A recent report by Flexera found that 94% of respondents were using some form of cloud services. This includes organizations that have fully moved to the cloud as well as those taking advantage of choice services. If you’re ready to join the organizations that are already benefiting from cloud services, read on.
In this article, you’ll learn why organizations choose to move to the cloud. You’ll also learn the basic steps needed to plan for successful cloud migration.
Why Migrate to the Cloud?
There is a variety of reasons that organizations move to the cloud but the most commonly cited is cost savings. Cloud services typically enable you to store data and host workloads on a pay-for-use basis. This means you are only paying for the resources you use with no upfront investment or maintenance of infrastructure. For many organizations, this can grant considerable cost and time savings.
Additional benefits of moving to the cloud include:
- Access to enterprise-grade infrastructure and security
- Increased availability and data resiliency
- Scalability and flexibility of services
- Opportunities for innovation with cloud-native technologies
- Global accessibility and support
Migrating to the Cloud
When choosing to migrate to the cloud, there are several aspects you need to consider. These aspects form the basis of your migration plan and must be included to ensure a successful migration.
Choose Your Infrastructure Type
To start, you need to choose the type of services you wish to use. Simply wanting to integrate existing cloud applications into current workflows leads to a very different choice than moving to the cloud completely.
Your options are summarized in the table below.
|Infrastructure Type||Services Provided||Best For||Example Providers|
|Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)||Networking, storage, servers, and virtualization||Hosting existing applications and data.
provides more control over cloud services and is the most flexible option.
|AWS, Azure, and GCP|
|Platform as a Service (PaaS)||Same as IaaS, plus OS and virtual networking
|Reducing time to market.
You can quickly build and deploy applications on PaaS infrastructures but have less control and flexibility.
|Heroku, Google App Engine, and AWS Elastic Beanstalk|
|Software as a Service (SaaS)||Same as PaaS, plus applications||Ready to use services.
You use SaaS as-is and can usually only make minor modifications. You only control data and access.
|Salesforce, Google G Suite, NetSuite|
Choose Your Cloud Type
Once you understand the type of cloud services you wish to use, you can begin choosing what type of cloud these services should be hosted on.
Your choices for cloud hosts are:
- Public—your data is hosted on Internet-accessible resources that you share with other tenants. These clouds provide the cheapest resources but may provide less security.
- Private—your data is hosted on Internet-accessible or on-premise resources that are dedicated to you. Private clouds can be housed and managed by vendors or in-house. These clouds are often more expensive than public clouds but allow for greater customization to your needs.
- Hybrid—your data is hosted on a combination of on-premise and cloud resources. Hybrid clouds enable you to retain high-priority data and workloads on-premise while still gaining access to cloud benefits.
- Multi-cloud—your data is hosted on multiple cloud resources. Multi-clouds can include multiple public clouds, multiple private clouds, or a combination of both. Multi-clouds enable you to avoid vendor lock-in and to maximize benefits and services but are more complex to manage.
Part of choosing cloud-type is choosing a provider. If you want to use a public or third-party managed private cloud, you need to choose a vendor. This decision is influenced by what infrastructure type you want to use so both cloud type and infrastructure should be decided before contracting a vendor.
Determine Your Migration Strategy
After you have decided on a cloud infrastructure and type you can begin planning how to move data and workloads to the cloud. This requires understanding what you’re moving and determining compatibility with the cloud.
For each item you wish to move, you can consider the following strategies:
- Lift and shift—applications and data are moved as-is to cloud resources. This strategy is often used for legacy applications that are vital but that you can’t or don’t want to alter.
- Refactoring—applications are modified to take advantage of cloud-native benefits. This typically involves containerizing applications and requires programming expertise.
- Rearchitecting—applications are redesigned to be fully cloud-native. This strategy requires significant time, programming expertise, and knowledge of application structure.
- Replacing—existing on-premise applications are retired and replaced with applications and services that are already cloud-native. This is the easiest strategy but can be costly.
With a migration strategy in place, you can begin deciding on the timing of your migration. You can either move all of your data and workloads in one go or you can do a phased migration.
Moving all at once can help constrain downtime and speed transition but requires significant effort and planning. If you have applications or data that you can’t move piecemeal, this method is your best option.
Phased migration enables you to gradually transition workloads and data. It provides you with an opportunity to refine settings and configuration as you go. It can also help you avoid downtime if you run mirrored workloads and gradually transfer traffic from on-premise to the cloud.
Move Your Data and Workloads
When moving workloads, you can either handle the migration entirely on your own or you can use support services. There is a variety of third-party vendors that can manage your migration for you. Many cloud providers also offer support or tooling to help ease migration. For example, Azure offers a storage service that enables you to easily transfer and access hybrid workloads.
Before you begin your transfer, make sure to create detailed guides to the actual migration process. These guides should specify who is responsible for migration and cloud configuration tasks, what to do in case issues arise, and the exact order of operations. Once you have a clearly defined plan in place, you can proceed with your migration.
Verify Your Migration and Configurations
As a final step after migration, before your cloud goes live, you need to verify that all data and applications transferred with fidelity. Make sure that your services are working properly and as expected. Test and refine the performance of your services and resources before fully transferring workloads. Finally, verify and test your security configurations and user access. This is particularly important if you are using a public or otherwise Internet-accessible cloud.
Migrating to the cloud can provide you significant benefits. It can enable you to reduce costs, access innovative technologies, and provide greater access to your customers. However, migration requires work and planning to be successful.
Hopefully, this article helped you understand the steps needed for cloud migration. Once you are ready to migrate, you can follow this basic guide to plan your own strategy. Remember, the planning step is the most important step in ensuring a successful migration.
Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Imperva, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership.