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How can cloud migration transform businesses? Is it worth the effort? How to evolve an efficient cloud migration strategy? These are common questions to ask when considering migration to the cloud. In this article, find a comprehensive guide on the cloud migration process and how to get the most out of it for your business.

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WHAT IS CLOUD MIGRATION

The opportunity to migrate business operations to the cloud has quickly become an absolute necessity for different teams. With its wide variety of products and services, the cloud computing market enabled them to address that many needs as never before. 

For less than a decade, it managed to evolve into a powerful industry, services of which are applied across organizations of all specifications. According to statistics, the cloud market is going to increase to $482 billion in 2022. Thus the question of cloud migration is raised even more regularly across various companies.

Developing a better understanding what is cloud migration is obviously required for efficient implementation. So let’s start with the definition as a process of moving various digital operations, processes, business elements, and others to the cloud computing environment.

What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration embraces a series of digital actions and events to transfer data, apps, databases, or storage to the cloud. It’s a unique opportunity to move from the on-premise legacy infrastructure to the advanced cloud environment.

Even though the definition might seem simple, many will agree with the fact that it’s one of the hardest processes to start within the organization. That’s something that is related to streamlining business operations across the entire business. At some point, every company realizes the need to leverage cloud computing. It’s impossible to find a business that hasn’t started the transition yet. Of course, they could be in a different stage of its implementation or apply different types of cloud migration. 

The major reason to start migration is the opportunity to move business processes and operations to more advantageous environments. Moreover, companies have the chance to specify migration approaches and develop their own strategy. It greatly depends on a selected way to build a cloud environment.

Cloud transfer is commonly referred to as a process of migrating from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based environments. It’s worth mentioning that it isn’t the only option for companies. Today’s cloud computing approaches allow teams to combine several environments. Moreover, the wide adoption of multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructures also often covers migration from one cloud to another. That helps to distribute workloads and choose suitable cloud services for specific use cases.

cloud environment types

Teams get so many options to start cloud transition within their organization. Some of them go with the complete migration from on-premises to the cloud. Others can include on-premises resources and the public cloud (hybrid environment). At the same time, some can mix several clouds from different providers (multi-cloud environment). Thus it might be decided to migrate some processes and operations from one cloud to another for better optimization. It’s evolving to approach the multi-cloud environments though it could considerably complicate the architecture if not properly managed.

Companies have the opportunity to choose cloud service providers even for certain use cases. Depending on the type of digital operations or elements the company wants to migrate, they can outline several types of cloud migration:

  • app migration,
  • storage migration,
  • database migration,
  • server migration,
  • data migration, etc.

As a result, migration embraces different areas and needs. One of the main challenges for the company is to evolve the right cloud migration strategy when combining different migration approaches. At the same time, they have the rare opportunity to build the best infrastructure and environment accordingly to the organization’s needs.

CLOUD MIGRATION BENEFITS

Applying some changes within the organization should be supported by a clear vision of what the team can receive in return. In the case of cloud migrating, we cannot skip discussing the benefits companies get here. 

Cloud migration techniques involve leveraging cutting-edge technologies and the latest approaches on the market. It’s all about building great infrastructures that support business performance, efficient resource usage, improved management, etc.

The increasing popularity of cloud computing is supported by a number of success stories across various industries. Following best market practices is always a good idea as the team can implement them for the advantage of their own company. Sharing such experience helps other teams to find a suitable strategy and streamline the cloud migration process. 

Besides, various solutions offered via cloud computing explain migration to the cloud. Cloud service providers offer a full list of services to meet the needs of their customers. Teams benefit from ready-to-use solutions and products instead of handling tasks on their own. Cloud providers specialize in the following services:

  • Cloud migration 
  • Storage
  • Database
  • Computing
  • Application development
  • Security
  • Analytics
  • AI
  • Internet of Things
  • Cloud modernization

Consequently, choosing cloud transition opens the opportunity to get access to different solutions valuable in business. Teams can apply the gradual approach and keep adding services based on rising needs.

Another important thing to mention is that migrating is suitable for any type, specification, and size company. The coherent cloud migration strategy aims at meeting business-specific requirements and finding reasonably accurate solutions.

So what benefits can teams get with cloud transition? Check the list of major advantages along with sharing some results due to successful implementation.

cloud migration benefits

Decreased costs

Migration to the cloud allows reducing the operational costs along with improving processes. It’s related to savings in hardware, maintenance, upgrades as the service provider handles it. Since most cloud providers charge under a pay-as-you-go model, customers pay for what they use. For example, Airbnb managed to decrease storage costs by 27% after migrating to the cloud. 

High scalability and flexibility

The cloud model is also chosen due to its great ability to scale up or down painlessly. The infrastructure allows businesses to expand, change and innovate without impacting performance or user experience. Providers offer powerful compute resources to accommodate rising needs, manage resources and grow extensively.

Security and compliance

The cloud offers stronger security than traditional data centers. One of the main responsibilities of service providers is to ensure security, keep on regular updates, and of course, handle rising issues. Obtaining all the compliance certifications, trusted cloud providers have no problem with meeting even the specific compliance and security requirements. For example, Siemens trusts the Microsoft security approach. Its Zero Trust strategy focuses on securing such areas as identities, endpoints, and data. They support the security structure while using Microsoft technologies and adding other third-party apps to Azure AD.

Simplified management and monitoring 

Cloud service providers offer a number of products and services for improved and simplified management. In order to reduce the process complexity, they offer a single control solution or help to extend the existing one. For example, Bosch Mobility Solutions, in collaboration with AWS, has presented a powerful solution for data-driven management. It helps to support the confidential data exchange and role-selective share between suppliers and car manufacturers.

Mobility

Migration to the cloud also means that customers and staff can access the necessary information and business data anywhere and anytime. They just need access to the web browser and Internet connection as all the data is processed and stored in the cloud environment. Besides mobility, organizations can improve continuity by receiving such capabilities as recovery and backup.

Improved performance and productivity

The core reason to start migration still remains the chance to improve performance and increase productivity within the entire organization. Along with migrating workloads to the cloud, they empower technical, organizational, and operational capabilities. For instance, Home Depot, the home improvement retailer, has managed to accelerate its network by 60 times through data-driven approaches on Google Cloud.

CLOUD MIGRATION SERVICES AND PRODUCTS

Drawing up the cloud migration checklist isn’t possible without adding the point of discovering cloud migration services and products. It involves some decisive aspects to choose the suitable service provider and evolve the efficient cloud migration strategy. 

The primary objective of cloud adoption relies upon the capability to pass some tasks to the third-party provider. They take the responsibility to carry out outlined tasks and simplify existing workloads through offered products and services. The right choice of cloud service provider is quite essential for every team. Besides, an offered set of products and services should streamline migration to the cloud and advance business operations in the future.  

Before proceeding to the cloud migration services, it is important to check the available cloud service models. It refers to the way how services will be offered in the cloud.

cloud service models

IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) – This model involves renting storage and servers from the cloud provider, whereas building materials and equipment are handled on the customer’s side. IaaS only provides the computing infrastructure.

PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) – The cloud service model provides everything necessary for developing an app. Companies aren’t charged for hosting but pay for using operating systems, infrastructure, and development tools. PaaS delivers all the required tools for app development.

SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) – In this model, the provider takes overall responsibility to make the app available in the cloud. SaaS offers hosting and maintenance of the application and data by a service provider.

The understanding of cloud service models also helps to define the type of services and products teams need from providers. The great thing is that the team can agree on the chosen model with most cloud service providers. Looking at the leading market providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, customers have the possibility to go with each type of cloud computing – SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.

As for cloud migration services, we’d like to go into more detail and take the top providers’ products and services. AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud have taken the biggest market share and keep on strengthening their positions on a regular basis.

top cloud service providers

AWS cloud migration services

AWS was initially released in 2006, being the first cloud computing. It keeps on continuous advancement for its customers. Thus this service provider has fastly gained popularity among companies and developers. AWS maintains the lead and takes 59.11% of the market share, according to Stackoverflow. 

They offer a wide range of products, including tools for efficient migrating. AWS cloud migration solutions are suitable for migrating workloads from different environments like on-premise and other public clouds. They use personalized approaches to evaluate migration needs and build a custom migration strategy.

AWS cloud migration services address needs related to transfer services, database migration, storage migration, app migration, data movement, cloud modernization, etc. Find a list of popular cloud migration solutions with AWS:

  • AWS Application Discovery Service​ gathers data on the on-premise centers and plans the migration.
  • Migration Evaluator outlines data-driven approaches for starting migrating to AWS.
  • AWS Migration Hub​ helps with tracking the migration process. 
  • AWS Application Migration Service streamlines and expedites the migration. 
  • AWS Database Migration Service​ is used to migrate databases to AWS.
  • AWS DataSync​ simplifies the data movements.
  • AWS Mainframe Modernization handles the mainframe workloads.
  • AWS Snow Family gathers and processes the data at the edge.
  • AWS Transfer Family​ secures and scales file transfers to Amazon S3 and Amazon EFS.

Azure cloud migration services

The second position among cloud providers belongs to Azure that currently taking the market share of 32.49%. Everything started in 2010 when Microsoft decided to bring a new alternative to Amazon EC2 and Google App Engine. From that moment on, they have delivered many practical solutions to compete in the cloud market. 2021 was a year of considerable gains for this service provider, including a 51% increase in cloud revenue. 

Azure is chosen for the proven approaches for migration to the cloud and modernization. Every cloud migration process starts with defining the business case and providing a comprehensive guide. Azure cloud migration solutions are excellent for migrating from on-premise environments to the cloud. Besides, teams can always extend Azure services to multi-cloud, hybrid, and edge environments leveraging Azure Arc.

Like any other provider, Azure offers a separate set of products to support cloud migration services on their platform. They focus on handling all core migration scenarios to move data, storage, databases, virtual desktops, or apps to Azure. Here are some of the popular Azure products to complete migration to the cloud: 

  • Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure is a comprehensive guide to implementing migration.
  • Azure Migrate​ offers a wide set of tools and services to execute migration projects.
  • Microsoft FastTrack for Azure supports teams with accelerating cloud deployments.
  • Azure Site Recovery​ meets the customer needs with in-built recovery services.
  • Azure Database Migration Service​ helps to streamline data migration from multiple sources to Azure.
  • Data Box​ provides an alternative way to move stored data to Azure.
  • Azure Cost Management and Billing is presented for monitoring and managing cloud spending.

Looking for more information on AWS or Azure?

We recommend checking on the comprehensive comparison of Azure vs AWS. It could become a useful guide for choosing the cloud service provider.

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Google Cloud migration services

Making a choice on cloud service providers, teams usually draw the attention to Google Cloud. That’s another representative in the cloud computing market with a current market share of 29.66%. It might seem less than other closer competitors though it grows constantly. The initial release of Google Cloud took place in 2008, thus having a distinct advantage of being among the first ones to the market.

What’s more such intense competition in the cloud market is essential for the advancement of every representative. Google Cloud provides a number of flexible cloud migration solutions so companies can move apps, data, storage, servers, and others to the cloud in a suitable way. Teams have no problem finding quality services for modernization, data, or application migration.

You can find different use cases of Google Cloud that have enabled business growth due to effective migration. Along with providing necessary tools and products, they assist the development team during the overall process and help mix different migration options. As for popular Google Cloud migration products, you can check the following list:

  • Rapid Assessment & Migration Program (RAMP)​ is a specially developed program to simplify the cloud migration process with detailed plans and assessments.
  • Application Migration​ solutions aim to enable the smooth adoption of Google Cloud’s infrastructure.
  • BigQuery Data Transfer Service ​configures and streamlines data movement.
  • Cloud Foundation Toolkit​ offers ready-to-use templates to follow the best practices for Google Cloud migration.
  • Database Migration Service​ covers database transfer from on-premises and other clouds to Cloud SQL.
  • Migrate for Anthos​ supports the fast modernization of traditional apps to run on containers.
  • Migrate for Compute Engine​ streamlines the virtual machine migration with simplicity at scale.
  • Storage Transfer Service​ enables smooth and secure data transfer from on-premises or other cloud sources, including Azure Bob Storage or AWS S3.
  • Transfer Appliance​ is a storage device used for migrating lots of data without disruption. 
  • VMware Engine migrates VM environments to Google Cloud without some changes.

Even though migration to the cloud is often referred to as a complicated task, the service providers do their best to simplify this process. The variety of products and services is just impressive. Teams have no problems finding the appropriate solution since every provider presents a viable alternative for the specific use case.

  AWS Azure Google Cloud
Container Migration  AWS App2Container Azure Migrate Migrate for Anthos
Server Migration AWS Server Migration Service Azure Migrate Migrate for Compute
SQL Database Migration AWS Database Migration Service Azure Database Migration Service  Database Migration Service
Storage Migration AWS Storage Gateway Azure Migrate Storage Transfer Service
Storage Migration AWS Snowball  Azure Data Box  Transfer Appliance

As we have considered core services and products used for cloud transfer, it’s time to proceed to details on forming cloud migration strategies.

CLOUD MIGRATION STRATEGY

Strategical approaches are quite essential for the successful completion of cloud migration. Like any other process, it starts with detailed discovery and assessments. Along with evaluating the company’s needs, the team finds a way to build a solid foundation for changes.

The fact is that the cloud migration strategy becomes a key to structuring the entire process. It helps define the scope of transformation required for migration to the cloud. Besides considering the technical part, it’s important to draw attention to organizational, security, and business aspects. A good cloud migration plan outlines both required efforts and potential benefits to getting from it.

In 2010, Gartner presented the 5 R’s model for migration decisions – rehost, refactor, revise, rebuild, and replace. That started to serve as a good basis for evolving cloud migration strategies. The approach has become widely applied among service providers. AWS team has not only adopted but extended the model to the 6 R’s of cloud migration in 2016 – rehost, replatform, refactor, repurchase, retain, retire. 

As a result, these 6 R’s turned into a must-have tool to structure the majority of transformations. It clearly describes the fundamental principles of available cloud migration strategies. Let’s go step by step to figure out important details on every strategy.

Rehost

This cloud migration strategy covers quite clear and direct approaches. Transformations are completed by moving apps or structures exactly as they are to the cloud. It doesn’t involve architectural changes or updates and often is completed automatically by using lift-and-shift tools. The main idea is to lift the chosen elements from the current hosting environment and shift them to the cloud infrastructure. 

The distinct advantage of this approach is low migration effort and quick implementation. However, teams understand the lack of optimization opportunities. Rehosted apps may stay behind in terms of scalability and agility. Often rehosting can become a certain foundation for re-architecture and optimization if required.

Replatform

The next cloud migration strategy involves minor adjustments compared to the previous case. The transformation adjustments are related to cloud platform adoption, whereas the core app architecture remains the same. It requires additional expertise and effort though it supports changes to improve system performance. 

This type of cloud migration strategy is suitable for teams that migrate to the cloud but aren’t ready to change the core architecture or do not have enough resources. The great thing remains that they will take advantage of the cloud by changing only underlying services. It’s a good opportunity to bring modern approaches and functionalities to enhance the existing business solutions.

Refactor

We’ve come to the most advanced cloud migration strategy that focuses on numerous changes. It’s a fact that cloud capabilities provide a better replacement for the existing environment. Moreover, refactoring involves app or system rebuilding from scratch. It is often based on breaking down the components and processes to enhance deployment and simplicity.

Choosing refactoring in a core of cloud migration strategies allows teams to take full advantage of the cloud. It includes distinct benefits of cloud-native apps like agility, increased efficiency, and performance. Of course, this strategy remains costly and requires considerable effort. However, it provides the greatest tech and business opportunities with future-proof approaches. 

Repurchase

Starting migration to the cloud, we can’t exclude the option of moving to other products. Many teams evolve the cloud migration strategy by replacing existing solutions with SaaS products. It means abandoning once used apps and repurposing services on a different platform. This cloud migration strategy allows the team to pass responsibilities to the SaaS provider so that they start managing key business operations on their side. As an example of repurchasing, we can take the replacement of the on-premise CRM with SaaS solutions like SalesForce.

Replacing outdating products isn’t that simple as it seems at first sight. Of course, it might be more efficient in terms of effort and time, but it turns to be the most expensive option. Service fees and licensing are at great expense. Besides, this strategy won’t suit the teams looking for customized opportunities.

Want to learn more about SaaS product development? 

Find the comprehensive guide that describes the development cycle, tools, the team structure for the best market practices.

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Retain

It might be surprising to find retaining among the cloud migration strategies. But we have to admit that some companies don’t migrate everything to the cloud. As you remember, each strategy requires detailed assessments, including if it’s worth migrating at all. Some companies find it unreasonable to take apps from on-premises. That can be justified by compliance regulations or recently updated solutions. 

The main idea of this cloud migration strategy is to start the process when the business is really in need of it. Teams have an important task to revise the strategy from time to time so they can meet rising needs. Besides, this strategy is beneficial for businesses with hybrid environments to combine cloud and on-premise solutions.

Retire 

Facing objective assessments also leads to the decision to phase out some apps or systems. Companies accept the fact that it doesn’t justify the effort to migrate something that is not needed. If the solution doesn’t deliver any benefit, it is much better to abandon it and save costs for a different purpose. 

That is an effective cloud migration strategy as it really shifts the focus to something valuable. For instance, it suits teams that want to reduce obsolete apps and advance the absolutely necessary ones.

6 r's of cloud migration

Even though the cloud migration strategies vary from team to team, they all have the same goal of leveraging reasonable cloud solutions. The right choice is usually supported by a throughout evaluation of needs and analysis of strategies in terms of required effort and promising benefits.

CLOUD MIGRATION PROCESS

Depending on the chosen strategy, the team finds a way to bring the required structure and streamline migrating to the cloud. It’s referred to any type of migration and helps them transfer necessary data, app, or infrastructure to the cloud environment. 

The most important thing to understand about the cloud migration process is that it leverages significant and continuous changes. It always takes some time and effort to get the expected results. Besides, the team can definitely find the space for further advancements and improvements in business operations.

Regardless of the company’s needs and requirements, all of them undergo a similar cloud migration process. They might take different steps for implementation, but the goal remains the same – successful cloud transition.

cloud migration process

In general, it’s accepted to divide the cloud migration process into several stages:

  • Migration preparation
  • Planning
  • Migration and validation
  • Operating

Migration preparation

The start of the cloud migration process is always challenging. It’s a known fact that the efficiency of the initial stage considerably affects further implementation. The team has to outline so many aspects of cloud computing and choose an experienced and reliable cloud provider. They need to become strong partners during the entire migration process.

A clear understanding of tech and business purposes for migration is essential there. Missing some important details on this stage might cost a lot in the future. They need to fully assess the existing environment, architecture, and apps. Also, it includes setting clear objectives of migration needs and available resources.

Discovery and planning

The next step goes with evolving a suitable cloud migration strategy. It should correlate with the chosen cloud environment (cloud, hybrid, or multi-hybrid), the deployment model (IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS), and the required architecture.

It involves prioritizing migration components and how they’ll be transferred to the cloud. The comprehensive plan outlines the cloud migration techniques and establishes performance baselines. This stage should be completed with all documented requirements, project timelines, and defined engagement models.

Migration and validation

That’s a stage where the actual migration starts though it varies due to the chosen strategy: 

  • Rehost is completed either manually or automatically with the help of ready-to-use cloud migration tools.
  • Replatform involves starting using a new platform along with modifying and configuring the existing infrastructure.
  • Refactor covers the redesign and architecture implementation from scratch. The team goes through the entire development lifecycle.
  • Repurchase goes with installing the SaaS products and obtaining a required license for them.
  • And retain and recover strategies don’t require migration effort as the team decides to maintain the existing infrastructure or abandon it completely. 

Regardless of the applied cloud migration steps, every company needs to validate them to ensure efficiency and reliability.

Operating

Cloud computing requires proper management. That’s why the operating of cloud infrastructure should be handled within a well-managed and secure environment. The team has to follow all the cloud-using standards and support the continuous advancements of the established cloud infrastructures. The available cloud products and services aim to streamline migration to the cloud and advance business operations in the future.

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CLOUD MIGRATION CHALLENGES

Understanding the process specifications, many teams emphasize the importance of readiness to deal with issues they might come across. Mostly, it’s related to the typical cloud migration challenges. It isn’t necessarily about not facing them but more about the ability to find the solution to them when they arise. Teams need to know the addressing points to prevent posing such challenges. 

Migration to the cloud requires professional technical background and extensive experience in organizing this process. But it might be interesting to discover that a lack of planning and preparation commonly causes most issues. Let’s discuss some of the common cloud migration challenges and how to overcome them.

cloud migration challenges

Bad planning – The first thing to pay attention to in cloud transfer is careful planning. Companies that take it slightly have no possibility to undergo the process effectively. It’s always worth spending effort on evolving the right strategy. It involves defining the smallest details, mitigating the risks, and preventing migration failures. 

Cost – In the long run, every company expects a cost decrease for cloud operation and maintenance. However, they first need to spend some resources on its implementation. It involves expenses on rewriting apps, restructuring, and even training staff on new solutions. Therefore, companies always have to balance the budget due to the prioritized needs. Gradual approaches are the best solution to overcome this issue.

Security and compliance – Migration deals with a large amount of data. Thus cloud migration challenges are also connected with compliance and security risks. It’s important to establish quality and secure approaches for transferring all data types. The team should follow the latest compliance regulations and always have a plan for preventing data loss.  

Migration partner or vendor selection – It’s important to mention the fact that migration to the cloud is always handled along with the assistance of a cloud service provider. The right choice becomes decisive for receiving expected results. It’s vital to select a reliable provider with extensive experience that is able to assist the team on every migration.

Business downtime – In some cases, downtime management can pose a real challenge, especially when it isn’t expected. It’s important to understand that migration often causes business downtime. For example, companies definitely need time to redesign and implement the new app architecture. Therefore planned downtime allows the business to stay productive regardless of the migration stage.

Organizational adoption and training – Understanding the basics of cloud computing should be gained across the entire organization. The company should formulate the adoption policy and make the strategical training covering business goals. They need to take the responsibility to train employees according to their roles and a new operational environment.

Applying for the new approaches in business has never been easy, but everything is possible when it’s carefully planned and analyzed. Cloud migrating poses some challenges, so there is no problem finding a suitable solution when it’s addressed correctly.

IN CONCLUSION

Moving to the cloud opens so many business possibilities, whereas new approaches are suitable for companies of any specialization, type, and size. They find reasonable solutions to meet rising needs and run various operations. It helps to completely transform business while adopting the latest technology approaches. We hope that this article can become a useful guide to start the successful cloud migration process for your business.

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Frequently asked questions

What is cloud migration?

It is the process of transferring digital business operations and elements into the cloud. The opportunity to move from on-premises to the cloud enables new effective approaches in handling various business tasks.

How to choose the cloud migration strategy?

Migration to the cloud should always be strategically planned. It’s a complex process that requires some effort and resources. That’s exactly why the right cloud migration strategy is a powerful tool to achieve all the cloud computing objectives. Along with covering the business needs and following good market practices, the team can select a suitable strategy.

What are the core stages of the cloud migration process?

The team needs to take small and bigger steps to complete the cloud migration process. Of course, they vary due to types of cloud migration, chosen cloud environment, or model. Regardless of possible specifications, all steps can be arranged into such major stages as migration preparation, planning, migration, operating.

What are the benefits of cloud migration services?

Both startups and well-arranged companies find applying for cloud migration services beneficial. Leveraging new approaches for running operations and processes enables improvements in performance, agility, scalability, cost savings, etc.

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