Cloud Migration

What is Cloud Migration? Strategy, Processes, Benefits & Risks

Cloud migration refers to the transfer of data, applications, and other business elements into a cloud computing environment.

An enterprise can perform many types of cloud migrations. 

Transferring data and applications from an on-premises data center to the cloud is one common model, but a cloud migration can also involve moving data and applications between cloud platforms or providers. This second scenario is known as cloud-to-cloud migration. 

Reverse cloud migration, also known as cloud repatriation, is another type of migration. This involves the transfer of data or applications from one cloud platform to another.

But cloud migration may not be right for everyone. 

Cloud environments can be scalable, reliable, and highly available. However, these are not the only factors that will drive your decision. Let’s see together

Cloud Migration for Businesses

Cloud computing brings a new level of life and innovation to your company’s business practice and application architecture. 

It’s going to be necessary to have a real conversation with your executives and technical leads about the cost of a cloud migration since it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. It’s more like any lasting change, with milestones. 

This cloud presents a whole new way to work, new ways to deploy, tools and services that can help you automate and self-heal your infrastructure. It can be overwhelming to see the different ways infrastructure functions within a cloud environment. It’s important to be familiar with how it works, its risks and benefits, and how cloud computing technology is evolving in general. 

Role and opportunities in cloud migration

You’ll see that a cloud migration is a big process but also the start of a new way of working with new opportunities. 

Risks and Benefits of Cloud Migration

If you’re anything like most companies, you probably already have at minimum one workload in the cloud. But as you’ll see, the big change that a cloud migration brings is not right for every situation. Cloud environments are usually scalable, reliable, highly available, and easy to use, though there should be more that drives your decision.

Consider a variety of factors when considering your first cloud migration. From the benefits and risks to choosing the right cloud service model for your business, to how it will affect your bottom line. We’ll be discussing the most important aspects to consider when contemplating a move to the cloud.

Benefits of Cloud Migration

Moving to the cloud can solve many problems. These are some of the typical scenarios that can benefit from cloud migration.

Faster scaling to meet traffic demands: Your application is getting more popular. It’s becoming harder to scale resources yourself in order to meet this increasing demand.

Faster go-to-market: Your clients need fast application implementation and deployment. You want to help them focus on development, while also reducing overhead.

Switch from Capex to Opex: Cloud computing transforms IT expenditure into a pay-as-you-go model, instead of spending huge amounts on hardware. This is especially attractive for startups.

Cloud migration benefits

Risks of Cloud Migration

Although your particular environment will determine the risks, there are some general drawbacks to cloud migrations you might want to be aware of.

If your current setup meets your needs and doesn’t require much maintenance, scaling, or availability, and all your customers are happy with it – why change?

Distributed cloud architectures may not be the right fit for your application design or architecture. This could mean that you will need to modify them before they can be moved to the cloud.

Cloud platform or vendor lock-in: It can be difficult to move between platforms once you are in.

Cloud Migration Strategies

There’s a well-known framework for organizing your strategies for cloud migration: this is known as “The 6 Rs of Cloud Migration”. Not every business will perform each step but think of this as a guide to illustrate the many possible paths an organization can take. Once you review their details, you’ll have more context to understand which way to lead your migration strategy.

Rehost

Rehosting is often called “lift and shift”. Just as the name implies, there is no big architectural change to the servers and applications in this situation. They are simply taken from on-premises (the lift) and moved to the same type of system on the cloud (the shift). Organizations that are just starting their migration journey will often use the lift-and-shift strategy.

Lift and shift cloud migration

Replatform

Replatforming is the second option. This is where we modify “lift and shift” into something more complicated but better suited to the new cloud environment. Replatforming is a process that optimizes the application during the migration phase. This requires some programming knowledge and input. You might move from your own database system to a managed DB hosted on a cloud provider. In this type of migration, you stick with similar underlying technology but modify the business model and have cloud resilience as a huge bonus.

Repurchase

Sometimes referred to as “drop and shop,” this cloud migration strategy comprises a full switch to another product. This could mean ending existing licensing or repurposing services for new platforms and services. In this instance, some examples of a “dropped” application may be a CRM system or an industry-specific app that was not created to be run on the cloud.  However, it may be one that does not have modern code or one that cannot be transported from one provider to the next. When transferring to a new product or using a proprietary platform, the “repurpose” strategy is used.

Refactor

Refactoring is the fourth R, which is basically redesigning. This is often driven by a want to improve an application or service. This could be due to various factors such as difficulty in improving the environment or the need to increase the availability and reliability of an application to meet anticipated traffic spikes.

The timing of refactoring is important. While it may be possible to re-architect the application during the migration stage if the application is not mission-critical, It’s generally best to do this later in the project. It’s important to remember that refactoring can take some time and requires expertise.

Refactoring type of cloud migration

Retain

Retain is the fifth strategy. Some applications may be too difficult to migrate, so you might want to keep them. This is when you jump into the hybrid space, like many other successful enterprises. There can be various reasons why you might want to keep some of your existing on-premises deployments: if you are currently subject to regulations or have rules regarding the storage or operation of certain aspects of your business applications, services, or data on-premises or in specific areas, this approach may be a good option.

Retire

We now have our final strategy: to retire services. This strategy involves identifying assets that can be retired so that the business can concentrate on services that are most used and have immediate value. This is an interesting way to approach your existing application library because even though there may be big changes to be made, you can see them as opportunities. 

Cloud Migration Process

There are various ways to go about a cloud migration based on the type of strategy you choose or the size of your organization. Below you’ll find two separate processes that illustrate the organization of an actual migration. A helpful exercise would be to use the first process (the 4 Category Method) to ask yourself all the relevant questions then insert those answers into the structure presented by the second method (the Step-by-Step Method).

The 4 Category Method for a Cloud Migration

Use this method to ask yourself some helpful questions about your cloud migration.

1. Plan your cloud migration

  • What will your use case be? Specialized just for one application or are you moving a whole suite of applications?

2. Make your cloud migration business case

  • How much will moving to the cloud and working in the cloud cost?
  • What’s the total cost of ownership between your current environment and the new cloud environment?

3. Execute your cloud migration

  • How will you carry out your cloud migration with minimal disruption to your daily operations?
  • How will you maintain code and infrastructure for the two environments?
  • Does your staff have the skills to execute this migration and what is your evidence?

4. Maintain your new deployments

  • How will you maintain the security of your data within your cloud?
  • How will you stay up-to-date on newer versions of services?
  • How will you make sure your cloud costs don’t spiral out of control?

The Step-by-Step Method for a Basic Cloud Migration

  1. Set goals: Your organization can determine whether the migration went smoothly by setting goals against which to measure its success. Think about performance, timeframe, and cost goals – these are concrete numbers to aim towards.
  2. Develop a security strategy. Cloud cybersecurity is a different approach to security than on-premises. You’ll need to think about traffic into and within your cloud, but also access to the cloud from all your users, and how to leverage “least privilege” access.
  3. Copy existing data to a cloud provider. Make sure this is ongoing throughout the entire migration so you’re positive that your cloud database is always up-to-date.
  4. Refactor or rewrite your Business Intelligence: Think about when this has to happen. Consider doing it in pieces  – a custom dashboard can be helpful while larger initiatives get transitioned over.
  5. Your cloud is on and running! Mission accomplished and the journey is just beginning.

Cloud Migration Resources 

Getting started with a cloud migration

You now have a better understanding of the cloud and need to know how to migrate your IT infrastructure. This collection of content will help you understand the best practices and methods to migrate to the cloud.

Cloud migration technical guides

Want to get detailed info on migration topics such as refactoring, using migration services, and how to maintain security? This selection of content dives deep into technical info to give you a quick look into the nitty-gritty of a migration.

AWS migration resources

Amazon has specific tools and services that help you succeed in your migration. Learn about the migration process, from basics to detailed courses.

Microsoft Azure migration resources

An Azure migration often includes other enterprise services besides the actual cloud infrastructure. Learn how to integrate all these for a successful deployment.

Google Cloud migration resources

This collection of Google Cloud content highlights how to migrate, maintain, and automate your Google infrastructure.

Cloud Migration Tools

Cloud migration tools are crucial to a successful cloud strategy. They are offered by the major cloud providers as well as third-party vendors for when you want to go multi-cloud. Tools from cloud providers are usually free but you need to pay for services used – such as compute and storage – while third-party tools are cloud-agnostic but come with a cost. Experiment with these options to get insights to help in your cloud migration.

AWS migration tools

Azure migration tools

Google Cloud migration tools

Alicloud migration tools

  • Server Migration Center – A comprehensive platform to migrate servers, containers, and data.
  • Alibaba Cloud Pricing – Get general and thorough pricing info for the platform; useful for estimating costs of different services.

Pricing and advice tools

FAQ

Can you store sensitive information in the cloud?

Depending on how sensitive the data is that your application stores and retrieves, you might not be able to maintain it in the cloud. Often, there are compliance requirements that also limit your choices of where and how to store sensitive data such as medical personal identifiable information (PII).

Can you deploy any technology in the cloud?

If some of the technology you use is proprietary, you might not be legally able to deploy it to the cloud.

Does the cloud make applications slower?

It can happen that some applications will experience latency, based on the location of both the application and the user.

Will I get full insight into my cloud’s performance?

Since the actual cloud hardware is controlled by someone else (i.e. the cloud provider and not your organization), when debugging performance issues you could lose some transparency and control.

Will I ever run out of storage in the cloud?

In theory, no. In reality, the limiting factor is your budget. However, it can become more and more expensive and time-consuming to keep up with on-premises storage, whereas with cloud storage you have scalability plus ways to minimize cost such as calculators and alerts.

How effective are cloud disaster recovery systems vs. on-premises ones?

Very effective. Cloud disaster recovery systems are faster to implement because you don’t have to purchase more hardware and they have ready-to-use disaster recovery plans that meet industry standards.

Will I have to maintain and update my server software in the cloud?

Oftentimes no. In certain cases, the cloud provider will take care of this automatically. Also, some cloud computing models make lots of administrative tasks such as database backup, software upgrades, and periodic maintenance easier by handling them for you.

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