Cloud Migration Strategy

More than a place, a journey, or a technology, cloud is an opportunity to reimagine everything.

To consider cloud is to see the power to transform. Cloud is a catalyst for continuous reinvention.

Cloud migration is the process of moving an organisation’s digital resources, such as data, services and applications, to a cloud computing environment. 

Advantages of cloud computing

Cost savings. Organisations only pay for the resources they use, which can be less expensive than buying and maintaining their own hardware and software.

Improved scalability. Moving to the cloud makes scaling up and down much easier. Capacity no longer needs to be planed for the next five years because it can be rapidly scaled up if needed.

Enhanced security. Cloud-based solutions can provide a more secure environment for data and applications, with access to advanced security features and capabilities, such as data encryption and intrusion detection.

Mobility. Cloud computing provides greater mobility and connectivity to connect with people and information, with data access from anywhere and anytime.

Disaster recovery. Cloud storage helps in loss prevention from data. When valuable data is stored in local hardware it is at risk of viral infections, malware or malfunctions whereby the data gets corrupted. Storing data in the cloud gives better flexibility and access to data.

Types of application migration strategies

These six different types of cloud migration strategies that a company can consider are usually referred to as the 6Rs of migration strategy:

Re-hosting. This ‘lift and shift strategy’ involves transporting a direct copy of the existing infrastructure onto the cloud. This approach suits smaller organisations that are still trying to figure out their long-term plans with respect to services and scalability. It takes the least amount of time to execute but it does not take into consideration the full benefits of going cloud-native.

Re-platform. The ‘move and improve strategy’ involves making minimum changes to prepare for transition to the cloud, including provisions for making scalability easier. The core application architecture remains untouched. This method is appropriate for organisations that have already planned to scale up their solutions and want to improve performance, but it does not utilise all of the cloud’s benefits.

Re-purchasing. The ‘drop and shop strategy’ replaces the on-premise application with a cloud native vendor packaged software. It typically means moving to a SaaS (Software as a Service) application with the same capabilities. This approach may prove to be cost-effective if the legacy system has been very complex and hard to maintain.

Re-factoring. This strategy entails rebuilding the entire existing infrastructure from scratch and is the route taken by organisations that are looking to leverage everything that the cloud has to offer, such as serverless computing and auto-scaling. Naturally, this approach is the most expensive, resource intensive, and time consuming but it allows the organisation to maximise on cloud benefits.

Retiring. Large enterprises often discover components of the infrastructure that have become obsolete or will become inconsequential once moved to the cloud. These modules are not just unnecessary expenditure, they may actually be a security vulnerability as well. In such cases, it simply makes sense to retire these components and not move them to the cloud.

Retaining. Some modules of the existing infrastructure may not be compatible with the cloud platforms on the market. Typically, this would be data that cannot be moved for compliance reasons or architecture that only recently took extra capital to build. In such cases, it makes financial and operational sense to keep these modules on-premise.

Cloud migration considerations

Lack of knowledge/training. Assuming that staff will be able to figure things out for themselves, and often leads to frustration and errors. Successful digital transformations of any kind depend on training and on how to properly use the new applications and systems.

Lack of planning. Many organisations think they can just move their existing infrastructure and applications over to the cloud as is. This is often not the case and can lead to problems further down the line.

Cost assessment. Underestimating the costs associated with migrating to the cloud could lead to a higher investment than anticipated. To avoid this, it is essential to understand the different pricing models that cloud providers offer.

Risk assessment. When data is moved off-premise, additional risk is introduced to the environment. Therefore it is important to assess the risks associated with migration before starting any processes. Sensitive data must be identified, and security measures put in place to protect it.

Migrating all at once. Migrating everything to the cloud all at once is often a recipe for disaster. Not only is it incredibly complex and time-consuming but it also increases the risk of errors and downtime. Instead, it is usually best to take an incremental approach to migration by moving over non-critical applications and data first.

Testing. It is essential to test applications and infrastructure thoroughly before and after migration to ensure everything is working as it should be.

Exit plan. If something goes wrong during migration, it is important to have a rollback plan in place. This will allow to quickly revert back to on-premise environment if necessary.

Update documentation. This includes elements such as network diagrams, application inventory and procedures. It is important to keep documentation up to date so that any that may problem arise can be quickly and easily resolved. Updated documentation might also include items such as cloud provider’s service level agreement, contact information and details of any support agreements in place.

In conclusion, your cloud computing strategy must address business imperatives and opportunities that are specific to your industry, your business, and your teams’ requirements. It is about mapping a path of continuous transformation that is as singular as your company—and that sets the stage for the company you intend to become.

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About the author

Danijel Delic is a Manager with Deloitte Consulting.

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