Cloud migration, or migrating business applications and data to a cloud solution, offers several advantages to businesses. For example, responsiveness to a business’s increased customer demands is faster than physically increasing on-premises hardware. Other benefits include improved performance, reduction in costs for hardware, and improved ability and flexibility.
However, exploiting these advantages while migrating to the cloud is a challenge, so implementing the best migration strategy is critical to minimize downtime. A business’s overall mission will determine which cloud migration strategy is used.
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Cloud Migration Strategies
Each migration strategy has pros and cons associated with its execution, so each business needs to analyze its goals for during and after the transition is completed. Listed are the available migration strategy options.
Any company that wants minimal impact on daily business operations needs to consider this option. It even has a nickname: “lift and shift.” A business takes its existing on-premises business application and moves it over to a cloud solution.
Though this is the quickest migration strategy, it can be the most expensive if the company is using bare metal servers to provide services to its customers.
Replatforming is like rehosting, but a business will make minor tweaks to its on-premises business application to improve performance once it migrates to the cloud. Companies that choose this option want increased performance and to develop trust in the ability of the cloud solution to perform as expected.
However, implementing this migration strategy does not exploit all the benefits of a cloud solution.
Repurchasing involves moving your entire business application to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform. The unfamiliarity of the SaaS environment will require your entire organization to be retrained on using this cloud solution.
The drawback of this migration strategy is that business operations will be lacking until employees are trained in the SaaS environment.
After reviewing the business’s application portfolio, obsolete applications (or those that pose a possible security violation) can be retired before business applications migrate to the cloud. In addition, retiring modules that are no longer needed saves cost during a migration.
In this scenario, due to regulatory compliance requirements, a company cannot migrate its entire business application suite. Some portion of the business application will have to remain on the on-premises hardware to meet a compliance requirement. Businesses that find themselves in this situation can explore a hybrid cloud solution.
Refactoring involves rebuilding your current business application from scratch. Refactoring is an expensive and time-consuming process, but the advantage of this rebuild is that a business will reap the benefits of the cloud capabilities and computing power not available to an on-premises hardware stack.
In addition, using this migration strategy will allow the business application to utilize upgraded cloud computing technology more efficiently.
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The Cloud Migration Process: 7 Steps
After a migration strategy is chosen based on business requirements, you’ll need to select a migration process. Companies need to reevaluate the purpose for migration, review business objectives, and ensure their mission statement addresses any aspect of the goals or objectives that may change due to the advantages of going to a cloud solution.
Internally, a business will want to involve critical stakeholders who can provide meaningful input on cloud vendor selection. These stakeholders can be industry-specific personnel, but generally, they are chief information officers, project managers, security specialists, application specialists, and any other roles necessary in the decision process.
Here are the steps involved in cloud migration, starting from the selection of this team.
1. Establish a Project Migration Team
Establish a project migration team by retaining critical stakeholders with the technical understanding to assist and monitor the migration process. If your company does not have a migration-architect specialist, use the vendor-selected migration specialist, or hire a contractor that specializes in cloud migration.
2. Pick a Cloud Solution
Based on a business’s mission, goals, and objectives, a business can select from four different cloud solutions: private, public, hybrid, and multi-cloud. The level of IT staff a business wants to maintain will determine the type of cloud computing services a company will use.
Listed are the types of cloud computing services:
- Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS): IaaS providers will support all hardware, and businesses will be responsible for all software, including the operating system.
- Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): PaaS providers will support everything except the application and the data.
- Software-as-a-Service (SaaS): SaaS providers will support the entire suite of software, hardware, and networking devices associated with the application.
There are cloud computing services offered within each of the different cloud solutions, so regulatory or compliance constraints may limit a business’s cloud solution choices. Therefore, each company needs to weigh the pros and cons of each cloud solution to meet their unique requirements.
3. Establish Cloud KPIs
Create key performance indicators (KPIs) for the expected performance of the migrated applications and the expected performance of the selected cloud solution. Use these KPIs as baseline indicators to determine the performance of the entire system.
4. Prioritize Critical Applications
Identify and migrate the essential portions of your business application first. Use dependency diagrams to determine which parts of an application will be migrated next based on what the prioritized application is referencing for execution.
Continue this process until the entire business application is migrated.
5. Build a Data Migration Plan
During the migration process, you’ll need your business data available in a manner that allows your business application to operate and customers to access it. Accessing business data can be done in the following ways:
- Bi-directional syncing: During migration, business data is synchronized between the cloud databases and the on-premises databases.
- One-way synchronization: This process synchronizes only from the on-premises database to the cloud database, allowing customers to only connect to the on-premises database.
- Use a cloud data migration service: Contract this service to a vendor that specializes in data migration.
Read more on CodeGuru: How Do I Create a Cloud Migration Plan?
6. Fully Transition to a Cloud Solution
At this point, it’s time to put the cloud-based business solution into production. Going into production is generally done in two ways. One way to move into production is to do it all at once. The other is to do a little at a time until all your customers are fully moved over to the cloud solution.
7. Review Application Functionality
With your business application being moved to the cloud, make sure it’s optimized for dynamic resource allocation to take advantage of the cloud’s computing power. Check your established KPIs to see if there is a notable improvement.
Also, check to ensure the cloud services are drawing down during slow periods and increasing computing power during peak periods.
Tips for a Successful Cloud Migration
Migrating from a business application hosted by on-premises hardware to a cloud-based hosted application solution is a delicate process, and mistakes can occur at various decision points.
Listed are some helpful tips to help avoid any potential errors when migrating to a cloud-based solution:
- Have a cloud readiness assessment completed: It is recommended that this be your first step when thinking about migrating your business services to a cloud solution.
- Develop and follow a migration strategy: Start with a well thought-out plan for migrating to the cloud, but be willing to adapt if necessary.
- Select a vendor that is a team player: Make sure the chosen cloud provider understands your business mission, goals, and objectives. The vendor’s SME should concur that the migration strategy aligns with the overall business mission.
- Conduct triage: Prioritize the application modules that will be migrated first, and have a solid plan for how data will interact with the application during the migration process.
- Consider additional software: Explore software discovery tools that can provide updates on the cloud migration process. For example, Microsoft Azure Migrate, Dynatrace, and Carbonite Migrate are all helpful migration tools.
Read more on Enterprise Networking Planet: Best Enterprise Cloud Migration Tools & Services
Benefits of Moving Business Applications to the Cloud
As you can see, there are numerous benefits to moving business applications to the cloud. However, there are many points along the cloud migration path that can result in a colossal failure if not planned thoroughly.
With thorough planning and using an assortment of migration tools and assessment options, no business should be concerned about an unsuccessful migration in today’s cloud hosting environment.