With almost all companies, the main reason why they decide to move to the cloud is the speed and agility with which they can operate. Cloud computing allows you to make use of thousands of servers within a matter of minutes. There are numerous cloud computing services available nowadays, including everything from storage, databases, and computing to data analytics continuous integration and even artificial intelligence. Hence, the implementation of an idea can be done within a few seconds instead of months.
Apart from the speed of operation, there are plenty of other reasons why companies choose to migrate to the cloud. Some migrate primarily to increase their workforce productivity. It is common to see companies with data center rationalization or consolidation projects migrate, particularly the ones preparing for divestiture or acquisition. Sometimes, cloud migration can be a part of a large digital transformation program, which involves companies completely reimagining their business with the use of modern technology. Of course, the reduction in cost is also one of the reasons behind cloud migration.
Defining Cloud Migration
The process that involves companies moving their applications and data to the cloud from their premises is known as cloud migration. This process can involve moving all the services and applications at once. Companies can also opt for a slower approach with some applications remaining on-premise while others are moved to the cloud. Such an approach is known as a hybrid migration. Regardless of the approach, there are many benefits that cloud data warehouses provide over an on-premise solution.
A company can perform different types of cloud migrations. The most common model adopted by companies is transferring applications and data from the on-premises local data center to the public cloud. Another type of cloud migration entails moving of application and data from one platform or provider of cloud to another. This model is called cloud-to-cloud migration. There is another type of migration, knowns as uncloud or declouding or reverse cloud migration. It involves applications and data being moved back to the local data center from the cloud.
Reasons for migrating to the cloud
Companies are always faced with the challenge to grow their information infrastructure constantly. However, with migration to the cloud, a value is added to their approach. Some major benefits of cloud migration include:
- Speed and agility: Cloud allows companies to procure storage space or new inventory within a few days, or maybe even hours. Hence, businesses are provided the agility, which helps them to be responsive to the rapidly evolving technological environment
- Efficient operations: Cloud solutions offer all the benefits with a level of simplicity, which increases the productivity of teams. Particularly, in the case of distributed teams, regional restrictions and dependencies are removed by the cloud, allowing for a collaborative environment for the team.
- Security: All the major cloud solutions these days come with robust and safe security programs in-built. Cloud security is further optimized with visibility and security analytics provided across the entire cloud platform.
- Bundled services: The package solutions offered by cloud providers come with features like automatic logging, continuous deployment, monitor and disaster recovery.
- High availability of resources: The cloud computing environment comes with the assurance of no-downtime, which allows resources to be available constantly. Better resource availability also results in customer satisfaction and better asset utilization.
- Cost-effective: As compared to the native data centres, the unit cost of cloud servers is considerably reduced at larger volumes. Companies can also opt for the flexible option of pay as you use model. It allows them to scale down or up as per the requirement of business and effectively handle seasonal demands.
Strategies of Cloud Migration
The following five migration strategies serve as a good starting point:
- Rehost: It uses IaaS (infrastructure as a service) model. Also known as “lift and shift”, rehosting simply involves taking the data applications that already exist and redeploying these applications on cloud servers. Such a strategy is ideal for beginners who are not completely accustomed to the cloud environment. It is also suited for systems where modification of code is very hard.
- Refactor: It employs the PaaS (platform as a service) model. Also known as “lift, tinker and shift”, refactoring primarily involve making certain changes and optimizations for the cloud. The core architecture of the applications remains unchanged, although they use cloud-based tools and frameworks, allowing developers to make total utilization of the potential of the cloud.
- Revise: It is an approach that involves making coding and architectural changes prior to cloud migration, thus adding a layer on top of the previous layers. The goal is to take total advantage of cloud services by optimizing the application, thus requiring major code changes. Implementing such a strategy would require advanced knowledge.
- Replace: This strategy involves migration from an existing native application to a vendor-based third-party application. Everything will be completely new, although the existing migration data has to be migrated to the new system.
Challenges Associated with Migrating to the Cloud
While there are many benefits associated with cloud migration, it can still be a complicated process. Moving to the cloud can turn out to be hard if the company is large and its present infrastructure is complex. Since it is a big change, there are bound to be certain challenges involved with the process:
- The entire data model needs to be replanned: It is highly likely that you will be required to change your data model. Different schema types are supported by different cloud data warehouses. Data types can be different as well. For instance, semi-structured data can be supported with the use of an array, object, and variant
- Security planning: One of the primary concerns is the maintenance of secure data when it is moved to the cloud since there is less control. Security is a matter of concern both after and during migration. Furthermore, there can be compliance requirements with sensitive data, which may not be supported through the migration process.
- Stored procedures: For those who use stored procedures, it is worth noting that cloud environments don’t usually support such a solution. It can be a challenge to move the stored procedures to a cloud data warehouse.
Considerations to Make During Cloud Migration
If you want to be successful with cloud migration, the following are the major areas that need to be considered and addressed:
- Deploy a migration architect: The role of a migration architect is to plan and complete all aspects of migration. There are many technical plans and decisions that have to be made throughout the migration process and having a migration architect can be critical to make sure the project is successful.
- Choose your cloud integration level: There are two ways of migration your application to the cloud from on-premise data centre- deep cloud integration and shallow cloud integration. With deep cloud integration, the application is modified during the process to utilize cloud capabilities. On the other hand, with shallow cloud integration, there are limited or no changes made to the servers to run the application in a new environment,
- Select multi-cloud or single cloud: Decide whether you wish to go for a single cloud provider or multiple cloud providers. When you take services of a single cloud provider, the application you migrate will be optimized for that single environment. With the multi-cloud option, there are different models you can opt for:
- Different applications in different cloud
- Splitting application across different cloud provider
- Building an application that is cloud agnostic
- Establish KPIs: KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are metrics about your service or application that show a measure of its performance. KPIs might already be defined but it may change if the service or application is migrated to the cloud.
- Baselining: This is a process that measures the present performance of your service or application for determining acceptable future performance. It helps in determining whether there are expected improvements in performance after migration. It can also be used for diagnosing problems that might arise during cloud migration.
- Prioritize components: You can opt to migrate your application entirely at once or one component or service at a time. For prioritizing components, you need to find the dependency between services. A monitoring application can also be used for large complex applications.
- Perform the required refactoring: Before migrating your application, you may want to work on it to make it more efficient and effective for the cloud. Refactoring of applications may be done for allowing dynamic scaling, improving resource utilization to make use of dynamic-cloud capabilities and moving to service-oriented architecture
- Have a plan for data migration: A particularly tricky aspect of cloud migration is the migration of data. The location of data can have a significant impact on application performance. You can use cloud data migration service or use a syncing mechanism between your cloud and on-premise database. Data migration is so important that it can even cause the failure of migration if proper attention is not paid to it.
- Switch over the production system: A key decision is how and when to switch to a new cloud solution from a legacy on-premise version. You can either do it all at once or gradually by parts over time. This decision depends on the architecture and complexity of your application and data.
- Recheck resource optimization: There are few things to consider even after everything is migrated to the cloud. The most important of all considerations is resource optimization. Make sure your application takes advantage of the dynamic resource allocation offered by the cloud.
Other Insights About Cloud Migration
- Digital transformation is harder than cloud migration: The basic process of cloud migration is rather simple. It barely involves making cloud instances of things in on-premise servers. However, once the cloud migration is done, the challenge is to adopt the cloud services for speed development, autonomous management of infrastructure and improving customer experience.
- It involves a cultural change: While the process of cloud migration is majorly a technological change, it involves a cultural shift as well for a lot of companies. There won’t be much productivity improvements if you keep using the same development methodology post cloud migration.
- The relation between DevOps and Cloud: DevOps practices are implemented by companies commonly for helping them move to the cloud. Interestingly, implementing DevOps practices is also a common reason for companies migrating to the cloud.
- Managing speed and stability: Companies need to make use of processes for managing and optimizing the stability and speed of cloud environments. This involves making sure there exists a parity between production and staging environments.
- Visibility of code is important for monitoring cloud applications: You need to make sure the vendor you choose for monitoring cloud applications provides code-level visibility. This is because applications are being embedded with infrastructure as code. That is why deep visibility is essential to understand the cost and health of the infrastructure.
- An assortment of cloud migration tools is available: You can always be involved with the entire migration process. There are different tools that help you discover, track and plan every step of migration. These tools can be utilized for performing migration readiness, taking inventory, building a pre-migration business case, planning data, and workload migration and validating the success of the migration.
- User experience metrics are important: A lot of times, companies are only concerned about the consumption metrics such as disk I/O and CPU usage while migrating applications to the cloud. However, the actual performance of the application is indicated by end-user experience metrics like error rate and response time.
- Save money with pre-migration instrumentation: If you want the migration process to be cost-effective, you should include instrumentation early. It can help you save a huge chunk of your overall migration costs.
- Consider cloud costs: When it comes to costs, the cloud can be cheaper or even more expensive than on-premise servers. An important thing to note is that on-premise infrastructure is considered capital expenses while cloud infrastructure is considered operating expenses. This difference can be crucial while managing accounting books.
It is essential to plan cloud migration taking all factors into consideration. The process can be tricky, so it is important to analyze beforehand. It will help you build a strong foundation and also save costs in the future.
I hope that you have a better understanding of cloud migration. Furthermore, if you want to make a career in cloud computing then feel free to enrol yourself for the AWS Certification course.