You’re traveling to another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. You’re moving into a land of substance and flexibility, of anywhere access. You’ve just crossed over into the Cloud!
Application migration is the process of moving a software application from one computing environment to another. You might, for instance, migrate an application from one data center to another, from an on-premises server to a cloud provider’s environment, or from the public cloud to a private cloud environment.
Why do organizations migrate to the cloud?
The benefits of reduced costs and complexity, flexible scalability, and lower per-unit cost are simply too alluring to ignore. Concerns about security, costs and support are valid but today you may actually be exposing your business to more breach vulnerabilities by not being in the cloud. The belief that data must be on-site to truly be secure is as misguided as the belief that money is safer tucked under your mattress than in a bank. A reliable cloud IT service provider is capable of investing far more into their security than you trying to run it on your own technology.
Here are some helpful steps to migrating applications to the cloud:
Outline what business objectives you want to achieve through the cloud. Are you looking to reduce costs? Gain new features? Leverage real-time data and analytics? Improve scalability? The priority of your goals will inform your choices later in the cloud selection process as you decide on cloud platforms, apps, and what sort of resources you’ll require to move forward with your project. Build the business case for moving to the cloud. Cloud migrations aligned to key business objectives and outcomes are more likely to succeed then siloed projects within the IT department. If your business is looking to solve an immediate problem, your team may be able to identify ‘quick wins’ by integrating a cloud solution into your existing environment in place of moving everything to the Cloud.
Determine Organizational Readiness
Once you’ve outlined your objectives for moving to the cloud, the next step is to conduct a comprehensive business and technical analysis of your current environment, apps, and infrastructure. If your company doesn’t have the skills in-house, you can work with an IT firm like Agility Communications to guide you through a Cloud-Readiness Assessment.
An assessment will dive into not just what technology your business uses but how your organization uses it. Many legacy applications aren’t optimized for cloud environments.
They are often “chatty”, meaning during a typical function, they call many other services to gather information and fulfil requests.
While this is not an issue for apps running on an on-premise infrastructure, this type of architecture can get quite costly and inefficient in the cloud requiring high capacity to function.
To properly prepare for a cloud migration, follow these steps in your cloud assessments:
- Inventory your applications and workloads
- Inventory hardware and infrastructure (servers, databases, and storage)
- Interview application leaders and users to get a sense of how they use the apps
- Draw up dependency maps of your apps and integrations
- Record the technologies used in your application portfolio
- Analyze each app and its relevant components to determine transition plan and place in cloud migration steps
Choose a Vendor and Design your Environment
The next steps for cloud migrations is to decide between cloud vendors: Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Platform are the most prominent cloud hosting platforms. The right platform for your business will depend on your specific requirements, the architecture of the applications moving to the cloud, integrations, and other factors. Your team will also have to decide if public, private, hybrid, or multi-cloud environments are the right course of action for your needs. To get some additional info on the difference and benefits of each, schedule a call with us. Many companies choose to take a multi-cloud or hybrid-cloud approach. A recent Gartner survey of public cloud users showed that “81% of respondents are working with two or more providers.”
Get Your Application Cloud Ready
Cloud ready applications are legacy programs originally developed for static computing environments, like locally managed servers. To become “cloud ready,” the legacy application must be modified to be compatible with cloud-hosted environments.
- Rehosting — lift-and-shift
- Replatforming — which AWS calls “lift-tinker-and-shift”
- Repurchasing — buying a new solution
- Refactoring — rearchitecting an application for a cloud-native environment
- Retire — end of life
- Retain — the “do nothing for now” approach, according to AWS.
There are two typical migration models: Lift and Shift (Rehost) and Rearchitect (Refactor). Rehosting is basically taking your application as is and moving it into a cloud environment. Whereas Refactoring means making changes to the application architecture to take advantage of cloud capabilities. Refactoring can prove highly time-intensive or even impossible for certain apps but provides ongoing benefits if possible. Whichever model your business opts for, there may still be some modifications required to optimize the app for cloud computing.
By refactoring your application, you may be able to:
- Take advantage of dynamic scaling to save costs
- Optimize resource allocation to designate resources as needed
- Separate specific functions to allow priority services to move to the cloud first
Potential models for migrating an existing application can be a combination of Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Container as a Service (CaaS), and Function as a Service (FaaS).
If the existing app is packaged, there is also the possibility to shift it to Software as a Service (SaaS).
Testing and Switching to Production
Now that your cloud environment is set up to your specifications, the application(s) are in the cloud, data has populated – the next steps in the cloud migration process is to flip the switch. Even with extensive testing in the test environment, things can still go wrong when shifting to production.
One way to reduce the risk, is to migrate a set of test users over to the new environment before a full launch to identify any issues that were missed through deployment and initial testing. The more complicated your architecture, the more cautious you should be and implement incremental testing and roll-outs where possible.
These cloud migration steps should ensure your team has a solid foundation for approaching the cloud migration process strategically.
To develop an application migration strategy that’s best for your enterprise’s unique IT environment and business needs, you’ll need to understand exactly what’s in your application portfolio, the specifics of your security and compliance requirements, the cloud resources you’re currently consuming, and what your on-premises storage, compute, and network infrastructures are like. In previous years, enterprises often sought to move applications to the cloud because they wanted the flexibility, scalability, or predictable pay-as-you-go cost structure that cloud providers offer. Today, however, they’re also seeking environments that will enable innovation. Whether that means access to the high-performance processors needed to power deep learning algorithms or containerized applications that allow development teams to improve a customers’ digital experience rapidly by implementing changes at speed. Cloud technologies make it possible for businesses to experiment, to test new ideas, and to “fail faster.” In many cases, cloud-friendly technologies like containerization make it possible to offer end users better experiences than the virtual machines they may replace.