While cloud adoption has become an integral part of any business looking to keep up with the global shift towards digitization, cloud migration does not come without risks. A cloud migration strategy can help companies protect migrating digital assets—preventing loss of data, unexpected overhead, security breaches, and ensuring business continuity.
What Is Cloud Migration
Before cloud computing, organizations hosted their assets in on-premise data centers that provided the organization with maximized flexibility and security controls. However, when cloud services evolved to their modern model and started offering customized, flexible and cost-effective solutions, organizations opted out of the on-premise model in favor of the cloud.
Nowadays more than 90 percent of CIOs, worldwide, are transferring digital assets such as data and applications to a cloud environment. CIOs often build a cloud migration strategy to support the cloud migration process. A cloud migration strategy ensures the protection of migrating digital assets—which rank among the most important resources of an organization—and the successful adoption of the cloud by personnel.
Key Challenges of Moving to the Cloud
While the cloud model helps organizations reduce operational costs and risks and maximize business agility, the process of moving to the cloud contains risks and hurdles every business should be aware of. Understanding the challenges of cloud migration can help you determine what cloud environment fits your organization best and add specific mitigation controls into your migration strategy.
The following list outlines the key challenges of moving to the cloud:
- Security—migrating to the cloud can open the door to a number of security risks. Opting for a third-party cloud service provider (CSP) requires giving up control over some aspects of the security. However, you can still control the proper use of the cloud by personnel through education and clear security policies. Thus, ensuring no one on your end introduces vulnerabilities that compromise your systems.
- Vendor lock-in—can happen when a company is unable to replace a service provider due to overhead related to changing a vendor. The costs can derive from the complexity of the migration, the compatibility of the current cloud service provider (CSP) with the prospective CSP, and companies that can’t sustain the migration costs are often left dependent on the CSP. Choosing a forward-thinking CSP that promotes transparency in their policy might help prevent vendor lock-in.
- Vendor outage—when you migrate to the cloud, you often relinquish control to a third party provider. While CSP companies provide numerous benefits, relying on one CSP may interrupt with business continuity. You can mitigate dependency by building a cloud strategy that uses more than one CSP and implementing disaster recovery solutions.
7 Tips to Build a Smart Cloud Migration Plan
Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions that counter the cloud migration challenges that enable companies to custom-tailor the cloud migration strategy according to their unique needs. You can opt for a multi-cloud strategy that combines the best of all worlds—public cloud, hybrid cloud, Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), to name a few—or you can go with one solution. The following best practices can help you build a smart cloud migration plan.
Tip #1: Implement Cloud Strategies as Needed
Cloud migration has an impact on all aspects of your business. A solid cloud migration strategy should address the business, technical, and human aspects of the migration to ensure a well-rounded implementation for the long-term.
You can apply any of the following strategies and incorporate them appropriately to answer the unique needs of your business:
- Rehosting, aka the “lift and shift” strategy—helps organizations implement a quick cloud migration. The “lift” refers to removing a part of the application or all of it from one cloud environment to another with minimal application disruption. Some CSPs offer manual rehosting migration while others provide automatic migration.
- Replatform, aka the “lift, thinker, and shift” strategy—adds optimization into the “lift and shift” strategy. The “thinker” element relates to optimizing a few components of the application while leaving the core architecture the same. This simple addition to the process can lower management and operations costs and enable efficient automation.
- Repurchase, aka the “drop and shop” strategy—helps organizations to shift certain in-house digital workflows to the cloud. You can leverage a Software as a Service (SaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) solution as part of the infrastructure, switch to an email-as-a-service model, and replace your CMS platform for a new one. This strategy offers organizations the ability to scale on a budget and shift to more advanced services.
- Refactoring, aka the “re-architecting” strategy—allows organizations to recycle an ineffective application and repurpose to meet new business needs. This challenge in refactoring is the complexity of configuring the code disrupting external processes of the application. However, refactoring done right can provide higher performance and lower costs.
- Retiring—during the discovery stage, an organization may find that some of their resources are no longer useful. While some organizations may opt to refactor applications, others may choose to “retire” them. In this case, the application is turned off to save space, costs, and time.
- Retaining — if you discovered applications you want to refactor but don’t have the resources at this point, you can retain it for future use. Any application you don’t want to retire, but isn’t currently functioning can be retained. This strategy helps organizations migrate only operating resources.
Tip #2: Assess License Management Cost In Advance
Organizations often use software license management tools and processes to manage the location and usage of their software products and ensure compliance with software licenses. Before migrating, make sure your license enables cloud migration.
You might need to change the license to cover cloud environments, or discover that your CSP offer host level license for the operating system. Determine in advance whether you want to bring your own license (BYOL) or use the pay-per-use licenses offered by the CSP or marketplace.
Tip #3: Stabilize Performance Before Migrating
After analyzing the architectural needs of the organization, you might opt to start migrating. However, consider running performance checks on the applications before the transfer. Ensuring all applications are safe and run smoothly can prevent introducing vulnerabilities and bugs into the new cloud environment.
Tip #4: Set up Cloud Architecture and Access Management
Now that you have a strategy in place and all your applications are stable, you can move on to the next stage of the cloud migration—designing the cloud architecture and access management. You can achieve seamless migration by creating a map that outlines the routing of the resources to the designated areas. Set up the architecture in a way that ensures you have proper access and management controls of all the resources.
Tip #5: Monitoring and Governance
The cloud environment is dynamic and requires constant monitoring and governance—during the migration process and during adoption. Applications, systems, and networks may behave differently than expected. You can keep track of your resources and the overall performance by capturing and examining audit logs. Big data automation tools can help you efficiently manage migration and adoption and data visualization tools can provide you with valuable insights.
Tip #6: Automate Cloud Migration and Processes
Cloud migration automation can help organizations cut down the migration time by automating repeated patterns as they occur during the migration process. Automating cloud processes such as background backup can help you capture EBS snapshots for data recovery purposes. Nowadays you can find a variety of cloud automation solutions that enable workflow customization and help clear time and resources.
Tip #7: Train Your Team
Creating, implementing and managing a cloud migration strategy requires different skills and expertise then operating on-premise data centers. Before migrating to the cloud, ensure that your team has the proper training to make the changes and operate the new cloud infrastructure. Depending on the time and resources at your disposal, you might benefit from hiring a dedicated team for the migration or outsourcing the cloud services.
While the cloud offers organizations many benefits, cloud migration is a process that should not be taken lightly. A customized cloud migration strategy can help organizations mitigate the challenges and risks associated with migrating to the cloud such as data loss, overheads due to unplanned expenses, and security threats.
Nowadays organizations can choose from a variety of cloud migration tools and services and create a new cloud infrastructure that answers their unique needs. While keeping up with technological advancements has become a challenging task for most organizations, the cloud offers the agility needed to ensure scalable growth and innovation. The right cloud migration strategy can ensure business continuity for years to come.