Best Practices for Successful Enterprise Cloud Migration
Data, application, and some resource migration to the cloud has been on the must-do list for many companies for some time now. But the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic have made companies expedite their efforts in cloud migration, as the workforce was forced to go remote.
Without clear-cut planning, migrating to cloud will lead to problems like ad hoc adoption issues, chaotic management of resources and process flows, security susceptibility, cost surging and dissatisfactory customer experience. It also has higher chances of failing altogether.
Companies and enterprises must adapt and adopt the changes of the “new normal” situation and work towards creating a seamless work environment. So, it is important to have a deeper understanding of cloud and migration.
What is Cloud Migration?
The process of transferring digital enterprise operations to the cloud is called Cloud Migration. It could be moving of IT processes, databases, applications and so on, into a cloud or from one cloud to another.
Here “Cloud” means the servers (along with databases and software) that are accessible through internet. With Cloud Migration, enterprises need not manage or maintain servers and software applications on local machines.
Enterprise Cloud Migration is not limited to just hosting on a cloud-based environment. Enterprises should have profound knowledge of cloud products and services and make sure that they overcome the challenges that are associated with cloud without much ado.
Use of Content delivery networks, serverless hosting environs, cloud storage, load balancers, and auto scaling features all play critical roles in making the application future ready.
Every new application comes with its own set of challenges. There is no foolproof method for cloud nirvana. Hence, it is advised to go for a multi-cloud strategy.
It is up to the enterprises and their objectives to decide whether to go for Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), or even to build a customized cloud infrastructure.
Why Migrate to Clouds?
Migration to cloud has become a necessity today. There are a plethora of benefits of migrating to cloud and ever since companies have realized this, there is no turning back.
Benefits of Cloud Migration:
- To help in business stability and disaster recovery in case of IT infrastructure collapse
- To bring in flexibility and facilitate dynamic data requirements
- Better IT resource management
- Network security
- Quick progress, iterations and minimized provisioning time
- Unified IT analysis
- Less carbon footprint
- Cloud service provider and cloud type
- Compliance and regulations management
- Disaster recovery and support
- Payment model based on the cloud structure - On-premises VS Cloud VS Hybrid
- Alignment with existing Service-Level Agreements (SLAs)
- Resources that fit accurately to create and sustain the cloud environment
- Reliability with data and information
Below we have listed top strategies or steps for successfully migrating to the cloud. Take a look.
Best Strategies for Successful Cloud Migration
- Understand the Architecture of Your Application
- Determine Cloud Integration Level
- Decide Whether to Go for Single Cloud or Multi-Cloud
While you prepare for the Cloud Migration, define the role of Migration Architect to leverage the benefits of cloud to the fullest. Migration Architect is responsible for defining the architecture of the cloud application, and planning and completing all facets of the migration. The core duties include designing strategies for data migration, determining cloud -solution requirements, production switchover operations and all other necessary features to make the migration successful.
There are two ways to migrate applications from on-premises data center to cloud. One is Shallow Cloud Integration and other is Deep Cloud Integration.
In Shallow Cloud Integration, also called “Lift-and-Shift” Method, you move on-premises application to the cloud with less or no changes to the servers that are instantiated in the cloud. There is no need of any unique services. Just small application changes are enough to get it to run in the new environment, A.K.A cloud. Hence, the method is called “Lift-and-Shift” because you literally lift and shift from one place to another without too many changes.
In Deep Cloud Integration, applications are modified during the migration process to utilize the benefits of key cloud capabilities. It might be as simple as using auto-scaling and dynamic load balancing, or as advanced as applying serverless computing capabilities like AWS Lambda or using cloud-specific data store like Amazon S3 or DynamoDB.
Before Cloud Migration, you need to be sure about one thing and that is – provider/s. Decide whether you want to go for a single cloud provider. Here, migration of applications is optimized to run in that single environment. Alternatively, you may decide to go for multiple cloud providers where applications are running on different cloud of different providers.
Going with a single provider is very straightforward; your development teams will have only one set of cloud APIs to learn. Your application can benefit from everything that your cloud provider offers.
The key drawback of this approach is vendor lock in. Once the application is updated for a particular provider, it becomes problematic when you have to move to another provider. It is as good as starting the cloud migration from scratch. Also, having just one single provider will adversely affect your ability to negotiate terms such as SLAs and pricing with the provider.
There are various models for using multiple cloud providers:
- One set of application in one cloud; another set of application in a different cloud. This is probably the simplest multi-cloud approach. This approach helps you gain business leverage with multiple providers along with flexibility on where to place applications in the future. Optimizing each application for the provider on which it runs is at its best.
- Splitting the application across multiple cloud providers. Some companies prefer to run certain parts of application with one cloud provider and other parts of it with another. Pros of this approach is that it lets you use benefits that each provider offers. Say, one provider might have better AI functionalities, another might have good database speeds etc. Cons of this approach is that your application depends on the performance of both providers. Any issues with either provider will impact your application performance and customer experience.
- Build cloud agnostic application. Some companies have their applications run on any cloud provider. In this approach, your applications run simultaneously on multiple providers or application load is split across providers. This method provides the best flexibility in vendor negotiations as you can easily shift loads from one cloud provider to another. Drawback is that you might not use the key capabilities of each cloud provider. It sometimes complicates application-development and validation processes.
KPI – Key Performance Indicators are metrics that you collect about your application or service to measure performance based on your expectations. Although you might have defined some KPIs for your applications and services, you need to check whether it is enough or you need to set more parameters once it is in the Cloud.
The KPIs predominantly show the performance of in-progress migration, prominent issues or issues that are not directly seen. Also, they help us figure out whether the migration is complete and successful.
Below are few important categories of cloud migration KPIs.
Application Performance Index (APDEX)
Page Load Time
CPU Usage Percentage
Baselining is a method where current or pre-migration performance of an application or service is measured to determine future or post-migration performance. This process will help companies to make any improvements or check for any errors.
For each KPI, set a baseline metric to measure or collect the data. Decide the time period for data collection. If you choose a short baseline period (Eg: a day), you get the data faster but you might not be collecting representative performance sample. If you choose longer baseline period (Eg: a month), it is bound to take time but you get detailed representative performance data.
Different industries require different kinds of data. Just be clear while defining your type and time frame before migration.
First and foremost, begin with identifying connections between the services. Determine how the services are interdependent on each other.
At times, users want to check few conditions of the services of applications both on-premises and cloud before migration. Restructuring of application is highly recommended and will help you a great deal, because:
- There is scope for dynamic scaling as components of cloud and servers work seamlessly with numerous applications that are running simultaneously at any given time. It also saves cloud service costs.
- Dynamic allocation of resources is any day better than static allocation, this will save time of users and helps the system function efficiently.
- Shifting to service-oriented architecture before migration will be a good move. This will help you move individual services to the cloud easily.
Migrating data is probably one of the most delicate, yet substantial parts of Cloud Migration. Location plays a significant role in impacting the performance of applications.
Common Data Migration practices are:
- Applying bi-directional syncing method between on-premises and cloud databases. Here on-premises database is removed after an entire application is moved from data server to cloud.
- One-way synchronization of on-premises database to a cloud-based database. Users can connect only to on-premises version. When it is ready, make cloud-based database as the main one and disable the functioning of on-premises database.
- Go for third-party Data-Migration services like AWS migration (Amazon Web Services) for optimum results.
Depending upon the architecture and complexity of the application and framework of data and datastores, enterprises can decide the time and method to switch the production system from legacy on-premises to cloud environ.
The two approaches which are prevailing are as follows:
- Once the entire service or application is moved to the cloud and confirmed that it is working fine, then switching traffic from on-premises stack to the cloud.
- Move few applications first, check whether it is working fine, then move few more applications. Continue this process until all the applications are moved and tested on cloud.
Resource optimization is one of the most crucial practices while migrating to cloud. Make sure that cloud is optimized for resource allocation. This can be done with the help of distribution of resources to the application. So, when there is a need to allocate more resources to an application in the cloud, it can be virtually and easily accessed from the vendor. With the support of dynamic scalability, it will be easy to meet customer demands quickly.
Cloud Migration Roll Out
- Beta Environment Set-up
- It is important to have a beta environment created for the current setting
- Post data loading, test for the flexibility of the framework
- Testing data and applications constantly
- Create a new environment for production
- Implement DevOps operations
- Shift data (both production and storage) and set up disaster recovery and fault tolerance
- Upgrade Domain Name Server (DNS) records and all other configurations
- Monitoring tools should be rolled out
- Keep track of all the necessary metrics
Setting Up a Migration Team
For a successful cloud migration, you need a competent team that will bring the best results. The cloud migration team should consist of :
- A proficient project manager with a thorough understanding of existing network, database management technologies, applications, and strategizing the workflow based on company’s goals.
- He/she should have expertise in IaaS and PaaS platforms.
- He/she should be in charge of cloud platforms development and deployment.
- He/she should oversee configuration and management of security baselines
- Should be able to design and maintain a reliable cloud environ
- Must be verified in cloud security management
- The professional should be adept to design cloud infrastructure, servers, storage, platforms, content, and network delivery
You might want to know about various cloud deployment models – read here
The 5Rs of Cloud Migration Strategy
Generally, the strategies of cloud migration are built around 5 practices and the objectives and current situation of the organization.
- Re-hosting – It is popularly known as the lift-and-shift method. It literally means lift-and-shift, the applications are moved from on-premises to cloud without any modification. This method is economical and efficient as there are fewer architectural changes involved. With this method, companies can be assured of minimal risks and long-term advantages of cloud operations.
- Refactoring – It is also known as re-architecting. In this process, non-cloud applications are transformed into cloud-native applications. Complete rebuilding of applications is needed in order to transform it to the cloud. Companies that are looking to shift from monolithic architecture to serverless can go for this method as this brings proficiency and enhanced productivity.
- Re-platforming – It is commonly known as lift-tinker-shift method. In this method, only specific elements of an application are changed or upgraded. We can say that re-platforming is a mix of rehosting and refactoring. Before migrating to the cloud, some components should be optimized. This method is very effective in terms of flexibility, security and productivity.
- Rebuilding – In this method, we re-write a part or whole of an application from the beginning while unaltering its features and specifications. Here, we replace an application with SaaS services. This is commonly known as “cloud-native” development. The application is built as new with current components and with the help of some cloud-based infrastructure methodologies like serverless.
- Revising – There are 2 steps involved in this process. In the first step, the existing code undergoes certain changes in order to offer support to the legacy modernization process. The next step is to rehost or refactor and shift applications to the cloud. This helps to leverage the best of cloud options.
Other Points to Remember for Cloud Migration
We have now covered all major points related to Cloud Migration. But there are few other factors that enterprises should look out for: One such factor is security and compliance. Thankfully, the majority of cloud providers offer substantial tooling and resources to support, build and maintain a secure system.
Cloud can be cheaper or expensive than on-premises depending on the objectives of the enterprises.
Lastly, we suggest anyone opting for cloud migration to get accustomed to building modern applications with services and microservices like twelve-factor applications and applying DevOps method which is one of the best practices for building and running cloud services and applications. And yeah, do not forget to optimize customer experience once applications are fully migrated to the cloud.
End of line…
Enterprise Data Migration planning should not be undervalued. The complexity and importance of this practice can save companies from challenges such as performance issues, bandwidth costs, user training, rewriting architecture of applications and so on. When we pay attention to details of smaller things, we can surely make cloud migration services meet the demands and run successfully.
We at Embitel have a strong and competent team who have expertise in cloud architecture, multi-cloud security and tools, dynamic and flexible frameworks, all types of cloud migrations, and proficiency in practical risk and compliance management. Connect with us to explore how you can transform your enterprise operations through cloud migration.