If you have followed the advice outlined in the previous articles in this series on cloud migration, you are well-prepared to migrate your site to cloud hosting. The information you need has been gathered and is easily accessible. You have informed those who will be affected by the migration. You have chosen a cloud platform and selected an appropriate cloud instance. Now it’s time to put your cloud migration plan into action.
Preparing for the Migration
In the days before the site is to be migrated, it is a good idea to establish a performance and functionality baseline that can be used as a point of comparison after the migration.
Run performance tests on key pages. Google Lighthouse and Pingdom Tools provide comprehensive performance metrics.
Use a web crawling tool to check for broken links (404 errors) and other crawl issues on your site. You could use an application-specific tool such as WordPress’ Broken Link Checker or a specialist tool such as Screaming Frog. It’s a good idea to fix crawl and link issues before migrating so you can tell if the migration itself caused any problems.
Gather a list of redirects implemented on the current site via its .htaccess file or within the application itself. These may need to be checked after migration.
Stepping Through a Cloud Migration
The migration process may be slightly different, depending on the application that is being migrated, but the basic process looks like this:
- Create an appropriate cloud hosting instance on the new platform.
- Install the application on the cloud hosting account. You can choose to have the application installed as part of the set-up process on the Nexcess Cloud.
- Copy the site’s files and database from the current site to the application running on the cloud platform.
- Edit DNS records so that they point to the IP address of the cloud platform.
Nexcess Cloud instances capable of supporting up to 75 concurrent users can be deployed in minutes. Larger dedicated cloud instances will take up to three hours to deploy, so you may want to set-up your cloud instance in advance of migration day.
Test The New Site Before Changing DNS Records
You should ensure that the cloud migration is successful before changing DNS records or the site’s authoritative domain name servers. Carry out the same performance, crawl, and redirection testing as before. There should be no significant regressions.
You may notice worse performance on the new site during initial testing because its caches have not been warmed. This is nothing to worry about, and performance will improve as the caches are filled. On a live site, much of the data is served from caches or a CDN. The newly installed site is generating pages from scratch.
After Migration to the Cloud
Once the cloud migration is complete, you may have to wait up to 24 hours before visitors are reliably directed to the site running on the new platform.
DNS records take time to propagate through the global DNS system. It is likely to take less than 24 hours, but it is best to wait a few hours at least for propagation to complete before concluding that there is a problem.
Once DNS records have propagated, the new site is live. Over the next several days keep a close eye on performance, search traffic referrals, and other site metrics. Once you are confident that the cloud migration was successful, you are safe to delete the site from its original hosting platform and close your account with the provider.
In the next and final article, we summarize the information from this series into a handy cloud migration checklist that you can use to track migration planning, implementation, and testing.