What is Cloud Migration?

IT Services
What is Cloud Migration?
Article by Sumana Ganguly
Last Updated: March 06, 2023

The trend of businesses migrating their workloads to the cloud, is expected to reach 94% by the end of 2023.

This mass cloud adoption is because these enterprises report improving security and cost savings. And there is no reason IT-based services should not consider this approach.  

In this guide, we will define the obligatory steps for a successful cloud migration strategy, discuss different types of cloud data migrations and look into compelling reasons why you should consider this approach.   

What is a Cloud Migration Strategy?

A cloud migration strategy is a plan a business organization develops to move its infrastructure's resources - such as data, services, and applications - to the cloud server.  

It's the process of migrating all digital resources from on-premise deployments or another cloud to the cloud. Cloud use has increased since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic hit, as businesses reported even more cloud usage than usual, and most companies now have at least one cloud component in their architecture.   

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Benefits of a Cloud Migration Strategy

A cloud migration strategy offers numerous benefits.

Firstly, it enhances scalability, allowing businesses to adjust resources as needed, reducing costs and ensuring optimal performance.

Secondly, it improves accessibility, enabling remote work and collaboration. Cost-efficiency is another advantage, as it eliminates the need for extensive on-premises infrastructure and maintenance. Cloud solutions offer robust security and data backup, enhancing business continuity and disaster recovery.

Furthermore, it keeps software and infrastructure up-to-date, reducing the burden of maintenance.

And lastly, a well-planned cloud migration strategy fosters innovation, enabling organizations to focus on core competencies and adapt to market changes swiftly.

6 Types of Data Migration to the Cloud

  1. Type #1: Rehost
  2. Type #2: Repurchase
  3. Type #3: Refactor
  4. Type #4: Replatform
  5. Type #5: Retire
  6. Type #6: Retain

Before we get to the actual step-by-step strategy, there are several main types you should decide between.   

Type #1: Rehost

Also known as the "lift and shift" approach, rehosting entails copying the existing infrastructure directly to the cloud.  

This technique is the best fit for smaller firms with simple workloads still figuring out their long-term objectives for services and scalability. It's also perfect for businesses whose infrastructure is highly reliant on virtual computers.  

The issue with rehosting is that it evades the numerous benefits of adopting cloud-native technology, particularly its flexibility. As a migration strategy, cloud hosting requires the least time to implement. However, it may be costly in the long term, mainly if the organization was mostly bare metal, to begin with.  

Rehost is advisable if you are:  

  • New to the cloud tech  
  • Migrating a large enterprise  
  • Migrating with a strict deadline   

Type #2: Repurchase

As parts of legacy architecture (such as in-house customer relationship management (CRM)) may become complex and expensive, scaling up can become impractical.  

Moving your tech features entirely to an existing cloud solution, such as Salesforce's cloud-based CRM system, makes sense in such circumstances. The Repurchase technique may prove cost-effective if the old system has become genuinely unmanageable.  

This strategy's issue is that employees and end users may need to be educated to use a new third-party system, which costs time and resources.  

Use Repurchase in case:  

  • You are replacing software for standard functions like finance, accounting, CRM, HRM, ERP, email, and so on  
  • Your legacy app is not compatible with the cloud   

Type #3: Refactor

The refactoring technique effectively involves rewriting the entire infrastructure from the ground up.  

Enterprises that want to take advantage of everything the cloud offers - such as serverless computing and auto-scaling – often opt for this type. This technique makes sense when programmers and leaders re-architect existing code and frameworks.  

Refactoring enables the company to reap the full benefits of the cloud. Needless to say, rewriting an entire system from the ground up takes time and money. Refactoring is the most expensive technique, but it will pay off handsomely in the long term.  

Using refactor is beneficial of:  

  • There is a significant business drive to add more scalability, speed, and performance  
  • An on-premise app is not compatible with the cloud   

Type #4: Replatform

Replatforming is sometimes referred to as the 'move and improve' technique. It entails making minimum adjustments to prepare for the cloud move, including provisions to facilitate scalability.  

This strategy suits enterprises that have already decided to scale up their solutions and wish to try out cloud performance. However, the issue with re-platforming is that it sometimes fails to take advantage of all of the cloud's capabilities.  

Use Replatform if you wish to:  

  • Migrate on a tight schedule  
  • Use the benefits of the cloud without refactoring the app  
  • Migrate complex on-premises apps with minor tweaks for cloud benefits  

Type #5: Retire

Large organizations often uncover infrastructure components that have become obsolete or will become insignificant when migrated to the cloud.  

These modules are not just a needless expense; they may also be a security risk. In these cases, retiring these components is better than moving them to the cloud. Retiring the proper modules saves money while also increasing cybersecurity 

Use Retire if:  

  • An app is redundant or obsolete  
  • A legacy app is not compatible with the cloud   

Type #6: Retain

Sometimes one or more existing infrastructure elements are incompatible with market cloud platforms. This generally manifests as data that cannot be moved for regulatory reasons or architecture that was only recently built with additional capital.  

In such circumstances, retaining these components on-premises makes economic and operational sense.  

Organizations are rarely able to keep their whole infrastructure on-premise. They typically migrate to a hybrid cloud environment. An organization does not have to use only one technique. Most firms use these tactics to migrate successfully to the cloud.  

Use Retain if:  

  • A legacy app is incompatible with the cloud  
  • You decide to revisit an app at a later stage  
  • You adopt a hybrid cloud model during migration   
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8 Essential Steps for a Successful Cloud Migration Strategy

  1. Step #1: Know Your IT Portfolio and Its Assets  
  2. Step #2: Make a Plan  
  3. Step #3: Choose the Best Cloud Migration Partner  
  4. Step #4: Prepare Your Staff and Existing IT Infrastructure  
  5. Step #5: Use Automated Tools and Managed Services  
  6. Step #6: Track and Monitor the Migration Process 
  7. Step #7: Test and Measure Your Migration
  8. Step #8: Think Long-Term

Once you have decided, you can begin the process by closely following the steps below.   

Step #1: Know Your IT Portfolio and Its Assets  

The portfolio discovery and planning process allows you to delve deeper into the existing environment by analyzing each asset's cost, performance, size, complexity, and internal dependencies.  

You can use this evaluation to create a business case and key performance indicators (KPIs) for each asset to monitor its performance during and after migration.  

You can also use automated discovery methods like AWS Discovery Service to obtain information about on-premise data centers and applications easily.   

Step #2: Make a Plan  

Keep business goals and technological issues in mind when establishing your migration strategy. A step-by-step plan organized around each of the six types of cloud migrations mentioned previously can go a long way. Start small with the least crucial tasks and work your way up.   

Step #3: Choose the Best Cloud Migration Partner  

An experienced IT solutions and services company can bring invaluable insights and best practices to your cloud migration strategy. Pick a cloud consulting company with a diversified portfolio and managerial and technical expertise. Your cloud supplier must understand all the aspects of your cloud migration, including cost, tools, compliance, security, governance, and cloud-skill requirements.   

Step #4: Prepare Your Staff and Existing IT Infrastructure  

Training is essential for allowing employees to better adapt to new ways of doing things and facilitating a smoother transition to cloud-based systems. You can improve clarity and openness by defining roles, responsibilities, and reporting and management standards.  

Preparing the existing IT infrastructure by optimizing the network connection, organizing resources, managing access, and building compliance, governance, and security system is also critical.  

Step #5: Use Automated Tools and Managed Services  

Identifying repeating patterns is one of the most efficient strategies to transfer to the cloud. Automation speeds up the process, frees employees' time to focus on other essential activities, and decreases downtime.   

Step #6: Track and Monitor the Migration Process  

It's time to use the KPIs you specified at the beginning by measuring and monitoring the process. These measurements enable the identification and correction of performance issues during the migration.  

Timely response to any issues that may arise is crucial for its success.   

Step #7: Test and Measure Your Migration  

The process does not end with the move itself. It is only completed when you test all the services and apps on the new cloud and retire all the components from the previous arrangement.   

Step #8: Think Long-Term  

After testing, you should use the KPIs developed during the goal-setting phase to assess short and long-term success.  

Also, keep up with the latest developments. As previously said, some businesses migrate to the cloud to make their infrastructure more future-proof. This is because cloud providers are constantly introducing new services. It is the organization's responsibility to stay current on new features and upgrade when a need arises.   

5 Cloud Migration Strategies

  1. Rehosting (Lift and Shift): This strategy involves moving existing applications and data to the cloud with minimal changes. It's a quick and cost-effective approach, but it may not fully leverage cloud benefits. The infrastructure remains largely the same, and optimization is limited.
  2. Replatforming (Lift, Tinker, and Shift): Here, organizations make slight modifications to applications for better compatibility with cloud services. This approach offers a balance between speed and optimization, enhancing some cloud features while retaining familiarity with existing systems.
  3. Refactoring (Re-architecting): This strategy involves significant code and architecture changes to fully leverage cloud-native features. It maximizes the benefits of the cloud, such as scalability and cost-efficiency, but requires more time and resources.
  4. Rearchitecting (Rebuild): In this approach, applications are rebuilt from the ground up to be entirely cloud-native. While resource-intensive, it delivers the highest level of cloud optimization, agility, and scalability.
  5. Retire or Replace: Some legacy applications may no longer be necessary, and they can be retired, saving costs and streamlining operations. Alternatively, businesses can replace them with off-the-shelf cloud-based solutions.

6 Reasons Why You Should Migrate Your Data to the Cloud

  1. Make Your Business Future-Proof  
  2. Cut Down Expenses  
  3. Ensure Security and Compliance
  4. Boost Your Business Agility  
  5. Simplify End-of-Life Management
  6. Streamline Operations with Data Center Consolidation

While reasons for migrating IT components to the cloud differ from company to company, there are several notable advantages to doing so that all organizations can enjoy.   

1. Make Your Business Future-Proof  

Technology advances at a breakneck pace. What appears to be cutting-edge gear and software today could become obsolete anytime.  

Legacy infrastructure cannot use the most recent market technology, leaving businesses behind their competition.  

Cloud computing fosters innovation, which distinguishes a company from its competitors and sets it up for the future. This is where the cloud comes into play. Cloud companies that offer infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are continuously upgrading to the most recent technologies. Instead of spending large amounts of money to determine whether new gear works, a company may simply test it on the cloud.  

2. Cut Down Expenses  

Cloud computing is a pay-as-you-go service. This means that you can deactivate a server, preventing resource waste whenever a server is no longer needed. It comes as no surprise that maintaining in-house servers is expensive.  

Migrating does require some initial investment. These include costs for IaaS services, relocating resources, and training workers for cloud-related usage and administration.  

Furthermore, until the migration is finished and tested, both the on-premise and new cloud setups must operate in tandem to maintain business continuity. You may require a hybrid configuration in some instances.   

3. Ensure Security and Compliance  

When transferring data over the internet, you must address security precautions such as encryption. You need to use physical security and digital locks if the data is transported via a physical hard disk. Sensitive client data is kept in a separate location.  

Aside from fundamental security, you should also consider regulatory compliance. Global, national, and regional privacy regulations differ. Your company should consider each of these factors while selecting a cloud provider and during the migration.  

Enterprises might keep critical data on-premises while moving the rest to the cloud to reduce security and compliance risks. Some businesses choose a cloud provider with adjustable server locations, ensuring a server is geographically closer and accurately housed.   

4. Boost Your Business Agility  

Having access to on-demand IT resources is vital to stay ahead of competitors.    

Cloud computing enables your organization to rapidly scale resources up or down, depending on business needs. Flexibility allows businesses to adapt to changing circumstances and seize new opportunities quickly.    

5. Simplify End-of-Life Management 

Companies don't have to worry about application life cycles or contract terms.    

In the cloud, applications can be updated and maintained without costly infrastructure upgrades.    

Cloud providers are responsible for managing end-of-life concerns, ensuring organizations always work with the latest technology.    

6. Streamline Operations with Data Center Consolidation  

Companies can consolidate operations and distribute access to cloud services as needed. Cloud migration streamlines operations and reduces costs associated with maintaining multiple data centers.    

Cloud providers typically have multiple data center locations, ensuring services are always available even during a data center outage.    

5 Common Challenges You May Face While Migrating to the Cloud

  1. Lack of a Comprehensive Plan
  2. Managing Complex Existing Infrastructure 
  3. Ensuring a Smooth and Timely Migration Process
  4. Controlling Costs
  5. Addressing Data Security and Compliance Risks

While the benefits of migrating to the cloud are undeniable, the process has challenges. Here are some cloud migration challenges your organization may face when moving to the cloud:   

1. Lack of a Comprehensive Plan 

Without a clear and comprehensive plan, your company may experience budgeting, timelines, and resource allocation issues.    

A detailed plan outlining each process step can help mitigate these risks and ensure a successful migration.    

2. Managing Complex Existing Infrastructure  

Organizations with complex existing infrastructure may need help moving to the cloud.    

Migrating and integrating legacy systems with existing systems can be time-consuming and costly, requiring careful planning and execution.      

3. Ensuring a Smooth and Timely Migration Process  

A successful cloud migration process requires careful coordination and management to ensure it's completed on time and without disrupting business operations.    

Ensuring all systems are tested and configured before cloud migration can help avoid unexpected downtime.      

4. Controlling Costs  

Migrating can be expensive, particularly for companies with large amounts of data and complex infrastructure.   

That’s why you should carefully assess costs and choose the right cloud migration strategies to avoid overspending and ensure a successful cloud migration.      

5. Addressing Data Security and Compliance Risks  

Data security and compliance risks are significant when moving to the cloud.    

Your company’s sensitive data must be appropriately protected, and compliance with relevant regulations must be maintained throughout the process.    

Failing to address these risks can result in data breaches, fines, and reputational damage.    

Cloud Migration Strategy FAQs

1. How Does a Cloud Migration Strategy Work?  

Cloud migration strategies outline moving applications, data, and other IT resources from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based environments.    

The strategy typically includes an analysis of the existing IT environment, identifying applications and data that can be migrated to the cloud, selecting a cloud provider, developing a migration plan, and executing the plan.      

2. Why Use a Cloud Migration Strategy?  

A strategy provides a roadmap for the process, helps to mitigate risks and challenges, and ensures that the cloud migration process is completed on time and within budget.    

A well-developed strategy also helps avoid common mistakes and ensures your organization can take full advantage of the benefits of cloud computing.    

3. How Long Does a Cloud Migration Typically Take?  

The duration of a cloud migration varies depending on the complexity of the company's IT infrastructure, the amount of data to be migrated, and the chosen cloud migration strategy.   

A simple migration of a small amount of data may take a few days, while a large-scale migration of complex infrastructure could take several months.   

Carefully plan and execute the process to ensure it is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.   

Cloud Migration Strategy Takeaways

Migrating an organization’s entire IT or cloud infrastructure and software development can be a daunting and intimidating feat. That is why preparing and taking all the necessary precautions before beginning the procedure is vital.  

These pre-strategy steps should begin by carefully evaluating your business needs and one of six possible types of cloud migration:  

  • Rehosting  
  • Repurchasing  
  • Refactoring  
  • Replatforming  
  • Retiring  
  • Retaining  

Then, you can move on to the implementation of the actual cloud migration strategy steps, which consist of:  

  • Account for your IT portfolio  
  • Plan ahead  
  • Choose a cloud migration partner  
  • Educate your staff  
  • Use automation  
  • Track your progress  
  • Test your migration  
  • Stay on top of trends

If you're thinking about cloud migration, it's often beneficial to partner with a reputable software development agency that specializes in cloud solutions.

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