Virtual management of an organization’s infrastructure is the imperative of our times, now more than ever. The evolving remote work culture, as a consequence of COVID-19 induced lockdowns, means that organizations need to move to the cloud for ensuring business continuity. Thus, emphasizing on strategizing, planning, and executing cloud migration.
Cloud has become an essential tool to support business continuity in these difficult times. Many organizations have turned to the public cloud for its burst capabilities to meet a sudden spike in use. Platforms such as Zoom would not have been able to operate without the flexible infrastructure provided by the major cloud providers. — Alastair Edwards, Chief Analyst, Canalys
However, organizations feel overwhelmed when it comes to adopting cloud computing because of the complicated underlying processes of moving the data that is valuable, intrinsic, and confidential.
The most frequently asked question is, “How do we even start?”
So, here it is, your complete guide to cloud migration.
What are Cloud Migration Services?
Cloud migration is the process of transferring data, processes, and workloads over to the cloud infrastructure. It makes an organization independent of the physical workplace by introducing virtual management of resources. The anytime, anywhere access has made migration in cloud computing popular among organizations of all sizes.
COVID-19 is a catalyst for cloud migration, and 87% of global IT decision-makers agree to this. Here is how the focus will shift from on-premise to cloud management, by 2025.
Alternatively, migration on the cloud has two more interpretations. It can be referred to as a process of moving from one cloud to another, popularly known as cloud-to-cloud migration. Also, you can refer to it as a process of moving back to on-premises from the cloud, i.e., reverse cloud migration.
The cloud movement, irrespective of the type, requires planning and know-how of the process for successful and fool-proof execution.
(We will focus on the on-premise cloud migration process, in this write-up.)
An Overview of Cloud Service and Cloud Deployment Models
Before diving deep into cloud migration, you should understand the different cloud services and deployment models available. The applicability of these services and models depends on your business needs.
Cloud Service Models
The standard cloud service models include IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. Here’s an overview of these cloud service models that should help you understand their features and applicability.
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a service): Involves the migration of the entire or partial physical infrastructure to the cloud.
- PaaS (Platform as a service): Involves deployment of a cloud-based framework where developers can experiment and build applications.
- SaaS (Software as a Service): Involves the availability of cloud-based applications hosted by the provider. The application is accessible through the internet and offers 24/7 access to the end-users.
Cloud Deployment Models
There are three cloud deployment models, i.e., public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud. Here’s what each of them implies.
- Public Cloud: This is a cloud environment that is commonly available to organizations. Here organizations share server space and co-exist without interference and interruption. The majority of IT services rely on the public cloud to ensure access anywhere and at any time.
- Private Cloud: This is a cloud environment that is designed to be used by one organization only. In this case, either the data center is available on-premise or is maintained somewhere off-site.
- Hybrid Cloud: When some applications exist on the cloud and some are maintained on-premises, a hybrid cloud is formed. The features of both cloud environments are integrated to offer an orchestrated experience. Organizations often use the on-premise setup for sensitive data and applications and public cloud otherwise.
What are the Benefits of Cloud Migration Services?
The hardware and software resources in an organization are together referred to as legacy infrastructure. An on-premises presence of this legacy infrastructure leaves you dependent on your physical workplace while adding to the cost of maintenance.
On the other hand, the cloud offers independence. It is like carrying your office in your mobile device and accessing it from anywhere.
Here are some benefits that highlight why cloud migration is important for your business strategy.
The most significant benefit of migrating to the cloud lies in the cost savings. The infrastructure migration to the cloud is cheaper than physical management. Most of the leading cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform base their pricing model on the Pay-as-you-go basis, i.e., you only pay for what you use.
Cost optimization is the primary reason for 47% of enterprises’ cloud migration. — OpsRamp, The Emergence of Cloud-First Enterprises Report
2. Agility and Responsiveness
The cloud environment facilitates the buy-in of new legacy infrastructure and storage space in a timely manner. Such a fast response from a cloud provider means speedier adoption of newer technologies that can offer a competitive edge.
3. Remote Access
With cloud computing, you can access your data from anywhere and at any time. An organization no longer solely relies on its physical setting to get work done. This is also the primary reason why cloud computing is gaining more traction as remote work is becoming the future of how we work.
4. Increased focus on Core Business
With cloud adoption, organizations have less to worry about downtimes or data security. The cloud provider ensures to provide the required cloud space, security, and 24/7 access. Thus, organizations can focus on core business responsibilities more, which results in improved productivity.
Cloud computing can manage heavy workloads and a more extensive user base. Where it takes extra time, effort, and costs to accommodate the increased demand in an on-premise environment, the cloud makes it much simpler and affordable.
Cloud Migration Strategies: The 5 R’s of Cloud Migration
There are five R’S of cloud migration strategy that are referred to when migrating applications to the cloud. Here’s what each of the R’s imply.
Also called Lift-and-shift, rehost involves lifting your data and applications from an on-premise setup and shifting it over the cloud. It is the mirror image of the current legacy system. In a way, you can describe the process as a copy from on-premise and paste on the cloud.
Also called Lift, Tinker, and Shift, refactor involves migrating to the cloud, making some optimization to the legacy infrastructure, and adopting PaaS (Platform as a Service) cloud service. This strategy proves beneficial for developers as they can experiment and take advantage of the cloud platform.
This strategy involves modification to the core architecture and the code before migrating to the cloud. The aim of revising it is to customize the applications to fit the cloud environment. Revise takes technical know-how of the process, which, in turn, means that you would either have to rely on your in-house tech team or would have to rely on outsourcing.
This strategy involves re-writing and re-architecture of the applications, i.e., rebuilding it from scratch. It should be considered when the existing application framework does not suit the changing business needs and technological advancements.
This strategy involves discarding an application altogether if it is outdated or does not suit the cloud environment. In such a case, replace — existing applications with SaaS applications (either in-house or publicly available). However, replacing does not mean that all data will be lost as it can be migrated over to third-party applications.
Types of Cloud Migration Tools
The legacy infrastructure is sometimes not prepared for the big shift, which is where migration tools come into the picture. These tools ensure migration speed and effectiveness without affecting the routine operations of the organization.
Here are the types of cloud migration tools:
1. SaaS Tools
SaaS or aptly Software-as-a-service tools act as an anchor between on-premise applications and cloud storage destinations so that all the data can be transferred safely. The good thing about these SaaS tools is that they are automated and user-friendly.
2. Open-Source Tools
These tools are available free of cost and can be used by anyone. However, there’s a catch! Your technical team should be able to customize these tools to cater to your business and functional requirements.
3. Batch Processing
These types of tools are primarily used to transfer large volumes of data. Batch processing tools are automated to work at frequent intervals so that network congestion can be avoided.
Step-By-Step Guide to Cloud Migration
Cloud should always be executed in a sequence of well-defined steps to ensure a streamlined transition. Although the basic cloud migration steps are the same, the core process relies on the size of your business and the complexities of the legacy infrastructure involved.
Here are the necessary steps that answer how do you migrate to the cloud:
1. Prioritize Requirements
To start with, consider the size of your organization and the corresponding business needs. It should be a Q&A within the organization to establish goals that will further help with framing a robust cloud migration plan.
Some of these questions can be:
- Why do you want to move to the cloud?
- What are your expectations from the cloud?
- What cloud migration strategies suit your business needs?
- What are your performance, security, and server requirements?
The answers to these questions lie in a comprehensive overview of your current on-premise environment.
2. Look for a Suitable Cloud Provider
Assess the various cloud platform providers in the market. For instance, running a comparison between AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud would be helpful as they suit the needs of small as well as large-scale businesses.
Comparisons should be primarily based on these parameters:
- Compute of the proposed providers
- Storage capacity that they offer
- Price model and flexibility
- Markets share and the corresponding reach
3. Finalize Cloud Migration Style
Before moving ahead with the migration process, it becomes essential to choose a suitable cloud migration style. Here are three of the most prominent ones to choose from:
- Hybrid Cloud: As already discussed, a hybrid cloud is an amalgamation of public, private, or even on-premise server centers.
- Single-Cloud: This involves the deployment of just one cloud vendor, which is not always ideal considering the market dynamics.
- Multi-Cloud: This involves the deployment of two or more public cloud providers to help create the best of all worlds scenario.
4. Communicate with the Stakeholders
Cloud migration is a major change for your organization. Some organizations also consider it a digital transformation that changes the operational guidelines on the whole. This is why it becomes essential to communicate effectively about cloud migration for paving the way for a smooth migration.
5. Choose Cloud Migration Tools
There are numerous cloud migration tools in the market to choose from. You can also choose a cloud migration partner here to help you out with choosing the best tools that can synchronize with your cloud deployment model and strategy.
6. Data and Application Migration
Based on your cloud migration strategy, you can move ahead with actual migration. Your technical support team can help you with the migration, or you can outsource the migration work.
Understanding and adhering to security and privacy protocols become essential at this stage.
7. Ensure Security and Cloud Management
Once the migration is completed, you can get most of the performance benefits while adding to the savings. However, ongoing maintenance of the cloud is also essential. That is why you need to assess cloud health continually with the help of cloud monitoring tools. What you need to track and monitor:
- Measure uptime performance
- Map memory utilization for virtual machines
- Identify, analyze, and fix any security and utilization gaps
Cloud Migration Checklist
There is a lot to cover when it comes to cloud migration. So, before moving ahead with the process, it is a safe strategy to create a migration checklist so that you stay on track without missing out on anything.
Here’s the cloud migration checklist for you:
Categorize workloads that you want to maintain on-premises vs the workloads you want to move to the cloud
Choose a suitable cloud provider that suits your business size and corresponding needs. Run a comparison between shortlisted providers if necessary
Appoint an in-house team for executing migration or outsource the migration work for avoiding roadblocks and loopholes
Estimate costs for migration through cost calculators and total cost of ownership (TCO) calculators available with AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud
Communicate with the stakeholders to keep everyone in the loop
Build a cloud migration roadmap, i.e., choose cloud migration strategy and create a timeline for execution
Build team skills by introducing training sessions to accelerate adoption to the organizational change
Choose the right cloud migration tools for a smooth transition
Establish KPIs for migration to ensure the effectiveness of migration
Execute migration according to the laid out plan, either in phases or all at once
Maintain and manage the cloud presence to ensure security, privacy, and uptime
Challenges of Cloud Migration
To navigate through the cloud migration often seems a challenging task for organizations. It is easier said than done. Here’s a glimpse of some challenges of cloud migration that you need to be aware of:
1. Temporary Downtimes
Your in-house servers can suffer a downtime temporarily while migrating to the cloud. This, in turn, can adversely affect customer experience, in case, the outage prolongs for unexpected intervals.
2. Architectural Complexities
Sometimes it becomes tricky to match the cloud strategy with the organization’s needs. Especially for executing hybrid environments, lack of planning can lead to an overcomplicated architecture. To avoid this, focus on building a cloud migration architecture that is compatible with the in-house IT infrastructure.
3. Loss of Data
When migrating to the cloud, data loss is possible. Moreover, the risk to breach also magnifies. To mitigate such risk, encryption should be considered seriously. Also, security protocols should be strictly adhered to, to avoid any loopholes.
4. Large Data Migrations
It takes a considerable amount of time to transfer larger volumes of data over the cloud. Larger the databases, more the time it takes for transferring it over the cloud servers. This could also result in prolonged downtimes, or even in data loss.
5. Skill Gap
The tech team that managed the physical servers might not feel comfortable handing the virtual servers. In this case, consider cross-functional training courses and also introduce new roles if it seems necessary.
What Type of Applications Should Move to the Cloud?
It is not required to migrate all applications to the cloud, nor is it economical. The following table highlights the applications that should be moved to the cloud vs the applications that should be maintained on-premises.
Commonly Asked Questions About Cloud Migration
Here are some commonly asked questions with respect to cloud migration.
1. Which Cloud Deployment Model is the best?
The public cloud offers flexibility and scalability through its pay-per-usage model. A private cloud is suitable for organizations that prioritize security and control.
Whereas, the hybrid model provides the best of both worlds, although performance and connectivity lag might occur.
2. What is the Best and Most Reliable Cloud Service?
The choice of cloud migration service provider depends on your business and functional requirements. If you are looking for a wide range of services and tools, Amazon AWS cloud migration is the right option.
In case, your organization primarily runs on Microsoft and Windows, Microsoft Azure is a suitable option. And, if yours is a small scale web-oriented startup, and have been experimenting with machine learning, Google Cloud Platform is the right choice to make.
3. How to Switch Over Cloud?
There are mainly two approaches when you are ready to shift your operations over to the cloud.
- Do it all at once: When you have moved your required legacy infrastructure over to the cloud and validated that it works, you can shift your operations from on-premise to the cloud all at once.
- Transition in Phases: Move a few customers and the corresponding data over the cloud. See how it works and if everything seems to work just fine, move a few more until you eventually move everything to the cloud.
4. How to Get Cloud Migration Cost Estimate?
The popular cloud migration service providers, i.e., AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud work on a pay-as-you-go model, i.e., you only pay for what you use. Moreover, these service providers also offer tools such as price calculators and TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) calculators for estimating cloud expenditures based on services and tools you choose.
5. What is Cloud Rightsizing?
If you choose Rehost, as your cloud migration strategy, you are in a way lifting the workload from on-premise as it is and shifting it to the cloud. In this case, you would require excess compute and storage capacity, thus increasing the overall cost of ownership. To avoid this situation, rightsizing is needed, i.e., a practice to analyze workloads thoroughly to remove redundancies and outdated records.
Cloud migration is a process of moving your organization’s legacy infrastructure over to the cloud environment. With successful cloud adoption, you can expect to transform digital experience, which will benefit your organization and the customers.
In this blog, we have covered everything that an organization should understand about cloud migration before planning for the big shift.
Thus we can conclude – before choosing to migrate – plan! And, such plans can only be successful if you understand the ins-and-outs of cloud computing. This will ensure a smooth transition, maximum uptime, and magnified cloud benefits.
In this era of cloud-first, take this opportunity to ensure the high-availability of infrastructure resources while saving on costs.