How to Optimize Your Cloud Migration

Migration to cloud platforms can be an arduous task. While there are many benefits when moving operations off-site, issues such as stability, costs, and security can arise. 

However, with a well-formed cloud migration strategy, companies can take advantage of the transition’s solutions and even mitigate many known factors. 

To ensure a company’s cloud migration goes off without a hitch, we’ve put together this guide to
help you migrate to cloud services efficiently.

What is Cloud Migration?

Cloud migration is a general term used to designate transferring digital operations from one site to a cloud platform.
When you migrate to the cloud, it encompasses data, processes, and applications to third-party servers.

Like a physical move from one location to another, migrating to the cloud requires forethought and preparation to ensure the move is seamless and successful.

When a company chooses to migrate to cloud computing, it’s typically thought of as moving from an on-premises or legacy infrastructure to a cloud-based infrastructure.

However, migration in cloud computing can also include moving operations and data from one cloud platform to another.This parallel movement is often referred to as cloud-to-cloud migration.

The third form of cloud migration sees a business take its operations off a cloud platform — known as reverse cloud migration or cloud repatriation. This cloud exit process removes business applications and data centers off the cloud platform and back onto a local infrastructure.

Benefits of Cloud Migration

There are several advantages when a company decides to migrate to the cloud.
By choosing a cloud-based solution, organizations can deliver enhanced performance while staying on top of technology’s latest innovation.
The four primary benefits that companies derive from cloud migration include:

Migration to cloud platforms allows a company to efficiently scale its IT requirements up or down based on its current demands. It can be difficult to service customers’ changing demands if operations are locked to a legacy (outdated, but still in use) infrastructure.
Switching to the cloud allows businesses to drastically alter their operations and infrastructure to facilitate the current demands without being restricted to quickly depreciating equipment. The power to promptly scale a company’s workload allows it to tailor its resource allocation effectively.

With this additional control level, a company can eliminate some of the cost factors of operating large data centers or maintaining a one-size-fits-all solution suite. Through cloud migration, businesses can dramatically grow without impacting performance or altering a customer’s user experience.

Organizations that opt for cloud services can substantially reduce operational costs and unnecessary overhead. They will no longer be tied to leasing equipment or expensive physical locations, meaning these resources can be put to better use, such as product development.
Savings will also occur in IT areas, as the department won’t be tasked with updating and maintaining the platform. These responsibilities are under the duties of the cloud provider. 
Switching to the cloud will free up the IT department, allowing them to focus on more worthwhile pursuits such as data governance and network infrastructure.

If maintained correctly in the shared security responsibility model, migrating to the cloud can reduce security flaws found on traditional network systems.
While a company’s in-house or contracted IT security officers will need to ensure its side is free of exploits as it moves applications, data, containers, and workloads to the cloud, the provider will also secure its part of the cloud.

With tech giants such as Amazon acting as the provider, companies can take solace that it’s in the cloud platform’s best interest to provide air-tight security. The major cloud providers offer a host of security packages and features to help in-house teams monitor vital analytics.
These features are in addition to the standard security practices and protocols that cloud providers offer. Automatic updates, regional isolation, and security definitions are frequently monitored and tested against the latest known security threats.

Through cloud migration, users can be authorized to access the necessary services, regardless of their geographical location and their preferred device. This flexibility creates previously impossible opportunities, allowing a company to branch into new territories, source talent globally, and expand alongside business demand. 
Without the burden of a physical infrastructure, application development can be much more agile, delivering innovation and business value faster that ever.

Disaster Recovery
Companies can take advantage of the fact its applications and data are stored in the cloud. Operations won’t shut down if something catastrophic happens to their physical equipment. Employees won’t lose working hours due to inclement weather, and critical company data can be accessed safely and securely from remote locations.
It can be extremely costly and time-consuming to monitor the current state of business applications on-location. The majority of cloud providers also include notifications if something goes astray, meaning that its team can rectify the issues without unnecessary delay.

The duty of disaster recovery is also simplified thanks to many service providers offering backup and logging functionality. With these protocols integrated into standard practices, issues can be quickly identified and remedied without a team needing to be on-site.
By implementing sound and well-thought-out cloud migration strategies, companies can easily take advantage of reduced costs, scalable solutions, a secure environment, flexible operations, and greater access to enhanced functionality.

Cloud Migration Strategies
There are four primary migration strategy approaches that companies can use when improving their operations.

Rehosting (also known as Lift and Shift) essentially takes an existing system and transfers it to a cloud-based platform. By choosing an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider, the organization recreates its application architecture on top of new infrastructure.
This approach requires minimal intervention and refactoring, which makes it a quick procedure. However, by opting to rehost, the company forgoes many benefits derived from a cloud provider’s native applications.

Companies with low demands from their cloud operations or currently run on several virtual machines can experience the greatest benefit from this route.
Rehosting may be the quickest method of cloud migration, with some providers even offering automated tools, but it comes at the cost of optimization. However, this doesn’t mean that a system can’t be reworked at a later date.

Refactoring shares similarities to rehosting. A business will reuse its existing code and framework but will place it on a PaaS (Platform as a Service) instead of an IaaS.
This process is more intensive than rehosting because much of a company’s workload will require rebuilding to become “cloud-native,” an approach that utilizes cloud computing to build and run applications. Accomplishing this method of cloud migration requires a more significant investment in talent, development, and time, but with the benefit of being fully integrated for cloud services.

Revising is a migration strategy that uses part of an existing codebase while rewriting or expanding on it before moving it to either an IaaS or PaaS.
A company can maintain many of its applications, but with the added benefit of cloud-native services, such as scaling or automation.

While this may seem like the best of both worlds, revising has the potential of leaving companies with the inherent flaws of legacy architecture such as reduced security and lack of compliance without some of the primary advantages of cloud-native applications.

The final migration strategy is the most drastic. Replacing is for a company to scrap its entire current system and move over to a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform. Replacing a system can be an enticing option for those who haven’t updated their operations for some time or have invested little into their current systems.

Cloud Migration Deployment Methods

Understanding the different cloud migration strategies is one part of the solution. The other is deployment.

Hybrid Deployment
A hybrid deployment sees a mixed combination of data centers across multiple environments. Using this method, a company can have data centers on public clouds, private clouds, or on-site locations.
While this method allows an organization to take advantage of cloud functionality, it also requires more cohesive communication between the environments.

Multicloud Deployment
Multicloud deployment sees operations spread across multiple public cloud platforms. This method allows a company to mix and match applications from different cloud providers while also offering redundancy and backup features.

Single Cloud Deployment
Smaller businesses that only require a single cloud provider’s product line may opt for single cloud deployment. While this may be the easiest deployment method for cloud migration, it’s also the most limiting.

Understanding the Cloud Migration Process

Several aspects need to be considered to know which migration strategy and deployment method are best for a company.

Goals and Budget
Only by knowing what a company wants can it measure to assess its success.

After the goals have been determined, the company needs to see if it’s financially feasible to account for the cloud infrastructure and the engineering involved in cloud migration.

While this may be a challenging aspect to come to terms with, the costs associated with migrations need to be offset by the Return on Investment (ROI).

With the added functionality, scalability, and flexibility, the price may be worth the initial investment coupled with cloud computing’s falling cost.

Migration Strategy
The migration strategy should act as a roadmap listing various milestones and objectives to keep the plan on track. The plan must incorporate:
  • Realistic timelines
  • Accounting for variables and dependencies
  • Current cloud operational maturity
  • Validation of benefits to business application

IT Asset Inventory
Before cloud migration can begin, a company needs to take stock of its IT assets using a holistic view. Categories include:
  • Hardware and virtualized machines
  • Software and applications
  • Structured and unstructured data
  • Network systems and communication devices
  • Current cloud services

Security and Compliance Strategy

Moving operations to the cloud come with inherent security risks. An organization also needs to account for any compliance regulations, especially for companies that operate within the financial or health sectors.

Before migrating to the cloud, a company needs to ensure that its security posture is up-to-date and capable of keeping the application migration safe. The update may include:
  • Performing pentests to find and remedy risks and gaps
  • Enhancing security visibility
  • Conducting company-wide security and compliance procedures

Since cloud-based security requires a different approach than on-premise security, new methods need to be incorporated into the security posture. Actions such as deploying cloud firewalls will replace the previous network perimeter of the former on-site network.

Challenges of Cloud Migration

Migrating to the cloud does not come without obstacles. Transferring large databases is time-consuming and arduous.

Particularly massive databases attempting to migrate through the internet can experience bottlenecking that requires vast amounts of time and monitoring to ensure that everything transfers successfully.

Some cloud providers can help mitigate the time expenditure by offering physical data transfer services. This method involves moving the database onto physical hardware and shipping it to the service provider to upload it to their servers.

The next challenge is ensuring that the data is transferred without incident. Errors such as corruption of data integrity and potential security leaks need to be accounted for and verified.

Finally, a business needs to ensure that operations are sustained throughout the migration. As the transfer will require time to complete, there will be a transition period in which on-site legacy systems will continue to operate independently or in tandem with the new cloud platform.

Cloud migration doesn’t always occur in one shot. Sometimes companies will need to slowly move data across a long period before the on-premise system can be dismantled.

Cloud Migration Solutions

Cloud providers such as Azure, AWS, and Google typically offer services to help businesses migrate applications to the cloud. However, even with these rudimentary tools, many companies lack the specialization to transition over their workloads seamlessly. This lack of technical skills has seen a rise in cloud migration solution providers.

Many solution providers will take care of them:
  • Timescale
  • Budgeting
  • Continued operation performance
  • Services

Solutions such as The Delphix Data Platform have been adopted to make cloud adoption accessible.

By incorporating these programs into a business’s migration strategy, critical data operations such as provisioning, versioning, masking, and syncing data across multi-cloud architectures can be automated.

These platforms allow companies to accelerate cloud transformation projects using API-driven cloud data management. With the additional speed and efficiency provided by these systems, cloud migration timelines can be drastically reduced.

Cloud migration solutions provide users a de-risked migration procedure that can virtualize workloads and applications in a cloud environment while adhering to compliance regulations.

Solutions such as those provided by Delphix can secure sensitive material through spoofing and obfustication while preserving referential integrity through automated functions.