Once your organization has determined the cloud as a good fit for your strategic goals, migrating workloads to the cloud becomes the responsibility of IT. However, there is more than one way to get to the cloud.
There are six common strategies of cloud migration that many companies use in moving their assets to a cloud environment. Here are a few reasons one might choose one path over another, or a blended selection of paths:
(“lift and shift”)
Rehost involves moving existing physical and virtual servers into a compatible Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution. Rehosting increases the speed of migration while reducing the risk.
- Servers running packaged software
- Applications without an active roadmap
- When you need to move fast
- Motivated to avoid Capex on aging hardware
(clean up a little)
Replatform involves changing the operating system or database engine. This allows you to use cloud native features to optimize aspects of the workload and services that are close to existing infrastructure without requiring code change.
- Changing the OS and database engine
- Upgrading to the latest release of an application
- Upgrading the OS
- Upgrading the database
(replace / move to SaaS)
Rearchitect involves replacing the application with a SaaS product. In this migration option, you rebuild the application architecture to eliminate dependency on custom hardware or proprietary technology platforms. You also benefit from a fully managed solution.
- Changing application requirements
- Replacing the application with SaaS offering COTS product
- Purchasing a cloud-compatible license
(leverage cloud native features)
Refactor involves examining how the application is architected and developed, utilizing new cloud-native features for performance, scaling and agility. This includes changing the middleware by re-coding application components. Refactoring is flexible in porting and globalization and is adaptive to modern consumer needs.
- Changing application code
- Utilizing cloud native features for performance, scaling and agility
- Adopting serverless and/or containerization
(keep as-is or revisit later)
Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to move a portion of IT systems to the cloud after all, due to complexity or strategic focus in a different area. In this scenario, retaining such applications should be kept as an option.
- A portion of the IT portfolio is too complex to migrate to the cloud
- Application(s) cannot be virtualized securely
- The core business strategy demands the application not be in the cloud
- Compliance requirements dictate location of specific datasets outside of cloud
Archiving portions of the IT portfolio that no longer serve the company’s interests or goals is a key strategy of any cloud migration. Not only does it save on IT costs, but it also emphasizes proper organizational security.
- Outdated and not worth keeping in regular rotation
- Applications have already exhausted their usefulness
- IT team’s attention needed on other, core applications
Since a cloud migration lays the foundation for how your IT systems will operate, the benefits and outcomes your organization will see from cloud are directly tied to your migration approach. Depending on the resulting stance you enable in the cloud, applications and data may or may not improve their communications. Therefore, taking a strategic approach to the cloud, rather than a rushed move, is the best for the long-term.
With varying levels of time commitments, cloud migration isn’t a one-size-fits-all move for most organizations. Some IT teams don’t account for the intricacies of refactoring and rearchitecting applications. And too often companies realize these complexities in a post-migration phase, which means taking on technical debt until applications can be enhanced to run in the cloud. For this reason, it’s always better to plan well in advance and do some testing along the way.