Cloud computing has helped enterprises elevate their digital transformation strategies to the next level, spurring a level of growth that is unparalleled since the turn of the millennium.
Improved flexibility to scale, significant cost reductions, and improving workflows across global teams are just some of the benefits the cloud offers―which is why so many enterprises are latching on to the technology.
To fully enjoy the advantages of cloud computing, businesses need to migrate their resources and applications online. With the size of enterprise workloads, however, the migration process becomes lengthy and complex.
What are the tips and tricks that enterprises should follow when migrating their business data to the cloud?
1. Assess the Current Infrastructure
All cloud migration processes must begin with a thorough analysis of the existing IT infrastructure.
Many organizations believe using the cloud is only a matter of moving data and applications online, which is untrue.
If the architecture is already disorganized, migrating to the cloud simply moves the problems elsewhere rather than being a positive change.
Ideally, businesses should look into their current IT backbone and determine which assets can be moved or removed from the environment.
Look into your current infrastructure to discover how your organization is using the existing applications and resources.
The goal of the assessment stage is to collect information about your servers which will come in handy later when designing your cloud architecture.
One of the more important findings to measure is your infrastructure’s usage metrics (e.g. CPU or memory usage).
By having an accurate overview of your usage, your organization can sufficiently invest in the right cloud assets, ensuring that you won’t lose money to overprovisioned or underutilized resources.
Don’t get too hung up if your team cannot find exactly how much cloud compute is needed for your organization.
Cloud computing is built to scale. This makes it flexible to modify your environment to meet business needs.
2. Evaluate the Applications That Will Be Moved to the Cloud
Not all of your applications need to be moved to the cloud. Some will still have to remain on-premises due to cost and security reasons.
If the plan is to migrate entirely to the cloud, it’s best to migrate in phases rather than moving everything at once.
There are several key points your business needs to understand when evaluating applications:
- Which applications need to be moved first?
- Do they need to be modified or edited to work with the cloud?
- Are there any tools that make the application migration process easier?
- What is the impact of the process on existing applications?
Answering these questions will help your organization determine the migration priority for business applications.
Once this list is analyzed, it’s time to move on to the cloud migration strategy.
3. Choose the Ideal Cloud Type and Migration Strategy
Enterprise cloud environments are broken down into three categories: the public, private, and hybrid cloud.
- The public cloud is the most used cloud environment in enterprises as it is easily scalable and cost-efficient. It is cheap as businesses only pay for what they use i.e. SaaS.
A disadvantage of the public cloud is that organizations have little to no control over their resources, limiting customization severely.
- Private clouds, on the other hand, allocate resources exclusively to organizations. As a result, performance and personalization will always be optimal which is why private clouds are often used by enterprises.
Security and management, however, are the sole responsibility of the organization rather than the cloud provider.
- A popular option today is to opt for hybrid cloud solutions instead. This approach takes the best aspects of private and public cloud environments to allow organizations to operate efficiently, making it the ideal choice for organizations new to the cloud.
You should also consider what your cloud migration strategy is.
Different companies have different preferences in moving their workloads to the cloud. Some may want to maintain their existing infrastructure while others are looking to change their IT operations after migrating.
There are multiple strategies your business can employ when migrating to the cloud including:
Lift-and-shift migration (also known as rehosting) moves the entire infrastructure to the cloud without making any changes.
If the organization is happy with its current IT architecture, this is the best migration strategy to start reaping the benefits of the cloud. Rehosting involves little to no coding requirements as applications are simply replicated and rehosted on the cloud.
This is a good migration strategy for enterprises with limited expertise or capacity in cloud computing.
Businesses don’t have to tweak their current infrastructure in lift-and-shift strategies, making it the easiest, fastest, and most cost-effective way to leverage the cloud in operations.
Replatforming is a variant of the rehosting strategy. In re-platforming, organizations make changes to their infrastructure before migrating, allowing organizations to benefit more from the cloud compared to rehosting.
Applications and databases are given minor—not extensive—tweaks to take advantage of the cloud stack i.e. PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS products. There are some changes, but the core structure of your IT backbone remains the same overall.
This strategy is best suited for companies looking to improve the efficiency of their IT operations without spending a significant amount of money on their cloud ecosystem.
Refactoring is the most time-consuming and expensive migration strategy (in terms of initial cost) as it involves rehauling the entire infrastructure at the code level.
Instead of just changing platforms and applications, your company will completely revamp the code, architecture, and dependencies of your IT backbone to gain the maximum benefits possible from migrating to the cloud.
Despite the high technical requirements, refactoring generates the greatest ROI and benefits for organizations. Businesses pay a lot less in terms of cloud spend compared to every other migration strategy.
Refactoring is the best choice for organizations looking to rehaul their existing applications and use cloud-based alternatives for the foreseeable future.
This strategy also enables your organization to benefit from innovative cloud concepts like DevOps, hence driving operational efficiency to an all-time high in enterprises.
4. Don’t Forget About Security
Security is arguably the most important aspect of a successful cloud migration strategy.
Today, businesses lose $3.6 million on average to a security breach—that is without factoring in fines like GDPR non-compliance which can increase to $20 million in severe cases.
Your organization should notbe losing millions as a consequence of weak security.
All cloud assets must be protected to prevent security threats.
Most cloud platforms (e.g. Azure and AWS) already include industry-grade security features and controls in their plans.
However, it’s still the responsibility of organizations to secure their sensitive data.
As cloud computing is only starting to become a staple in enterprises, it’s also important to train your employees on secure cloud computing practices.
Some areas that should be covered during training include your company’s stance on accessing cloud applications, BYOD policies, and maintaining compliance.
5. Optimize Cloud Environments After Implementation
Migrating data is just a piece of the puzzle. Managing the data after the migration process is also crucial in maintaining efficient cloud environments.
Optimization involves reducing cloud costs by trimming resources to meet the needs of enterprises without affecting operations.
This process is continuous.
Therefore, companies should always be optimizing their cloud assets.
Monitoring and analysis are two key practices in maintaining an optimal ecosystem. All cloud resources should be monitored to discover its usage metrics, which is then measured against performance benchmarks.
Also, understand that optimization is a never-ending process. You should not expect your optimization practices to work forever.
Monitor your cloud infrastructure’s performance and conduct regular analysis to discover gaps in your implementation.
Migrating Business Data to the Cloud Should Not be Difficult
Migrating business data to the cloud takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it, as you will get a better overview of your data and processes.
It seems to be a complex process, but if you prepare for it, and especially if your organization practices the tips outlined in this post, you will avoid all the pitfalls.
In a nutshell, successful cloud migrations are achieved through a mixture of thorough planning, choosing the right migration strategy, and optimizing the environment after the migration process is over.
Heather Redding is a content manager for rent, hailing from Aurora. She loves to geek out writing about wearables, IoT and other hot tech trends. When she finds the time to detach from her keyboard, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee. Reach out to her on Twitter.