Organizations are increasingly looking for better ways of streamlining operations, increasing flexibility, reducing costs, and leapfrogging the competition. For many business leaders, the solution lies in cloud computing. According to Gartner, the cloud provides a highly strategic platform for achieving end-to-end digital transformation goals and the adoption of emerging disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence.
Consequently, global end-user spending on public cloud services is poised to grow by 21.7% and reach $597.3 billion by the end of 2023.
However, adopting a cloud-first strategy comes with its share of challenges as well – the first one being migration. Whether you’re a local startup or a multinational organization, the process of cloud migration strategy can be complex and requires thorough planning and execution from the word start. It’s important to note that a cloud migration strategy outlines meticulous steps and considerations involved in moving to the cloud to ensure that the process is efficient and stays within the budget. So, how do you go about it?
In this cloud migration strategy guide, we highlight everything you need to know about successfully moving your business applications and data from on-premises servers to the cloud. We also include practical advice based on real-world experience in the approach to cloud migration, as well as the typical challenges of a cloud migration strategy. Keep reading to learn more.
What is a Cloud Migration Strategy?
A cloud migration strategy is a framework describing how you’ll move your system, either wholly or partially, to the cloud. Migration-to-cloud strategies should analyze which business elements to migrate, what order, which tools to use, and which new functionality to add later on.
“It took time and effort to transform Netflix into a cloud-native company, but it put us in a much better position to continue to grow and become a global TV network.” Netflix.
Having a robust strategy can be vital for your project’s success. This is often why businesses seek assistance from cloud migration companies with proven capabilities and expertise to deliver reliable custom cloud migration solutions.
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Key Successful Cloud Migration Strategy Requirements
The general requirements of a cloud migration strategy include the following:
- Definition of Business Needs and Requirements
By pointing out the exact reason for switching to the cloud, such as the need to optimize costs or scale effortlessly, you can align the migration strategy with the overall organization’s strategic direction in terms of goals and ambitions.
- Assessment and Analysis of Existing Infrastructure
When assessing this requirement, it will help if you assess a range of factors, including compatibility with the edge computing environment and future dependencies between different components.
- Evaluation of Security Requirements
Evaluate your security posture and consider other strategies that can help ensure the safe migration of business data and applications to the cloud.
- Selection of an Appropriate Deployment Model
The next requirement involves choosing the right deployment model that suits your business requirements — a private, public, or hybrid cloud.
- Ensuring Data Integrity During Transfer
Conduct in-depth research on network bandwidth capabilities, both at source and target environments, especially when voluminous data sets are involved. Most importantly, determine which technique guarantees the utmost data integrity, whether the use of direct connections, secure file transfer protocols (SFTP), or virtual private networks (VPN).
- Change Management Plan and Communication
Create an effective change management plan that extends to comprehensive training programs for your team.
Designing and implementing an enterprise cloud migration strategy should involve the collaboration and input of all key stakeholders within the organization.
Why You Need a Cloud Migration Strategy
Cloud migration is a complex process. The more complex the migration, the greater the risks of failure. Why do cloud migration projects fail so often? Let’s take a look at the hard facts:
A recent study by HIS Markit, which surveyed 350 enterprises around the globe, found that 74% of respondents had moved at least one application back from the cloud into their own infrastructure. The top drivers for this decision were performance and security issues (52%), followed by the temporary nature of cloud deployments (40%) and regulatory issues (21%).
Another study by Accenture asked respondents to identify the greatest barriers to leveraging the advantages of the cloud. The four barriers mentioned most frequently were security and compliance risk (65%), the complexity of business and organizational change (55%), legacy infrastructure and/or application sprawl (44%), and lack of cloud skills within the organization (42%).
“We believe these conclusions echo what we’ve been hearing from customers for years — that cloud migration is a difficult, confusing process that must be approached in a holistic fashion. The successful organizations are the ones that take the time to plan, evaluate their options, and adopt continuous-learning feedback processes.”JOE KINSELLA, CLOUDHEALTH TECHNOLOGIES
The success of your cloud migration efforts lies in your ability to set clear goals and benchmarks, create a timeline, and anticipate potential challenges. In other words, you’ll need an all-embracing migration-to-cloud strategy. Here are the importance and reasons for building a cloud migration plan for the future of business.
- Scalability and flexibility: With edge computing, your organization can effortlessly scale up or reduce resource allocation based on the foregoing demand fluctuations. This translates to increased scalability and flexibility, void of physical constraints.
- Data accessibility and collaboration: With the successful planning and execution of all elements of a cloud migration strategy, your team can access important business information from any location or device for data-driven decision-making.
- Downtime mitigation: Having a robust plan helps minimize downtime during the digital transformation process by highlighting proper testing procedures and viable redundancy measures.
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3 Main Cloud Migration Strategies: Benefits and Challenges
Here are some of the most popular strategies and techniques for system migration, with their corresponding benefits and challenges.
Rehosting is also referred to as a “lift-and-shift” approach within which a business “lifts” an existing system from its current environment and “shifts” it to a new cloud-based infrastructure.
Rehosting is a quick way to take a system to the cloud with little disruption to business operations, as there’s no change to the app’s architecture and little or no change to the app’s code.
Rehosting is only feasible if the destination cloud can support the application as-is. Migrating the app without addressing its existing challenges can lead to added costs and performance issues in the future.
Replatforming is a variant of lift-and-shift migration. This approach involves making small changes to the app code to optimize it for the cloud.
Replatforming allows businesses to optimize their apps for cloud-native capabilities. Businesses can start small, test things out, and scale without investing many resources in the short term.
Businesses should make extra efforts to prevent uncontrolled growth in the scope of the project, which can turn a replatforming project into a costly refactoring one.
3. Technical Migration
With a technical migration approach, the app remains “as is,” while the OS and the database are upgraded to the cloud.
Technical migration allows businesses to leverage the cloud’s benefits without rewriting apps from scratch.
Migrating databases to the cloud entails spending significant time and cost to analyze, plan, and execute each step of the migration, with close attention to data integrity across databases.
4. Application Migration
Application migration involves transforming the application alongside the OS and the database. Generally, this approach uses one of the three following scenarios:
New system implementation
With new system implementation, the applications are either rebuilt to leverage the cloud or replaced with new off-the-shelf applications.
For businesses upgrading from a legacy infrastructure with complicated workflows and heavily customized code, implementing a new system can be the “fresh start” needed to eliminate problems with the previous architecture.
In contrast to modernizing old systems, the organization can choose a new suite of applications to go into, regardless of their current environment or vendor.
New system implementation is an expensive, time-consuming process. Businesses need to define every aspect of the new system, including which of the existing functions to keep and which new ones to add.
For large, complex projects, implementing a new system can take years of effort and require various specific skills and governance, sometimes up to fundamentally changing the way that a company operates. Moreover, should the company need to maintain access to the existing data, this may create an added task for data migration, presenting a new set of challenges.
This approach implies upgrading and reengineering each of the three individual layers: applications, databases, and the OS.
System conversion is an effective approach for organizations looking to bring their business processes to a new platform and add extensive new features while keeping their existing customizations.
The implementation’s success will depend on the organization’s ability to replicate its workflows, which requires thorough knowledge of the company’s current infrastructure.
This approach implies selective data migration to a new target system. This enables businesses to selectively redesign aspects of their systems while maintaining important customizations and solutions.
Consolidating application landscapes can significantly accelerate the transformation and reduce downtime compared to multiple projects. Selective data transformation provides a phased approach to migration, reducing the risk and effort of moving to the target system significantly.
One of the big challenges in landscape transformation is automating and optimizing transformation processes across many large infrastructure instances. This calls for a thorough analysis and testing of all data elements in the transformation.
What to Include in Your Cloud Migration Strategy
Generally, cloud migration involves three major phases: pre-migration, migration, and post-migration. Here are some cloud migration strategy best practices during these phases.
Things to Do Before Cloud Migration
Consider the goals you want to achieve. Perform a comprehensive functional and technical assessment of your system and then create a step-by-step plan for your migration project. During this phase, you should carefully consider the resources, costs, timelines, and potential risks of cloud computing for the project. Each virtual machine incurs an ongoing cost to add to your budget.
Weigh your options strategically: sometimes, buying a new on-premise server may be a more cost-efficient solution than migrating and managing applications. Make allowance for the extra resources spent on training and reengineering activities involved in the migration.
Things to Do During Cloud Migration
Start with setting up a working development environment for your project. Ensure that all components, including third-party solutions, are compatible with the new environment. Make sure to thoroughly verify that your deployment is working as expected. If possible, run services in parallel for some time to make sure everything is working properly before you make the final move.
Monitoring the security and performance of your system is a must-do for any cloud migration process. Keep an eye out for any performance issues during the migration, when it’s easier to take a step back and make the necessary corrections. A simple “lift-and-shift” approach is rarely the end of the cloud migration journey.
Things to Do After Cloud Migration
There are various post requirements for the cloud migration strategy. First, make sure that everything works as intended, with all the data in the right place and format. Secondly, ensure that the data is secure and protected. Remember that you’ll need to use and maintain your system flawlessly at all times. This will require you to train your IT team or hire professionals to support the infrastructure, monitor essential KPIs, and respond to issues promptly.
7 Steps of a Successful Migration Process
- Evaluation. Assess the potential benefits, costs, and risks of cloud computing for your business;
- Planning. Decide on the cloud migration tools, skills, and techniques required to migrate to a cloud computing environment;
- Preparation. Get the environments and teams ready for data migration;
- Testing. Verify that everything works as intended, and set app performance benchmarks;
- Migration. Take the data to the cloud, and address any remaining issues;
- Launch. Help users settle with the new environment and assign resources to routine management and optimization tasks.
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How to Get Cloud Migration Strategy Right: Dos and Don’ts
Below, let’s take a close look at the most common mistakes in cloud migration and share tips on how to avoid cloud migration pitfalls at each step of the process. Paying attention to these factors will help you realize the full benefits of a cloud migration strategy. Here is the checklist:
Don’t overlook business analysis. The very first question to answer in any cloud migration strategy is: “What value do we expect to achieve by moving to the cloud?”
Do take a good 360-degree look at your document databases, code, servers, storage, and your team’s expertise to identify cloud solutions that will work best for your business-specific goals.
“Just picking up an application and moving it to the cloud sounds easy — but why are you doing that?”Dave Bartoletti, Forrester
Don’t neglect app analysis before migration. Not all applications are cloud-friendly. Some apps are better fit to work on-premise, while others are better suited to run on private or hybrid clouds than on a public cloud. Some may need minor tweaking, while others may require refactoring to adapt to the cloud environment.
Do take time to scrutinize your apps, infrastructures, integrations, app security, and compliance needs before making the migration decision.
Don’t underestimate cloud migration costs. The key factors affecting the cost of migration include data storage, processing capabilities, security, testing, and monitoring tools.
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Do consider the cost for all ongoing activities associated with the cloud, including the cost of reallocating your technical teams towards the migration.
Don’t forget about the relevant training. Oftentimes, migrating to the cloud means creating a completely new working environment for your teams. This applies to both IT and non-IT employees (such as HR, Finance, or Marketing).
Do make sure to conduct proper onboarding for all business units to help them get their bearings in the new environment.
Don’t just lift-and-shift without further optimization. The purpose of the cloud shouldn’t be all about presumably cheap storage. The real value of migration lies in cloud-native features — in particular, automatic scaling, performance management, and resource optimization, to name a few.
Do remember is that your software should be able to grow and evolve as your business grows. You should be able to make the necessary improvements and upgrades to ensure that the system stays up-to-date. You may need to plan any potential modifications and re-architecting activities in advance to take full advantage of your new cloud environment.
By following these best practices for a successful cloud migration strategy, we managed to accomplish a complex transition of the Webforms system to Microsoft Azure. The project was challenging from the jumpstart as some of the system elements weren’t compatible with the cloud environment. That’s why after building the cloud architecture, we paid great attention to rewriting the legacy components. Read the fullest case study from our experts to see the big picture of cloud migration.
ModLogix’s Best Practices for Successful Cloud Migration Strategy
One of the biggest questions to ask yourself when building a migration strategy is whether you really need the cloud.
Our experience shows that on-premise solutions, despite their low scalability, tend to have higher speed and greater bandwidth capacity than virtual machines in the cloud. Moreover, many solutions require specific hardware, which calls for re-engineering work so that a solution can work in the cloud. This was the case with one of our clients, a platform that offers database and verification services for clinical trials. The move to the cloud took less than a month; however, improvements to the solution itself are still underway.
Second, take the time to find a reliable cloud migration service provider who can deliver reengineering services such as adapting the system, rewriting and expanding the code, and improving the architecture. Cloud migration still offers its share of speed bumps along the way. While each case is different, having a fair share of bumps in the past can help identify risks ahead of time and understand how to avoid them or solve problems that arise.
If your system uses third-party tools, see whether they’re compatible with the cloud. For example, one of our clients found that their fingerprint scanning tool’s provider used a different version of the product for recording data than our client for storing it, which resulted in the loss of some data records. It’s better to spot such issues before moving to the cloud. While you’re still working with test data, you can afford to lose it without negative consequences for your business.
The final point to remember is — never migrate everything at once. Companies often underestimate the project’s complexity and simply rehost the product to the cloud, only to see the entire solution fall apart. This can only be avoided with step-by-step cloud migration and integration processes.
At ModLogix, we start by creating a step-by-step plan for the project. We put the development environment in the cloud and use it to check the compatibility of products, upgrade them if needed, and add custom code. We populate the environment with test data and test the functionality and performance of all product components. During this time, the system is still running in the old environment, which allows us to avoid long downtime during rehosting. And it’s only after everything has started to work perfectly and all the risks have been taken care of that we proceed to moving the solution to the cloud.
Cloud migration promises many advantages — scalability, stability, and ease of business innovation are among them. At ModLogix, we know that software must serve the business. All the solutions we offer to our clients are reasonable and appropriate for their organization. If moving to the cloud is good value for money for your business, and you are ready to invest in it for strategic advantage, feel free to start the project with a reliable team of cloud migration experts and follow our tips for the best results.
If you have any questions, contact us to set up a free hour-long consultation with our team. Our developers have strong working experience with cloud migration projects. We’ll give you a straight-up overview of your project’s specifics, build a cloud architecture for an application, and offer cloud migration services according to your needs.
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