The times are rapidly changing with the advance of technology. There is no way you can run your business the same way you did 20 or even 10 years ago.
Take Blockbuster and Netflix for example. Modern, efficient businesses always win, hands down, in a battle for the present-day consumer. Cloud migration is one of the vital aspects of being an efficient, modern business.
For those of you looking to build your own cloud migration strategy, here is a high-level roadmap for you to follow. But first, let’s figure out why companies are moving to the cloud in the first place.
Although the concept itself is rooted in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 2010s that cloud computing actually became a thing. Before that, if you wanted to host your business software or store your data, you had to set up your own on-premise IT infrastructure.
Yet, running physical servers and data centers (and keeping them up to date) was often too costly and required considerable effort, especially for SMBs. That was one of the factors that eventually fueled the cloud adoption.
To stay competitive, businesses had to come up with a cloud migration strategy, i.e. find a way to move their app(s), data, and all business processes to the cloud.
So, what are the key benefits of cloud migration?
- Lower operational costs due to the reduced overhead infrastructure.
- Unlimited scalability. No need to build up an infrastructure for each of your business location. Plus, you can always upgrade your storage or capacity, if needed.
- Fast deployment. This means you can roll out software updates for all users simultaneously, no matter where they are.
- Reliability. Cloud providers usually offer a solid disaster recovery package and guarantee the minimum possible downtime.
This means, businesses that enjoy the advantages of moving to the cloud are more efficient and, as a result, more competitive.
However, you should also be aware of the following cloud migration risks before you start the process:
- The transition itself, i.e. the total time, cost, and effort for cloud migration.
- Data security. Sadly, cloud providers often become a subject of security breaches and data leaks that lead to millions of dollars in damage.
- Dependance on the vendor. Be it changes in your pricing plan or a global service outage, there’s nothing you can do but grin and bear it (or change the cloud provider).
Emerging businesses and startups often have a huge advantage over the established market players which are decades old. They are originally built in the cloud and can fully enjoy the benefits that come with it.
For those who aren’t as lucky, it might take months to put their physical servers to rest and transfer all business processes and tools to the cloud.
To navigate the most common pitfalls businesses face when moving their apps and data to the cloud, use this high-level roadmap as a foundation for building your own cloud migration strategy.
1. Decide on your cloud type and service model
Your choice of the service model and the cloud type will define the timeframe, cost, and effort required to implement your cloud migration strategy. That is why it is vital to make your choice as early in the process as possible.
Below are the most common cloud service models to choose from:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)
This model allows you to access and use computing resources offered by a cloud vendor instead of setting up your own data centers or a server network.
The model perfectly fits the needs of a business that wants to minimize their on-premise infrastructure (or doesn’t have the resources to build/maintain it) but still stay in control of it. With the IaaS model, you still have direct access to your data storage and servers (just like with your own infrastructure) but with a much higher scalability.
Probably, the most prominent example of this model is Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Similar to the IaaS model in a certain way, PaaS provides a framework, a platform to build and deploy your app(s) on, rather than just the resources (e.g. computing power, storage, and network) to do that.
This approach is perfect for those who don’t want to depend completely on a cloud provider and prefer keeping their app(s) portable. This, however, sets certain limitations, e.g. lower scalability, and a higher dependence on the vendor.
Some of the more notable examples of this model are Heroku, Google App Engine, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, etc.
- Software as a Service (SaaS)
If you choose the SaaS model, you buy a license to use a software product provided and hosted by the vendor instead of building or deploying your own app(s) in the cloud.
This model is perfect for small businesses and startups as it is the least demanding and the most affordable way to move your business to the cloud. The downside, however, is you obtain little control over the software itself. You only get to use (and sometimes customize) the product.
There are hundreds of companies that offer their products on the SaaS model, e.g. Google Apps, Salesforce, Box, Slack, Zendesk, etc.
Speaking about cloud types, there are also three main options to consider:
- Public cloud is usually owned and run by a third-party vendor, e.g. AWS, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, etc. The main distinction is that you don’t obtain an exclusive right to use the resources offered by the vendor: other companies can use them as well.
- Unlike the public option, a private cloud is used exclusively by your company. In this case, the cloud infrastructure is built and managed internally by your team.
- If you decide to go with the hybrid solution you can use both cloud types at the same time. For example, you can host your app(s) in the public cloud and store your data internally, in a private environment.
Please Note: service plans offered by different vendors can have various limitations and benefits. To build a solid foundation for your business in the cloud, you need to consider all possible options with regard to your business specifics.
2. Allocate your resources wisely
Moving enterprise applications to the cloud is a labor-intensive process that requires certain skills. That is why you need to allocate the required resources, both human and material, to get things going.
Consider putting together a dedicated development team, appoint a chief architect and professional project manager to oversee the process.
Last, but not least, make sure to fund the project properly so it doesn’t stop halfway because you ran out of money.
3. Evaluate your current app(s) and infrastructure
Knowing your current software architecture, infrastructure, and database schemas helps you understand the timeframe and plan the budget for your cloud migration.
There also might be parts of your code that need refactoring before you move them to the cloud environment (some of them might be completely obsolete and need to be replaced).
4. Document the requirements and plan the milestones
To keep track of your cloud migration process, you need to create a solid plan and define the KPIs for each one of the phases of cloud migration.
At this stage, you can also prioritize the app(s) and data that need to be moved in the first place (usually, the business-critical ones).
5. Run a pilot project
Testing the waters before you go all in with a new cloud vendor is a good strategy. That is why we first recommend migrating a small portion of your infrastructure to the cloud or building a test project as a proof of concept.
6. Move on with the main cloud migration phases
Now, as you’ve verified that the provider and model you have chosen meet your requirements, you can start the migration process itself and begin moving your data and app(s) to the cloud.
The three most popular paths to cloud migration are
- Rehosting, often referred to as “lift and shift”, is the most straightforward way to move to the cloud. In this case, you simply re-host your app(s) in the cloud, and copy your code to the new environment without any changes, step by step.
- To replatform your app(s), you have to not just migrate your code to the cloud but also update it so it meets the requirements of the new infrastructure.
- Refactoring is a more complex approach to cloud migration, which requires a complete reconstruction of the app’s architecture or even rewriting certain portions of your code to tailor your app(s) to the cloud environment.
7. Automate the processes, monitor and improve the performance
Now, as your app(s) and data are successfully re-hosted (with or without any changes), you can focus on automating the processes within your new infrastructure and optimizing its performance.
In this case, it’s best to put automatic testing frameworks to use and consider Infrastructure as Code (IaC) approach to streamline your software deployment process.
However, you can also double-check some of the most critical aspects of your infrastructure manually, e.g. security, compliance, performance, etc.
Still running your business on cumbersome and outdated infrastructure? It might be about time you consider migrating your processes to the cloud.
We at Eastern Peak offer professional cloud migration consulting as well as custom software development services.
Here’s why Fortune 500 companies, including DPD, Western Union, and Hewlett Packard, have chosen our services:
- Proven expertise in the field
- Fast project kick-off
- Dedicated development team
- Transparency and rapport
- On-demand scalability
Make sure your transition to the cloud runs smoothly and with minimum risk to your business. Book a one-on-one call with our senior project manager using our contact form.