With the maturity of cloud platforms in recent years, many businesses are now looking to migrate their workloads to the cloud.
With that being said, cloud migration is now a subject of discussion on its own for many businesses and can be a challenge when not managed well with the correct strategy.
So, what is cloud migration?
Cloud Migration: The Concept
Cloud migration, in a nutshell, is the process of moving some or all resources and workloads (i.e. data, applications, and other types of IT processes) from a previous storage system into a target cloud storage.
We can generally divide cloud migration into two different types:
- Migrating resources from an on-premises (physical/legacy) data center to a cloud storage system
- Migrating resources from one cloud platform to another target cloud platform (i.e. from Amazon Web Services to Google Cloud Platform).
We can think of cloud migration as moving from one office into another office, and in practice migrating your resources to the cloud can be easier said than done and will require the right strategy.
Let us first discuss the key challenges that you may face during cloud migration.
Most Common Challenges in Cloud Migration
Here are some of the most common and important challenges to consider during a cloud migration:
Ensuring data security and integrity
Data leaks and data loss can be major risks in cloud migration, especially if the migration involves the transportation of sensitive/confidential data. To prevent this, a centralized security policy and company-wide access control must be implemented, but in practice, this can be complicated and will require a thorough understanding of cybersecurity risks that may affect the migration, critical access points, and appropriate access control methods.
Resistance of changes
Unfortunately, adoption resistance from within your team may be one of the biggest challenges in the migration process. It’s natural for people to resist change, while cloud migration also naturally brings a lot of changes and disruption to the current workflow.
Nevertheless, communicating the cloud migration plan and convincing your team not to resist adoption will be crucial in ensuring success. Make sure to secure leadership buy-in as soon as possible and invest in an onboarding solution if necessary.
Not having the right cloud migration strategy
Many organizations, especially CTOs, struggle in choosing and creating an optimal cloud migration strategy that fits the organization’s needs. If you choose the wrong strategy (or worse, you don’t have a strategy at all), then the cloud migration process can be inefficient, and it can lower the overall ROI.
If there’s only one resource to move to the cloud, then this might not be an issue. However, if you have multiple resources and workloads, identifying which components and resources to migrate first to minimize downtime (or even better, ensure zero downtime) can be extremely difficult.
Cloud migration will also require your existing team to upgrade their skillsets so they can make the most of the new cloud environment. Unfortunately, training and preparing your team for cloud-ready skills can be expensive and time-consuming. Partnering with a robust cloud migration service may help you bridge the skill gap since they can manage service providers with a skilled engineering team to ensure a smooth migration.
Preparing a Cloud Migration Strategy
While the actual cloud migration process may vary depending on the size of the resources to be migrated, complexity, and other factors, most cloud migration processes will follow the following steps:
1. Planning the cloud migration
This step is about identifying the reason why migration is necessary and the purpose of the cloud migration. Start by assessing the current environment so you can calculate the requirements of the target cloud environment. This is important to avoid overspending, as well as underspending.
2. Choosing the right cloud environment
Now that you’ve identified your needs, you can decide on which (and what type) the cloud environment to migrate to. Your main option may be platforms like Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, or Amazon Web Services, but you can also opt for private cloud or managed service provider.
3. Migrating your workloads
With correct planning, the actual migration process should be fairly straightforward, and you can focus on data security (i.e. ensuring data backup and ensuring compliance with security policies).
4. Evaluation and monitoring
After the actual migration is finished, your job is not yet over. Instead, it’s crucial to monitor the performance of the cloud environment and ensure it is working as expected. Evaluate the performance of your system by comparing the performance before and after the migration from a business and technical aspect.
Different Types of Cloud Migration Models
While each cloud migration process is unique, there are six basic frameworks of cloud migration strategies to model from:
Also known as “lift and shift” in this model, you simply transport an exact copy of the current environment into the target cloud without involving any significant modification. Basically, whenever possible, the rehosting approach should be taken since it has the highest cost and time efficiency. However, rehosting isn’t always ideal for every situation.
Replatforming involves a few adjustments over the workloads/resources, but the core architecture of the workloads remains the same. Typically used when standard rehosting (lift and shift) is preferred but isn’t possible.
Changing to another solution/product that suits the new cloud environment better. This approach is typically taken when an application is not designed to run in the cloud environment. Often used when using a proprietary solution or platform. It can be cost-effective if you choose the right new application.
Also called rearchitecting, this model refers to rebuilding the application/workload from scratch so it’s more optimized for the new cloud environment.
Retaining some workloads/applications you aren’t ready to migrate to the new cloud environment. In some cases, you may also decide that you are not ready for the new cloud environment and simply retain your existing environment.
Identifying workloads or applications that can be retired in the new cloud environment, so the business can focus on workloads that are more critical to the business’s success.
Different organizations may face different cloud migration challenges, and while there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, it’s very important for businesses to first figure out their unique needs before executing a cloud migration.
By planning the right cloud adoption strategy, you can maximize the ROI of the cloud migration, and achieve growth with minimal issues.
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