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Designing a Cloud Migration Strategy

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The cloud has been one of the most transformative new technologies of recent decades. Simply put, the cloud refers to on-demand access to computing power — whether that’s to store data, process information, or access applications — that is carried out over the internet. The cloud has multiple advantages over traditional on-premises computing infrastructure, but many of these can be distilled into one word: Flexibility.

With the cloud, businesses and other organizations pay only for what they use. Importing cloud solutions to the workflow allows businesses to cut the cost of IT infrastructure and get more secure storage and services.

These are different from traditional IT services that require hardware and software locally. Cloud computing can include databases, networks, servers, and other common services. Companies use cloud solutions for data analytics, data storage, document editing, etc

Because the setup is more akin to renting than owning, they don’t have to worry about purchasing, housing, and maintaining physical computers on their premises.

Part of that flexibility is the ability to scale cloud computing solutions to however much or little is needed for a particular use case. The cloud additionally makes it easier for employees and other legitimate parties to access services remotely.

That has been of particular value during the pandemic when large numbers of people suddenly found themselves working from home.

It’s therefore no wonder that cloud computing is used by a growing number of enterprises eager to take advantage of the ease-of-use and, in many cases, cost reductions it can help bring about. In short, the cloud can be a game-changer. But, as easy as the cloud can make your life, cloud application migration is not always simple.

If it is not managed properly, cloud migrations can lead to extra complexity for organizations, which may already view migrating to the cloud as a time-sensitive priority. It’s of utmost importance that enterprises take the correct application migration to cloud steps.

Follow the Right Steps

High costs are one of the early uphill battles organizations can face when it comes to cloud migration. Applications can have to be rewritten for the cloud in some cases, users must be trained on the new systems, and bandwidth costs can prove confusing (and daunting) to those used to dealing only with on-prem infrastructure.

Performance issues are also a common stumbling block. Interoperability challenges, for example, can prove to be a headache for those who expect cloud migration to just be a matter of “lift and shift.”

However, successfully migrating apps from on-prem to the cloud doesn’t have to be a fraught experience. As seamless as the cloud can make workflows, the actual cloud migration process should be carried out according to a strategy that allows you to weigh up your options at every stage.

Here are Five of the Steps to Follow:

Steps to Success. Blue and Red steps on a yellow background.
Steps to Success. Blue and Red steps on a yellow background.

#1. To begin with, identify a candidate application that you want to migrate to the cloud and assess its “cloud readiness” for the shift. That means examining application architecture, any dependencies it might have on other hardware, software, operating systems, and more.

#2. Based upon your conclusions, you might consider refactoring the application for the cloud (re-architecting to suit the new cloud environment), modernizing the application with containers (executable units of software packaged with an application, complete with libraries and dependencies, to allow it to be run), or straightforward “lift and shift” (in which applications are copied and reinstalled on the cloud.)

#3. With an understanding of what is needed for cloud migration, you can do a cost assessment regarding running an application on the cloud vs. on-premises. This will give you a data-driven means of weighing up the pros and cons, whether that’s cost, performance, or — most likely — a combination of both.

#4. Armed with this knowledge, you may then identify the optimal cloud environment for your requirement. That might be a public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud (a mixture of both public and private), multi-cloud (a combination of multiple public cloud vendors.) For each option, weigh up the performance you are likely to get following migration.

#5. Last, but not least, take this information and match it up with the right Cloud Service Provider (CSP), whether that’s Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Oracle Cloud, or IBM Cloud Services. These companies are not all offering differently branded, but otherwise identical, services. Consider certifications and standards, technologies and service roadmap, data security, migration support, lock-ins, and more. (Don’t forget about exit planning: no matter how happy you might be with your selection at this stage.)

Make Smart Moves

Migrating to the cloud can be one of the best moves a business makes when it comes to improved agility, better customer and user experience, and plenty more benefits to boot. But the speed and agility it can bring shouldn’t stop enterprises from properly thinking through the processes by which they implement their cloud migration strategies, to begin with.

The good news? Make the right decisions at this stage and you’ve laid the groundwork for getting the most out of the cloud moving forward. Your future self will thank you for it.