What is cloud migration?
Cloud migration moves data, applications, or other business elements from an organisation’s on-premises computers or cloud infrastructure to a cloud computing environment. The goal of cloud migration is to take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing, such as scalability, cost savings, and improved accessibility and reliability.
Enterprises can undertake various forms of cloud migration. One common approach is to move data and applications from an on-site data centre to a public cloud. Another form of migration is cloud-to-cloud, which involves transferring data and applications from one cloud platform or provider to another. Finally, there is reverse cloud migration or repatriation, where data or applications are taken off the cloud and returned to a local data centre.
What are the key benefits of cloud migration?
The advantages of cloud computing, such as cost efficiency, high performance, and robust security, mainly drive the objectives of migrating to the cloud. Companies move their existing applications and data from on-premise servers to the public cloud to enjoy scalability, self-service, redundancy, and cost-effectiveness through the pay-as-you-go model.
The key benefits of cloud migration include the following:
- Scalability: Cloud computing allows organisations to quickly and easily scale their resources as needed without significant capital expenditures.
- Cost savings: Organisations can often reduce their overall IT costs by leveraging cloud providers’ economies of scale and shared infrastructure.
- Improved reliability: With cloud providers investing heavily in their infrastructure and disaster recovery capabilities, organisations can benefit from enhanced uptime and reduced risk of data loss.
- Enhanced security: By using cloud security features and services, organisations can improve the security of their data and applications.
- Increased flexibility: Cloud computing enables organisations to be more agile, quickly deploying new applications and services to meet changing business needs.
- Remote work and collaboration: With cloud services, teams can collaborate remotely, increasing productivity and allowing for a more flexible workforce.
Cloud migration deployment models
When choosing the exemplary cloud scenario for their enterprise, businesses today have several options, including public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud. It’s essential to consider the application’s performance once it’s migrated and assess if there’s enough bandwidth for optimal performance. Also, factors such as the application’s dependencies must be considered.
Additionally, while reviewing the application stack to be migrated, it’s crucial to eliminate any new features and stale data to avoid paying for unnecessary costs. Furthermore, it may be wise to reconsider the application’s architecture for a longer lifespan, with platforms such as hybrid and multi-cloud being potential options.
The leading cloud migration deployment models are:
Each deployment model has its benefits and trade-offs. The suitable model for a particular organisation will depend on various factors, such as the nature of the workloads being migrated, the level of control and customisation required, and the budget and resources available.
Cloud migration process
Based on variables like the type of migration an organisation wants to perform and the specific resources it wants to move, the cloud migration steps or processes that the organisation uses will change. The following are typical components of a cloud migration strategy:
- evaluation of performance and security requirements
- selection of a cloud provider
- calculation of costs
- any reorganisation deemed necessary
At the same time, be prepared to address several common challenges during a cloud migration:
- data and application portability
- data integrity and security
- business continuity
If not planned properly, a cloud migration could result in decreased workload performance and increased IT expenses, thus negating some of the critical advantages of utilising cloud technology. An enterprise may opt to move an application to the cloud without any changes in a process known as a lift-and-shift migration. This direct transfer from local servers to cloud hosting is done primarily to save on infrastructure costs. However, in some cases, modifying the application’s code or architecture through refactoring or rearchitecting may be more beneficial. This can be done before or after the migration, depending on the performance impact of the lift-and-shift.
Before refactoring an application, IT management should assess its financial viability by considering the costs, performance, and security benefits. Some degree of refactoring will likely be necessary, regardless of the scale of the transformation. Enterprises have several options for transferring data from their local data centre to the public cloud. The method chosen depends on the amount and type of data being moved, also considering the desired migration speed.
One option is to migrate data and apps through the public internet or a private/dedicated network connection. However, it’s essential to calculate the required bandwidth for this method. For large amounts of data, relying on an internet connection may not be practical, so it’s crucial to plan accordingly to avoid prolonged downtime during the migration. An alternative is an offline transfer, where an organisation uploads its local data to an appliance, then physically shipped to a public cloud provider to be uploaded to the cloud. This method may be suitable for transferring large volumes of data. Significant providers, such as Microsoft, AWS, Google, and IBM, offer services for offline data shipping. Although physical shipment may not eliminate the need for additional syncing, it can reduce the time and expense of moving the data.
Before moving to production, the workload must undergo stress testing and optimisation to ensure its performance meets the desired standards. It is also crucial to test for failure scenarios and redundant systems. Although you don’t have to test every function, you should understand the application’s performance before and after the migration to the cloud. Develop a strategy for testing the application’s baseline performance, security, access, and successful integration with other services before and after the migration.
During cloud migration, security should be given special attention. Migrating data or applications over a network can make them vulnerable to various attacks, such as stealing credentials, installing malware, or a persistent denial-of-service attack that causes repeated migrations and wastes system resources. To protect yourself, you need to be familiar with your cloud provider’s shared responsibility model, which outlines your and the provider’s responsibilities. For users, this typically covers everything above the underlying infrastructure, such as data, access, and governance. It’s crucial to establish governance rules, access management, and monitoring.
It’s important to note that the cloud migration process can be complex and time-consuming, and organisations should be prepared for potential challenges and risks, such as data loss or security breaches. It may also be helpful to engage the services of a cloud migration provider or partner to ensure a successful migration.
What are the challenges of cloud migration?
The cloud migration process is not without its challenges and difficulties. IT leaders may find that some applications don’t perform as well in the cloud as on-premises due to poor latency, security concerns, or compliance issues. Additionally, the cost of cloud applications may be higher than expected, and not all applications are suitable for the cloud.
It is vital to have a well-planned exit strategy in place for cloud migration. This includes considering the destination of data, managing the technical transition, and addressing any business or legal issues that may arise. Before repatriating the application, it is crucial to test it to ensure its proper functioning. If the app were altered to take advantage of cloud benefits, these benefits would be lost upon repatriation.
Cloud migrations can sometimes fail, but they can be reassessed and rearchitected for better success. The mistakes made before the initial migration should be taken into consideration. Setting up the wrong instance type or underestimating the importance of proper staff training can also lead to migration failure. IT and management skills for cloud management are different from those for on-premises data centres and virtualised resources, and staff training should be a priority. If training is not feasible, hiring an experienced AWS partner to manage the project may be necessary.
The challenges of a cloud migration can include the following:
- Complexity: Migrating applications and data to the cloud can be complex and time-consuming, requiring significant planning and preparation.
- Security and compliance: Ensuring that sensitive data is protected and that the migration meets regulatory requirements can be challenging.
- Interoperability: Ensuring the migrated applications and data can interact seamlessly with existing systems and data can be challenging.
- Cost: The migration and ongoing operation in the cloud can be higher than expected, mainly if unexpected expenses or resource requirements exist.
- Performance: The cloud environment may impact the performance of migrated applications and data, requiring tuning and optimisation.
- Data loss: There is always a risk of data loss during migration, especially if the data is large or complex.
- Staffing and skills: Migrating to the cloud may require new skills and resources, and organisations may struggle to find the right staff or partners to support the migration.
Organisations should carefully plan and prepare for the migration to mitigate these challenges, engage experienced partners and providers, and continuously monitor and optimise their cloud environment over time.
Cloud migration tools and services
There are several cloud migration tools and services that can help organisations simplify and streamline the migration process, including:
- Cloud migration software: Tools such as AWS Server Migration Service, Azure Migrate, and Google Cloud’s Velostrata allow organisations to automate the migration of applications and data to the cloud.
- Virtualisation software: Tools such as VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V can be used to virtualise existing applications and workloads, making moving them to the cloud easier.
- Data migration services: Services such as AWS DataSync, Azure Data Box, and Google Cloud Storage Transfer Service can move large amounts of data to the cloud.
- Cloud cost optimisation services: Tools such as AWS Cost Explorer, Azure Cost Management, and GCP’s Recommendations can help organisations monitor and reduce cloud spending.
- Cloud security services: Services such as AWS Security Hub, Azure Security Center, and GCP’s Security Command Center can help organisations monitor and secure their cloud environment.
- Cloud managed services: Providers such as AWS Managed Services, Azure Managed Services, and GCP’s Managed Services can help organisations manage and maintain their cloud environment.
These tools and services can help organisations simplify and streamline the migration process while ensuring that their applications and data are secure and performant in the cloud. However, it’s essential to carefully evaluate the features and costs of each tool and service to ensure that they meet the specific needs and requirements of the organisation.
Cloud Migration Trends
Various factors influence organisations’ decisions to move apps or workloads to the cloud. Cloud platforms play a crucial role in digital transformation efforts, with big data analytics being a major draw for its ability to offer scalable computing resources not readily available on-premises systems. Enterprises adopting cloud-native technologies seek more streamlined, template-driven processes rather than relying on a small group of developers and architects. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated many businesses’ migration plans to the cloud, especially with the need for increased remote work. At the same time, there is a growing demand for better user experiences in all digital interactions. Other trends to keep an eye on include the adoption of FinOps to manage cloud costs better and focusing on sustainability and social issues that are gaining importance among consumers and employees.
Here are some of the current and emerging trends in cloud migration:
- Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud: Organisations are increasingly adopting a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud strategy, leveraging multiple cloud platforms to meet their specific needs and requirements.
- Automation and orchestration: Automation and orchestration tools and techniques are becoming increasingly popular for simplifying and streamlining the migration process, reducing the risk of downtime and data loss.
- Containerisation and Kubernetes: Kubernetes for application deployment and management is becoming more popular as they make it easier to move applications between cloud platforms and on-premises environments.
- Edge computing: Edge computing is becoming increasingly important as organisations seek to move to compute and data processing closer to the edge of the network to improve performance and reduce latency
- Cost optimisation: Cost optimisation is becoming a key consideration for organisations as they seek to reduce their cloud spending while still taking advantage of the benefits of the cloud.
- Security and compliance: Security and compliance are becoming increasingly important as organisations seek to protect their sensitive data and ensure that their cloud environment meets regulatory requirements.
- Cloud-native development: Cloud-native development practices, such as DevOps and continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD), are becoming more popular as organisations seek to build and deploy applications more quickly and efficiently in the cloud.
These trends reflect the ongoing evolution of cloud migration as organisations seek to take advantage of new and emerging technologies to simplify and streamline their migration process and optimise their cloud environment.