Migration of your data from On premises Data Center to Cloud is always a tricky task. An effective migration requires good consultation and proper technical skills i.e. it requires proper strategy and planning. Migration strategy and planning must be formulated and customized to address the technical, functional and operational needs of an organization.
Based on the business need, the strategy can be broadly classified into two different categories –
a. Short-term Goals – It involves aim like decreasing hosting costs etc.
b. Longer-term Goals – It involves goal like better alignment between IT and business objectives.
Now, let’s focus on Migration Strategies first. Later, we will verify the tools that we normally use and also focus on various challenges that we often experience during migration.
Strategy 1: “Lift-and-Shift” Migration
Lift-and-shift migration is exactly what it sounds like – lifting an application environment or landscape or both out of its current hosting environment and shifting it to another environment — for example, from on-premise hosting to a public cloud.
Lift-and-shift migrations transport an exact copy of the top three layers: application, database and OS layer. Gartner refers this as re-hosting, because it involves moving your stack to a new host without making any extensive changes. This enables a rapid, cost-effective migration, minimal disruption and quick ROI.
A lift-and-shift from on-premise to cloud hosting also increases agility on simplifying it’s future transformation. This makes it a good first step for businesses with a conservative culture, or indecision about long-term cloud strategy. However, as Gartner points out, the lack of modification to your system also prevents you from harnessing certain cloud migration benefits in the short term:
“The primary advantage of IaaS — that teams can migrate systems quickly, without modifying their architecture — can be its primary disadvantage as benefits from the cloud characteristics of the infrastructure, such as scalability, will be missed”.
Companies need to weigh the quick payoff and low disruption of a lift and shift against the greater benefits of a more transformative cloud migration strategy.
Re-modeling is really a variation of lift and shift, involving some further adjustments to improve your landscape in some way. In fact, AWS Head of Strategy Stephen Orban refers to re-platforming as “lift-tinker-and-shift.” Re-modeling empowers businesses to accomplishing important goals beyond re-hosting without greatly expanding the scope of the project:
“Here you might make a few cloud (or other) optimizations in order to achieve some tangible benefit, but you aren’t otherwise changing the core architecture of the application. You may be looking to reduce the amount of time you spend managing database instances by migrating to a database-as-a-service platform… or a fully managed platform.”
For any enterprise users, re-platforming can be a useful step for accomplishing particular goals like increasing system performance or adopting a managed services.
Strategy 2: Technical Migration
Technical migration maintains existing applications, but upgrades the OS and DB to meet certain transformational goals. As a cloud migration strategy, this is often done in part to harness cloud native features such as scalability or automation, but it also has other benefits.
For example, migrating from on-premise 3-tier applications to Suite on ALB instead of web tier on the top of application layer in the public cloud gives organizations the benefit of increased performance, in addition to the benefits of the public cloud.
A technical migration can also prepare organizations for a future application migration. In the case of 3-tier applications, you can later introduce many other optimizations like CloudFormation, CloudFront, AutoScaling and migrating application to EKS and so on. This enables the organization to minimize disruption and gain experience in the cloud, which they can use to plan the next stage of their transformation.
Strategy 3: Application Migration
In an application migration, the application layer is transformed, along with the OS and DB.
There are three basic strategies for application migration:
- New system implementation
- Conversion of System
- Transforming Landscape
1. New System Implementation
New system implementation essentially means starting over. Although data is generally preserved and transferred in this process, the applications are either rebuilt from scratch by developers, or replaced with new, off-the-shelf applications.
Needless to say, this can be a complicated process. The organization needs to ensure that all functionality is replicated by the new system, along with business process flow. Old data must be audited, discarded where appropriate and reformatted to work with the new system. On top of that, there’s the requirement to retrain the team in a new suite of applications, which might function quite differently from the previous application stack.
However, in some scenarios this cloud migration strategy is the most cost effective choice. For example, if an organization is upgrading from a highly customized legacy landscape with poor documentation, auditing the code and designing an upgrade and migration path might be more costly and time-consuming than rebuilding the landscape.
New system implementation is also the correct strategy for organizations who wish to switch to a new application stack, rather than staying with their existing vendor. As Gartner points out, the benefits of a new set of cloud-native tools often outweigh the costs of adapting to a new system — particularly for development:
“Although rebuilding requires losing the familiarity of existing code and frameworks, the advantage of rebuilding an application is access to innovative features in the provider’s platform. They improve developer productivity, such as tools that allow application templates and data models to be customized, metadata-driven engines, and communities that supply pre-built components.”
2. Conversion of System
System conversion transforms your application layer, along with the DB and OS layers. The process may involve extensive changes to the way your landscape is run and managed as well as the landscape itself. Your new, upgraded system will likely have greater automation, and require different competencies than your on-premise legacy system. That may warrant a change to a managed services model, and a new approach to management emphasizing proactive planning. Properly handled, that means more consistent performance, lower cost and less downtime in the future. It can also free up your internal IT team to focus on strategic goals for your business.
Getting there is a complex process, however, which requires a reliable technical team. The system conversion should be planned carefully, with downtime scheduled to minimize disruption. You should look for a Cloud Solution Provider who can accomplish the process with a single downtime.
3. Transforming Landscape
Landscape Transformation is a more general cloud migration strategy. A landscape transformation combines a system conversion with a significant change to the way your landscape is structured.
Landscape transformation enables you to meet business goals, technical and functional upgrade requirements with a single upgrade process.
This can significantly accelerate transformation, reduce overall downtime and control costs when compared to multiple projects.
But, eventually, it requires efficient migration team.
Cloud migration challenges
Sometimes we discover that our applications don’t work well in the cloud as it did on on-premises. We need to determine the reasons for the cloud migration failure rather than discarding the cloud. It could be of various reason – poor latency, concerns about security or perhaps compliance challenges. Often, the reason is that the cloud application has a higher cost than it is anticipated, or the performance of the application.
The reality is that not all applications are a good fit for the cloud. That’s why it is so important for the IT consultants or Migration Managers to scrutinize their on-premises applications carefully when they make their initial choice about which should they move to a cloud environment.
As already discussed, having a solid cloud exit strategy, where the apps and data are moving out of the cloud, is just as important as having a good cloud migration strategy. Migration Managers need to know where the data will go, how to manage the technical transition and then how to address any business or legal issues that may arise as a result of the reverse migration.
Planning MUST be robust whether you’re moving in or out the cloud. You should always have a Plan B. Consider the changes you made prior to when you moved the application to the cloud. Moving the app back to its original platform might be one option. If those older platforms no longer exist, it will make sense to keep the application in the cloud until you can come up with an alternate solution.
A thorough cloud exit strategy should include application life cycle management. Test the apps in the new environment before the cut-over. Last, double-check the potential business and legal processes. Exiting the cloud is usually a last resort, so be sure your legal department checks your contract with the cloud provider, particularly if you transition before the contract expires.
The application does not need to return to its original state or to a private cloud. If the application requires additional infrastructure, a move to data center virtualization might be the right choice.
The most common alteration to an app that goes to the cloud tends to be horizontal scaling, the feature that lets applications access additional resources on the cloud when they need additional capacity or lets users move apps to the cloud when needed. You should cloudise the application(s) or plan to cloudise the application(s) to leverage the benefits of cloud. Cloud cost calculators and estimation tools help IT enterprises to determine the cost of a cloud configuration before the team makes the migration.
Don’t underestimate proper staff training. If staff cannot be trained prior to a cloud migration, it makes sense to hire an experienced Cloud Partner to manage the project.
Types of cloud migration tools and services
Estimating your IT workload is also a important task for any Business. Workload management undergoes a massive change when the application moves to the cloud. Cloud costs are often higher than originally anticipated. IT staff needs to change their management processes to work as well in the cloud as they do locally. This can be achieved by any number of services and tools.
Cloud Providers offer various tool to calculate and optimize your workload. Tools like Microsoft Azure Advisor and AWS Trusted Advisor can offer optimization recommendations in a cloud environment in areas such as cost, performance and security.
Cloud cost calculators and estimation tools help enterprises determine the cost of a cloud configuration before the team makes the migration.
Services are available to help users to tackle the various phases of the cloud migration process, which can be broken into major four steps: migration planning, server migration, database migration and migration of data.
Consider the following services as they apply to the aforementioned categories:
- Data transfer services
- Network transfers
- Cloud migration services and appliances.
Big Cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft and Google, offer free-trial tiers, or low-cost cloud migration services. Here are a few of the most popular.
AWS cloud migration services is AWS Migration Hub, that helps users to monitor the progress of their app migration. It displays the status of all resources involved across every AWS migration in the user’s portfolio. Another tool that we use is AWS Application Discovery Service – that maps out the planning stages of an app migration. It uses the data to provide insights about the configuration, data utilization, dependencies, memory and the resource usage.
Azure Migrate helps users to assess how your workloads would perform in an Azure public cloud — before an actual migration takes place. Another important tool is Azure Site Recovery.
Google also offers cloud migration tools. Google Cloud Storage Transfer Service is used to move data into Google Cloud Storage. You may also use it to back up your data and move it from one cloud storage entity to another. Google Transfer Appliance is an offline migration service for large data transfers.
There are a few automation options for lift-and-shift migrations, but as highlighted earlier, the most important is to understand app performance and resource requirements prior to the move. The migration of composite apps rely on the expertise of the Migration team. Some of the migration can be partially automated, but your migration team has to have that adequate knowledge to fix problems manually if it may arise.
- Google Cloud Documentation
- AWS Cloud Documentation
- Azure Documentation
- Other data source on Cloud Computing Providers
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Frequently Asked Queries
What are the cloud migration types?
The four types of cloud migration are called lift and shift, shift to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), application refactoring, and re-platforming. All these parameters are explained in detail in the article. It would probably be worth for you to read it.
What is a migration strategy?
Data migration is the process of making a copy of data and moving it from one device or system to another, preferably without disrupting or disabling active business processing. After data is transferred, processing uses the new device or system.
What are the six R’s of customer migration?
The “6 Rs” are
5. Re-purchase, and
Each potential migration type is important to consider. They are organized in terms of innovation. The higher up options usually provide the latest technology solution.
How long does cloud migration take?
It depends on your application or project. For more complex but commonly used systems for email, document management and communications, a realistic timeline to expect is 1-2 months. That same time frame applies to moving more complex server setups and configuring your data center and networks to connect to the cloud.
Should I migrate to the cloud?
Moving your data into the cloud will spare you the headache of recovering everything from scratch because the cloud can store backup copies of your data in a secure location so you can access it from the cloud. Another reason why it’s a good idea to implement a cloud strategy migration is its scalability. If you want to perform a deep dive, you may want to read our other article by clicking here.
What are the benefits of cloud migration?
Benefits of cloud computing
1. Reduced IT costs.
3. Business continuity.
4. Collaboration efficiency.
5. Flexibility of work practices.
If you want to dive deep, you may want to take a look at ‘Benefits of Cloud Computing‘
Why are enterprises moving to cloud?
Over half of responding enterprises said that the cost and effort were the primary obstacles they needed to overcome in order to re-platform successfully. In short, the majority of enterprises are moving to the cloud – usually to take advantage of the massive cost savings, along with the new features and agility.