In recent times, many organizations have shifted to the cloud to leverage the benefits that it offers, while several others are contemplating a switch.  For organizations considering their first cloud migration, there are a host of factors to consider — from the benefits and the challenges to the suitable deployment models and strategies that best fit your business.

What is Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration is the process of moving digital business operations into the cloud. Cloud migration is like a physical move, except it involves moving data, applications, and IT processes from some data centers to other data centers, instead of packing up and moving physical goods. Much like a move from a smaller office to a larger one, a cloud migration requires quite a lot of preparation and advanced work, but usually, it ends up being worth the effort, resulting in cost savings and greater flexibility.

Most often, “cloud migration” describes moving from on-premises or legacy infrastructure to the cloud. However, the term can also apply to migration from one cloud to another.

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What are the main benefits of migrating to the cloud?

Scalability

Cloud computing can scale to support larger workloads and more users, much more easily than on-premises infrastructure. In traditional IT environments, companies had to purchase and set up physical servers, software licenses, storage, and network equipment to scale up business services.

Cost benefits

Buying, running, and maintaining on-premises hardware and software can be a costly affair. The cloud provider handles most of the maintenance work on the cloud, including server performance, platform updates, and other host management tasks. There is minimal equipment to buy, run, or maintain on a cloud platform. Cloud computing services also come at competitive prices, which translates to more IT cost savings for you.

Performance

For some businesses, moving to the cloud can enable them to improve performance and the overall user experience for their customers. If their application or website is hosted in cloud data centers instead of in various on-premises servers, then data will not have to travel as far to reach the users, reducing latency.

Flexibility

Cloud infrastructure gives you the flexibility to determine the level of control and customizability as per your organizational needs. It also allows you to choose storage options depending on your security compliance requirements and other concerns.

What are the types of cloud migration strategies?

There are three basic types or patterns of cloud migration. In the order below, they run from easiest and fastest (with some drawbacks) to more difficult (with bigger benefits).

Re-host (lift & shift)

This is where you shift an application from an on-premises host to a cloud service (infrastructure or platform service). Begin with the simplest items, with the fewest dependencies, low business impact, and no regulatory constraints, while moving to the most complex items as maturity increases.

Re-platform (move & improve)

The move-and-improve (or re-platform) approach to migration includes making some modern updates to your application — like, say, introducing scaling or automation — without throwing the whole thing out. This happy-medium approach can seem like the superior option at a glance, but it can result in migrations where you keep all your technical debt and get none of the cloud-native benefits.

Re-factor (rip & replace)

The company updates components of an application to conform to enterprise standards, functional needs, and security needs. This includes .Net, Java, and other upgrades.

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Process of Cloud Migration

As noted previously, every enterprise takes its unique journey to the cloud. But, each journey has a beginning, middle, and end.

Before Migration 

  • Define your strategy: Take into account all stakeholders involved, migration strategy, partners, and business intent.
  • Plan your migration: Assess what apps, databases, and infrastructure your business truly needs; a migration can be a powerful opportunity to reassess the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your IT infrastructure.

During Migration 

  • Prepare the organization for migration: Even when recruiting cloud migration specialists, in-house IT personnel need to learn the skills to keep them abreast of cloud technologies and tools.
  • Adopt the cloud environment: Adoption in waves is an approach to cloud migration that uses automated tools to migrate appropriately sized workloads. Adopting in waves reduces IT and business risk and ensures the manageability of the migration process.

After Migration 

  • Secure and manage your workloads: Visibility is paramount in managing control and security; by using a single control to simplify management, enterprises can detect and respond to threats across their hybrid environments.
  • Govern and cost-optimize your cloud environments: Companies move to cloud environments for their superior agility and scalability. These features allow enterprises to control their costs at a granular level when they need to ramp up or down resources in response to demand.

Challenges of Cloud Migration

Without proper planning, you can’t make the most of the magic the cloud has to offer. But even the most well-thought-out migrations come with a certain degree of risk. Common pitfalls to watch out for include:

  • Interoperability: It’s no easy feat to get your existing applications to communicate with newer cloud environments. To ensure they do, you might have to adapt your processes to your cloud providers.
  • Resource availability: The migration process might require taking in-house servers temporarily offline. But downtime could be disastrous to application performance — thus customer loyalty — if not supported by a proper plan for disaster recovery.
  • Data integrity: How will you keep your data secure while moving it to the cloud where you have less control? Is your sensitive data subject to compliance requirements like GDPR? These are real concerns, both during and after migration.
  • Resource management: Not all IT professionals trust the cloud yet. If your team was used to managing physical servers, they might need education on the new infrastructure or even reconfiguring to introduce new roles

The larger or more complex your current infrastructure, the harder these challenges are to overcome. That’s why your IT team must take on this exciting transformation armed with cloud migration services that can mitigate these risks — plus a sound strategy, room for growth, and an openness to change.

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What cloud deployment style should companies choose?

In addition to cloud migration strategy, businesses need to decide how their cloud deployment will look once the migration is complete.

hybrid cloud mixes two or more types of environments, combining public cloudsprivate clouds, or on-premises legacy data centers. For a hybrid cloud deployment to work well, integration must be tight across all deployed clouds and data centers – just as team members need especially tight communication if they’re spread out across different offices.

A multi-cloud deployment combines two or more public clouds. (Public clouds are shared by more than one customer.) Multicloud can serve several purposes: redundancy/backup cost savings or leveraging features from different cloud providers, for instance.

Deploying a single cloud from just one cloud vendor is not always feasible for a business, but it is an option. Cloud providers offer both public clouds and private clouds – the difference being that private clouds are not shared with any other business.