Cloud Migration Strategies: Choosing the Right Approach for Your Applications
The pandemic has been an eye-opener. While organizations gravitated towards the cloud before the pandemic, they are more likely to opt for the cloud now as they realize the enormous benefits of data storage and processing in an environment unencumbered by legacy systems. The cloud facilitates the kind of flexibility that was unanticipated earlier. Other reasons behind the cloud’s popularity are as follows:
- Consolidates data in one place: Organizations do not have to worry about managing data on-prem data centers anymore.
- Self-service capability: This feature of the cloud enables organizations to monitor network storage, server uptime, etc., on their own.
- Promotes agility: The monolithic model that companies were reliant on earlier was rigid. With the cloud, teams can collaborate from anywhere instead of on-prem.
- Ensures data security: By modernizing infrastructure and adopting the best practices, organizations can protect their critical data from breaches.
- Fosters innovation: One can test new ideas and see if it works. For example, the deployment team can conduct a quick POC and see if it meets the desired objectives.
- Scalable: One can scale up and down as per the need of the hour. Operational agility ranks high in the list of CIO objectives.
- High availability: Ensures anytime and anywhere access to tools, services, and data. In the event of a disaster, backup and recovery are easily enabled. Not so for on-prem data storage.
- Affordable: Cloud services use the pay-per-use model. There is no upfront capital expenditure for hardware and software. Most organizations resort to the pay-as-you-go model and thereby ward off unnecessary expenditure.
“Ninety percent of organizations believe a dynamically adjustable cloud storage solution will have a moderate to high impact on their overall cloud success.”
While most organizations are aware that they must move their workloads to the cloud - given the marketplace’, they are not sure how to start. Every cloud migration is unique because each organization has its priorities, application design, timelines, cost, and resource estimates to consider while pursuing the cloud strategy. Hence, the need for a vendor that understands their requirements. After all, a digital native would pursue a cloud strategy completely differently from organizations that have complex structures and legacy systems to consider. Their constraints and priorities being different, the one-size-fits-all approach does not work, especially for financial services organizations. The key is to incorporate a migration strategy at a pace the organization is comfortable with instead of going full throttle.
This article has identified the three most important cloud migration strategies and the instances where these should be used.
- Lift & Shift
Lift & Shift - for quick ROI
The Lift & Shift (Rehosting) strategy of cloud migration re-hosts the workload, i.e., the application “as-it-is” from the current hosting environment to a new cloud environment. The rehosting method is commonly used by organizations when they desire speedy migration with minimal disruption.
Following are the main features of the rehosting approach:
- Super quick turnaround: This strategy is useful when tight deadlines are to be met. For example, when the current on-prem or hosting provider’s infrastructure is close to decommissioning/end of the contract, or when the business cannot afford prolonged downtime. Here, the popular approach is to re-host in the cloud and pursue app refactoring later to improve performance.
- Risk mitigation: Risk mitigation is important. Organizations must ensure the budget and mitigation plan takes account of the inherent risks. It is probable that no issues surface during the migration, but after going live, run-time issues might surface. The risk mitigation in such instances could be as small as the ability to tweak or refactor as per need.
- Tools of transformation: Lift & Shift can be performed with or without the help of migration tools. Picking an application as an image and exporting it to a container or VM, running on the public cloud using migration tools like VM Import or CloudEndure is an example of Lift & Shift, frequently employed by organizations.
While choosing lift-and-shift, remember that quick turnaround comes at the cost of restricted use of features that make the cloud efficient. All cloud features cannot be utilized by simply re-hosting an application workload in the public cloud.
Refactor - for future-readiness
Refactoring means modifying an existing application to leverage cloud capabilities. This migration strategy is suitable to refactor to cloud-native applications that utilize public cloud features like auto-scaling, serverless computing, containerization, etc.
We have provided here a few easy cloud feature adaptation examples where the refactoring approach is desirable:
- Use “object storage services” of AWS S3, GCP, etc., to download and upload files.
- Auto-scaling workload to add (or subtract) computational resources
- Utilizing cloud-managed services like managed databases, for example, AWS Relational Database Services (RDS ) and Atlas Mongo.
Distinguishing features of this kind of cloud migration, and what organizations should consider:
- Risk mitigation: Examine the expense - capital invested. Appraise the costs of business interruptions due to rewrite. Refactoring software is complex as the development teams who developed code could be busy with other projects.
- Cost versus benefit: Weigh the advantages of the refactoring approach. Refactoring is best if benefits outweigh the costs and the migration is feasible for the organization considering the constraints defined earlier.
- Refactor limited code: Due to these limitations, businesses usually re-factor only a limited portion of their portfolio of applications (about 10%).
Though the benefits of this approach - like disaster recovery and full cloud-native functionality - more than makes up for the expenses, businesses nonetheless must consider other dynamics. Another advantage of this approach is its compatibility with future requirements.
Re-platform - meeting the middle ground.
To utilize the features of cloud infrastructure, re-platform migrations transfer assets to the cloud with a small amount of modification in the deployment of code. For example, using a managed DB offering or adding automation-powered auto-scaling. Though slower than rehosting, re-platforming provides a middle ground between rehosting and refactoring, enabling workloads to benefit from basic cloud functionality.
Following are the main features of the re-platform approach:
- Leverage cloud with limited cost and effort: In case the feasibility study reveals that refactoring is possible, but the organization wants to leverage cloud benefits, re-platforming is the best approach.
- Re-platform a portion of workload: Due to constraints, companies opt to re-platform 20-30 % workload that can be easily transformed and can utilize cloud-native features.
- Team composition: In such projects, cloud architecting and DevOps teams play a major role without depending heavily on development team/code changes.
- Leverage cloud features: Cloud features that can be leveraged are: auto-scaling, managed services of the database, caching, containers, etc.
For an organization dealing with limitations like time, effort, and cost while desiring benefits of the cloud, re-platforming is the ideal option. For example, for an e-commerce website employing a framework that is unsuitable for serverless architecture, re-platforming is a viable option.
Choosing the right migration approach secures long-term gains.
What we have underlined here are some of the most popular cloud migration strategies adopted by businesses today. There are others (migration approaches) like repurchasing, retaining, and retiring. These function as their names imply. In the retain (or the hybrid model), organizations keep certain components of the IT infrastructure “as-it-is” for security or compliance purposes. When certain applications become redundant, they are retired or turned off in the cloud. Further, organizations can also choose to drop their proprietary applications and purchase a cloud platform or service.
At Magic FinServ, we have a diverse team to deliver strategic cloud solutions. We begin with a thorough assessment of what is best for your business.
Today, organizations have realized that they cannot work in silos anymore. That way of doing business became archaic long ago. As enterprises demand more significant levels of flexibility and preparedness, the cloud becomes irreplaceable. It allows teams to work in a collaborative and agile environment while ensuring automatic backup and enhanced security. As experts in the field, Magic FinServ suggests that organizations approach the migration process with an application-centric perspective instead of an infrastructure-centric perspective to create an effective migration strategy. The migration plan must be resilient and support future key business goals. It must adhere to the agile methodology and allow continuous feedback and improvement. Magic Finserv’s cloud team assists clients in shaping their cloud migration journey without losing sight of end goals and ensuring business continuity.
If your organization is considering a complete/partial shift to the cloud, feel free to write to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a conversation with our Cloud Experts.
Build and Manage secure, scalable and resilient cloud solutions to gain competitive advantage.