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Cloudinary Migration: An Overview of Essential Considerations

Organizations across industries are increasingly recognizing the need to migrate their digital media experience to keep pace with technological advancements and evolving customer expectations. Whether it’s moving from an outdated legacy system to a modern cloud-based infrastructure, or transitioning from an on-premises solution to a scalable SaaS platform, digital platform migration has become a critical strategic initiative for businesses seeking to remain competitive and agile.

That was the case for Rapha, one of the world’s best-loved cycling apparel brands. The company upgraded to Cloudinary and adopted a full MACH strategy, radically improving the way it works with and delivers visual media.

Neiman Marcus also chose Cloudinary when it abandoned its legacy systems, Scene7, in favor of a new image and video platform. Over the years, Cloudinary has provided ongoing support of the luxury retailer’s e-commerce efforts by automating and enhancing its massive visual assets library, reducing its photoshoot-to-web time by 50%. 

The below is especially important if you’re planning or recently started using Cloudinary.

It is a high-level and general article, intended as a basis for a detailed planning of migration. Not all topics apply to your specific migration or Cloudinary plan, and there is no deep dive into any specific use case. And if you need to migrate from Scene7, make sure to read these special considerations.

Also not covered are setting goals, success criteria, and timelines, which are crucial to the success of any project.

The target audience is small business owners, application managers, CTOs, marketing managers, digital asset management (DAM) managers, and any other stakeholder who can decide or manage the way digital media is used in an organization. If you work in an enterprise, then we have premium Professional Services that will allow you to focus on your own KPIs.

  1. Sign up for a new account, if you didn’t do so already. A random environment name will be generated automatically, so you would like to change it to a meaningful name, go to your Account Settings. Note that this change is possible only for environments with fewer than 1,000 assets.
  2. By default, your environment is hosted in data centers in the U.S. Enterprise customers with a business core in Europe or Asia Pacific can request their customer success manager (CSM) to install the environment in the relevant geo.
  3. The default Cloudinary delivery URLs use It’s highly recommended to deliver media using your domain, a feature called custom CNAME and is available for premium customers. Contact Cloudinary Support for further details.
  4. Most customers use folders to organize their assets in Cloudinary. Here are some guidelines:
    – In most implementations, folders would appear as part of the delivery URLs, so they should be SEO friendly.
    – Permissions are granted on folder level, so different permission groups need to have different folders.
    – User-generated content should be in a folder of its own.
  5. Some customers are using multiple environments with Cloudinary. The typical use cases are:
    – Separating between Development/Staging/Production environments.
    – Separating between different brands, companies, or cost-centers.
  6. If you’ll have multiple users working in your account, we recommend assigning them roles and folder-level permissions.
  7. You can log in to your local environment via social logins (Google, GitHub), SAML SSO, and or local (app) users. If you’re using the local users’ method, then it’s highly recommended to enable 2FA (two-factor authentication).
  8. Assets backup is useful in case assets were deleted by accident, by a rogue script, etc. The automatic backup is a no-brainer.
  9. Cloudinary is extensible in so many ways that I can only list the links:

When uploading assets:

When delivering assets:

When using the Media Library:

(1) – Advanced technique.

(2) – Developer needed.

  1. If you plan to manage your assets on Cloudinary, you should plan using Structured Metadata, a powerful way to organize assets and make them discoverable. There are also unstructured metadata types; here’s a summary table.

    Tip: our most popular fields are: Asset type, Status, Brand, and Source.
  2. Assets migration (without metadata) is well described in this blog and the more recent support article. We also have a video course.

    Tip: Consider importing only the best part of your assets.
  3. It’s useful to combine auto-tagging and/or incoming transformations with asset migration.
  4. Metadata migration. If you have existing metadata, it’s recommended to add the metadata to the assets when migrating the assets. Alternatively, you can use the Media Library UI to import metadata from a CSV file.
  5. Web performance. A major factor in your users’ experience and SEO.
    • Cloudinary will deliver optimized media via global CDNs, so you should expect performance improvements.
    • You can measure your website performance and get actionable recommendations with WebPageTest and PageSpeed Insights, among others.
    • These tools would allow you to see your historical and current real users’ performance, collected by Google on Chrome and Android browsers: Treo Site Speed, Google Colaboratory.
  6. SEO considerations other than web performance:
  • Use image sitemaps and update Google on the URLs change.
  • Implement HTTP 301 redirects from the old media URLs to the new ones, if possible. If 301 isn’t possible, then at least keep the old media service in place. Recommended reading: Google migration guide.
  • Free/freemium recommended services to monitor your SEO: Semrush, Ahrefs, Google Search Console
  • Highlights from GooImagemage SEO best-practice guide:
    • Advanced formats are recommended, but some Google systems will not consume JP2, AVIF, animated WEBP, etc. Please validate the spec of any SEO system you rely on, and request Cloudinary support to adjust the automatic encoding accordingly.
    • Original imagery is encouraged, but it doesn’t mean that stock imagery is discouraged. It is only discouraged to have it with non-original texts.
  1. Upload presets are the best way to ensure consistency in your assets. They control folders, permissions, naming conventions, and much much more. It is highly recommended to define a default upload preset, as well as a dedicated upload preset for each non-default use case.
  2. Named transformations are the best way to ensure consistency in media delivery. Each art direction, layout, or styling would enjoy a dedicated named transformation. 
  3. Automatic encoding/format. Your media URLs should specify f_auto’ so the best media encoding/format would be served. f_auto should be added even when using a named transformation and cannot be included in the named transformation itself.
  1. Go-live planning and execution:
    • Never plan the go-live to the end of the day/week.
    • In the first hours of the go-live, carefully monitor your account errors.
    • In the first days, monitor both the above error reports and the delivery reports. Check for Cloudinary automatic tips, and investigate any unexpected data of those curated dashboards.
    • Enterprise customer? Plan your go-live with your Cloudinary contacts.
  1. Automatic notifications from Cloudinary:
  2. Getting support:
  3. Additional resources to boost your Cloudinary skills:

A successful Cloudinary migration requires careful planning, evaluation, and a clear understanding of your organization’s objectives. By considering the essential points outlined in this overview, you can lay the groundwork for a comprehensive migration strategy. Remember, every migration is unique, and while not all topics may apply to your specific case, this overview serves as a valuable starting point for your detailed planning process. In upcoming articles, we’ll dive deeper into specific use cases and provide actionable insights to help you navigate the challenges and maximize the benefits of your digital platform migration. Stay tuned!

Want to discuss the topic of this blog in more detail? Then head over to the Cloudinary Community or its associated Discord and get all your questions answered.

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