What is Cloud Migration?

Simply put, cloud migration is a process where companies shift their hardware and software infrastructure (servers and applications) from, for example, a local office, to a cloud-based hosting provider. There are numerous advantages for an organization to migrate to a cloud-based solution (which we will explore later on), including freedom from worry regarding the scaling of infrastructure and a significant reduction in capital exposure.

Cloud Migration Types

It may seem a bit daunting for first-timers so let’s look at cloud-based (a.k.a., public cloud) options first.

IaaS Cloud Migration

For this option, the corporate server is moved from the local (sometimes shard) hosting server to a dedicated cloud server. Critical to this option is that all data and application(s) must function as intended on the new IaaS server post-migration. This migration can take longer than expected as developers will be involved due to the complexity of data dependencies and the functionality of the application(s).

PaaS Cloud Migration

Since these solutions’ primary purpose is making the process easier for the users, migrating to a PaaS solution is not as complicated. PaaS solutions assume the business lacks the onsite technical expertise to handle the migration process to the cloud. The cloud-based provider accomplishes this through a browser-based UI/Portal. This portal is what will facilitate the migration process. The chance of issues using this process are significantly lower with a moderate technical user initiating the PaaS process now rather than enlisting the services of a highly technical user.

SaaS Cloud Migration

The migration project will take a bit of time as it must be done most times in phases when moving from a local or shared hosting to a SaaS cloud solution. The first part involves setting up the basic structure of the application. Once development is done and testing is complete, any addons and other supporting components will then be moved on to the new SaaS server.

Benefits of Migrating to A Cloud-Based Solution

By migrating to a cloud-based solution, you will have opened up a wealth of new possibilities. This would affect high-level application architecture that would gather and process large volumes of data in real-time. When properly deployed, a cloud migration strategy will ensure a seamless, smooth cloud migration experience. The result is a hassle-free post-migration performance.

Scalable resources: The most obvious benefit in migrating to a cloud-based solution is the flexibility of server resources. Organizations will make use of this option when applications experience seasonal or interval periods of very high or very low requirements of hardware.

Reduction in overall cost: Competition is fierce, and every business looks inward to see where cost-effective savings can be achieved. With cloud migration, companies see major reduction in both operational and capital costs. This is because of the ‘pay-as-you-go’ type subscription business models that require you to only pay for licensing rather than for hardware infrastructure and technical personnel.

Mobility of use: Cloud-based solutions give all users the ability to experience the versatility of access and ease of use. Using an IP whitelisting feature, any user would be authorized access from virtually any part of the world, regardless of device. This particular function is commonly avaliable on all PaaS solutions.

Automation: Keeping servers updated, patched and fully compliant is no longer a concern. Cloud-based solutions will now ensure for example, all backend server API’s remain updated.

Flexibility in operations: Cloud-based solutions allow companies to deploy and test updated or new applications quickly over the cloud. No longer worried about compatibility and performance issues, development teams can now deploy applications through automated deployment options.

Secure Storage: To any organization, the opportunity to have their applications reside on servers that are highly secure and available at extremely reasonable costs is extremely tempting. Additionally, storage can easily be scaled up or down depending on business demand without disrupting the application usage.

Popular comparisons in Cloud Migration:

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP vs Turbonomic

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Cisco CloudCenter vs Cloud Volumes ONTAP

Cloud Migration Process

Though all cloud migration processes are unique from vendor to vendor, the core processes involved with moving to the cloud remain basically similar. The real changes are in operational requirements and the choice of software and hardware tools.

Let’s examine the core processes of migrating to cloud infrastructure:

Assess

As a first step, this involves a detailed assessment of all resources required to migrate to the new cloud-based solution. Understanding what needs to be moved is critical. It is important to realize that there are applications uploaded to the public cloud without any issues, while others can be a difficult to near impossible to be migrated to a cloud-based environment.

Pilot testing: This stage is when a portion of the main application is moved to the cloud-based solution. This allows for monitoring user application performance post-migration with intent to move all over if the performance tests are positive. This is the level FYI, to evaluate global compatibility and security.

Initiate the migration: The question at this stage is whether moving the data or application over first will make a difference? The school of thought on this is by migrating data to a cloud environment, sets the stage for successful migration of the application later on.

Moving the applications: Now that the data has been uploaded, it is time to migrate the application(s). It is often the case that a ‘lift-and-shift’ strategy will work best. Monitoring and testing now will determine if an application re-architecture is warranted.

Optimize: Depending on your type of application and architecture, various optimization strategies would be available. Normally the most common theme is to see a reduction in the size of static assets while saving storage and bandwidth.

What are the best cloud migration strategies?

Users have a choice of several cloud migration strategies to move their app to the cloud. Listed below are some of the more common strategies used:

  • Rehosting (formerly ‘lift and shift’): This works well for companies looking to host their current legacy application again (to rehost) to a cloud-based solution.
  • Replatforming: It is commonly also known as the ‘lift, tinker-and-shift’ process. It involves tweaking of the process while keeping all core architecture unchanged. While it is a more costly option, it works for companies that can’t restructure existing legacy data to fit any new cloud migration requirements.
  • Repurchasing: This is a quick option to make use of a SaaS-based solution. In this process, SaaS takes all data (and application) and creates a new cloud-based product. It is a perfect solution for Human Resources, CRM, and CMS applications.
  • Re-architecting: For this strategy, in order to accommodate features native to the cloud, the applications architecture needs to be reimagined. The goal is to continue to cater to business needs but also add new features, scalability and performance.
  • Retire: The owner of the functional component of the application will need to determine if all the resources needed by the uploaded application are still justified. Deciding which to keep and which to retire will affect the bottom-line cost.
  • Retain: Known as ‘revisiting’, this strategy asks both development and business to review each component. All components need to be held to their own individual cost. This is the best way to determine the benefit and cost of the overall upload to avoid serious negative impact to business finances.

Final thoughts:

This is an important business decision to make. For the most part, it can already be stated that cloud migration is the best solution for today’s business. At the rate technology is pacing, maintaining local hardware and software, patches, and keeping it secure, alone are daunting tasks and the journey doesn’t stop there.

Find out what your peers are saying about NetApp, Turbonomic, Cisco and others in Cloud Migration. Updated: August 2020.
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