What is
Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration is a process many companies are undergoing to modernize their IT infrastructure. In this article, we explain what cloud migration is, how an enterprise can benefit from it, and strategies you can use to implement it. Before we learn about cloud migration, let's look at cloud computing.

What Is Cloud Computing?


Cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the Internet. These services include databases, storage, servers, security, networking, applications, analytics, and more. In many modern companies, cloud computing has replaced on-premises hardware with hardware, often virtual, that runs in "the cloud."

There are 3 types of cloud computing platforms:

  • Public cloud: This is the most common type of cloud computing platform. Third-party service providers own the cloud resources and deliver them over the internet.
  • Private cloud: This type of cloud platform is owned by one business. It can be hosted on-site or with a third-party service provider, but the network is always private and the hardware and software are dedicated to the business.
  • Hybrid cloud: A hybrid cloud can be a computing environment combining a private cloud with a public cloud and allows interaction between the two environments.  It can also reference the use of an organizations relying on two distinct public cloud vendors.

What Is Cloud Migration?


Cloud migration is the process where companies that still host their applications, databases, and other parts of their IT infrastructure in an on-site data center can migrate these technologies to a cloud computing platform.

What Are the Benefits of Cloud Adoption?


Now that we have defined cloud migration, let's look at why an enterprise would consider moving to the cloud.

Scalability

If a business is growing fast or has seasonal surges, a cloud computing platform can scale up to support increased workloads and more users quicker and easier than on-site infrastructure, which would require physical hardware and software licenses.

Disaster Recovery

In the virtualized environment of the cloud, backups and snapshots are quick and easy, providing the type of redundancy that ensures efficient disaster recovery.

Flexibility

Public cloud services are available from the Internet. This means that users can access services and data on the cloud no matter where they are. Businesses can more easily provide international services, expand into new territories, or use a remote workforce.

Cost Savings

Cloud hosting platforms handle all the hardware, maintenance, and upgrades that would have traditionally been handled by IT operations, saving IT staff time they can use to build and improve products and saving enterprises money.

Security

Cloud computing offers more security than standard data centers by storing sensitive data and applications in a secure central location. Cloud providers offer regular security updates, firewalls, and monitoring to keep your infrastructure secure.  Security can also be delivered from the cloud to protect enterprises.

Agility

A cloud provider adjusts to your business needs and dramatically reduces the time and cost it takes to develop new services.

Productivity

An IT infrastructure can be complicated to manage. Cloud hosting platforms automate and monitor much of this technology so IT staff can spend less time tracking down issues or configuring resources.

What Are the Main Types of Cloud Migration?


There are quite a few cloud migration strategies to choose from. Many businesses use more than one strategy for their cloud migration, depending on what type of resources they are moving.

Rehosting

This is also known as lift-and-shift. This is simply taking all the existing applications and data from on-site data centers and moving it, unmodified, to a cloud hosting environment. It is the quickest type of cloud migration and can cause minimal disruption to business during the migration process. It also tends to cost less than the other options.

The problem with this method is that it doesn't take advantage of all the benefits of moving to the cloud. Legacy applications won't be able to scale with the ease of applications that are "cloud native." Re-hosting should be considered the first step in cloud migration if it is used.

Refactoring

Refactoring is the process of rebuilding an application. Refactoring for a cloud platform would be rewriting legacy applications to leverage the advantages of cloud computing, like auto-scaling or serverless computing. This takes more work than rehosting and takes planning. Applications can be migrated gradually as they are converted or modified after a rehosting type of migration.

Replatforming

Replatforming is the process of replacing legacy application code with cloud-native code. This type of cloud migration takes the most time and is the most resource-intensive. It requires a lot of planning. Rebuilding applications from the ground up can be expensive, but it will guarantee that a business takes advantage of all the benefits that cloud computing offers.

Move to SaaS

Another option for cloud migration is outsourcing complete applications to third-party software as a service provider. Enterprises often choose SAAS solutions for internal applications like email, payroll, and customer relationship management software.

What Are the Challenges of Cloud Migration?


As with any other business project, there will be some challenges to cloud migration that have to be considered during the planning phase. Understanding these risks upfront will minimize delays and obstacles that could derail a cloud migration project.

Complexity

It is challenging to map a legacy IT infrastructure to the cloud, especially when blending public and private clouds in a hybrid cloud environment. Without the proper planning and knowledge of the new platform, a hybrid environment can quickly evolve into highly complex architecture.

Latency

Modern Internet connections are fast, but some latency can occur when accessing applications, services, and databases in the cloud. While the latency of a cloud provider will be negligible for most resources, some applications have a low tolerance for latency, and this should be considered in a migration plan.

Application Dependencies

Application dependencies can be an issue if there is not a clear picture of how storage, applications, servers, and databases work together. Discovery tools can help build a picture of application dependencies before the migration, so you can be sure to put the pieces back together correctly in the cloud environment.

Security

Cloud platforms can be very secure, but they have to be configured to be that way. It is important to make sure that the security settings and configurations in the cloud environment fit your security requirements.

What Is the Cloud Migration Process?


Each cloud migration process is slightly different. It depends upon what type of resources are being migrated, the type of migration being performed, and the cloud platform resources are being migrated to. Here are a few general steps to a cloud migration process.

Step 1: Create a Cloud Migration Strategy

First, you must create a plan for your migration. Identify all resources that will be migrated and choose a migration strategy to fit them. It is also where you need to identify any risks involved in the process and plan actions to mitigate them.

Step 2: Choose a Cloud Deployment Model

Then, you must choose whether you will use a public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud. This will depend on the size and security needs of the business.

Step 3: Pick Your Cloud Environment

Once you know what strategy or strategies you will use and what type of cloud deployment model you will use, it is time to pick a cloud service provider that fits your needs. This could mean Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or another cloud hosting provider.

Step 4: Define KPIs

Before you migrate, define the KPIs you expect in the cloud platform so you can set up effective monitoring. This could include performance, latency, and availability data points.

Step 5: Migrate Your Data and Applications

The next step is the actual migration. This process can vary depending on what you are migrating and the cloud platform you choose to host your resources. Your cloud provider may provide migration tools and services to make the process easier.

Step 6: Validate the Migration

The last step is to make sure that migration went as planned. It is time to check that all data got transferred successfully, all services are working as expected, and everything is secure.

Conclusion


Cloud computing is a convenient, cost-effective way to deliver computing services over the Internet. This technology improves on traditional IT infrastructure, making it more scalable and flexible. Companies with legacy data centers can use the process of cloud migration to move their systems to a cloud provider. It takes planning, time, and work to migrate technologies to the cloud but can result in a more performant, resilient infrastructure.

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