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Beginners Guide to Cloud Migrations

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  • November 7 2022
  • 5 min read
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According to the research conducted by Techstrong Research, more than half of all organisations have migrated to the cloud after the onslaught of Covid-19 pandemic. Many of them are observing that it isn’t what they dreamed it would be.

Mckinsey stated in one of their surveys that 80% of CIOs have not reached the level of agility and business benefits that they are looking for.

Moreover, businesses that shifted the majority of their workloads to the cloud are still within the same range of agility as their fellow competitors that are making the transition slower than them.

For analysing and articulating your cloud maturity, there has to be a plan in place for both covering the technicalities behind such a migration and also receiving a buy-in from the rest of your team. Here’s our guide to cloud migration to understand this subject in-depth.

Cloud migration: Explained

Simply put, the process of moving digital assets comprising workloads, data and applications to a public or private cloud environment is referred to as a cloud migration. Here, you primarily look at decisions like how you plan to use, maintain, optimise and manage your cloud once the digital migration is complete.

In other words, when an organisation moves some of all of its data center capabilities into the cloud for running on the cloud-based infrastructure provided by a public cloud service provider such as AWS, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure.

Benefits of Cloud migration

It depends on the platform you choose to work with to get the right kind of benefits out of cloud migration. For instance, you will experience top notch security and top of the line performance if you migrate to the managed private cloud platform.

Or, if you migrate to a public cloud platform, microservices and flexibility would be an added advantage.

Nevertheless, whatever platform you choose, benefits surrounding migration from on-premises environment to a hosted one include:

Cost-effective

You are actually moving from a capex to an opex model while doing a cloud migration. That means, you are doing away with expensive, legacy infrastructure thereby cutting down costs on IT operations.

This is because cloud providers offer managed services that lower your operational overhead and streamline support and maintenance activities such as upgrades.

This helps you save a lot of money or even reinvest your capex budgets into business-critical initiatives for business expansion and growth. Companies can devote more resources to innovation by developing new products or improving existing products.

Improved performance and scalability

In traditional IT environments with on-premises setup, organisations have to purchase and set up physical servers. In addition, they need to arrange for the software licences, storage and network equipment to scale up business services.

Applications and websites hosted in the cloud can easily scale to serve more users or higher throughput and can function in geographical locations that are close to end users. This minimises network latency.

Enhancements on productivity

Moving to the cloud turns out to be the good riddance of operational burdens for the IT team. They can turn their expertise toward building what’s next. And, for the end users, cloud gives them enhanced functionality by enabling them to do their jobs quicker and with more efficacy.

Innovation enhancements

The IT team enjoys greater agility and get to deliver new functionality to users faster. Implementing disruptive technologies like AI, IoT and machine learning also becomes easier and drives innovation. Executing such resource-intensive technologies on legacy hardware is both expensive and an arduous task.

Improved digital experience

Users get to access cloud services and data from anywhere in the world. This leads to digital transformation and provides a great experience to the customers and modern, flexible tools to the employees.

When and how to opt for cloud migration

The very first thing to consider is workload selection. For a large project, there is a high probability that you will face scope creep and long timeframes. So, begin the project with a small, impactful workload. Then, move on to the intricate ones once you have gained some cloud migration experience.
 
Follow the following steps to analyse and prioritise workloads for cloud migration:

  • Do a thorough auditing on the environment's metrics for the computing needs, performance output, response times and other related factors that are essential for business operations. This will help in establishing a baseline and build KPIs for the incoming platform.
  • Gather key information about your workloads like physical and virtual server configurations, network topology, compliance requirements, data and application dependencies, geographic constraints and user needs. This in turn will assist with the selection process of the right cloud platform for your environment.
  • Classify the workloads in the order of migration intricacy and figure out which ones can be easily migrated without the need for replatforming or refactoring. Prioritise the easy ones to start with for cloud migration.

What is the right cloud deployment model

Once you are done identifying your candidate workloads, align their requirements with their best-fit cloud platform as there are multiple cloud types to consider.

  • Public cloud: This is where infrastructure is shared by multiple businesses and a service provider owns and operates it. This is great for those managing unpredictable traffic and maximising cost savings.
  • Private cloud: This is where infrastructure is dedicated in its entirety to your business and gives the option of customising your compute, storage and networking. If you need greater levels of control and security, this is for you.
  • Hybrid cloud: This is where both public and private cloud environments are connected. This gives you the control of the private cloud for your confidential data in addition to flexibility and cost savings of the public cloud for your public-facing operations.
  • Multicloud: This is where your on-premises data centre, private clouds, hyperscale clouds, cloud-based SaaS application and even colocation environments all come together to create a unique blend for your unique multicloud.

The perfect strategy for performing cloud migration

Gartner has identified ‘5R’s for organisations looking to migrate to the cloud with the best possible technique.

  • Rehost: This is also known as ‘lift and shift’. It involves using infrastructure as a service. Here, you simply redeploy existing data and application on the cloud server.
  • Refactor: This is also known as ‘life, tinker, and shift’. Here, you tweak and optimise your application for the cloud.
  • Revise: This requires building upon the previous strategies and involves significant alterations to the architecture and code of the systems being migrated to the cloud.
  • Rebuild: This takes the Revise approach one step further by removing the existing code base and replacing it with a new one.
  • Replace: This one is a solution to the challenges that inform the Rebuild approach and involves migrating to a third party, prebuilt application provided by the vendor.

The 4-step cloud migration process

  1. Map your entire environment, capture everything including dependencies, services, application, physical and virtual server configurations, shadow IT implementations, and third party resources. Otherwise all these could make the cloud migration process difficult if not properly considered.
  2. Identify cloud-ready candidate applications, database, storage and physical and virtual servers in addition to compiling SLAs, dependencies, user needs and compliance. Prepare contingency and roll back plans. Assemble resources for migration and ongoing maintenance. Prepare a document jotting down a preliminary migration path for candidate elements.
  3. Resolve issues that came to light during design and finalise a migration team including both technical and business members. Schedule a pilot migration in a non production environment. Develop a runbook that documents the process.
  4. Schedule the migration and consider scheduling during a slow period like during the weekends, after midnight, holidays etc. for the least amount of  outage or performance issue during the migration.

Challenges of cloud migration

  • Cloud migration will bring with it new efficiencies and processes around the organisation  that users will have to adapt to.
  • Include any contract penalties, building leases or hardware removal costs into your migration plan as the legacy elements will need to be decommissioned.
  • Cloud environments require different skill sets than an on-premises or data centre one. So you will have to reskill your existing team or recruit resources.
  • Disruptions like data loss, outages or performance degradation is a possibility. So, planning the cloud migration during low-traffic business periods is a must.

Conclusion

As organisations continue to increase their cloud investment to propel business growth, cloud adoption has become instrumental to IT optimisation. Cloud migration enables companies to be more agile, enhance efficacy, and offer better digital customer experiences. Today the need for stability and flexibility has never been more necessary.
 
For businesses that are concerned about disruption to their operations, adopting a cloud infrastructure doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition as they can do strategic planning for driving business growth. Organisations can reap the benefits from cloud technologies while continuing to run assets on existing on-premises environments by incorporating applications into a hybrid cloud model.
 
The results of IT optimisation including acceleration adoption, cost-effectiveness and scalability will act as a catalyst to the business innovation and digital transformation. Adopting cloud with a phased approach and carefully considering which application and workloads to migrate can help organisations reach greater heights without causing disruptions to their business operations.
 

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