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Why is cloud migration important for modern businesses

on November 14, 2019
In this post, we will go over different frequently asked questions about cloud and migration and give you all the pros and cons of each model of the cloud environment. If you are looking for a particular piece of content, kindly use a table of contents below to navigate through.

Why is cloud migration important?

Today organizations and giant enterprises choose the transition of their services and applications to cloud computing environments and refuse from physical servers unless they have some security reasons to keep data on their own servers.

These serious changes in IT industry flip back in August 2006, when Amazon introduced Amazon Web Services with its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). Afterward, Google and other providers like Microsoft, RackSpace hosting, etc introduced their versions of cloud platforms.

According to Google Trends, serious changes began in 2013, probably, when DevOps became more and more popular among IT companies
cloud migration statistics YOY

What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration is the operation of moving data and apps, IT processes or other business elements from a physical server or data center to a cloud computing infrastructure. This process involves both full transition, and the partly one - i.e. you can remain some services and apps on-premise or on another cloud computing provider. Usually, cloud migration implies a transition from legacy infrastructure to any cloud platform.

Models of cloud environments

Every business is unique as well as its architecture, infrastructure, and, thus, needs and requirements. That's why there are 4 basic models of cloud environments to adopt:

Public cloud

This type of cloud was developed by third-party providers and is opened for public use by means of the internet. The most popular public cloud providers are AWS (Amazon Web Services), GCP (Google Cloud Platform), Microsoft Azure, DigitalOcean (more suitable for startups and small organizations).
public cloud
Public clouds usually, have very flexible prices and subscription plans, i.e. you pay only for the resources you used and no upfront payments and investments are required. Another benefit is high accessibility to resources and applications.

The main challenge of the public cloud is the security issues. Though cloud providers take security issues very seriously and lots of the services have all necessary ISO certifications, meet compliance requirements, some businesses with too sensitive data just can't use them and choose or private clouds or remain on their own servers.
Most of such cloud providers use a shared responsibility model, where they are responsible for lower-level security (like databases, networking, storage), but you as a client are responsible for not setting encryption-at-rest for the application, or for patching your OS on the Virtual Machines.

Anyway, this is the best option for almost all organizations due to its simplicity in use and relatively easy migration process.
private cloud
Private cloud
This type of cloud means that a cloud platform was developed/configured for the only organization for its private use. It means this organization has an absolute control over its security, data, functionality, and cloud resources.

Private clouds are usually, used by enterprises because of its high initial investment in development and adoption, further maintenance costs are low.
hybrid cloud
Hybrid cloud
Hybrid cloud is a mix of public and private clouds. That means a part of services and applications are hosted in a public cloud, and another part with vulnerable and sensible data is hosted on the private one. It allows organizations to squeeze all the benefits from both models.
Multi-cloud

Multi-cloud environment shouldn't be confused with a hybrid one. Main difference is the usage of various public clouds for data hosting. Sometimes a cloud provider doesn't offer needed services and organizations have to use multiple options

This kind of setup is very rarely used because of implementation complexity. The common mistake that happens in the multi-cloud environments - companies calculate the pricing of services and find which services are cheaper in which clouds and connect clouds together. But what falls out of sight is the charges for data transfers and the difficulty of maintenance which will lead to an increase in technical debt.
aws cloud logo
azure cloud logo
google cloud plarform logo

Why move to the cloud?

Migrating to the cloud companies usually, upgrade their legacy infrastructure or outdated stack of technologies and become more competitive due to the boost in time-to-market delivery and reduction of manual routine tasks. These are not the only reasons and benefits of moving to the cloud. Here are some business and processes-related points:

  • Сost efficiency and cost management
Maintenance of your infrastructure in cloud is acceptable. Monthly bills can start from $50 (depending on load requirements, surely,) and varies between $200-600 for middle-sized organizations. Anyway, it is cheaper by almost 3-4 time than a server.

Besides, the most popular cloud providers use pay-as-you-go model and you pay only for the resources you used + no upfront bills ( there can be upfront bills actually, for example for reserved instances in AWS, but they save you even more money compared to on-demand instances).

Thus, there is no need to overpay for the resources you don't use anymore: spin up additional machines when the load increases and remove them with a few clicks or use autoscaling to do it in an automated manner.

  • Scalability
From the information mentioned above, the process of spinning up and removing of additional machines with a few clicks enables companies to become more scalable. It means you understand and prognose your infrastructure capacity needs not with a lucky guess.

  • Avoiding error-prone infrastructure
Provisioning of new machines and operations with them is not the problem anymore. Self-service and infrastructure described with a code reduce manual intervention and, thus, human-caused errors.

  • Enhanced security
Popular cloud services providers like AWS, GCP, Azure meet all necessary compliance requirements and have security certifications and specifications like:
- SOC2 - audit for service providers, ensuring they have secure management of your data and process their clients' data due to established privacy policy.
- ISO27001 (formally ISO/IEC 27001:2005) - specification for information security management system.
- HIPAA - especially important for businesses related to health care services. The personal data in the cloud is safe and cannot be encrypted.
- PCI DSS - is a standard for payment card information security

  • Status monitoring, logging, automatic backups and rollbacks
In case of any issue or outage with your application hosted in the cloud, you will be automatically notified. If the disaster nevertheless occurred, your mean time to recovery (MTTR) is much smaller compared to self-hosted solutions. You can restore to get things up and running quickly ( if you have proper backups and procedures ) and review logs to find out what was the reason for it. Bundled services allow you to refuse from third-party tools if needed.

See, having your application or service moved to the cloud, you obtain tangible benefits and wins for your business. Now, with cloud computing solutions you can plan and prognose your growth and spends.

Server VS cloud

Undoubtedly, the era of servers has not passed yet. From first glance, maintenance of own servers seems like an outdated approach, but the servers are still used by many companies and they don't have any other choice rather than a dedicated server.

The reason is sensitive data and 100% control over it. Some regulations and compliance laws don't allow some data to be stored in the cloud. Usually, these restrictions are applied to the personal data, health care, financial sectors, etc. Another example is some businesses that require an ultra high speed of data processing, and cloud has some limitations due to Internet speed.

Surely, in more than 80% of cases cloud will be a better and more efficient option for data hosting, but strict compliance is a restriction towards migration to the cloud. Despite this fact, there are anyway many options on how to optimize the workflow within a server.

Cloud migration challenges

Organizations are experiencing some cloud migration problems and share their negative experience, thus, create a feeling of painful transition. Somewhat it is the truth and something went wrong only because of bad planning, absence of good strategy, the average quality of the code and legacy applications, thousands of useless calls and meetings, etc.

Yep, cloud migration is quite a challenging process but if you know main pain points, you can avoid them and make your data migration to the cloud smoother and with fewer risks.

Learn our main insights and conclusions we collected from our previous experience
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High price of the migration
Yes, a transition to the cloud may become quite expensive and you should be ready to start getting the return of investments in a few months (usually, it takes 6-10 months).
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Not all applications are cloud-native
Cloud nativeness should be checked before the shift to a cloud. Some applications can be partly rebuilt and some must be fully substituted with global changes in code. That's why cloud readiness assessment must be performed during the discovery stage.
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Legacy code dependencies
One of the most common scenarios in the migration to the cloud is having lots of parts undocumented and using legacy versions of the languages / frameworks / packages, etc. In the own-hosting. it was possible to have the app working because almost nobody touches it. But in the real world such kind of approach will fail, there is an option called lift-and-shift in the migration, but even the way of migrating applications will have issues, if some of the parts in the application/system work as black boxes getting some data inside, and giving some data processed to other endpoints.
KPI for cloud migration icon
Developed strategy is 50% of success
Strategy is all about business objectives over technologies. You have to identify the final results you want to obtain at the end - i.e. identify KPIs and success metrics. For example, you can establish the following KPIs :
- UX (page load time, lag, responsive time, session duration);
- Application / components performance (error rates, throughput, availability, apdex);
- Infrastructure (CPU usage, disk performance, memory usage, network throughput);
- Business (CR%, engagement, TCO (total cost of ownership), ROI).
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Application and services compatibility
POC (proof of concept) and tests in the cloud environment must be performed on a regular basis. Be ready to make adjustments and/or global changes in your migration tactics plan to provide perfect application compatibility.
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Disaster recovery
Design all possible disaster scenarios and study these cases. A ready disaster recovery plan helps to quickly resolve the issue or find ways to restore the application. Moreover, by using IaC you can prepare your infrastructure to recover automatically from lots of scenarios and be much more highly-available and resilient compared to old-fashioned on-premises setups.

Cloud migration process

To decide whether you need or can migrate to any cloud or not, you must perform a cloud readiness assessment - i.e this is the initial step of the cloud migration process. According to this report, you would be able to create a tailor-made migration strategy. There are 6 common strategies to perform a transition:

  1. lift-and-shift is otherwise known as "rehosting" - literally, the application is lifted out of its environment and shifted to the cloud or another environment. This method is the most primitive and fast but quite error-prone.
  2. Re-platforming - the process of transition from one platform to another one. Replatforming may occur efficiently if you have legacy workloads and want to move towards cloud computing technologies. Another good reason is new benefits of another platform which would help to grow business.
  3. Re-purchasing - shift to another product (usually SaaS).
  4. Re-architecting - a new concept of application architecture and its development. Usually, this method is the most efficient since your service becomes more modern and cloud-native.
  5. Retire - simply refuse from unnecessary services. Sometimes some services are just not needed and become a burden in your infrastructure. Save up to 20% by turning off useless services.
  6. Retain - just do nothing. If the application is not ready for migration or there are no benefits and advantages for a business, you may better retain and delay the transition.

When you have determined a proper strategy or a mix of approaches, you need to take care of a cloud migration process.
1
Strategy design
Readiness assessment and design of the transition plan.
2
POC (proof of concept)
Identify your workload and KPIs. Find the approaches and tools best suited for you.
3
Application migration
Plan a migration of each application.
4
Data migration
Check your sensitive data on compliance and find a way to move your data secrely and reliably.
5
Step-by-step migration
Test your new cloud environment.
6
Run & optimize
Find all growth points of your current environment and track KPIs on a regular basis.
Despite the fact the process of cloud migration can be sometimes costly and challenging, moving your data and applications to a cloud is a big step towards a great digital transformation. The complexity of this process depends only on the size and initial state of your operations.

In this article, we have covered the most frequent and important questions on cloud computing technologies. If you have any questions on how you can efficiently migrate to the cloud, or how to optimize your cloud and reduce costs, please contact us for a free consultation!

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