Today, the success (or failure) of almost all business ventures is tied to technology, and many companies are tech businesses. As a business grows and expands, so does a company’s IT infrastructure needs.
When demand increases, businesses look at cost effective ways to scale their IT infrastructure. However, scaling traditional, on-premises, IT infrastructure is costly. You have to buy and maintain new hardware, update your software and train your staff.
Today, with cloud computing, most of these challenges have disappeared. With the ability to consume IT resources on a pay-per-use basis and scale or reduce IT infrastructure depending on current business requirements, cloud computing is the perfect model for most enterprises. That said, without careful planning and testing, a cloud migration can prove to be an extremely complex and expensive process.
What is cloud migration?
Cloud migration is a process which involves the migration of every element which includes data and the various applications, from an organization’s on-premises IT infrastructure environment to the cloud. Cloud migration is a complex and time-consuming process, and has to be carefully planned to avoid any issues at a later stage.
What is legacy infrastructure?
A legacy infrastructure can be termed as an outdated computing hardware or software that is still in use by an organization. As technology advances, it is important for organizations to update their legacy systems as they are not capable of interfacing with new systems and are often found incapable to scale quickly. For taking advantage of new digital capabilities, it is critical that enterprises transition to a new digital IT infrastructure.
Main benefits of migrating to the cloud
Today, many organizations are saddled with legacy infrastructure. For these organizations, the cloud is the fastest way to innovate and replace legacy infrastructure with cost effective and scalable computing infrastructure. From reducing costs to increasing business agility to leveraging emerging technologies such as AI, RPA and Blockchain, the cloud is a perfect platform for every organization.
By migrating from an on-premises IT environment to a cloud-based platform, organizations can save costs by moving from a capital expenditure (CapEx) model to an operational expenditure (OpEx) model. This allows the IT function to be more agile, and align closely with the business.
Types of deployment
From a classification point of view, there are broadly six types of cloud deployment approaches or models. These include:
- Public Cloud: A model that is used by many enterprises to host their applications or workloads on a public cloud provided by a third-party services provider such as Amazon, Google or Microsoft. Available on a pay-per-use basis, the public cloud model is extremely popular among many e-commerce and startup firms.
- Private Cloud: This is a model that is mostly used by companies who have restrictions due to compliance or security reasons. Many large conglomerates use the private cloud model to enable optimal sharing of IT resources among different departments or group companies.
- Hybrid Cloud: A blended model that allows enterprises to take advantage of both the public and private cloud model.
- Distributed Cloud: A recent concept, the distributed cloud model enables enterprises to run public cloud services in different locations, and monitor them using a single panel.
- Multi-Cloud: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are looking at reducing risks by diversifying their workloads across multiple clouds.
- Community Cloud: This is a type of cloud that is custom-built for a specific domain such as banking or insurance. As regulations are common for sectors, this allows firms in a particular sector to quickly take advantage of compliant-cloud models.
Challenges of migrating to the cloud
Most organizations do not have the required skillsets or the expertise for migrating to the cloud. Many organizations also fail to estimate the total cost of migration, the projected downtime, the time required for completing the migration and the required new skillsets for the cloud environment. A cloud environment entails a different security policy, and many enterprises fail to understand the complexity and the need for changing a security policy with respect to the cloud. There is hence a need for a separate and comprehensive cloud security policy. Organizations must also plan for a holistic identity and access management solution that ensures that only the right people have access to different applications or workloads in the cloud.
Types of cloud migrations
Organizations can choose from a variety of migration strategies for migrating to the cloud. These options include rehosting, rearchitecting, rebuilding or replacing. If organizations want to quickly take advantage of the benefits of the cloud without making any modifications to their on-premise applications, then the rehosting option is the best suited for these type of organizations. The rearchitecting option is recommended when an application has to be modified for a new cloud environment. Enterprises may also choose to completely replace or rebuild existing applications with newer applications.
Migration Tools and Platforms
All major cloud service providers provide a host of tools and solutions to help enterprises migrate to the cloud in a quick and efficient manner. There are cloud migration tools available that enable enterprises to gather adequate information from their on-premise data centers with respect to parameters such as configuration and usage. This helps enterprises plan their migration strategies more effectively. Cloud service providers also provide cloud migration readiness tools which help enterprises assess their readiness for migration to the cloud with respect to factors such as people, process, platform, operations, security and the business. For a cloud migration strategy to be successful, it is critical that the complete data is migrated without any hindrances. There are cloud migration tools available that help enterprises replicate their on-premise environments into a staging area using an automated lift and shift solution, without causing any downtime. This is especially important in cases where the source and target databases are not the same, which is true for most cloud-environments.
Measuring Pre-Migration Performance
Many companies make the mistake of not preparing a comprehensive baseline or inventory of their applications, which makes it difficult to prioritize the order of applications that have to be moved to the cloud, and prepare an effective plan for migration. Performance of any application must also be measured before migration is undertaken. This helps enterprises in comparing the pre and post migration performance, and address any discovered performance gaps.
Cloud migration steps
1. Plan and prepare for migration
A cloud migration is a complex process. Hence, it is vital to prepare adequately before an actual migration process. While the preparation depends on the type of organization and the number of applications to be migrated, there are some basic steps that every enterprise must follow.
Firstly, enterprises must be clear on the business objective of moving to the cloud. While the cloud offers a good number of benefits, organizations must first understand the benefits of moving applications to the cloud before they take a single step.
As most cloud migrations are complex, a project manager to oversee the cloud migration process is highly recommended. This is critical as a cloud migration project may involve many stakeholders and departments. A project manager can monitor the cloud migration process in real-time, and quickly resolve issues as they arise.
When you move an application from an on-premise data center to the cloud, there are two ways you can migrate your application—a shallow cloud integration or a deep cloud integration.
In a shallow cloud integration, enterprises simply move the on-premises application to the cloud, and make no modifications in the cloud’s servers to run the application. This model is also popularly known as the lift and shift model, as it entails just lifting the application and shifting it to the cloud. In the case of a deep cloud integration, enterprises modify their applications before the migration to enable them to take advantage of the capabilities of the cloud. For example, an application may use a cloud’s unique features such as auto-scaling or dynamic load balancing.
2. Choose your cloud environment
Before you start your cloud migration, you have to decide the type of cloud model to be adopted. You must also choose between a single or multi-cloud model.
A single cloud model simply means that an organization has chosen a single cloud provider to host all its applications. Depending on their needs, an organization may choose between a private or a public cloud model. Many organizations use the single cloud model to host their application workloads such as ERP, e-mail or CRM.
In a multi-cloud environment, an enterprise may use a choice of different cloud service providers for different workloads. This is usually done to avoid vendor-lock in and achieve the best results. All cloud environments are not created using the same parameters. Depending on each department’s unique needs, the cloud computing model or service provider can be chosen. This also helps in creating a competitive environment, and reduces dependence on a single service provider.
This can be further classified into the following (depending on the type of cloud service chosen):
- IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
- PaaS (Platform as a Service)
- SaaS (Software as a Service)
3. Migrate applications and data & review
If a cloud migration process is detailed and planned carefully, the actual migration can be a smooth and seamless process. This depends on the size of the databases and the number of applications. If there is extremely less data to migrate, then enterprises can just copy their data over a simple Internet connection. However, this approach will not work for larger workloads. To avoid these issues, enterprises can decide to compress their data before they send it. Alternatively, they can ship their data in a physical form to the cloud service provider to save costs related to bandwidth.
It is also extremely important to ensure adequate security during the actual migration process. Any location or device where data is temporarily stored must be secure. Enterprises can make use of cloud migration tools that are given by cloud service providers to ensure a seamless migration.
Once an enterprise has successfully managed to migrate data and applications to the cloud, there are a few more things that are important. The most important is resource optimization. Make sure that your organization utilizes the full capabilities and potential of the cloud for using resources cost effectively.
Moving your data and applications to the cloud can prove to be a great move and can give organizations the much needed differentiator through the cloud’s ability to cut costs, scaling quickly and enabling new business models.
The time for the cloud migration process depends completely on the size of the organization and the diversity and complexity of its IT infrastructure. In this article, we have covered some of the key steps that an organization should have in place, when they decide to migrate to the cloud. To learn more about how to use cloud migration to amplify & simplify your infrastructure, get familiar with these solutions and services. If you have any questions about how you can effectively use the power of the cloud to transform your business, or how to improve your cloud performance and bring down costs, contact us today to help you out with your performance and security needs.