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I quote the following from this blog post from AWS:

Because you’re running on MySQL, you can use one of the methods listed in the Aurora documentation to establish a beachhead in Aurora.

What exactly is a beachhead? here? What's its relationship to DMS or sharding?

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    The word "beachhead" here is used metaphorically to mean "establishing your initial presence in Aurora", or "setting up your first Aurora database". It has no particular meaning related to DMS, sharding, or databases in general. – mustaccio Nov 14 '18 at 15:55
  • Thanks @mustaccio perfect, so this isn't DB jargon at all. Would you mind writing this as an answer? I'll accept it. – Josh Nov 19 '18 at 16:27
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In this case it would be establishing a replica (the initial presence) of one of your sharded instances to an RDS instance using DMS to keep them in sync. Then changing the mapping to use the instance in AWS instead of your self managed instance and finally stopping the DMS task for that shard. Then you would just repeat that process for each sharded set of data you have.

  • Thanks, so from your answer a beachhead is: the process itsef? the first shard used for replication? Something else? – Josh Nov 14 '18 at 15:49
  • In this case it would be the first replica or sharded instance of your database. – Aaron Nov 14 '18 at 20:57

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