Cloud Migration: When, Why and How

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Julia Sakovich
Author, Geomotiv
Published: Mar 21, 2022

Today, we are talking about clouds in the business context. We are hardly discussing these white fluffy things in the sky. In this case, we are talking about cloud computing and related technologies. This article explores cloud migration, why so many companies prefer this option to traditional on-premises storage, and how the cloud migration process can be organized. Sounds interesting? Just continue reading this blog post!

What is cloud migration?

To put it simply, the cloud includes apps, databases, and services that can be accessed only via the internet as they are stored not locally on your computers or physical servers but the distributed servers. And these cloud servers, in their turn, are located in data centers in different parts of the world.

Users can access cloud apps and services via web browsers or corresponding mobile apps provided by the companies.

In other words, cloud computing is powered by shared computer resources. For you, as a business owner, it means that you do not need to care about buying, maintaining, and updating on-premises physical servers.

Consequently, cloud migration is moving apps and data into the cloud-based environment. It can be one of the parts or approaches of your legacy software modernization strategies.

The popularity of this type of migration is actively gaining momentum these days, being boosted by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic and unstable situation in the world when more and more companies are shifting to the remote work model. And cloud solutions help to support business continuity and efficiency of business processes regardless of the location of team members. 

But let’s look at the opportunities businesses get opting for cloud platforms.

Benefits of cloud migration

  • Enhanced agility and higher flexibility of software
  • Possibility to introduce updates and innovation faster and for all users simultaneously
  • Opportunity to quickly satisfy demands for increasing resources
  • Reduced costs for data storage
  • Enhanced software performance 
  • Faster deployment 
  • No need to manage on-premises physical servers and invest in them
  • More straightforward implementation of a remote work model 
  • Better mobility
  • Higher data security

Namely, these benefits, among dozens of others that each company can find individually, support the growing popularity of cloud migration services and the increasing number of participants that are joining the cloud “community.”

Cloud migration: a market overview

When we speak about cloud platforms, it is impossible not to mention three key players of this market: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and their youngest rival, Google Cloud.

As for the fourth quarter of 2021, the market share of AWS in the global cloud infrastructure market was 33% which is more than the combined share of its two rivals mentioned above. On the other hand, Azure has a market share of 21%, while Google Cloud managed to win a share of 10%.

In the last quarter of 2021, the total revenue of cloud infrastructure services reached $50 billion. And the full figure for the whole year of 2021 hit $178 billion.

The three major cloud platforms actively grow and develop, gaining new users worldwide. However, all of them have their pluses and minuses, and each of them can be a perfect choice in different cases.

For example, Microsoft Azure can be a suitable variant when planning your first cloud data migration, especially with Microsoft-based products.

Google Cloud will be the most beneficial option when your team already has experience in the digital migration and now you are looking for ways to reach better cost-efficiency.

As for AWS, it provides numerous services and high flexibility. Moreover, with it, you will quickly get a global reach.

You can read more about these three cloud services providers in one of our previously published blog posts. Just follow the link.

Our list of the most reliable and promising cloud storage providers will help you make the right choice!

Read now

If you think that application migration to the cloud is what you need to increase the performance and scalability of your software, it’s time to find out the types of this migration.

Types of cloud migration

Now we need to understand from what platform you are going to migrate your software to a cloud. There can be different variants. For example, you may need to migrate your software:

  • from on-premises servers to a cloud platform;
  • from one public cloud to another (this type is also known as cloud-to-cloud migration);
  • from one location to another within your cloud infrastructure (its necessity is usually explained by some inner business processes or changes in business procedures).

While you already know the benefits of migrating on-premises software to a cloud platform, let’s try to understand why companies may need to migrate their cloud-based software to another public cloud. There can be different reasons, for example:

  • The desire to reduce costs;
  • Better security and flexibility of another cloud;
  • Higher performance of newly added apps on a new platform;
  • Changes in business needs may lead to the necessity to use extra cloud functionality that is not ensured by the first platform.

Even though C2C (cloud-to-cloud) migration requires time and money, in some cases, it is feasible to pay for these services and to get new possibilities and benefits that were unavailable for you. However, planning this C2C  migration, do not forget that you may face downtime risks and some issues related to adapting to the new cloud environment, imprecise budgeting, and timing. Many people believe that C2C migration is a straightforward procedure and are too optimistic. But let’s be realists. Everything can go seamlessly, but you should also consider all the risks at the planning stage.

There are also such types of migration as:

  • Full migration. In this case, all data, apps, settings, and other components of your IT infrastructure are moved to a cloud server.
  • Partial migration. In this case, one part of your IT infrastructure is transferred to a cloud and the second one stays on your local servers. It can happen when, for example, your software depends on your hardware, or it is a mission-critical application that you are not ready to migrate at the moment.
  • Hybrid migration. This approach includes migration and the simultaneous modernization of the software system (restructuring, optimization).

Cloud migration strategy: which one to choose?

When it comes to categorizing migration strategies, there can be a slightly different terminology. However, we prefer the widely known one as “The 6 R's”.

  • Rehosting (it is also known as “Lift and Shift”). It is believed to be one of our list's easiest and quickest strategies. It doesn’t presuppose code-level changes, only data transfer. Your software and data are moved from on-premises to cloud infrastructure. Special tools like AWS VM Import/Export can be automated. They can also be performed manually.
    However, some disadvantages are associated with this migration, such as latency issues. They can arise because of the incompatibility of your apps with a new cloud environment.
    The Rehost strategy will suit you, if:
  1. you need to migrate a significant enterprise software;
  2. it is your first cloud migration;
  3. you have a strict deadline;
  4. you want to migrate off-the-shelf applications.
  • Refactoring (Rip and Replace). This strategy is based on the necessity of rewriting your software from scratch to make it cloud-native. While preparing your apps for their migration, you can entirely change their nature. For example, you can forget about monolithic architecture, introduce microservices or containers, or make your apps serverless. As a result, refactoring can help you achieve better efficiency and scalability and add more competitive advantages to your app.
    However, this approach is rather time-consuming and expensive. That’s why you should plan your budget and schedule, given the actual situation and volumes of work. This approach can be applied when:
  1. you strongly need to enhance software scalability, increase speed and performance;
  2. your legacy on-premises application is incompatible with a cloud environment;
  3. the migration will bring real value.
  • Replatforming (Move and Improve). This strategy is quite similar to Rehosting. It allows you to introduce only a couple of configurational changes to your software to make it more suitable for the cloud platform. You can perform minor changes, but the core architecture shouldn’t be changed. This strategy is often used when it is necessary to update the way your app interacts with the database to make sure that it will function in a new environment. Working by this strategy, it’s crucial not to make profound changes. Otherwise, you will have to refactor instead of re-platforming. Use this method when:
  1. you want to get all the advantages of a cloud environment but do not want to refactor your app;
  2. you need to move a complex app but are not ready to introduce severe changes to it;
  3. you do not have a lot of time for the migration.
  • Retaining (Revisiting). This approach includes revisiting some essential apps that should be refactored before cloud migration. As a result, you may decide that it’s better to run this or that app on-premises. It may happen if the app is recently upgraded and you do not want to invest in it now or, otherwise, if the app may face latency or compliance issues and it is not feasible to migrate.
    This strategy is a good choice if:
  1. you’ve opted for a hybrid cloud model;
  2. your app can’t run on the cloud, but it functions perfectly on-premises;
  3. you’ve made considerable investments in your on-premises software.
  • Retiring. This strategy is probably the easiest one for understanding. You just need to get rid of apps that you do not need to use anymore when you do not see any necessity to maintain it on-premises, and you also do not consider it feasible to move it to the cloud. So the app can be downsized or eliminated. Though it sounds straightforward, app retiring can take some time. What’s more, you should carefully analyze your entire software infrastructure before retiring any apps. If an app contains any valuable data, it is recommended to archive it. Opt for this variant when:
  1. your app is already obsolete or irrelevant to your current needs;
  2. the software is incompatible with the cloud;
  3. the software does not bring your real value, and you want to move to SaaS solutions or refactor the app.
  • Repurchasing (Replacing). This approach includes replacing your legacy app with cloud-native software provided by a vendor. However, it often presupposes that you start using a SaaS app with the same functionality. Usually, these new versions help achieve better efficiency and reduce app storage and maintenance costs. But you should bear in mind that customization options are usually quite limited in the case of SaaS solutions. Moreover, your staff may need some time to get accustomed to cloud apps. It’s better to use this approach when:
  1. your legacy software is incompatible with a cloud platform;
  2. you want to migrate apps that perform standard functions (CMS, CRM, accounting, etc.).

Cloud migration plan

When you want to migrate your software to the cloud, it is essential to have a good plan before working directly with your apps and data to avoid omitting something important already at the first stages.

What cloud migration steps do we recommend to include in your plan?

  • Set the goals that you want to achieve. Before proceeding with any severe actions, think about your plans. For example, maybe you want to migrate your software to the cloud to organize the remote work of your team more efficiently? Or perhaps you are not satisfied with the performance of your apps? You need to understand your motivation. If you are not sure about the migration and want to conduct it just because other companies do that, it’s not the best decision.
  • Find the write migration team. You can ask your in-house specialists to conduct the migration if they have the relevant skills. But if you do not have enough resources, a dedicated team model, staff augmentation, or any other form of cooperation with external developers and tech experts will help you. To save your time, hire experts who have relevant experience.
  • Conduct business and technical analysis of your current software infrastructure and apps. Deep analysis of the current situation will help you better understand what can be done and the priorities in this procedure. At this stage, you will have a possibility to understand the amount of work to be done, approximate costs, and time needed.
  • Choose a cloud platform. The majority of businesses today choose one of the three most prominent players: Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud. Analyze the strongest and the weakest sides of all of them and make up your mind. Your migration team can help you a lot with this question. Moreover, you should also decide whether you will choose a public, private or hybrid cloud, or maybe it will be a multi-cloud environment.
  • Develop a roadmap. Understand the order and time frames for migration. Set priorities correctly, and you can elaborate on the correct order.
  • Prepare your apps for migration. As mentioned above, some apps can be migrated without any modifications (rehosting), but in other cases, severe changes may be required (refactoring). At this stage, you need to ensure the elements that further will be migrated are prepared for this.
  • Conduct cloud data migration. Usually, this stage includes the following tasks: data extraction, transformation, and loading. Again, we recommend saving your data before migrating and testing your software during the process.
  • Test the work of your apps. When your software and data are on the cloud, it’s time to test everything again and start working. It can be sensible to migrate some test users to the new cloud environment before the final launch to minimize the risks of going wrong when you fully implement the migrated solutions.

After successful testing, congratulations! Everything is ready!

At Geomotiv, we have rich expertise working with all popular cloud platforms and will be happy to help you!

However, just like everything globally, cloud migration is not entirely risk-free. Therefore, before deciding to migrate your solution to the cloud, we recommend reading our article describing possible risks and providing tips that will help avoid them. 

If you want to elaborate a comprehensive cloud migration plan and seamlessly migrate your on-premises software to a cloud environment, our experts will help you. So leave your inquiry on our website, and we will reach you back as soon as possible! So you will have a reliable IT partner with us, and your software will always be in good hands.

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