud, what steps can you take to ensure success? Read on for a summary of The 5 Steps to a Successful Cloud Migration, an excerpt from the complete guide, Cloud Migration with Qumulo–the Why and the How.

Let me introduce you to John Smith, the CIO of Creative Media Inc., a (fictional) television production company that launches some of the steamiest romantic reality TV shows. With hits like “Love at First Zoom” and “Who Wants to Date a D-Lister,” Creative Media is having its moment in the spotlight. Unfortunately, that moment arrived as the pandemic has shifted both how TV productions are made and how his company’s employees work. 

Traditionally, Creative Media has run its IT operations on-premises; but, John believes the time is right to explore cloud migration. He has found a cloud partner willing to help, as well as a service provider should any data migration services be needed. This shift would be a massive undertaking with major ramifications for the entire company. 

Follow John as he embarks on a five-step process with his partners to figure out how the show can go on. 

Step 1: Assess your existing environment and build a business case for migration

To augment his case for cloud, John has his team begin experimenting with possible workload scenarios. Using historical data, they gather a realistic video editing workload and run a free proof-of-concept (POC) with his cloud provider to record the performance, measure the level of data ingestion, and get an idea for the parameters of running the post-production of a new show on the public cloud. 

With general purpose compute going for around $0.16 an hour ($0.10 cents on discount) and cloud storage about $0.02 per GB per month, John will take a $7M Capex purchase into a more reasonable operating expense based on company growth with a much shorter time to value – a proposal the CFO will look more kindly on.


  1. Capex vs Opex – which is our business model now and in the future?
  2. Do I trust my cloud provider with my data/workload? If so, which data/workloads?
  3. What is the opportunity cost of not migrating to the cloud?


  1. I have a realistic financial picture of what cloud migration will look like
  2. I have the resources I would need to do the migration itself
  3. I have the timeline of when we can achieve successful migration

Building a Business Case

How to gather the details and set expectations

Step 2: Evaluation setup for your new environment 

Now that John has his business case approved and decided on a cloud partner, the real work begins. With his new cluster up and running in the cloud, it’s time to create the new environment for Creative Media. Right now, the cloud will only host a single show – ‘Love at First Zoom’ – as an intro workload, but eventually the whole company will be migrating alongside it. Learn how he meticulously works through the following process to ensure he’ll have the right environment with the storage needed for high-performance workloads into the future. 


  1. Do I have a landing zone that I trust with this workload?
  2. Have I updated my security/compliance policies to work in a cloud environment and met them during the evaluation?
  3. Have I gotten buy-in from my IT/Business users to work in the cloud?


  1. My landing zone is set-up and ready for my workload
  2. I am confident in my security and access policies for both users and data
  3. I have buy-in from all levels of my organization to work in the cloud

Evaluating Your Needs

How to specify your cloud environment. 

Step 3: Execute and validate the migration

M-Day (migrate day) finally comes and the operation is a resounding success. The cloud infrastructure runs as promised, no major red flags are detected in the landing zone, and the creatives don’t notice any performance issues that they wouldn’t see on-premises. All the major applications work in the new environment. Creative Media Inc. is now in the cloud! Still, multiple areas need to be QA’d by John’s team. Do the security protocols work? Can anyone access data they aren’t supposed to be able to see? Then, on the workload itself, is the end-to-end journey working? 


  1. Did any insurmountable issues appear during the evaluation?
  2. Did the workflow meet all IT/Business user expectations on performance and security?
  3. Does the cloud provider support model meet my needs?


  1. I have no glaring technical issues post-evaluation
  2. All requirements around workload performance and security are met
  3. Cloud provider support reaches acceptable levels.

Step 4: Decide whether to scale up the experiment

John has now successfully migrated a single workload over to the cloud! As he exhales and revels in congratulatory emails, a small voice in his head asks the big question: “What next?” This is the fourth stage of the cloud migration journey – once you have migrated one workload to the cloud and proven it can be done, what level of migration is needed long-term? This dilemma is spurring the rise of hybrid cloud – some workloads make sense to migrate, others do not. Starting small made sense. Careful and considered expansion is the only way to bring the benefits of moving out of the data center to the entire company.


  1. What other workloads would benefit from moving to the cloud? 
  2. Do I understand the costs associated with scaling my cloud migration? Is my evaluated workload representative?
  3. Does my team understand the potential changes to the ‘normal’ way of doing business?


  1. I have a clear understanding of the workloads I would like to eventually move to cloud.
  2. I have a business case and the resources needed to move these workloads to the cloud.
  3. My team accepts that there may be a shift from the ‘normal’ way we achieve these workloads on-prem.

Expand/Hybrid Cloud

How to tailor a cloud migration journey to your needs.

Step 5: Operate and optimize in the cloud

Now that one workload has successfully migrated over to the cloud with more on the way, John’s main role will be to make the workload operate better inside its new environment and ensure his team receives training on how to manage the new cloud infrastructure. The next major priority is around cost optimization. The scale up and down advantage of cloud is only a benefit if you need it and use it. John’s team can monitor, in real-time, data and storage usage to find the right amount, at the right time, to lower the overall cost and raise the ROI of the project.


  1. Have I worked with my cloud provider to better optimize my workload in a cloud-native way?
  2. Do I need to simplify or tighten my IT/security protocols given new threat vectors to the business?
  3. Do I have the right monitoring to ensure the right level of infrastructure needed to keep costs low?


  1. I have agreement with my cloud provider on best practices for my new cloud-native workload.
  2. My IT protocols are sufficient to deal with ongoing new threats.
  3. I am confident that I am spending the correct amount on my cloud environment to match my workload. 

Cost Optimization

Identifying your unique use case for the cloud.

A Successful Migration Can Be Yours

Initially, John had an idea about why cloud migration would be a major benefit to his company. By following the five steps to successful migration, he has showcased himself as a leader to his C-Suite, established a core landing zone in the cloud, migrated his workload, and optimized his environment. Naturally, this process can be captured in any number of industries. Whether you’re the CIO of a genomics company looking to enhance research efforts or of a Fortune 100 retailer looking to cut infrastructure costs, any CIO can be a cloud visionary.  

Understanding why you want to move to the cloud and running a proof of concept (PoC) is key to a successful cloud migration strategy. The remaining articles in this blog series will help you understand the advantages of cloud migration and how Qumulo can help you succeed.


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