All these considerations make choosing the right cloud provider challenging - but not impossible. Let's look at some strategies that can help simplify this process and create an effective cloud migration strategy to help your organization plan ahead.
Why do businesses migrate to the cloud?
There are many reasons why companies migrate to the cloud. Cloud-based solutions offer greater scalability and efficiency than traditional hardware infrastructures and more flexibility for businesses. They make migration possible for organizations of all sizes while offering them a wide array of options in terms of their IT needs and funding.
For example, moving an application from on-site data centers to private or public clouds can make it easier for firms to meet industry regulations that require certain information to be stored within specific locations or jurisdictional boundaries.
Moving platforms into the cloud is also a good way to ensure continuity for business processes if they were previously hosted in areas vulnerable to natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes.
So how can businesses go about making this transition? The first thing we’ll look at is determining whether your organization has sensitive data that requires an isolated environment for storage and processing where security management tools on premise are needed (private cloud).
Software life cycle management
Software life cycle management is a methodology that can help you decide between public cloud and private cloud solutions. The software life cycle management principles outline the important questions users should ask when evaluating whether or not to use a public, private or hybrid cloud.
The following list highlights the 14 principles of software life cycle management:
1. Strategy: Either for cost reduction or for performance improvement, new functionality requiring an investment in software development, operations needs to be identified and planned as early as possible.
2. Learning and experimenting: Align staff training and business processes with opportunities provided by emerging technologies.
3. Migration phases: Firms need to divide migration into several phases in accordance with business requirements.
4. Non-IT services: Identify non-IT-based services such as human resources, finance and sales that can be migrated to the cloud.
5. IT services: Identify the IT services (applications or infrastructure layers) most suited for migrating to the cloud.
6. Cloud services: These include service offerings from multiple vendors, such as Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) security management software, storage, etc.
7. Architectural design: Cloud computing is best deployed in a three-tiered architecture comprising hardware, software and networking components of which heterogeneous elements are part of hybrid clouds, although this is not an industry norm.
8. Business impact analysis: Assesses risks related to loss of software applications and data.
9. Security controls: All cloud providers have their own security policies, but they may differ from yours, so it’s best to work on a security control framework before migrating any business-critical applications.
10. Cloud standards: Choose the most relevant standards for your organization since they can be used to help define roles and responsibilities and provide a benchmark against which performance results can be measured.
11. Recovery needs: Set up reliable mechanisms to ensure that recovery due to system failures or unavailability is ensured with minimal downtime or degradation in service quality.
12. Licenses: Review licensing agreements from legacy systems. If you use any third-party software, then you should check on what cloud platforms they support.
13. Service level agreements (SLA): SLAs are a key aspect of any cloud migration. You need to be sure that your data is backed up and that all sensitive information is encrypted at rest in case the cloud provider fails.
14. Cloud economics: While moving some workloads to public clouds can significantly reduce IT costs, it can also increase costs enormously if certain security needs can’t be met.
For example, encrypting data before it is uploaded may be required, resulting in substantial charges due to additional computing power consumption from the encryption process. So while a public cloud doesn’t necessarily mean low-cost migration, the total ownership costs should nevertheless be lower than those associated with traditional hardware-based approaches.
Segmenting workloads is another way to reduce costs.
Which cloud option best suits your organization?
To meet future cost demands in terms of IT budgets, availability and application performance expectations, it’s crucial to understand the options available:
- Moving applications to public cloud
- Migrating applications on-premise to a private cloud
- Upgrading existing systems with new architectures
- Building hybrid clouds
- Staying with your current infrastructure
Approach choice varies by industry
The choice of a cloud migration approach or the deployment of multiple approaches varies by industry. For example, financial firms are more likely to use private clouds for business continuity and compliance reasons than manufacturing firms that don’t need such extreme levels of performance isolation.
There are also other factors which can influence strategy choice:
- Size and complexity of legacy systems
- Business requirements as well as organizational aspects like cultural barriers, regulatory requirements or security constraints
- Technical capabilities
Some considerations include:
Where will data be used?
Personal clouds in a home environment for individual users may require different considerations from corporate clouds, which typically can share data within the organization but might have external restrictions on where it can go beyond the corporation's boundaries due to external regulations or policies.
How should the application be scaled?
Public cloud often requires ongoing resources, with all choices being metered. This can mean additional charges for peak usage, and it’s important to understand how quickly a system might grow. A good analysis of systems needs will help determine if you have sufficient capacity from on-premise data centers or whether cloud migrations are required. On-premise migration may need a short transition period before recurring cost savings begin. Still, there is no risk of costs escalating unexpectedly early in the life cycle as would regularly occur with public cloud services.
Platform change or lift-tinker-and-shift?
Before migrating to the cloud, businesses must know exactly what they want to do with their data and how it will affect their current capabilities. If they want to move an application, whether on-premise or within a specific data center cluster, this might require them to change the platform's hardware architecture.
The migration process also needs support from business users in terms of time and financial resources because changes are likely to occur after end users have already begun adopting a system. Other approaches involve creating new applications tied into legacy systems but managed through the cloud.
Suppose there are plans for significant upgrades or replacements. In that case, these may be better suited as part of long-term strategies rather than short-term solutions – because cloud platforms are constantly updated, this can include new versions of applications and hardware. For example, if a data center is destroyed in an earthquake or other natural disaster and needs to be immediately restored from the cloud without having time to carefully migrate data.
Refactoring or change of architecture after migration
Transitioning to the cloud may involve refactoring and migrating data. This entails moving existing applications and supporting legacy systems for some time before they’re completely phased out. This can be costly as it requires careful data maintenance and management processes, but it offers organizations tighter security controls, which is an important benefit of the cloud.
The process makes possible uninterrupted business operations while giving companies more flexibility regarding scalability, performance or other measures that help deliver higher service levels.
When choosing whether to refactor or migrate entirely, platform owners need to carefully evaluate their options in order to make informed decisions. For instance, if a company's main concern is that its current architecture can’t scale according to growing, fluctuating demands, this suggests that they may need to refactor their system instead of migrating it. On the other hand, Refactoring allows companies to make changes within the confines of their current platforms rather than completely replacing them.
This isn’t as easy as simply upgrading hardware or software and generally involves high costs and effort, so businesses need to consider several things. For example, whether they can ensure long-term stability with existing systems, what budget resources are available for the migration process,and how much time will be required for a complete transition.
Migration and refactoring are both viable strategies to consider when moving platforms into the cloud. However, each strategy has unique benefits and disadvantages regarding cost, the time needed for implementation and management requirements. Businesses need to carefully judge their options on a case-by-case basis before deciding what works best to meet their needs – but being aware of all these factors can help them make much better decisions.
Some technologies can help companies make the most of the cloud. Organizations need to carefully weigh the advantages of moving software or hardware to the cloud against the disadvantages associated with performance requirements. If they need higher processing power from applications but want to save on costs, they may look at using private clouds rather than public ones; this means that organizations will be responsible for managing servers fully while still using cloud resources.