The benefits of moving to the cloud is well-established and companies across multiple sectors have already made the transition to cloud computing. Cloud migration can, however, be classified in different ways. Not every business that implements a migration plan transfers all of its data to the cloud in a single operation. In reality, many companies migrate to the cloud iteratively in response to both business and technical requirements.
Suppose your organization is considering moving application services or data to the cloud for the first time or undertaking a larger on-premises to cloud migration, including transferring mission-critical workloads. In such cases, executing these plans after thorough research is in your best interest and increases the chances of a smooth migration. Let's take a deeper look at the fundamentals of on-premises to cloud migration, its advantages and potential problems, and the services that may help you move your mission-critical business applications and data as efficiently and securely as possible.
What is Cloud Migration? How does it affect a company?
The process of migrating operations from on-premise installations to the cloud is known as a “cloud migration”. Similar to physical relocation, which would require packing and moving physical servers, cloud migration involves moving data, programs, and IT processes from an on-premise data center to another one in the cloud. The benefits of cloud migration often outweigh those typically seen by physically relocating from a smaller to a larger office. The biggest benefits seen are generally cost savings and increased flexibility.
In addition to developing a cloud migration plan, organizations must also take into account any additions to their current architecture during the migration, such as using a service offered by the cloud provider to simplify or improve an existing process. If you plan to use a cloud service, you should also take into account the type of cloud environment you will need from a compliance or operational perspective. Below we have listed different types of cloud environments you should know about before you deploy onto the cloud in order for you to choose the right one for your needs.
A public cloud is a cloud service provided by a cloud provider to several consumers. The phrase "public cloud" distinguishes the original cloud model of Internet-accessible services from the private cloud model. The services provided by public clouds include SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS. Private clouds have infrastructure that is owned by the cloud provider, users of this service can easily spin up servers and services while the cloud provider manages the physical infrastructure in the background as well as maintenance and support.
A private cloud is an organization-exclusive cloud service. Private cloud users get exclusive access to the cloud. Many times organizations will buy physical infrastructure and use software to create their own private cloud environment. Other times, a public cloud provider will create private cloud for a single organization. Private cloud can have many advantages since it is solely owned and controlled by a single organization which makes certain compliance standards easier to achieve.
A hybrid cloud combines two or more environments, such as public clouds, private clouds, and traditional on-premises data centers. For a hybrid cloud deployment to be successful, integration must be tight across all deployed clouds and data centers. This approach can offer massive flexibility and reliability but does require a lot of coordination.
A multi-cloud deployment integrates at least two public clouds. A multi-cloud approach may serve several reasons, including redundancy/backup, cost savings, and using capabilities from multiple cloud providers. Multi-cloud deployments can be sophisticated but offer a level of redundancy and reliability that is unparalleled.
Why should you migrate to the cloud?
Here are a few of the advantages that companies see when they shift their resources to the public cloud:
Cloud computing can scale more easily than on-premises infrastructure to serve greater workloads and more users. For an on-prem system to scale with the needs of a business, organizations had to acquire and install physical servers, software licenses, storage, and network equipment to scale out business services in conventional IT settings. On the cloud, most of these resources are available instantly within a few clicks and can be auto-scaled up and down depending on the resources needed.
Cloud platforms tend to have better redundancy controls and a bigger selection of data centers to keep critical systems running if there is an outage. Many public cloud providers offer a massive selection of availability zones and regions and a multi-cloud approach can increase reliability even more. On-premise reliability can be costly since it may require a secondary or tertiary data center to be created which requires procurement, support, and maintenance. Every new data center requires a massive amount of effort versus being on cloud where moving or expanding to a new data center can be done instantly with minimal cost.
Users, whether internal or external, may access the cloud services and data they need from any location. This makes it simpler for a corporation to grow into new countries, provide services to foreign consumers, and provide flexible work options for its staff. Moving to cloud also may mean easier ways to adopt certain compliance standards since many cloud providers have frameworks to adhere to compliance needs out of the box.
Since cloud providers handle maintenance and upgrades, businesses shifting to the cloud may drastically reduce their IT operations expenses. Another benefit is paying only for what you need/use. This is a factor when compared to an on-premise system where you own the infrastructure and all the associated costs of ramping it up and down. With these savings, organizations may commit greater resources to innovation, including creating new items and enhancing current offerings.
Migration to the cloud may enhance performance and the end-user experience. Applications and websites hosted in the cloud may quickly grow to service more users and achieve greater throughput. By adding services in availability zones and regions closer to your customers, you can decrease network latency, improve customer experience, and also achieve compliance in countries with strict data privacy requirements.
A cloud migration step-by-step guide
Cloud migration might be a wise investment for your organization. However, like many businesses, you may be unsure of where to begin. Let’s take a look at a few strategies and examine your options.
What are the 6 most common cloud migration strategies?
Adapted from a strategic framework identified by Gartner in 2010, these options are now generally referred to as "the six Rs of migration":
Rehosting (or, lift-and-shift)
The easiest route for migrating to cloud is the lift and shift, which works just as it sounds: transfer your application to your new hosting environment without making any changes to its code or architecture. It is also the most popular approach for enterprises new to cloud computing, who profit from the rapid implementation and do not need to invest time or money strategizing for expansion.
In contrast, if you migrate your current infrastructure to the cloud, you are leveraging it as another data center. Moreover, it goes far beyond that. For some businesses, it is advantageous to use the available cloud services, such as when adding scalable features to an app to enhance the user experience for a growing segment of users. Therefore, Re-platforming, discussed below, is a better option.
Re-platforming, also known as "lift-tinker-and-shift," involves making a few cloud optimizations without altering the fundamental architecture of your applications. This is also a useful technique for enterprises that aren't ready for growth or configuration or wish to create confidence in the cloud prior to implementation.
Re-platforming could also include scenarios where an application's current operating system is no longer supported by the vendor or by the organizations, like moving to a newer version of Linux to host the application while keeping everything else with the application in its current state.
Re-factoring requires a complete rewrite of your applications to use cloud-native features, such as auto-scaling and serverless computing. A possible disadvantage is vendor lock-in as you rebuild your cloud infrastructure. As expected, it is also the most time-consuming and costly approach. However, it is also the most future-proof option for businesses that want to use increasingly complex cloud functions.
This involves totally replacing your current apps with a new cloud-native, SaaS platform (for example, a homegrown CRM with Salesforce). Losing familiarity with the current code and educating your staff on the new platform present challenges. However, the advantage is avoiding development expenditures. Repurchasing is most cost-effective when migrating away from a highly customized legacy landscape or reducing the number of services or applications that must be managed.
After evaluating the size and type of your application portfolio, you may determine that cloud migration is not the best option for you. This could be due to many factors including application volume, ability to move application functionality into another application, or that an application has surpassed its ability to deliver value and has been replaced by another. Consider, at least for the time being: Retiring.
If you discover any outdated programs, you can simply disable them. A cost reduction might strengthen the business case for application migration once you are ready to migrate.
Some of your applications may remain in-house, such as those that govern internal operations or contain sensitive data. Do not fear re-visiting cloud computing in the future when there is more budget, time to plan, and possibly more risk tolerance for such a migration.
What are the stages of cloud migration?
The migration to the cloud is divided into three stages, which are discussed below in more detail:
1. Prepare for the migration
Before conducting any migration, you must prepare for the relocation of your digital assets. The question is how to prepare for the migration? As you prepare for the migration, you should consider some key factors:
Establish objectives and KPIs
Evaluate the reasons for migration and start by establishing objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure that migration to the cloud is economically viable. Don't rely solely on online advice, be sure to conduct your own measurements of performance and expected outcomes. If you want to save money, calculate the expenditures before and after cloud migration. Moreover, If you want to move to scale, compare the uptime during significant traffic spikes on-premises vs. in the cloud if your main goal is to increase scalability.
As with any other IT project, your budget governs and influences cloud migration. Fortunately, cloud service providers provide (innovatively called) price calculators that assist you in estimating the expenses associated with migration:
- AWS Pricing Calculator
- Azure Pricing Calculator
- Google Cloud Pricing Calculator
Define the mechanisms for switching over production.
Business continuity should not be compromised when moving. Thus you must properly prepare for the transition of services.
- You could either turn off on-premise production and turn it on in the cloud at the same time.
- Migrate the entire code and data to the cloud and turn it on a few times for testing prior to making the kill-switch decision.
- Run both on-premise and cloud applications in parallel by redistributing traffic between them.
- Or migrate modules live while operations are in progress.
Ultimately, your migration and design plans will determine your decision. The cutover from on-premise to cloud is one of the more risky parts of the migration process. As mentioned above, the approach should be customized by factoring in the criticality of the service and the data it handles.
Re-engineer your application's architecture
Depending on your migration approach, you may need to re-architect your application to migrate it to the cloud:
- Virtualize your application by executing it on a virtual machine server (VMS).
- Use containerization technologies to containerize your application (such as docker).
- Modularize your code such that you may migrate portions to the cloud while retaining others on-premise.
To make use of specific cloud technologies, you will likely need to refactor your code as well as your overall application architecture. For instance, you may want to change your application to accept incoming data through a streaming message broker rather than batch inserts. These are types of optimizations that can be made during the migration.
According to migration methods, re-architecting your code may not be essential, but it is part of a strategy that helps specify which components of your digital assets are transferring and which are not.
Making the right choice of cloud migration tools
Each cloud provider provides a variety of migration-easing tools and services.
For instance, Amazon Web Services provides a multitude of tools to accelerate and simplify your move to AWS
- AWS Migration Hub - Monitors the progress of your migration
- AWS Application Discovery Service - Facilitates business data center migration
- AWS Database Migration Service - A data migration service that moves data to the new databases while the source database continues to operate normally
- AWS Server Migration Service - Migrates workloads
- AWS Snowball - Transfers petabytes of data
Similar solutions are available from other cloud providers, such as Microsoft Azure migration tools and Google Cloud Platform tools.
Migration and Execution
Once you have identified your business needs, you should investigate the applicable services and rates provided by cloud providers and other partners. Determine the projected operational benefits, cost savings, and architectural enhancements of cloud migration. Create a business case for each application that you want to transfer to the cloud, comparing the predicted total cost of ownership (TCO) on the cloud to the present TCO. Utilize cloud cost calculators to predict future cloud expenses based on reasonable assumptions, such as the quantity and type of storage needed, computing resources, instance types, operating systems, and particular performance and networking considerations. Consult with cloud providers to determine the available solutions for cost reductions in light of your planned cloud implementation. Cloud providers provide numerous pricing structures and offer steep discounts in return for a long-term commitment to cloud resources (reserved instances) or a commitment to a minimum cloud expenditure (savings plans). To comprehend the full long-term cost of your cloud migration, these savings must be considered into your company strategy.
After your environment has been evaluated and a strategy has been devised, you must execute your migration. The primary difficulty is in executing the migration with least interruption to regular operations, at the lowest cost, and in the shortest amount of time possible. During a migration, if your data becomes unavailable to users, you risk affecting company operations. This could lead to a decline in customer experience and confidence as services and data are being migrated and issues arise. The same applies when you continue to synchronize and upgrade your systems after the first transfer. Before migrating the next workload element, each migrated element must be validated to ensure it is functioning correctly in the new environment. You must also discover a means to synchronize changes made to the source data throughout the course of the transfer. Both AWS and Azure have data migration tools for AWS cloud migration and Azure data transfer. To learn more, read our other blog “Fulfilling the Data Modernization Dream”.
Evaluation and Optimization
Once the application is in production, you want to make sure that it is operating correctly and that people have access to the functionality and data that they need. From a customer success point of view, you'll want to make sure that your move to the cloud is achieving the business results you expected, such as reduced IT costs, faster time to market for new products, and services, or a better user experience for your employees and customers.
Of course, everyone knows measuring KPIs after the fact is not often done. But it is still a good idea to do things such as reviewing customer incident tickets to see if the volume has increased since the migration completed. Also, you will want to look at the types of complaints people are having to understand how the application is behaving and if changes are impacting customers negatively. You also can engage your employees with surveys to see if they are getting the benefits you planned for on the operational side.
You'll also want to follow the financials to make sure that you're not being over-billed for instances of computing, storage, networking, or services that you don't need, want, or don't know about. This can be exceptionally difficult to identify, given that cloud providers often send invoices with a massive amount of line items. Finding a good expense management solution or service provider is something to consider to help short-circuit the process and manage overages and billing surprises.
Perhaps most importantly, it's a good idea to remember that migrating to the cloud is not a magic bullet. It is simply a way to ease the management burden of technology. Moving to the cloud empowers your IT organization to spend time providing you with the right technology you need to thrive and innovate instead of just keeping the lights on.
Example of an on-premise to cloud migration
Spyro-soft case study
When it comes to technology, you should constantly strive to be ahead of your rivals. The cloud is one of the alternatives that enable you to control expenditure while expanding capabilities and resources as required.
Financial services are one of the businesses where this technology is just developing. The market is expanding significantly due to the recent surge of affordable and secure cloud computing technologies.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, or even a few months ago, this was not the case.
Why have financial services firms started to use cloud-based solutions?
Instability and underdevelopment of legacy services have kept the financial sector stuck in its ways for years. In addition to pen and paper, massive mainframes and applications supported the operation of financial services organizations. In virtually every instance, the public cloud was regarded as untrustworthy and not secure enough to facilitate financial services data.
The fact that banking executives were not the only group to fear the public cloud made matters worse. Customers anticipated trustworthy and secure banking and financial services. In addition, they had a reasonable expectation that all transactions and operations would occur in real-time, without any costs or delays in approval. All vendors raced to build a workable solution as the demand for the technology grew rapidly.
In addition to the obstacles outlined before, EU and US financial rules were also significant obstacles to the industry's transition to cloud technology. Some banks utilized legal constraints as well as compliance worries as an excuse not to adopt more innovative offerings. The regulatory framework as a whole was not prepared for the digital transition to using the public cloud.
In 2016, this landscape altered. It was especially visible in the European markets, with the United Kingdom and Poland serving as prime examples of nations where early legislative reforms occurred. The Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates over 60,000 financial enterprises in the United Kingdom, has published a guide on adopting cloud services. The paper said categorically that the use of these services in banking is secure provided data hosting and security are "appropriately addressed". This set the stage for a revolution in the financial services industry.
However, this guidance was not the main factor in the financial industry's adoption of cloud technologies. In addition, there were comments from the Information Commissioner's Office and the Prudential Regulation Authority of the Bank of England. Regulators and banking sector employees ultimately realized that cloud solutions were being routinely employed in other areas involving the processing of sensitive data. In addition, the technology and IT sector as a whole was becoming more adaptable in terms of risk assessment management.
As soon as these papers were released, the word spread: that innovation in the financial sector is not just feasible, but inevitable. As soon as the rules were amended, technological solutions were developed. AWS became one of the most popular services in the financial industry for constructing safe IT infrastructure and systems, followed closely by Azure.
Why did TakTo switch its cloud banking services to Amazon Web Services (AWS)?
Let's examine how Spyrosoft used AWS in the cloud migration project for one of their clients, TakTo. TakTo is a financial institution headquartered in Wroclaw, Poland. Customers using their services can receive loans through online chat and repay them on a dedicated client platform. The firm was founded in 2012 and adheres to the ethical conduct standards and The Association of Financial Companies in Poland's Best Practices Guide (ZPF).
TakTo previously used servers in a physical site outside of its headquarters for many years which meant coordinating maintenance and expansion efforts off-premise. This proved problematic as the firm developed, and the staff needed more accessibility to the servers. The area where they stored the servers was also quite expensive and had to be maintained in pristine shape. Technicians were engaged to maintain the equipment and the infrastructure was in need of regular upgrades.
Switching to Amazon Web Services Process
The Spyrosoft team analyzed the requirements and available options and immediately determined that developing and constructing a cutting-edge IT infrastructure was the best course of action.
- The whole procedure was as simple, yet it needed careful planning, comprehensive architectural considerations, and continual testing. The fact that TakTo operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week added another layer of difficulty, since their users have to be able to access the programme without delays at all times. As TakTo's website is visited by tens of thousands of people every day, the modification had to be entirely undetectable to customers.
- Consequently, the migration was separated into many segments. The Spyrosoft team used a "lift and shift" methodology in which the whole process is finished with little alterations. The approach starts by moving and testing smaller datasets and settings that do not interact with customers. After configuring the virtual servers and infrastructure, they began migrating and developing the applications.
- The third phase of the migration centered on TakTo's enormous databases, which were technically the most challenging to transfer to Amazon's virtual servers. All data had been proactively safeguarded via a series of backup transfers, allowing the Spyrosoft team to simply access and upload them in the event that any of the services failed to perform as intended.
- This last phase of the infrastructure transfer was accomplished in a single evening, with the whole team executing this intricately coordinated procedure in shifts. Individual steps were given to separate developers, so as soon as they got the "all clear" from one individual, they could move on with the next step in the plan.
The team finished three weeks ahead of schedule after the last migration had been done successfully. It was also undetectable to TakTo's end customers and reps, meaning none of the procedures impacted their operations.
As a consequence, TakTo is no longer reliant on physical servers and can now deploy virtual machines as necessary. A major feature of AWS is the ability to enable and disable certain environments. Currently, the Spyrosoft team is responsible for the application's maintenance and flawless operation. Some of these actions are now also monitored using the automated tools that were created and implemented when the services were migrated to AWS servers.