Improving cloud migration efficiency with automated testing

The benefits of moving to the cloud are well known – enabling businesses to scale up operations faster and with more efficiency, become more flexible and provide the level of quality in digital experience that customers expect and demand today.

According to the 2022/2023 World Quality Report, almost half of enterprises have most of their non-production environments running in the cloud. However, making the journey to the cloud is not always an easy one as evidenced by recent research from McKinsey, which found that three quarters of cloud migrations run over budget and over a third run behind schedule.

The balance that must be met for business leaders and IT teams alike is keeping operations on track during their cloud migration journey while at the same time keeping disruption across increasingly hybrid and disparate environments to the absolute minimum. 

However, what many enterprises are not aware of is the vital role that automated testing can play in helping to minimise these risks. The 2022/2023 World Quality Report also found that half of respondents admitted their strategy for cloud testing is only somewhat effective, while only just over a quarter include cloud testing as part of the software development process during cloud migration projects. 

This is somewhat surprising given that there is now over two decades of research showing that automated testing provides key capabilities to identify and fix errors early in the software development process and help ensure that timelines and budgets stay on track.

Migrating a system to the cloud is rarely simple and without the right cloud testing approach, organisations could be introducing risk to their most critical data and processes, including:

  • Performance and scalability of applications
  • Data integrity
  • Business continuity

Balancing performance alongside scalability 

While cloud infrastructure can theoretically scale to any size, it isn’t that simple. The complexity in environment, configuration, and architecture, mean without adequate testing how an application will perform isn’t known. Many businesses have found this out the hard way when their systems fail under customer load, leading to trust and reputational loss. Performance testing your system early and regularly is critical to ensuring you understand how the system will behave when deployed on the cloud.

Performance testing your migrated projects, whether those are ‘lift and shift’, re-platformed, or re-architected, enables you to analyse the impact of migration. For example, analysing the latency and bandwidth implications between your migrated system and other cloud or still on-prem components is critical when evaluating the suitability of the new cloud environment.

Preserving data integrity 

Cloud migration projects can often see complex situations where their applications are reliant on shared data centre storage, including directory services for data management. Undoing what is likely years of integration and evolution to move some or all of that to the cloud is a very complex and delicate task.

Alternatively, companies may be in a position of migrating a data warehouse from entirely on-premises to the cloud. In this scenario, whether it’s Microsoft Azure, AWS, Google Cloud or any other offering, the process is simpler, but not simple.

In both cases IT teams and business leaders need to ensure that all company data is accessible and maintains integrity while the applications that rely on it change and evolve. A well designed and repeatable test plan can play a vital role in ensuring reporting tools maintain operations and that all company data maintains integrity.

This means during the evaluation stage of a migration that all potential issues must be identified and resolved before the process begins. Automated data validation and reconciliation can help IT teams with identifying and preventing unintended changes to the data both before and during migration. 

One of the key benefits of this automated testing process is that it can detect changes as soon as they occur, meaning any changes caused by the data migrated and are not planned can be dealt with right away when they are quicker and easier to address. Additionally, the same tests can be used post migration to determine if any modifications to systems are at risk of compromising data or other company processes. 

Ensuring business continuity – legacy applications

The process of migrating legacy applications to the cloud that have been embedded within critical business processes, are often customised, and strongly integrated with other applications, presents a potentially significant risk. Moreover, it is frequently because of this that many enterprise resource planning projects do not run to time or budget. 

Manually verifying if legacy applications will continue to function post migration is time-consuming and without guarantee of success in terms of being able to identify all the potential ways in which changes may negatively impact other business processes. 

However, automated testing enables migration teams to evaluate these legacy applications and incorporate a safety net and make sure business continuity is maintained before any changes are deployed. The knock on impact of this is that migration teams have more time on their hands to focus on other tasks safe in the knowledge that they have the capability to fix any potential errors before they have the chance to negatively impact customer relations or overall productivity.

Migrate with confidence

In conclusion, with Gartner estimating that 80% of businesses will close traditional data centres by 2025 and 92% of companies have a multi-cloud strategy in place, there is no excuse for not being adequately prepared when it comes to cloud migration. 

A key factor in this too often overlooked is the need to implement and deploy a comprehensive migration testing approach for applications, processes, and data across the entire business. The companies that do this will be the ones to benefit from reducing risks to critical data and business processes. 

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Dr. Grigori Melnik is Chief Strategy Officer, responsible for defining and articulating strategies for
Tricentis, working closely across all functions to synchronize strategies with corporate execution. He also leads a research team that focuses on future Tricentis initiatives, expanding his work externally as an evangelist for Tricentis and assisting with major partnerships and acquisitions. A seasoned product executive, Grigori previously served at Tricentis as Chief Product Officer. He has over 25 years of experience in technology innovation, product/portfolio strategy and management, software engineering and research at startups, scaleups, top technology enterprises, academia, and governments. He is a hands-on leader with a passion for product innovation, software craftsmanship, building highly effective teams, and learning. Grigori holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Calgary, Canada.

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