What is “Cloud Migration”?
Put simply, cloud migration is the term used to explain the movement of digital assets and company resources – think applications, data, workloads, and IT resources – to the cloud.
More often than not, the term “cloud migration” refers to non-cloud environments (either on-premises data centres, or legacy infrastructures) and their move to the cloud. However, this phrase is also used for migrations from one cloud to another.
The movement of resources does not mean that everything will be migrated either.
In fact, the migration process and cloud deployment option utilised will completely depend on your current state and infrastructure; as well as organisational requirements, needs and values – and ultimately, your bespoke cloud strategy.
Beginning to scratch your head? With over 10 years’ experience and expertise, we are confident that we can provide valuable insight, knowledge, and education on both the cloud and migration – and combined: cloud migration.
- What is the Cloud?
- Why do businesses migrate to the Cloud?
- What is ‘Legacy Infrastructure’?
- Uses the Cloud provides
- The Benefits of Cloud Migration
- Challenges of Cloud Migration
- The Types of Cloud Migration
- 5R’s: Rehost, Revise, Rebuild and Replace
- Cloud Deployment Options: Private cloud, Public cloud, Hybrid-cloud and Multi-cloud
- The Cloud Service Models: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS
- The Cloud Migration process
- SC: Your fully agnostic Cloud Migration option
What is the Cloud?
“What is the cloud?” – the question we all can appreciate is hard to not only explain but also grasp and understand – to begin with anyway.
Let’s break this down:
When you think of “the cloud” or cloud computing, think of the resources you access through the internet. The cloud is merely a service provided, hosted, and managed by a CSP (cloud service provider) via the internet – providing accessible, on-demand computing services including storage, analytics and intelligence, databases, servers, software, and networking capabilities.
The cloud isn’t nearly as confusing or hard to grasp as you may have initially thought. In fact, you are probably using a cloud service without even being aware of it. Got an iPhone? Or maybe you use Dropbox, Gmail, or even Netflix. All of these products and services utilise the cloud – you sign-up, providing your user credentials and sign-in. You can then access stored resources (either personal i.e., through iCloud or Dropbox or provided i.e., through Netflix) from anywhere, on-demand. Use this same analogy and apply it to your business infrastructure.
If you work for a remote-based team, or due to the COVID-19 pandemic recently encountered working from home, you may be familiar with accessing company resources through a company portal – this involves signing into the portal where all applications, data, tools, and resources can be accessed. Typically, with cloud computing services, you will pay a recurring fee – this could be monthly or annually. Most beneficially, you only pay for cloud services that your organisation utilises, helping to mitigate operating costs, improve infrastructure efficiency, and allows for organisational scalability.
Why do businesses migrate?
According to Deloitte: Insights, security and data protection, data modernisation, and cost and performance of IT operations are the three leading reasons behind to move to cloud.
More specifically, organisations seek to switch from their legacy infrastructures for data integrity.
What is data integrity? Data integrity is complete, accurate and consistent data – it is data that is GDPR compliant, “safe” and secure. When the integrity of data is secure, database stored information remains accurate and reliable and free of breaches from outside forces.
However, lets delve deeper into the “why”: In recent years, cyber attackers and their methods have become more sophisticated – meaning that traditional security measures are no longer enough, lack scale and also, resilience. Not only are passwords no longer enough but the global COVID-19 pandemic also had a detrimental effect on operations.
The pandemic saw the majority of organisations switch to remote working. Unbeknown at the time, this opened a sea of opportunities for malicious hackers to intercept not only individuals, but organisations too as they switched to less reliable networks and systems. As reported by the National Cyber Security (NCSC), in 2020 alone, 46% of business identified breaches and attacks.
To further support the significance of cyber security breaches, Nexor stated “no one is immune to the threat” – the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK Government themselves were imitated. Due to these recent events and security concerns, organisations are now looking to implement new and improved cybersecurity options. This includes shifting from legacy systems and applications, and digital transforming their infrastructure(s), to modernize their platforms, leveraging modern-day applications and consequently switch to advanced analytics for improved insight.
What is meant by ‘legacy infrastructure’?
The term legacy infrastructure, legacy application, or legacy system refers to computer software and/or hardware that is “outdated”. More specifically, as defined by Gartner, it is an information system that is considered outdated in comparison to today’s developments, but critical for day-to-day organisational operations. Examples of industries that commonly utilise legacy infrastructures include healthcare, banking, transport, finance, and insurance.
Uses the Cloud provides
Store, back up and disaster recovery
Of course, you can save your data and other valuable bits of information anywhere – your laptop, external hard drives, USB drives and more. But what’s significantly appealing about the cloud, that these don’t offer is the ability to access files, delete files and edit files with just an internet connection (and the right credentials of course).
The traditional method of data back-up, whilst effective, is prone to viruses and poses cybersecurity threats to modern-day businesses. With the cloud, you can archive data and sensitive information into cloud-based storage systems – this allows your data to remain intact and stored safely, despite the worse case scenario of your data becoming compromised.
Disaster recovery – every organisation worst nightmare. Thankfully, with the cloud you can build a solution. By creating replicas of your production site(s) and consistently replicating our data and configuration settings, in cases of disaster, you can quickly re-launch your applications and data services and get your business back up again.
Due to the value data possesses today, it’s not new news that companies need to utilise it – for big data alone can present new opportunities to exploit, provide solutions and insight into your competitors, customers and more.
Collecting, storing, and analysing this amount of data however is costly – both in time and money. With the cloud however, you subscribe to a monthly subscription, only paying for what you use, making big data analytics inexpensive, useful and most importantly, simple.
Software testing and development
Building in-house software or apps is a costly – of all time, money and resources – process. With the cloud however, many CSP’s offer tools for integration and delivery, making the development of- and testing less complicated, less costly and ultimately, faster.
IaaS and PaaS
Hosting your physical servers and virtual infrastructure(s) requires a significant amount of investment to both acquire and manage the IT side of things. To therefore save, businesses today are turning to the cloud with thanks to the pay-per-use schemes offered – say bye-bye to your VMware licensing costs and more.
Furthermore, if you want to manage even less then PaaS is something you should consider.
Deliver software on demand
To put it simply, when using cloud computing, everything you send, receive, upload – the list goes on – is stored on the cloud. Ultimately, this makes it possible to access from anywhere, at any time on any device, so long as there is internet connection of course.
What are the benefits of Cloud Migration?
Undertaking the process of a cloud migration can present an abundance of benefits for your organisation. With that said, the benefits specific to your organisation, will solely depend on your cloud model in addition to the specific requirements, values and needs of your organisation.
We’ll keep these short and to the point:
Organisation’s business plans and requirements are constantly changing – through switching over to the cloud, you will allow your organisation to amend your scale (scaling up or down) based on your needs, requirements, and goals. What once was ideal, may no longer serve the demands and needs of your organisation. With the cloud you can dramatically reshape the infrastructure to accommodate needs.
Most importantly, un-like contracts you are locked into and paying large £££ for, with the cloud you pay for what you use – this can ultimately save your organisation a significant amount of money.
As mentioned above – migrating to the cloud can save your organisation a significant amount of money. How? Again, due to the fact you will only pay for what you use.
The applies for the storage, as well as applications you utilise from your CSP and more. Don’t believe us? A trend report conducted by Microsoft Office stated that nearly 80% of surveyed IT administrators from organisations report that they are saving more. Furthermore, a survey focused on SMB’s from Microsoft again stated that 82% of SMB’s also report reduced costs since the adoption of cloud computing.
I think it’s safe to say at this point, cloud migration really does save money.
Agility – a term you probably often hear following any mention of the cloud, or from cloud tech services – I know we’re guilty – but it’s for a reason. “Cloud agility” refers to the technological abilities of the cloud, whereby it (or better yet, you) can quickly adapt and respond to changes, as well as develop, test, and launch applications in a timely matter. When you think of cloud agility, just think “can quickly and easily adapt and respond to needs, challenges and opportunities”.
Let’s use working from home as an example. Organisations who were readily set-up on the cloud, were swiftly able to make the switch and adapt to remote working as opposed to organisations who were not. This is because users were able to access resources, applications, and data via cloud services.
CSP’s provide a world-class network of facilities, incorporated with the most modern cutting-edge tech. Hardware and software updates are consistently carried out and completed – saving money time and ensuring organisations apps are supported with the most up-to-date infrastructure. CSP’s applications are also consistently under-going improvements, updates and being expanded on – all based on consumer desires and business and organisation needs.
This allows you to not only continuously grow, expand and meet your goals, but it also allows your organisation and team to do more than they ever could before – ultimately, being more productive than they ever could. No matter where your employee’s, business partners or customers are, they can access your tools, apps, and resources securely with ease.
Compliance and Security
Microsoft themselves report that many public cloud providers (Azure, G-suite, AWS) have already built-in security feature alongside specialist cloud security tools – further ensuring that organisation’s resources are protected. Security patches are automatically carried out – this includes staying on top of current cyber-trends and conducting updates necessary to protect your data and ensure it is safe. In addition to security, some CSP’s also integrate specialist offerings to meet compliance requirements – in the form of policies, tech, and tools – these features are especially ideal for the more “highly regulated” healthcare, government, and finance industries.
Still not quite convinced?
Forrester conducted interviews of customers and data aggregation of their own – specifically those who used Microsoft. Utilising Microsoft Cloud, customers saw:
- Time and effort remediating incidents had decreased by 80%, consequently saving organisations $6.4M.
- Policy setting through the cloud eliminated 75% of cyber threats and improved the likeliness of experiencing data breaches by 40% ultimately saving them $1.7M.
- Conclusively, cloud users saw $8.9M saved within a three-year period with a 151% ROI.
The Challenges of Cloud Migration
We won’t beat around the bush here, as whilst there are indeed many benefits, that does not mean that the process itself does not produce challenges.
Challenges that often accompany a cloud migration include:
For large-scale migrations, extensive planning is required across the organisation. The first step to a successful migration, is establishing a strategy – this is achieved through analysis and identification, and incorporating key stakeholders to determine requirements, needs and goals.
Cost – time, money, and resources
Despite cloud migrations improving both short- and long-term ROI’s, determining the cost can not only be difficult but it can also be easy to underestimate. Whilst cost estimations are essential, it’s important to acknowledge that the cost can change – not just monetary costs, but the cost of time and resources too. Where time, or ‘business downtime’ is concerned, careful planning is required. Although moving large quantities of data can be done relatively quickly, in hope of minimising downtime, a specific strategy needs to be put in place – ultimately, this will help move more manageable quantities of data.
Cloud Fluency and Complexities
You may find that most of your current skills can be applied to the cloud and its functionalities. However, whilst this may apply to some, not all (employees, customers, and partners) may have the understanding or current technological abilities. Your organisation will therefore need to consider offering skill building, training and/or walk-throughs to ensure the organisation can successfully migrate and utilise the new system(s) both during and after migration is complete.
If your organisation lacks in-house expertise to either plan or implement a migration, migration partners are both reliable and valuable resources to consider for an effective and efficient migration strategy and implementation.
Security and Compliance
When migrating to the cloud (whether that be completely or partially) it’s important to understand:
- How the cloud operates
- What you are responsible for
- How to establish security governance and data integrity
What is data integrity? This is the process of ensuring that the data transferred has remained intact, secure, and has not leaked during the migration process – complying with security and compliance regulations. When your organisation moves its software, data, applications, and other resources to the cloud it is important to remember that although you are now utilising a third-party cloud provider, a share responsibility remains. Specifically, the cloud provider (AWS, Microsoft Azure etc.) handles the security of the cloud, whilst you hold responsibility for the security within the cloud.
In other words, do not assume that the security aspect is taken care by your cloud provider. The same also applies for compliance – you, not the cloud provider, always remains responsible for GDPR compliance.
Whilst legacy applications today are referred to as outdated – no longer proving as effective and efficient as they once did. They also pose as a challenge in the migration process. Put as simply as possible, some legacy applications are an absolute nightmare to migrate from on-premises to the cloud. This is a crucial element in determining your type of migration – especially for larger, public-sector organisations.
You must ask yourself several questions throughout this stage, including:
- Why are you migrating to the cloud?
- What are you moving?
- Why do you wish to move certain apps, software and/or hardware?
- What do you wish to keep?
- What are you willing to rebuild?
The Type’s of Cloud Migration
Prior to an organisations cloud transformation journey, enterprises will need to evaluate their cloud migration options.
Why? Before official cloud adoption and migration, organisations will need to identify the type of cloud migration they wish to implement. Through effective analysis and evaluation, organisations can choose the right approach – adopting (or adapting) their strategy of implementation to meet their needs, requirements, goals and demands of scale.
Gartner, the globally recognised research, and advisory firm formally identified five ways organisations can migrate to the cloud – these are commonly referred to as the 5R’s: rehost, refactor, revise, rebuild and replace.
- Rehost: the ‘lift and shift’ or ‘redeploying’ process
- Refactor: ‘blending familiarity and innovation’
- Revise: the process of ‘re-architecting the application’
- Rebuild: the ‘modify and modernisation’ process
- Replace: the ‘discarding’ process
Back in 2011, Mr. Richard Watson, former Gartner Analysist, discussed how cloud migration is much more than a decision (or issue) on migration, but one of application or infrastructure optimisation. The decision(s) made must be approached with broad context, related to application portfolios and infrastructure portfolio management programs.
“Which cloud platform and migration techniques offer the chance to optimize the application’s contribution to stated and implied business and IT goals? Those business and supporting IT goals, described next, should be driving any cloud migration decision — not a rush to experiment with new toys.” – Mr. Richard Watson, former Gartner Analysist
Cloud Deployment Models: Private, Public, Hybrid and Multi-cloud
When considering a cloud migration strategy, your organisation must consider two factors.
- Deployment model—public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, or multi-cloud.
- Service category – Saas (Software as a Service), Paas (Platform as a Service), or Iaas (Infrastructure as a service).
What is the Public cloud?
The public cloud is owned and run by a third-party CSP (i.e., AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud etc.) over the internet. Most organisations opt-in for public cloud migration, making it the most favourable deployment option. Why? Because of the vast advantages, which include the ability only pay for what you use (contributing towards organisational-savings), simplified infrastructure management systems, 24/7 uptime, flexibility, near-limitless space, and more.
What is the Private cloud?
The private cloud, also referred to as an internal or corporate cloud, is some-what similar to the public cloud – providing self-service, scalability and elasticity. However, different from the public cloud, the private cloud offers additional control and customisation. Typically, the private cloud is (and/or can be) located in an on-site data centre or hosted by a provider remotely.
Whilst private clouds can offer a higher level of both privacy and security – with the use of company firewalls and internal hosting, further ensuring operations and data are not easily accessed via third-party providers – the organisations IT department will remain responsible for both cost and accountability of management. Meaning that private clouds will require the same maintenance, management and staffing as traditional data-centres – potentially improving security, but not costs.
What is the Hybrid cloud?
As you’ve (probably) guessed right – the hybrid cloud combines particular element of both the public and private cloud – further allowing resources to move between the two. The hybrid cloud is attractive to the organisations who require the privacy elements of the private cloud (GDPR compliance, security, and sensitive data management) but also wish to reap the benefits of the public cloud.
Commonly confused with the multi-cloud, the hybrid cloud mixes two or more types of infrastructures together – combining the private cloud, on-premises data centres or even both with at least one public cloud – creating the hybrid cloud. This model requires a lot of IT skills to implement, and often are met with some great challenges such as migration incompatibilities, improper data handling, complex access managements and more.
What is the Multi-cloud?
The multi-cloud uses multiple services – think CSP’s i.e., Microsoft Azure and AWS – whereas the hybrid cloud uses multiple deployment models. The adoption of the multi-cloud deployment, allows organisations to reduce reliance on a single provider, further allowing them to reap the benefits of utilising several cloud-hosting environments all at once.
This is typically the single, most popular deployment strategy among organisations. Why? As stated by IBM, the multi-cloud prevents ‘vendor lock-in’ – performance problems, limited options, or unnecessary costs resulting from using only one cloud vendor.
What are Cloud Service Models: SaaS, PaaS and IasS?
Present day, there are three types of cloud service categories (also referred to as cloud service models and cloud computing). What is the significance to understanding these models, you ask – well, once you understand them, it’ll be easier for you to understand why cloud option(s) are available to you – and the quicker you can plan a strategy.
‘aaS’ – a funky acronym which stands for “as a service”, refers to the movement of tech stacks from a computer to the cloud. Simplifying this even further, ‘SaaS’, would therefore mean a piece of software (i.e., Dropbox or Hubspot), which originally resided on a computer, had been moved to the cloud and is now accessible over the internet.
SaaS: Software as a Service
Software as a service, today referred to as “SaaS”, is a piece of software which can be accessed over the internet – without installing, having to manage or update anything, the service just works. Common examples of a SaaS include, Microsoft 365, G Suite apps (i.e., Gmail), Dropbox and more.
PaaS: Platfrom as a Service
Platform as a service, referred to in abbreviation form as PaaS, is defined by Microsoft as a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud. Designed to support a complete web application lifecycle (building, testing, deploying, managing and updating) PaaS includes both infrastructure (services, storage and networking) in addition to middleware, business intelligence services (BI), development tools and more. From an organisational standpoint, PaaS provides you with opportunities to avoid expenses and complexities of both managing and purchasing software licences – allowing you the opportunity to fully manage the applications and services developed.
IaaS: Infrastructure as a Service
Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, is as simple as mobbing infrastructure into the cloud. You could almost refer to it as renting a server in the cloud, for example, third-party cloud service providers (Microsoft Azure and AWS) are great examples of IaaS. The cloud provider, in this case, holds ownership of the hardware and is also responsible for managing and maintaining it – one less thing you need to worry about.
How does CM (on-prem-to-cloud) work
Each organisation, along with their needs, requirements, goals and more, is unique – the same goes for your cloud migration process. Simply put, depending on your cloud deployment model choice(s) alongside your cloud service choice(s), your migration process will be completely bespoke to you – especially after gathering all the necessary information and data on your current state in. This therefore means no two processes look the same, and there is no definite process with migrating. However, there are several key steps that you need to make.
The Cloud Migration Process
First things first: current state evaluation. A lengthy process, but an absolute necessity.
No one fancies a botched anything in life – let alone a botched migration strategy – as it will certainly be an extremely costly error. So its best to evaluate and provide a proposed strategy to your cloud migration specialist.
Start with asking these questions:
- What are you looking to migrate?
- Why are you considering moving these?
- How are you doing to do it?
The more detail you go into the better – leave no stone unturned.
Your chosen cloud migration specialist, at this stage, will begin to ask you questions of their own and follow through with their specific process – this will ensure all of the appropriate and necessary information is obtained.
Typically, a specialist process will look something similar to below:
- Discovery and current state assessment
Here, an analysis will be conducted to capture information about existing business applications, physical assets, and facilities. Including, IT infrastructure, inventory of assets, current architecture and TCO’s.
- Future state
After identifying and analysis the organisations current state, the future state process looks at and provides insight into the risks, benefits, feasibility, and dependencies – all information further contributes towards strategy and ultimate cloud migration goals, in accordance with organisation goals.
- Set goals and strategy
At this stage a clear strategy (plans and goals) will be established, providing insight into how the cloud migration will take place i.e., what applications can successfully migrate with any changes being made, vs. applications which may need to be replaced etc. and more.
The implementation of the long-awaited, pre-planned and strategized cloud migration begins.
Your fully agnostic Cloud Migration option: Shaping Cloud
Shaping Cloud offer a multitude of services which can successfully migrate organisations to the cloud. From our consultations to migration, following on to the management of IT strategies to new and improve innovation implementation – we’ve got the knowledge, expertise, and a fully-agnostic approach to help you.
What do you mean by “fully-agnostic” approach? Essentially, what this means is we work with you – finding the right solution based on your organisation’s needs, requirements, values, and goals. So, rest assure, whilst we may be partner’s to CSP’s, that doesn’t mean we will offer their service(s) as a final solution – we listen to you.
At Shaping Cloud, we can accommodate any cloud landscape – including public, private, hybrid, multi-cloud – in either an advisory or technical capacity, or through providing our complete services of migrating, developing, building, and integrating applications and systems.
Working as your trusted digital transformation and cloud partner, you can expect a pool of specialist cloud, hybrid cloud, infrastructure, data, integration, development, procurement, and PMO resources.
The Shaping Cloud Approach
Discussing your objectives and agreeing your preferred mechanism, we begin to execute a plan based on delivery of a fixed price outcome or drawing down capability to access the skills and resources you require.
Our specific phases to execute a plan include:
- Current State: discovery, analysis, and business requirements
- Future State: risks, benefits, feasibility, and dependencies
- Roadmap: creation of migration plan
- Strategy and Business Care: full commentary of the Current State, Future State recommendations, recommended transformation activity and commercial analysis
Our team of experts and specialists will work alongside your IT team, delivering the setup and migration of current systems – helping you achieve your future state infrastructure and hosting arrangements. In cases where your team does not hold the capacity, skills or knowledge to assist, we can deliver your transformations for you.
Already have Cloud Strategy in place?
That’s not a problem at all. Shaping Cloud can assist you in implementing your Cloud Strategy by providing a team of highly skilled and experienced migration experts right from the off. We can augment your current migration team, or lead the way and do the migration for you.
Not only do we look at moving your services to the cloud, but rather we take an holistic approach that comprises service desk, change management, end user training and go-live support – ensuring a smooth and seamless transformation. Sound like the partner you’re looking for? Find out more and contact us today.
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