Cloud migration. What does it mean? Cloud migration is the process of moving digital assets — like data, workloads, servers, or applications — to cloud infrastructure. Cloud migration commonly refers to moving tools and data from on-premises* data center to cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google to name a few.
Benefits of migrating to cloud
By migrating from on-premise to a cloud-based platform, enterprises can gain from the capability to provision servers more quickly and move from a capital expenditures model to an operating expenses model.
What’s the cloud migration process?
Before you start the actual migration to the cloud, you have to prepare for it. The level of preparation details depends on your business, but there are some basic steps you should take.
1. Evaluate the “why”
Why are you moving to the cloud? This calls for a formal business case! It’s important for leadership to be clear on the purpose of the migration — and set aggressive goals to drive the organization forward. This includes creating a baseline of your current IT infrastructure and forming some cloud migration key performance indicators (KPIs). These will make it possible to measure your cloud migration success.
2. Plan for what’s moving and how
Take stock of what’s in your environment, noting any inter-dependencies, then figure out what you’ll migrate first and how you’ll migrate it. Look at which applications can be moved as they are, which ones will need some (or A LOT of) reworking, and what tools are out there to simplify migration of those trickier workloads. Pick your cloud deployment models and the various tools and services out there. You’ll ideally want to figure out ROI (return on investment) for things you’ll be migrating and how long that might take to achieve.
3. Migrate applications and data
Time to roll those sleeves up and get your hands cloudy. When you’re ready to start migrating, it’s typically best to start with something not overly complex or business-critical. With any luck, that quick win will boost excitement and teach you some things along the way.
Applications should be designed, migrated, and validated using one of the migration strategies covered below. After making the move, you’ll want to test everything out and decommission your old systems. This can mean running two environments for a time, but you can keep this time in limbo from lasting too long by ensuring your cloud leaders are ready to confirm all systems are go and are able to measure your cloud success.
4. Modernize and move ahead
As you migrate applications, keep hammering away to figure out your new operating model, turn off those legacy systems, and keep pushing forward.
What are the types of cloud migration strategies?
There are three basic types or patterns of cloud migration. In the order below, they run from easiest and fastest (with some drawbacks) to more difficult (with bigger benefits).
- Lift and shift
- Move and improve
- Rip and replace
Cloud Migration tools and services
Big public cloud providers like AWS, GCP, and Azure want you to move to their slice of the cloud (go figure), so they throw plenty of tools your way to make migrations as pain-free as possible. Of course, they’re also happy to take your money if you want to just throw it their way. Cost savings are a potential benefit of moving to cloud, but cloud costs can also easily get out of control. That’s why it’s important to use all the tools at your disposal to plan for what you need and adjust processes. Things that worked fine on-premises can be costly mistakes in the cloud. Cloud cost calculators can help you sneak a peek at the cost of your setup before making the move. Check out the one your public cloud provider offers. Examples include the AWS Pricing Calculator, the Azure Pricing Calculator, and the (equally surprisingly named) Google Cloud Pricing Calculator.