Organizations of all types and sizes are moving their data and applications into the cloud. Cloud computing offers businesses a secure, resilient, and flexible way of modernization, providing different levels of managed service that can be tailored to suit their needs. That is, if it’s done the right way. A successful cloud migration needs to account for many factors to ensure it maintains business operations while bringing the enhancements and benefits of moving to a cloud platform.
If you’re planning a business cloud migration and want to ensure it goes smoothly, there are many things that you need to keep in mind. In this article, we take a look at everything you need to know when planning a migration to the cloud, including key considerations, benefits, different types of cloud migrations, and the importance of having a well-defined migration strategy.
What is a cloud migration?
A cloud migration involves the transfer of digital resources and infrastructure into the cloud. Also known as cloud adoption or cloud integration, it commonly involves moving data, apps, and processes from on-premises servers to remote data center servers that are owned and operated by public cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
The term “public cloud” can conjure up notions of an insecure online environment that’s entirely open to the public to access business information, but this isn’t accurate. Public cloud service providers essentially offer virtual real estate for businesses to use behind enhanced security. This constitutes what’s known as a hybrid cloud service, which basically creates a private cloud within the public cloud — it has the data protection capabilities of a private cloud, but allows access to services from the public cloud.
Cloud migration can also refer to the migration from one cloud infrastructure to another — essentially switching platforms, like swapping from Apple iCloud to the Google cloud platform, Drive. In either case, it normally doesn’t involve the relocation of physical IT assets such as servers and network infrastructure, but rather the transfer of data and code that resides on these assets.
Whether you’re moving from one cloud infrastructure to another or taking the first step into cloud adoption, it’s important to have a robust migration strategy in place to ensure a smooth transition.
The different types of cloud migration
There are seven main types of cloud migration, often referred to as the “seven R’s of migration”, that organizations follow when planning and executing an AWS cloud migration. These have progressively evolved over the years to incorporate different approaches for different workloads or desired outcomes, but remain the cornerstone of a strong cloud migration strategy.
Also known as “re-architecting”, this approach involves moving apps and redesigning them using cloud-native features, essentially changing their architecture to improve agility, performance, and scalability.
Rehosting is also referred to as the “lift and shift” method. As simple as its name would suggest, rehosting an application means moving it from its current location on a server onto the cloud without making any changes to it.
This method involves moving an application to the cloud in the same way as rehosting, but then introducing some level of optimization. The main architecture of the application remains the same, but some refinements are made to take advantage of cloud capabilities. Hence why it is also called “lift and reshape.”
In some cases, it’s easier to use a new CRM or ERP solution designed specifically to function in the cloud than trying to move an existing platform into the cloud and change parts of it. The “drop and shop” approach means switching to a different product that will fulfill requirements more effectively.
Sometimes keeping the applications you currently use in your source environment is the best option. These might include apps that would require significant revision to migrate, legacy applications that you want to retain, or those that simply have no business justification for migration.
Applications from your old platform that are no longer needed can simply be retired or decommissioned.
Note that this migration method is specific to VMware Cloud on AWS. Relocating uses the “lift and shift” method, but for entire parts of infrastructure, rather than just apps. It allows you to use virtual machine (VM) compatibility to migrate on-premises data infrastructure directly into the cloud without purchasing new hardware, rewriting applications, or modifying your existing operations.
With a wide range of possible approaches to the migration process, there is a suitable solution — or combination thereof — for practically any organization requirement.
What can the cloud enable?
There are a wide variety of reasons to opt for cloud migration. Here are a few points to consider below:
Growth and scale
For companies that predict significant growth in their future IT infrastructure needs, a cloud environment can provide the required agility and flexibility at a lower cost than comparable onsite solutions. An AWS cloud solution also provides a high degree of elasticity, enabling businesses to scale resources up and down as their requirements change. This is a key aspect of how cloud computing helps companies control and cases reduce ongoing IT costs.
Organizations keen to adopt a full digital transformation and newer technologies have a greater opportunity to do so following a cloud transformation. Cloud resource assets are continually being developed and made accessible for users, so advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning enable businesses to adopt them more easily and inexpensively.
Availability and accessibility
Cloud solutions allow workers and customers to access applications at all times. Not only does this make remote working much easier, but it also ensures that future outages are minimized, while maintaining and simplifying corporate security protocols.
Key benefits of moving to the cloud
Organizations that complete a successful migration to the cloud enjoy a number of benefits, including:
It’s important to note that these benefits could easily be wiped out by bill shock after the migration has been completed. Without the right quantity and type of cloud services, you could even see running costs increase. That’s why having the right provider is so critical.
- Flexibility: The ability to access apps and data in the cloud from any location makes it easier for companies to expand their operations in the future without having to redesign their IT infrastructure.
- Scalability: Public cloud ecosystems like Amazon Web Services give customers the ability to quickly scale operations up or down to meet changing requirements.
- Reduced costs: With no need to employ a large team of IT and cyber security specialists to maintain and upgrade your networks, cloud solutions often result in significantly lower running costs.
- Improved performance: The ability to deploy applications and data closer to where they are needed can provide a marked performance improvement, which can be accurately tracked using analytics tools.
With the help of the experts at Stax, you can ensure that your AWS migration to the cloud provides genuine cost benefits with the application of the right type and quantity of services and resources across your cloud infrastructure.
What are the challenges of planning a cloud migration?
When planning a cloud migration, there are a number of things you need to consider before jumping in headfirst. As experts in AWS migration, here are our most important areas to consider before you begin your database migration.
Most companies keep a large amount of data on their corporate servers, which will need to be safely transferred to remote servers during a typical migration. Consider how this can most easily be achieved and the workload of moving it all to a new database platform simultaneously.
Once all data has been transferred, you will need to ensure it is still intact, as well as confirm the data is secure and not vulnerable to leaks. Cloud data leaks may be caused by poorly configured security protocols and services. This is often an issue when on-premises security configurations are used in the cloud without any modifications. A cloud security expert can help you to reconfigure your security protocols to suit the new environment in which your data is stored.
A successful business cloud migration needs to be completed within an agreed timescale to ensure minimal interruptions to existing services. It’s vital to have a clear understanding of the workload before you begin, so you can set and follow a realistic schedule that’s achievable but doesn’t draw out the process for too long. A full business cloud migration can take six months to a year to complete, a significant portion of which can be spent waiting for the cloud foundations to be completed.
The cloud foundations alone may take from eight to 14 weeks to build in-house, or if you leverage a partner to build them from scratch. You can’t start the actual migration process until the foundational build is finished, meaning application engineers will be ‘on the bench’ for that whole period.
With Stax, foundations can be provided in just days or weeks, allowing the wider business cloud migration to be significantly accelerated.
Cloud migration migration costs can differ massively, depending on the size of the workload. This includes the amount of data to be moved, the apps you’ll deploy in the cloud, and the service provider you use. All these factors need to be considered when preparing a cloud migration cost estimate. Setting up a functional landing zone for your cloud solution could cost somewhere in the region of $400,000 to $800,000.
Stax provides those foundations in days to weeks, for zero upfront CapEx and plans starting at $5,000/month in OpEx. Furthermore, future running costs can be controlled and optimized more easily with Stax, which provides advanced cost management functionality.
Not every application is suitable for migration to the cloud. It’s essential to identify those that are not and to devise a plan for supporting them in the future if they cannot be replaced with other, more cloud-friendly solutions. For companies that need to support legacy applications, a hybrid cloud solution is the most appropriate choice.
The importance of a cloud migration strategy
If you plan to introduce cloud computing to your organization, a well-defined strategy is key to the success of your move. This strategy should cover all phases of cloud migration that need to be completed, including data transfer and the deployment of workloads in the cloud.
The best strategy for your organization to adopt will depend on your existing IT infrastructure and your primary objectives in migrating to the cloud. When planning your strategy, you need to consider the challenges that your organization will face before, during and after the migration:
- Do you have the necessary expertise to configure your cloud ecosystem so you can efficiently provision services and resources?
- Have you established how to backup and transfer your data in a secure and effective manner?
- Are you able to calculate an accurate budget for your migration?
- Will you be able to complete the move into the cloud within an acceptable time frame?
Using a fully-featured AWS-native cloud management platform like Stax can streamline and accelerate your cloud migration by providing you with a firm foundation for building your new cloud ecosystem.
Reach out to our team to arrange a demo and see how Stax can help you achieve a successful cloud migration.