Cloud migration is on the rise. In a bid to achieve more flexibility and scalability, businesses are shifting some or all of their on-premises infrastructure to the cloud. However, a transition to the cloud is no mean feat and involves a horde of challenges. Seamless cloud migration entails an in-depth business and technology analysis, diverse skillset and agility.
Every business needs to follow some best practices while migrating to the cloud. These include:
1) Analyze Your Business Requirements in Detail
The very first thing you need to do for a hassle-free migration is to analyze your business and technology requirements and how a transition to the cloud would affect them. Consider how migration to the cloud would affect your disaster recovery plans, data governance and security protocols. It is important to analyze how well-suited your apps and infrastructure are for the cloud environment.
Few things can hinder successful migration to the cloud. If you use apps that need extensive modernization, follow strict rules around compliance and data security or need regular to access massive files, the transition won’t be easy.
2) Assess if you need a Cloud Consultant
You may have in-house cloud experts to pull through the migration successfully. In the absence of in-house expertise, you may need to bring in cloud hosting provider consultants who can assess your specific requirements and suggest the best possible way forward.
There are several ways you can handle a cloud migration project. If you have the right skills and adequate time to plan and execute the migration, you can tackle the project completely in-house. Alternately, you can rely on external advice and hire a cloud migration services provider to plan the transition and deploy your in-house resources to execute it.
If you have the expertise to strategize for a successful migration, you can plan the migration and get it executed using an external cloud migration services provider. If you are completely alien to the cloud, you can completely outsource your migration to a trusted cloud migration services provider.
3) Assess your Current Environment
It is vital to make a detailed assessment of your current environment. You need to identify the present infrastructure and the applications you are migrating for prices and resources. It is important that you conduct an audit of your infrastructure and understand your current cost and resource levels. Once this is done, define the constituents that you will need. Consider the storage requirements and computing power that will be required.
4) Estimate the Costs Involved
Many organizations switch to the cloud primarily because it is cost-efficient. Cloud migration reduces the expenses related to buying, running and maintaining on-premises infrastructure. But the financial benefit differs for each application. For instance, while a newly built mobile app may yield better returns when moved to the cloud, applications using legacy enterprise hardware may be more expensive to run on the cloud.
Then, cloud migration involves an array of hidden costs. Businesses need to factor in long-term expenses such as network and bandwidth expenses, the cost of training workforce, etc.
5) Choose a Suitable Cloud Environment
Choosing the right deployment model is one of the vital factors to consider while migrating. You can choose from any of the four models:
- Public Cloud: Public cloud is the most common cloud deployment model. In a public cloud, all hardware, software and supporting infrastructure are owned and maintained by a third-party. Here, you share hardware, storage and networking devices with other organizations, referred to as the tenants. If you are a small organization with a limited IT skillset, public cloud migration is a suitable option as it needs less time to roll out and maintain.
- Private Cloud: In a private cloud, the resources are exclusively used by one organization. A private cloud can be physically located at your organization’s data center or hosted by a third-party. Here, the hardware and software are exclusively reserved for your organization. A private cloud is easy to customize. So, if your organization deals with sensitive data or needs to strictly comply with regulations in your industry, a private cloud is the recommended alternative.
- Hybrid Cloud: A hybrid cloud combines public and private clouds so that organizations can leverage the benefits of both the deployment models. In this case, the data and applications can move between public and private environments for higher flexibility and more deployment options. If you need the security of a private cloud with the flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, a hybrid cloud is the recommended option.
- Multi-Cloud: A multi-cloud model combines two or more public cloud IaaS environments. Multi-cloud is suitable for businesses that want to avoid vendor lock-in and retain the flexibility to choose from multiple cloud vendors. Such a model offers more redundancy as the client can switch from one vendor to another in case of a mishap. This model, however, requires a wide range of management and IT skills.
6) Evaluate and Choose your Cloud Provider
If you are migrating to a public cloud, you will most likely choose between Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Your decision boils down to the specific needs of your business.
Amazon Web Services: AWS, a subsidiary of Amazon, is the world leader in the cloud marketplace. AWS focusses on public cloud offerings and provides a wide range of tools that businesses can harness to optimize their cloud applications.
Microsoft Azure: Azure is particularly beneficial for enterprises that want to invest in a hybrid cloud solution. If your business primarily uses Microsoft Office 365 and other Microsoft apps, Azure can be an appropriate choice.
Google Cloud Platform: While Google Cloud Platform may not be as enterprise-focused as Azure, it offers a wide range of innovative tools related to advanced analytics, automation and machine learning. Though not as mature as its counterparts, GCP can offer more flexible and competitively-priced contracts.
7) Prioritize what to Migrate When
For any application on your list, you need to decide whether to migrate the entire application in one go or migrate it component by component or service by service. It is vital to identify how the services in an application are dependent on each other.
For complex applications, you can create dependency diagrams that can decide the order of migration of these services. It is often recommended to start with the services that have fewer dependencies. So, you can migrate the most internal services first followed by outermost services closest to your customers.
8) Keep Security and Compliance in Mind
Security is one prime barrier that prevents many businesses from moving to the cloud. Security should always be of prime consideration particularly when integrating new technology like the cloud. It is essential to be aware of the service provider’s security practices. You need to know where your data is going to be stored, what kind of encryption mechanism is in place and what kind of regulations the cloud vendor is compliant with.
9) Prepare an Exit Strategy to Avoid Vendor Lock-in
Even if your cloud hosting provider seems to be delivering satisfactorily in the beginning, things can change down the line. Vendor-lock in a common issue for businesses adopting the cloud as cloud migration is a long, costly process, so many businesses stick to one vendor even if it isn’t the best fit.
Keep an exit strategy at hand just in case things don’t work as planned. Also, peruse the Service Level Agreement (SLA) of the current vendor to find out what the vendor will do if you stop using their cloud services.
Cloud migration can be a cumbersome task, particularly for medium-to-large-sized companies. Attempt to bring in such big changes may result in a fiasco. However, if you keep in mind the aforementioned points, assess everything adequately and carry out in-depth research, you can reap the benefits of the cloud while avoiding the common pitfalls.