Cloud migration means moving an organization’s digital assets, database, services, IT resources, and applications – some or all of them – to the cloud infrastructure. Cloud migration can also be defined as moving from one cloud to another. It’s a transition from traditional business operations to digital operations.
Cloud, short for cloud computing, is a pool of computing services that are accessed over the Internet and allow data to be stored in massive data centers worldwide. Some popular public cloud service providers are AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.
One of the main reasons businesses are migrating to the cloud is that it provides virtually unlimited computing resources. Below are some other benefits of migrating to the cloud:
Flexibility: Organizations experience different levels of demand at other times. Running an application on cloud infrastructure allows companies to scale up/down depending on demand, leveraging only the needed resources.
Scalability: Cloud computing allows companies to scale to support large workloads by extending existing infrastructure, allowing applications to grow without compromising performance.
Security: Clouds provide security through centralized data storage. Most cloud providers offer built-in aspects such as enterprise cross-visibility, security analytics, periodic updates, etc., to ensure data security.
Performance: Cloud providers take care of infrastructure complexity, allowing enterprises to focus on performance.
Cost-effectiveness: Cloud computing models typically operate on a pay-per-use basis, which means that companies don’t have to pay for resources they don’t use. Organizations also don’t need to invest in training, maintenance, building, and upgrading space for multiple physical servers.
Today, businesses can choose from at least four different cloud scenarios:
Re-hosting: Also called the lift-and-shift approach, this is the most commonly used way to migrate to the cloud. In this approach, the business application is saved and then migrated to a new hosting platform without changing the code or architecture of the application.
Re-platforming: This approach, also called lift-tinker-and-shift, involves optimizing the application for the cloud without changing its underlying architecture. This strategy is most suitable for organizations that are either not ready for configuration and expansion, or want to increase trust in the cloud.
Refactoring: It’s about rebuilding our applications with cloud capabilities in mind. As one of the most expensive and time-consuming approaches, it has the potential disadvantage of vendor lock-in because it doesn’t allow organizations to do autoscaling or serverless computing. This approach is also future-proof and allows organizations to take advantage of standard cloud features.
Re-purchase: Defines replacing an existing application(s) with a new software-as-a-service and cloud platform. The organization does not develop its own native application from scratch, but rather migrates to a third-party, pre-built application provided by the vendor.
Reasons for moving to the cloud
Enterprises and IT leaders around the world are replacing legacy technology with cost-effective, flexible and scalable computing power in the cloud. But why? In this section, we’ll highlight the top 8 reasons why organizations are choosing to move to the cloud.
Reduce IT costs: Migrating to the cloud allows companies to reduce unsustainable costs. Instead of estimating capacity needs in advance, companies can adjust as needed, getting rid of unnecessary equipment.
Increased Security: Cloud computing enables organizations to upgrade their IT infrastructure and protect their applications from hackers.
Data Center Consolidation: Organizations can say goodbye to managing their own data centers by outsourcing backend functions to third-party cloud providers and reallocating resources to more profitable opportunities.
Growth acceleration: Cloud organizations can easily integrate new acquisitions into existing platforms. What’s more, auto-scaling features and flexible data management services allow enterprises to scale quickly.
Enabling Digital Transformation: With the latest advances in cloud computing, companies can digitize core functions, increase productivity, innovate and unlock new revenue streams.
Eliminate end-of-life issues: The cloud circumvents the problem of rigid licensing agreements. Cloud computing gives enterprises the freedom to pay for important cloud capabilities and take advantage of upgrades as they become available. Enterprises can access the latest technology without having to sign long-term contracts.
Leverage New Technology: Moving to the cloud opens up virtually limitless possibilities for businesses. For example, organizations can take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning-something that cannot be accomplished on-premises.
Increased Business Agility: Access to flexible, on-demand IT resources allows enterprises to keep pace with rapidly changing dynamics. Businesses don’t have to wait weeks or months to install equipment. They can rent everything they need from cloud providers and get to the market quickly.
Major mistakes when migrating to the cloud
- Migrating everything at once
Most organizations think that migrating all data to the cloud at once is the fastest way. More often than not, however, this is not the case. This is both an organizational and technological challenge. It is recommended that businesses start the cloud migration process with small chunks of data and applications. As tempting as it may be, migrating the entire infrastructure at once will only increase costs. Migrating to the cloud can take months or years, depending on the volume of data, applications, and infrastructure.
- Keeping this in mind, cloud migration should be done in stages—starting with non-essential data and gradually moving to more sensitive data. Enterprises should also remember that migrating all the data to the cloud is not mandatory. Some sensitive and highly confidential data can, and should ideally be, stored in on-premises systems.
- Overlooking differences between cloud environments
All cloud environments are built differently. Every cloud service provider has his/her own specifications, usually in the form of different architecture, infrastructure, and applications. When choosing between cloud service providers, enterprises should learn all the differences and evaluate them against the enterprise’s needs.
- No data and app adjustments
While some data and apps are ready for migration immediately, they will need adjustments to be genuinely compatible with the cloud infrastructure. Enterprises may have to replace some apps with a cloud-ready solution, while others may need to rebuild with cloud-native features. Even in the lift-and-shift approach, specific changes in configuration and monitoring will be necessary to ensure that the app is working smoothly. It is recommended that businesses assess their infrastructure before starting cloud migration. This helps avoid potential roadblocks and manage costs.
- Migrating without a reason
Enterprises shouldn’t just migrate for the sake of it. Businesses must consider the data, workflows, and apps that will benefit, if at all, from migration. Cloud computing has proven effective for many companies, but only some organizations, operations, or data fit the cloud. In addition to its excellent benefits, cloud computing comes with challenges.
Privacy is a big concern in cloud computing; you may be just one misconfiguration away from exposing your data to malicious parties. The price factor should also be taken into consideration. Though cloud computing is appreciated as a cost-effective alternative, in some cases, the costs may rack up. Sometimes, vendor lock-in issues arise, and over-dependence on one provider may cause more complexities than convenience to businesses.
- Neglecting security issues
As mentioned above, privacy is a big concern in cloud computing. On-premise infrastructure actually gives businesses complete control over their digital assets. With cloud computing, the control usually rests with the service providers. That is why enterprises need to check how their provider defines security and what measures are taken to protect data against breaches.
- Lack of cloud migration strategy
Businesses need to take on a global approach to cloud migration. How you conduct your cloud migration will affect company operations on multiple levels. A cloud migration strategy is never a one-size-fits-all affair. Therefore, doing due diligence to find the most effective way to migrate your infrastructure to the cloud is crucial.
The cloud migration roadmap can be developed only after considering your infrastructure’s size, need, and complexity. The first step would be to analyze your present work environment and work out cloud server requirements accordingly. Next, you should decide on the cloud model you want to adopt. Enterprises should always remember not to act too quickly. Setting up a solid foundation is critical to ensure that your infrastructure continues optimally even after migration.
- Lack of upgrade policy
It is a given that as an app continues to grow and develop, it will need upgrades. In the case of on-premise infrastructure, enterprises have to switch off their software, upgrade it, and then switch it on again. This causes the users to lose access to an enterprise’s services. However, a wholesome upgrade policy for cloud solutions includes an approach that allows you to upgrade your apps with zero downtime. Therefore, it is recommended that enterprises ditch non-cloud upgrade policies and adopt the cloud-based policies most suited to them.
- Migrating sensitive data first
This is perhaps the most common mistake made in cloud migration. Starting the process with confidential and business-critical data can get way too risky in case some error occurs during the process. The recommendation, thus, is to take care of non-critical data and operations first. It allows you to keep your data safe and gives you time to get acquainted with the service you’ve hired.
Cloud migration offers many benefits to businesses across all industries. With more and more companies transitioning to the cloud, migrations will only increase. However, enterprises must remember that it is a complex process, and overlooking even tiny cloud migration mistakes can prove destructive. Businesses need the right combination of processes, technology, and expertise to migrate to the cloud successfully.
The best way is to hire a team of professionals with the required expertise, resources, and knowledge to complete the cloud migration process for your business with zero to minimize complications.