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Software Migration Planning

Part One

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What is the software migration process? 

Outdated applications degrade the quality of business processes, slow down the speed of organizational change, and allow competitors to provide better services, taking away market share. Application migration is the transfer of software products (source code and database structure) from one platform (technology) to another (most often from outdated to more modern). The software migration process usually presupposes the introduction of rather serious changes to your solution. That’s why your system migration plan should always be based on the results of a careful preliminary analysis of your solution.

Types of software and systems to migrate 

Before discussing the approaches to building a software migration project plan, it’s worth having a look at some basic things regarding app migration in general. There are various types of software and systems that organizations often consider migrating due to various reasons such as technological advancements, cost-effectiveness, performance improvements, or changing business needs. Some of the common types of solutions and systems that might undergo the software migration process include: 

– Operating Systems: Upgrading or migrating from older versions to newer versions of operating systems, such as moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or from macOS Catalina to macOS Monterey. 

– Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems: Transitioning from legacy ERP systems to modern, cloud-based ERP solutions like SAP S/4HANA, Oracle Cloud ERP, or Microsoft Dynamics 365. 

– Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software: Software migration process from on-premises CRM systems to cloud-based CRM platforms like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Microsoft Dynamics CRM. 

– Database Systems: Upgrading or migrating databases from one platform to another, like moving from SQL Server to MySQL, Oracle to PostgreSQL, or on-premises databases to cloud-based solutions like Amazon RDS or Google Cloud SQL.

 – Legacy Applications: Modernizing or re-platforming outdated legacy applications to newer technologies or architectures to improve performance, scalability, and maintainability. 

– Content Management Systems (CMS): Transitioning from older CMS platforms to more modern and flexible systems like WordPress, Drupal, or migrating between versions of the same CMS. 

– Infrastructure and Cloud Services: Shifting on-premises infrastructure to cloud services (e.g., migrating from physical servers to AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform) for scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency.

 – E-commerce Platforms: Upgrading or migrating e-commerce systems to more scalable and feature-rich platforms like Shopify, Magento, or WooCommerce.

 – Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) Tools: Migrating BI and analytics solutions to advanced platforms that offer better data analysis capabilities, visualization, and predictive analytics. 

– Collaboration and Communication Tools: Transitioning from traditional email servers to cloud-based collaborative tools like Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, or Slack for enhanced productivity and remote work capabilities.

 – Custom Applications and Software: Re-architecting or refactoring custom-built applications to modern frameworks or cloud-native architectures for improved agility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness. 

Application Migration Strategies

Rehosting (Lift and Shift): 

This software migration process involves moving an application as-is from one environment to another without making significant changes to the application’s architecture or functionality. 

Benefits: Quick migration with minimal changes, cost-effective, and less risky. 

Replatforming (Lift, Tinker, and Shift): 

This system migration plan is based on the idea of making slight modifications to the application to make it compatible with the new environment or platform, taking advantage of some cloud services or platform-specific features. 

Benefits: Some optimization for the new platform, moderate level of effort, and potential cost savings.

Refactoring/Rearchitecting (Rebuild):

This software application migration plan involves significant modifications to the application’s codebase, architecture, or design to make it compatible with the target environment or platform. This may also include breaking down the application into microservices or utilizing cloud-native services. 

Benefits: Optimizes for cloud-native features, scalability, and performance improvements. 


This approach to software migration planning presupposes replacing the existing application with a new one that better meets business needs or is more compatible with the target environment. 

Benefits: Improved functionality, better support for business requirements, and potentially more cost-effective. 

Software migration planning and assessment

Software migration planning and assessment are crucial steps in ensuring a smooth and successful transition. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the process that you may use as a software migration plan template.

  1. Understand Business Objectives:
  • Before creating your software migration plan, define the business objectives and goals behind the migration. Understand what the organization aims to achieve through this migration, such as cost savings, improved performance, scalability, or compliance requirements.
  1. Inventory and Assessment: 
  • Create an inventory of all applications and systems that need to be migrated.
  • Assess each application’s dependencies, architecture, data, performance, security, and compliance requirements.
  • Prioritize applications based on factors like criticality, complexity, and business impact.
  1. Determine Migration Strategy:
  • Based on the assessment, decide on the appropriate migration strategy for each application (lift and shift, replatform, refactor, replace, or other).
  1. Define Scope and Timeline: 
  • Clearly define the scope of the migration project, including specific applications, functionalities, and associated data. 
  • Develop a realistic timeline for the software migration process and all the related activities, considering factors like testing, training, and potential downtime. 
  1. Resource Allocation:
  • Allocate necessary resources, including human resources, tools, budget, and infrastructure needed for the software migration process.
  1. Risk Assessment and Mitigation:
  • At this step of the system migration plan, identify potential risks and challenges associated with each application migration.
  • Develop a mitigation plan to address these risks and minimize potential disruptions during migration. 
  1. Data Migration Strategy:
  • Plan the migration of data, ensuring its integrity, accuracy, and security during the transition.
  • Determine the best approach for data migration—whether it’s a one-time bulk transfer or continuous synchronization. 
  1. Testing Strategy:
  • Develop a comprehensive testing strategy to validate the functionality, performance, and security of applications post-migration.
  • Perform testing in stages—unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing—to minimize risks. 
  1. Communication and Training:
  • Communicate the migration plan and timelines to all stakeholders involved, including employees, customers, and partners.
  • Provide training and support to end-users to ensure a smooth transition and adoption of the new system or application. 
  1. Execution and Monitoring:
  • Execute the migration plan following the defined timeline and strategy.
  • Monitor the software migration process closely, track key performance indicators, and address any issues or deviations promptly. 
  1. Post-Migration Evaluation:
  • Evaluate the success of the realization of your software application migration plan by comparing actual outcomes with initial objectives.
  • Gather feedback from stakeholders and end-users to identify areas for improvement. 

By following these steps mentioned in our application migration checklist and conducting a thorough assessment and planning phase, organizations can minimize risks and ensure a successful software migration process that aligns with their business objectives.

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Read the continuation of the article: Software Migration Planning: Part Two

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