Cloud migration is the process of moving digital business operations into the cloud to leverage the advantages delivered by a successful digital transformation. Cloud migration is like a physical move, except it involves moving data, applications, and IT processes from some data centres to other data centres, instead of packing up and moving physical goods. Much like a move from a smaller office to a larger one, cloud migration requires quite a lot of preparation and advance work, but usually, it ends up being worth the effort, resulting in cost savings and greater flexibility.
In addition, as cloud resources have become broadly and easily accessible. It is responsible for many organizations to proactively evolve their IT infrastructure to support continued success in increasingly competitive markets. Sometimes, by maintaining an unoptimized status quo, organizations can inadvertently hamper innovation and squander internal capital, thereby increasing exposure to market disruptors and aggressive competition.
However, a well-executed digital transformation should do much more than keep you competitive. It should position you to excel by untethering IT staff from low value, labour-intensive tasks, allowing them to focus on innovation and high-impact projects. Also, replacing (or supplementing) legacy systems with modern technologies can reduce complexity and cost, while also positioning you to leverage cloud-native tools to achieve enhanced business intelligence and key strategic insights. Finally, with nearly unlimited scalability at your fingertips, applications can scale up and scale down on-demand, while you pay only for what you consume. This allows you to maintain a continuously right-sized cost profile, while also accelerating development and reducing procurement cycles. Each of these benefits can yield tremendous value to your business which is the goal of a digital transformation. Unfortunately, while many organizations are ready to embrace moving to cloud, it can be challenging to devise an effective migration strategy.
Types of Cloud Workload Migrations
A migration typically includes a mix of workload (server operating system), storage, network, and miscellaneous hardware migrations and relocations. We’ll focus on the migration of on-premises data centre infrastructure. However, similar guidance would also apply to infrastructure hosted elsewhere (e.g. in public clouds or in an on-premises colocation facility).
Types of migrations in a migration initiative may include:
- Virtual-to-Virtual Relocation
- Virtual-to-Cloud Relocation
- Physical to Virtual Relocation
- Physical to Cloud Relocation
Benefits of Cloud Migration
There are many problems that moving to the cloud can solve. Here are some typical scenarios that will benefit from cloud migration:
- Your application is experiencing increased traffic and it’s becoming difficult to scale resources on the fly to meet the increasing demand.
- You need to reduce operational costs while increasing the effectiveness of IT processes.
- Your clients require fast application implementation and deployment and thus want to focus more on development while reducing infrastructure overhead.
- Your clients want to expand their business geographically, but you suspect that setting up a multi-region infrastructure – with all the associated maintenance, time, human, and error control effort – is going to be a challenge.
- It’s becoming more difficult and expensive to keep up with your growing storage needs.
- You’d like to build a widely distributed development team. Cloud computing environments allow remotely located employees to access applications and work via the internet.
- You need to establish a disaster recovery system but setting it up for an entire data center could double the cost. It would also require a complex disaster recovery plan. Cloud disaster recovery systems can be implemented much more quickly and give you much better control over your resources.
- Tracking and upgrading underlying server software is a time consuming, yet an essential process that requires periodic and sometimes immediate upgrades. In some cases, a cloud provider will take care of this automatically. Some cloud computing models similarly handle many administrative tasks such as database backup, software upgrades, and periodic maintenance.
- Cloud computing shifts IT expenditure to a pay-as-you-go model, which is an attractive benefit, especially for startups.
Risks of Cloud Migration
While your specific environment will determine the risks that apply to you, there are some general drawbacks associated with cloud migrations that you will want to consider:
- If your application stores and retrieves very sensitive data, you might not be able to maintain it in the cloud. Similarly, compliance requirements could also limit your choices.
- If your existing setup is meeting your needs, doesn’t demand much maintenance, scaling, and availability, and your customers are all happy, why mess with it?
- If some of the technology you currently rely on is proprietary, you may not be legally able to deploy it to the cloud.
- Some operations might suffer from added latency when using cloud applications over the internet.
- If your hardware is controlled by someone else, you might lose some transparency and control when debugging performance issues.
- Your particular application design and architecture might not completely follow distributed cloud architectures. Therefore, may require some amount of modification before moving them to the cloud.
- Cloud platform or vendor lock-in: Once in, it might be difficult to leave or move between platforms.
- Downtime. It happens to everyone, but you might not want to feel like your availability is controlled by someone else.
Cloud migration decision is something that you can either love or hate, but you cannot ignore it. A thorough understanding of the cloud environment is necessary so that the migration decision can be made. Many organizations are migrating to the cloud every day. But there are other organizations that are hesitant and unsure to take the plunge. If you are not able to make up your mind, you must focus on the high-level elements which comprise of the benefits and risks.