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How to Migrate to AWS (Technical Blog Series)

July 8, 2022 - Matt Wong

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Introduction

The first post in this series looked at Why Migrate to AWS? This second post will cover migrating compute resources, such as databases and applications, to AWS.

If you missed the first post, check it out here: Why Migrate to AWS?

You may have heard that migrating your applications to AWS is challenging and time-consuming. This post discusses migrating your data from your on-premises data centre to AWS using CloudEndure.

 

Phases of Migration

There are many aspects to consider, and it may take up to several days to migrate your entire infrastructure, depending on its size. However, migrating to AWS can be done in phases, allowing you to gradually migrate some of your applications while keeping your existing hardware running.

The migration process can be broken down into four phases:

Prepare / Discovery

In this phase, you gather information about your existing systems and services to know what needs to be migrated to AWS. You can use AWS Systems Manager (SSM) tools to discover your resources and create a list of all your applications. You must also get information about security groups, network configurations, instance types, etc., from your on-premises environment.

Plan Your Migration

Once you’ve determined the how and what needs to be migrated (the 6 R’s of migration), it’s time to plan out the migration process. Decide on a migration strategy and scope it appropriately. This will involve understanding your current workloads, identifying dependencies, and deciding what to do with them.

Migrate

Once phase one and two is complete, it’s time for execution. This phase involves moving all resources from your on-premises data centre into AWS cloud instances using tools like AWS CloudEndure. During this phase, you may need someone with experience managing cloud deployments because there are quite a few things that can go wrong – both on AWS and in-house.

Operate & Optimize

After migrating, you need to tune and optimize your new environment to run more efficiently than in its previous environment.

 

Preparation

The prepare/discovery phase is arguably the most important in your migration. During this stage, you’ll document your existing environment and determine the best practices for moving to AWS. This includes understanding how applications are architected, how data is stored, where it comes from, and how it flows throughout your environment. As such, you may face many challenges like the below:

  • Applications that are not documented or not documented well enough for migration purposes
  • Data stored in complex formats that must be converted before it can be used with AWS services
  • Data that has not been backed up or archived for years
  • Servers that are running old operating systems or software versions
  • Legacy applications that need to be made compatible with AWS
  • Databases that need to be moved off-premises
  • Migration of third-party services such as Office 365 or Salesforce.com
  • The lack of documentation around existing systems
  • A lack of technical skills within your team
  • Lack of standardization in application design and architecture

Working with an AWS partner can help with each stage of the migration process, an accredited partner can leverage their AWS expertise as well as access to migrations tools so you ensure a seamless migration into the cloud.

 

AWS Account Setup

To start with Amazon Web Services, you must create an AWS account. Do this by going to the AWS home page and clicking on the “Sign Up for Free” button.

You will be asked for your country, time zone, and currency. Once you have provided this information, you will be prompted to create a password for your account. Once you have created the AWS account, you will be asked to accept the terms of service.

The next step is identity verification by providing a phone number and credit card information. This is so that they can prove that you own the bank account associated with the card used to provide some level of assurance that no one else can access your data.

Once you have provided all this information, AWS will send an SMS message with a verification code that should be entered into the browser window for verification to succeed.

General advice for setting up your AWS account:

  • Don’t use root-level administrator accounts. Instead, assign root-level administrator permissions only to your most trusted administrators and specific workflows or tasks for short periods.
  • Have different levels of administrative permissions for various roles within your organization.
  • Use tags on all resources to quickly identify them later if needed.
  • All of your production accounts should be in their region.
  • Give each application a unique domain name, even if it’s just “appname.mycompany.com” (this will help you track which account is being used for what)
  • Create users with different levels of access — one for development, one for testing, one for production, and so on.

 

CloudEndure

CloudEndure is a cloud migration service that enables you to migrate your application to AWS. CloudEndure provides a simple, easy-to-use solution for deploying your application on AWS using the same code base. With CloudEndure, you can easily migrate applications from your current data centre to AWS without having to rewrite your code or change configurations. You can also use it to keep your applications updated with the latest technology stack while keeping costs low.

Some CloudEndure setup requirements:

  • Ensure that SSH is enabled to have access to your instances. This will allow you to connect via SSH to perform maintenance tasks on your instances, such as applying updates or rebooting them into rescue mode when needed.
  • Ensure you have a valid license for the CloudEndure software and are using the latest version.
  • If you have purchased CloudEndure as part of your subscription, you need to ensure that it is configured to access your subscription key before setting up replicas.
  • Ensure Auto-Start is enabled before creating the VM snapshot; otherwise, the VM will not boot from the disk image but disk directly.
  • If using a SAN or iSCSI storage, remember to check that any volumes are not mounted at all times to avoid double-mounting the same volume when restoring from CloudEndure.
  • Ensure that all your systems have an up-to-date BIOS and firmware installed.
  • If applicable, ensure all your systems have a valid Windows or Linux distribution license.
  • CloudEndure does not back up your hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD), so ensure your data is backed up elsewhere.

 

Application Migration Service (AWS MGN)

AWS MGN is AWS’s integrated version of CloudEndure. It helps customers migrate applications to the cloud quickly and easily. It allows customers to migrate their applications to AWS without worrying about manual errors or missed steps in the process.

 

AWS MGN can be used for both cold and hot application migrations. For example, if you have an application running on-premises and want to move it to the cloud, you can use AWS MGN to migrate it cold. If you have an application that is up and running in AWS but needs some upgrades or modifications, you can use AWS MGN to perform a hot migration.

With the help of AWS MGN, you can migrate any application or data stored in heterogeneous systems like Oracle DB, SQL Server, MySQL, SAP HANA, Informix, etc.

However, there are some CloudEndure Supported O/Ss not supported by AWS MGN. They include:

  • Windows Server 2003, 2008, and 2008 R2
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.x, 6.x, and 7.x
  • Oracle Enterprise Linux (OEL) 5.x, 6.x, and 7.x
  • Windows Server 2012 (not supported)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 (not supported)
  • Windows XP, 7, 8, 10, Vista
  • Centos 5.0
  • RHEL 5.0
  • Debian 8
  • 32-bit Linux

 

Conclusion

Migrating to the AWS cloud can be a challenging process if the right steps are not implemented which is why AWS has accredited partners like transACT Technology Solutions who have the expertise and experience to help organizations implement the optimal path for migration.

The third part of this technical blog series will cover Database Migration Service (DMS) and migrating complex data to the cloud. Running an AWS environment for your business or website is beneficial. Using AWS can make your team faster, more efficient, and more innovative. It can be a tool to help you build better software and transform the way you think of your architecture. But above all else… it can save you money.

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