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Migrating to the cloud can be tough. Often, and with good reason, organizations opt for incremental changes when adopting new technologies. But at some level, even a lift-and-shift migration will require at least a basic understanding of a multitude of services and tech your provider makes available. The most common reason for the stalled migrations I’m brought in on is that teams lack a systematic method of discovering, learning, and deciding on which services to utilize.
Happily, Amazon makes a number of resources available to those wanting to learn more about AWS. However, like so many thing in this field, the sheer number of options can be daunting.
The aim of this post is to take you on a quick tour of the things I use daily in the never ending quest to stay abreast in this ever-changing field. Using this, I hope you can avoid falling — or more often unconsciously sliding into — the knowledge gap.
A particularly good first place to start is the course at aws.training called Cloud Practitioner Essentials. In a few hours, each member of your team can obtain a base level of understanding about how things are set up and a common language with which they can communicate. While this course is by no means comprehensive, it does provide an excellent jumping off point for both technical and non-technical members of your team to start the migration.
Beyond that, AWS’ yearly conference and regional summits are a great way to hear from teams directly on common issues among those moving to the cloud. Additionally, these events often provide users an ability to get hands on with new features and services with AWS engineers on-hand to help in real time. For those unable to attend, the AWS YouTube channel is a superb way to catch up on announcements and are often up within a day or two of being recorded. These talks are a favorite method of mine for learning about a service that is otherwise new to me. Even before checking out a whitepaper, I will find a high level video on a given service. More often than not, the presenters will explain something about the intended use case or pricing model that I simply would not have caught from the documentation but whichs proves incredibly valuable in early architecture decisions.
For migrations, one specific video I recommend everyone check out is the re:Invent Business Case for Migration talk. While the name might imply that it’s purely of interest to non-technical folks, cloud economics is an issue teams will do well to understand at least some of. Where previously, costs were a yearly concern of the operations and finance teams, the agility of the cloud means everyone is empowered to make smart decisions when it comes to spend. This talk is a great overview and a perfect second stop for your team after the Cloud Practitioner course as it can jump start the conversation around migration specific solutions you can employ.
The library of whitepapers AWS publishes are a wealth of knowledge from the introductory to the deeply technical. In particular, I have found the papers explaining best practices to be very informative while also entirely accessible. For technical folks, I also suggest seeing if a paper has been published on architecture for a given — or similarly constructed — application you intend to deploy. I regularly find these guides will use a combination of services I had not even considered.
Finally, Amazon has a set of best practices it calls the Well-Architected Framework. The Framework describes architectural patterns for both your application and your infrastructure from perspectives like cost and scalability. Available as a series of papers or an online class, it is an excellent reference for thinking about how your application can be best served through the numerous services AWS makes available. And beyond your initial migration, it also is a great resource for re-evaluating architecture over time.
Indeed, Foghorn offers Well-Architected Framework Reviews to all of our customers. In it, we will walk a client through how a specific stack, either deployed or proposed, measured against the recommendations of the Framework. This often proves to be a really valuable discussion as it tends to surface looming issues in the web of system that will be deployed.
In fact, we will be offering a Well-Architected Framework Review gratis to participants in our coming webinar for which this post is a companion piece. On September 12th at 11amPT, I will be joining Eric Beard of Amazon’s Solutions Architecture team to talk about these and other steps you can take to ensure an excellent migration.
Check out the link below, come to the webinar, and get in touch for your Well-Architected Review!