Beginner’s Guide to Cloud Migration
Unless your business was born in Cloud Migration, you probably rely on a few IT applications or legacy infrastructure that you own, host, and manage yourself. These systems may have fueled your growth in the past, but as you move toward more modern technologies like AI, machine learning, and automation, your legacy, non-cloud-based systems can present a roadblock. Simply put, they are not built to take advantage of cloud-native technologies.
The goal of this article is to guide you on the right path to migrating your workloads, applications, and processes to the cloud. You’ll discover the basics of moving workloads to the cloud, as well as how to continue to get value from your investments in legacy systems. Plus, we’ll show you how to get help when you need it. Finally, you’ll be one step closer to transforming your business.
Table of Contents
What is cloud migration?
Cloud migration is the process of moving digital assets, including workloads, data, and applications, to a public or private cloud environment. In addition, it entails decisions around how you plan to use, maintain, optimize, and control your cloud once the digital migration is complete.
What are the benefits of migrating to the cloud?
The specific benefits of a cloud migration are closely related to the benefits of the platform you choose. For example, if you migrate to a managed private cloud platform, you will experience substantial benefits around security and performance. And if you move to a public cloud, your benefits will be more centered around microservices and flexibility. But no matter which platform you choose, moving from an on-premises environment to a hosted environment will generally mean the following:
By moving away from expensive, legacy infrastructure, you can realize immediate savings in IT operations by moving from a capex model to an opex model. This allows you to preserve more cash or reinvest your capex budgets in business-critical initiatives.
In the cloud, your IT can be relieved of operational burdens and geared to developing the next step. For end users, the cloud offers better functionality, allowing them to get things done faster and more efficiently.
Modernized cloud infrastructure gives your IT team more agility so you can deliver new functionality to users faster. Leveraging the cloud also allows you to implement cutting-edge technology like AI, IoT, and machine learning to drive innovation. Attempting to run such resource-intensive technologies on legacy hardware is not only costly, but also impossible in some cases.
Evaluate your applications before migration
The first step in a cloud migration is workload selection. If your project is very large, it is likely that you will face a huge growth in project scope and long time frames. For this reason, start with a small, effective workload, and after you’ve gained some experience migrating to the cloud, move on to increasingly complex workloads.
Apply application profiling to collect and organize information about your workloads and applications. Follow these steps to assess and prioritize workloads for cloud migration:
- Monitor your current environment’s metrics around compute needs, performance output, response times, and other factors important to business operations. This will help you benchmark and develop KPIs for the new platform.
- Detail and collect key information about your workloads, such as physical and virtual server configuration, network topology, compliance requirements, data and application dependencies, geographic considerations, and user needs. This will help you establish the requirements to select the correct cloud platform to support your environment.
- Based on the audit and information gathering, categorize your workloads based on the complexity of the migration. Identify which workloads can be easily migrated, without the need to switch platforms or retool. Prioritize these easy-to-migrate workloads for cloud migration.
What is the correct cloud deployment model?
Once you’ve identified your candidate workloads, align your requirements with your appropriate cloud platform. While we refer to “the cloud” as a singular entity, there are several types of clouds to consider. For this reason, it is very important to evaluate your applications and workloads. That effort will help you make informed cloud platform choices based on what you need and what the platform can offer.
- public cloud In a public cloud, infrastructure is shared by multiple companies and is owned and operated by a service provider. Because it allows you to easily scale resources to meet demand and pay as you go, it’s a great option for managing unpredictable traffic and maximizing cost savings.
- private cloud In a private cloud, the infrastructure is exclusive to your company. This gives you the ability to customize your compute, storage, and networking, thereby achieving higher levels of control and security. Depending on your workload requirements and resource usage, the private cloud can also deliver more cost savings than public cloud infrastructure.
- hybrid cloud. Some workloads require a hybrid cloud that connects the public and private cloud environments. A hybrid cloud can give you private cloud control for your sensitive and business-critical assets, plus the flexibility and cost savings of public cloud for your public-facing operations.
- Multi-cloud. In essence, multi-cloud means just that: multiple clouds. From your on-premises data center and private clouds to hyperscale clouds like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft® Azure® , and Google Cloud Platform™ (GCP), cloud-based SaaS applications, and even , colocation environments, it all integrates to create your unique multi-cloud.
Making a distinction between some of these definitions is beginning to be difficult. With solutions like AWS Outposts, you can now take your public cloud “to hyperscale” in your own data center, on dedicated hardware. And you can run a private VMware cloud on AWS. This just means you have more options to choose from as you search for the right platform for your cloud migration.
Choosing your cloud migration strategy
After you’ve decided which workloads belong in which cloud, you need to select the best path to transition from one place to another. An organization is likely to use multiple migration strategies across workloads, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For example, an organization’s monolithic ERP system may use a rehosting strategy for technical or licensing reasons, while an HR system. H H. it is completely replaced with a SaaS option.
There are six common cloud migration strategies that are applied to make the move:
Six common cloud migration strategies
In this approach, existing legacy components are completely decommissioned and replaced with a cloud-based alternative. This creates a quick path to the cloud, but it takes a lot of planning, and you still have to deal with migrating data from one system to another, or choosing to leave it behind.
You can choose to completely rebuild your legacy elements, creating a completely modernized cloud-native solution. This approach is considered the longest and most expensive type of migration, but the end result offers the greatest benefits. Because it is built in the cloud and for the cloud, it can integrate the latest technologies such as containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs. As a result, you can achieve more flexibility, better performance, and lower long-term operating costs.
3. Restructure the platform
If you’re looking for a migration solution that takes your workload to the cloud, with minimal code changes, consider switching platforms. This translates to porting your application components to a new runtime platform, such as moving a COBOL-based system from a UNIX or mainframe system to a LINUX or Windows environment. The features and functionality of your application remain the same, and you can take advantage of the cost savings and scalability that are inherent in the cloud, with minimal effort. Plus, you can continue to get value from your legacy solution.
When you rehost, you essentially “rehost” your digital assets into a new environment (physical, virtual, or cloud infrastructure), with no code changes or functionality adjustments required. This approach gets you to the cloud faster, but doesn’t take full advantage of cloud-native tools, performance, and cost benefits. And with emulators, like the COBOL mainframe emulator for Windows, you can basically recreate your legacy environment, but on a modern infrastructure.
5. Restructure and redesign
This option allows you to migrate parts of your application to the cloud, while leaving other elements in your legacy environment. For example, you can continue to host your monolithic application in-house, while moving your database to the cloud, where you can achieve better performance and take advantage of cloud-based analytics tools. You may still need to do some backend tweaking for legacy elements, but this approach can help you move your monolithic piecemeal app to the cloud.
Of course, sometimes it makes sense to just keep your current situation and not make any changes or updates. For example, if you expect an upcoming merger or end-of-life announcement, there may not be a compelling rationale for modernizing. Or perhaps you need to maintain certain elements that serve as “connectors” or “bridges” to other modern elements in your organization. But there still needs to be a long-term strategy, because the longer you have an inefficient and resource-intensive infrastructure, the less budget and resources you have when you’re ready to innovate.
Sometimes the best path is just to retire a legacy system and move its users to other systems that are already in place. Many times this requires redesigning the same processes, but it can also be an opportunity to improve and streamline those processes.
Four-Step Cloud Migration Process
Every migration is different based on a variety of factors, including the maturity of the application, the level of complexity of the infrastructure, and the skill level of the IT team. As a general guide, every migration will include some form of the following four steps. Following these steps is important to avoid making the wrong decisions regarding technology and methodology or encountering surprises during the migration process.
Step 1: Plan and Evaluate
Build your entire environment, including dependencies, services, applications, and physical and virtual server settings. Record everything, including invisible IT deployments and third-party resources that could complicate the migration if not properly accounted for.
Step 2: Design
Identify candidate cloud-ready physical and virtual servers, databases, storage, and applications. Compile SLAs, dependencies, user needs, and compliance and security requirements. Prepare contingency and restore plans to respond to worst-case scenarios or cancel the migration if necessary. Assemble resources for migration and ongoing maintenance. Document a preliminary migration path for candidate items.
Step 3: Test the migration
Solve the problems that have arisen during the design. Complete the team in charge of the migration, include both technical and commercial members and establish activities around communication and training. Schedule a pilot migration, based on your design, in a non-production environment and address any issues that arise during the pilot. From this drill, develop a runbook that documents the process (pre-migration requirements, production environment requirements, post-migration testing protocols, and rules for when to transition and when to release).
Step 4: Migrate
Schedule the migration. Consider scheduling it during a period of low activity, such as weekends, evenings, holidays, or any other time that will have the least impact in case there is a business interruption or performance issues during the migration. Follow your runbook to perform the migration. After transitioning and launching, perform post-migration validation of your applications, data, and network. Troubleshoot crashes, service outages, data anomalies, or performance issues. If you can’t fix major issues quickly, minimize the impact and implement a rollback to investigate what went wrong and reschedule the migration.
What are some of the challenges of migrating to the cloud?
Because every migration is different, every company will face its own set of challenges. Below are the most common challenges companies face during cloud migration projects.
- Cultural change: Migration to the cloud will bring new efficiencies and processes to the organization. These new efficiencies will be accompanied by processes to which users will have to adapt. Transforming your business means reacquainting the organization with new business processes and methods that may be difficult to accept . Make sure your users understand the changes that will come with migrating to the cloud, plan for proper training, and expect a learning curve.
- Legacy assets: Traditional IT assets, real estate, and data center commitments will need to be decommissioned. As you plan your migration, be sure to include any contract penalties, facility rentals, or hardware removal costs in your plan. For legacy items that can’t be fully migrated to the cloud, consider hybrid environments that allow you to keep the core system while supplementing storage and compute with the cloud.
- Skills gaps: Managing a cloud environment requires different skills than managing on-premises or data center environments. Ideally, you should retrain your current team. If this is not feasible, you will need to hire resources or use a managed service provider to oversee day-to-day operations. Also, make sure users are prepared with the new skills needed to do their jobs, with the new tools and processes.
- Disruption: Even with the best planning, things can go wrong in migration. Common obstacles include data loss, business interruptions, or performance degradation. Plan your migration during slow business periods. Contact the company to inform users of the migration time frame and the possibility of unexpected behavior.
Why should you move to the cloud with Rackspace Technology?
As you move through your cloud migration journey, partner with experts who know how to create successful migrations, across industries and geographies. With over 20 years of cloud experience, Rackspace Technology can help you not only migrate, but also transform your IT operations and improve your business processes.
We’re with you at every stage, from selecting which workloads to migrate, to ongoing management and optimization on your new cloud platform. We get to know you and your organization’s unique goals and challenges and work together to develop a roadmap that drives optimal business results. Leverage our cloud migration expertise to your advantage.