Cloud migration presents cloud-ready businesses with tremendous upside. With benefits like cost savings and productivity gains, adopting the cloud makes for savvy businesses. But going cloud also presents a fair amount of challenge and risk. Read on for a look at what cloud migration is and all you need to know about moving to the cloud.

What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration is the act of transferring an organization’s digital assets into the cloud. Cloud migration can be partial, include all digital assets, or involve a complete move of all assets into the cloud. 

What is a cloud migration strategy?

Data Migration

A cloud migration strategy is a plan to transition its data and applications into the cloud. While the cloud offers many benefits, not all applications and services are able to realize the advantages of running on cloud-based infrastructure. A cloud migration strategy helps identify which assets can function in the cloud, potential challenges, risks, value an organization stands to gain. It also includes a systematic approach for complete the transition.

Types of cloud computing networks

Cloud computing networks exist in three forms. These include:

Public Cloud

A public cloud is owned and managed by a  cloud provider and billed for on a pay-per-use basis. Public clouds are ideal for small and medium-sized businesses that want an easy-to-manage ecosystem that’s easily scalable. Most public cloud solutions are also affordable, making them attractive to small and medium businesses. While easily accessible and affordable, public clouds are also considered less secure for sensitive data. 

Examples of public clouds include Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. 

Private Cloud

A private cloud is a custom-designed cloud infrastructure that’s owned and controlled by a business or a third-party provider. This type of cloud is ideal for large organizations that need greater control over their data and security, and any unique development requirements can be quickly executed. It is more expensive as more assets are hosted in data centers not owned by the organization.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud is a combination of private and public cloud models. It’s ideal for businesses interested in flexibility, security, and scalability, with lower operational costs. One of the most common concerns related to hybrid clouds is the transfer of data from private to public clouds and that it can cause network communication conflicts.

Types of Cloud Services

Cloud services are solutions that make it possible for businesses to run applications and other business-critical resources in the cloud. There are three types of cloud services:

IaaS (Infrastructure as Service)

IaaS is the most common cloud service and includes virtual servers, operating systems, networks, and data storage drives. Using IaaS relieves businesses from the CAPEX costs of investing in hardware and software and the cost of running and maintaining both on-premise. IaaS can be rented and is constantly maintained by a cloud provider. This makes it a smart option for cloud-ready businesses.

PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service)

PaaS includes an infrastructure and software framework that businesses use to develop and run, and manage their own applications. PaaS makes it easier to roll out and scale your web application and its usage.

SaaS (Software as a Service)

SaaS solutions are software-based products and services that are used in the cloud. These are easy to deploy and paid for on a per-use basis and a recurring billing cycle (typically monthly).  SaaS solutions are also maintained by the product provider, freeing businesses from the need to spend more on in-house support for unique applications.

Benefits of cloud migration

Businesses looking to cloud migration stand to benefit from a more streamlined approach to digital assets management. This includes: 

  • A reduction in the total cost of ownership 
  • Greater agility and flexibility to respond to business computing needs
  • Faster innovation using easily scalable cloud resources
  • Less in-house resource requirements through the adoption of cloud services
  • Enhanced customer expectations and satisfaction as cloud services are maintained with higher availability
  • Immediate business results due to scalability 
  • Leveraging SaaS to drive down costs of expensive licensing agreements for on-premise solutions
  • Accurate consumption management through dashboards, reporting, and analysis solutions designed to track cloud service usage
  • Improved performance as a result of access to higher-performing cloud services

Challenges of cloud migration

Cloud migration is a complex undertaking. Common challenges business experience include: 

Managing legacy applications

The cloud can house almost any application, however, not every application should be in the cloud. Most can’t be easily moved to the cloud without causing serious disruption to business operation and some cannot function effectively within the cloud without additional development, or worse yet, a complete rebuild.

Application modernization

Choosing whether to end-of-life or kill on-premise applications and rebuild them in the cloud can be a costly endeavor. Businesses could sacrifice months of development time along with costs to build cloud-ready applications. 

Choosing a cloud management approach

Going cloud doesn’t guarantee immunity for overspending on services. Once in the cloud, businesses must determine how to best track cloud service usage and whether they have the right in-house team to manage cloud resources or if the job will be outsourced. 

Overcoming the complexity of migrating

Moving to the cloud introducing considerable complexity to business IT networks. Organizations are tasked with maintaining and ensuring current operations run smoothly while meticulously migrating assets to the cloud. A thorough cloud strategy is essential to control resources and ensure budget is well-spent.

Discovering application dependencies

Most networks migrating to the cloud include application dependencies that have not been identified. Infrastructure staff is faced with the task of establishing dependencies to ensure migration doesn’t result in unforeseen downtime and additional costs

Stakeholder support

Cloud migration can only be realized if key stakeholders are on board. This includes the c-suite and all teams. Migrating at scale is a mammoth task and buy-in isn’t just a matter of agreement, it requires time and effort from each team to establish what they need in the cloud to perform their roles successfully.

Cloud migration risks

Cloud migrations risk includes any and all potential negative outcomes as a result of moving to the cloud. A complete cloud migration strategy should account for all risks. The most pressing issues businesses face include: 

Increased architectural complexity 

Moving to the cloud often introduces services that many organizations may not be familiar with in a cloud setting. Without proper planning and an effective strategy, your cloud ecosystem can quickly become highly complex and unmanageable. The surest path to a simplified network is to mirror as much of your existing infrastructure as possible. 

Poor application selection

Depending on the complexity of a business’s digital requirements, applications and their limitations can be a serious obstacle for cloud migrations. Investigate applications and examine what they are required for, how they run on-premise, and if they are cloud-ready. 

Undiscovered application dependencies

Lack of visibility into application dependency can introduce several risks. From security threats to potential downtime and revenue loss, it’s essential to understand how your ecosystem functions. Map out relationships between applications and servers, databases, and use application dependency mapping solutions. 

Unwanted latency

Latency directly influences business performance and can be overlooked. Ensure that your cloud strategy accounts for latency testing for accessing applications, databases, and services in the cloud and use a network provider that offers optimization services to address any latency issues.

Security considerations

Moving data to and from cloud infrastructures poses some security risks. To address these risks, choose your network connections carefully, opting for a secure private connection to handle particularly sensitive data, and ensure their cloud providers have the tools, practices, and policies in place to comply with relevant security requirements.

Types of cloud migration

Cloud migration can be completed in one of three ways. These include:

Re-host (lift & shift)

Applications are migrated from an on-premise environment to the cloud. 

Re-platform

All applications are moved to the cloud without completing any major development. 

Re-factor

CerSpecific components of applications are updated to meet enterprise standards, functional needs, and security needs.

Key Migration Steps

Cloud migration is largely dependent on the complexity of your operation. A basic step-by-step approach includes: 

  • Planning your migration: Create a complete cloud migration strategy
  • Choosing your cloud environment: Identify your ideal cloud environment
  • Migrating your apps and data: complete your migration 
  • Validating post-move success: Review your business’s performance before and after migration. A successful migration should result in immediate wins

Streamline your cloud migration

Cloud migrations can be smooth sailing. But for that level of ease, you must have a well-structured strategy and the right tools to quickly and accurately establish how complex your existing ecosystem is. 

VNT’s dependency mapping tool discovers and maps business application dependencies in only 30 minutes. It is a 100% non-intrusive solution. It’s also agentless, credential-less, no need to reconfigure firewalls – we work passively using existing network traffic protocols (IP address based) and map automatically 24/7 and in real-time so our maps are always up-to-date.

Watch a free demo to see how you can discover all applications and their dependencies, plan for microsegmentation, and more. Access demo.