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29 December 2023 - 5 minutes

Cloud Migration Best Practices: Moving Your Business to the Cloud

Learn how to smoothly transition your business to the cloud. 

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DevOps & Cloud

Cloud computing has revolutionized organizational practices, offering new levels of scalability, adaptability, and cost-effective solutions that go beyond the capabilities of conventional on-premises solutions. That said, whether your company adopts a hybrid work approach or maintains an office-centric model for its teams, the integration of cloud technology is inescapable. 

Understanding and integrating cloud technology into organizations is no longer a choice, but an essential requirement. Thus, by following these best practices, your organization can increase the likelihood of a smooth and successful cloud migration, ensuring that your business leverages the complete benefits of cloud computing. 

Understanding the Cloud

First and foremost, we want to begin with some basic background on the cloud. We hear the term all the time, but what does it actually mean for businesses to utilize the cloud? Businesses that operate on the cloud involve leveraging remote servers and computing resources, typically provided by third-party cloud service providers, to store, manage, and process data and applications over the internet. Briefly, here’s what it means for businesses to utilize the cloud: 

  1. Remote data storage: the cloud allows businesses to store their data online, allowing for easy access from any location with an internet connection. This eliminates the need for on-site servers and provides data redundancy and backup capabilities. 

  2. Scalability: cloud servers offer the ability to scale resources up or down based on demand. This scalability is particularly beneficial for handling fluctuating workloads or accommodating business growth without the need for significant upfront investments in hardware. 

  3. Flexibility and accessibility: employees can access business applications and data from various devices and locations. This flexibility supports remote work, collaboration, and mobility, contributing to increased productivity and efficiency. 

  4. Disaster recovery: cloud services provide robust backup and disaster recovery solutions. In the event of data loss or system failures, businesses can quickly recover their data and maintain continuity, reducing downtime and potential revenue loss. 

  5. Global reach: through utilizing cloud services, businesses are able to reach a global audience by providing infrastructure and services in various geographic locations. This supports international expansion efforts and improves user experience for customers around the world. 

Considering this, for businesses, utilizing the cloud means embracing a modern, flexible, and scalable approach to IT infrastructure and services. This leads to enhanced efficiency, cost savings, and the ability to adapt rapidly to the dynamic demands of the digital landscape. 

What is Cloud Migration? 

Cloud migration refers to the process of moving or transitioning an organization’s IT resources, such as applications, data, and infrastructure, from on-premises environments to the cloud. It’s a strategic decision driven by the desire to take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing. As we’ve mentioned, those benefits include everything from scalability, increased flexibility, improved cost-efficiency, and enhanced opportunity for collaboration.

Cloud Migration Strategies

There are a variety of cloud migration processes, many of which include a series of R’s to categorize different approaches to cloud migration. The Gartner “5 Rs” model was introduced in 2011; the model helps organizations understand and plan their cloud migration strategies based on the nature of their applications and workloads. The 5 Rs” represent five different migration options: 

  1. Rehost (lift and shift): is an approach that involves lifting applications and workloads from on-premises infrastructure and shifting them to the cloud without making significant changes. This approach is suitable for applications that are currently running well, but need to be hosted on a more scalable and cost-effective cloud infrastructure. 

  2. Refractor (re-architect): involves making changes to the application architecture to optimize it for the cloud environment. This may involve modifying the code or adopting cloud-native features. 

  3. Revise (re-platform): requires making some modifications to the application or its components to make it compatible with the target cloud platform without a complete overhaul. It’s a model suitable for applications that need minor adjustments to take advantage of cloud features or to meet compatibility requirements. 

  4. Rebuild (rewrite): involves completely redeveloping an application from scratch for the cloud environment. This may involve adopting new programming languages or frameworks. This model is appropriate for applications that are outdated, not easily scalable, or where significant code improvements are needed. 

  5. Replace (drop and shop): is an approach in which organizations replace existing applications with commercially available Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions that meet their needs. This model is suitable for applications where an appropriate SaaS alternative already exists and aligns with business requirements. 

Of course, Gartner’s “5 Rs” have been further developed as more and more companies invest in cloud technologies. Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example, have their own “7 Rs” of AWS cloud migration. Their models hope to provide businesses with guidance on different approaches to migrating applications and workloads to the AWS cloud. The AWS 7 Rs include: 

  1. Rehost (lift and shift)

  2. Replatform (lift, tinker, and shift)

  3. Refactor (re-architect)

  4. Rearchitect (rebuild)

  5. Hybrid (replatform and migrate)

  6. Retire

  7. Retain

Many of AWS’s “7 Rs” are very similar to Gartner’s “5 Rs,” as both provide frameworks for categorizing different approaches to migrating to the cloud. While there are similarities in the concepts, we want to break down a few of the differences in the categories and terminology used. The four AWS Rs that we want to highlight are: 

  1. Replatform (lift, tinker, and shift): replatforming in this context involves making slight modifications to the application to make it more compatible with AWS services while maintaining a similar architecture. It’s necessary for organizations that want to optimize applications for AWS, taking advantage of specific cloud features. 

  2. Hybrid approach (replatform and migrate): is a strategy that involves a combination of replatforming and migrating certain components to the cloud while maintaining others on-premises. It’s suitable for organizations that are transitioning gradually to the cloud, allowing for a phased migration approach. 

  3. Retire: involves decommissioning or shutting down applications or services that are no longer needed. It’s a strategy that’s appropriate for applications that have become obsolete, redundant, or are no longer aligned with business objectives. 

  4. Retain: is a strategy that involves keeping certain applications or components in their current state without migrating them to the cloud. It’s suitable for applications that are not cost-effective or feasible to move to the cloud. It’s also relevant in cases in which migration doesn’t align with the overall business goals. 

Ultimately, choosing the right migration strategy depends on factors such as the nature of the application, overall business goals, and desired level of optimization for the cloud environment. Organizations may employ a combination of strategies based on their specific requirements and the nature of the application. 

Cloud Migration Services

Planning your transition to the cloud is a multifaceted and sometimes complex process. That said, cloud migration services refer to the professional services offered by the cloud service providers, consulting firms, and technology partners to assist organizations in planning, executing, and managing the migration of their applications, data, and infrastructure to the cloud. These services are designed to help businesses navigate the complexities of transitioning from on-premises environments to cloud-based solutions. It’s a process that includes the following: 

  1. Assessment and planning: it’s necessary to conduct an assessment of existing IT infrastructure, applications, and workloads. Though assessing the situation, organizations are then able to develop a comprehensive migration plan, including workload prioritization and dependencies. 

  2. Strategy and roadmap development: through defining a clear cloud migration strategy aligned with business objectives, organizations are able to create a roadmap that outlines the sequence of migration activities and timelines. 

  3. Data migration: through developing and executing strategies for migrating data to the cloud, businesses ensure data integrity, security, and minimal downtown during the migration process. 

  4. Infrastructure migration: is important in assisting in the migration of infrastructure components, such as servers, storage, and networking to cloud environments. Infrastructure should be optimized for cloud scalability and elasticity. 

  5. Testing and validation: it's crucial to conduct comprehensive testing before, during, and after migration. Testing validates that applications and workloads perform effectively in the new cloud environment. 

  6. Security and compliance: business must ensure compliance with industry regulations and standards. Equally, it’s crucial to implement robust security measures to protect data and applications during migration. 

  7. Training and change management: businesses should provide training for IT teams and end-users to adapt to the cloud environment. Organizations are encouraged to implement change management strategies rto address organizational and cultural changes. 

  8. Post-migration support: it’s important to offer ongoing support and monitoring after the migration is complete. Organizations need to be prepared to address any issues that may arise in the post-migration phase. 

In all, cloud migration services should be tailored to the specific needs of each organization. They must take into account factors such as the current IT landscape, business goals, and the desired outcomes of the migration. 

Cloud migration tools and cloud migration consulting 

Organizations are encouraged to look into cloud migration tools to help facilitate the process of mixing applications, data, and infrastructure from on-premises environments to cloud platforms. These tools help organizations streamline migration processes, reduce manual effort, and minimize potential disruptions. Some popular cloud migration tools include: AWS Migration Hub (Amazon), Azure Migrate (Microsoft), and Google’s cloud migration products

Finally, if your organization wants additional help with the process, consider hiring a cloud migration consultant. Cloud migration consulting services are offered by specialized firms and experts to help organizations plan, execute, and optimize their transition. 

If this article has sparked your attention, consider enrolling in a bootcamp with Ironhack! We offer tech courses that will help you secure the knowledge and tools to help any company leverage the benefits of cloud computing. 

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