Cloud Solutions

Application Migration to Cloud

What is Application Migration to the Cloud?

Product migration to the cloud is the method of moving a software application from an on-premises server to a cloud provider’s environment. The cloud migration process includes transferring the database, data, function, and IT procedures to the cloud.

The Steps for Migrating Applications to the Cloud

The initial step is to take stock of your product portfolio. Some products may be low-hanging fruit and quick wins in the cloud, while other products will require refactoring or redesign ahead of cloud migration or special services on top of cloud native infrastructure to meet demanding conditions for performing or security. As we will discuss below, you will need to consider the cost of running and managing each product on-premises compared to the cloud. At the end of the day, the most effective environment for each product is typically based on cost, performance, and security, and there may be other considerations, such as ease-of-use or advanced services and features.

Step 1: Identify the Application and Assess its Cloud Readiness

Once you have identified a candidate product for cloud migration, look at its cloud enthusiasm, including the product architecture, its territories on other systems and the underlying operating system, hardware, storage, and backing services, and its data and workload requirements. Consider how much data will need to be moved to the cloud. Keep benchmarks of workload performance on-premises that can be compared to trials in cloud settings.

Step 2: Are Application Updates Required to Migrate to the Cloud?

When reviewing the application for cloud willingness, you may decide to:

  1. Refactor the product for the cloud
  2. Lift and shift the product to the cloud
  3. Modernize the product with containers

A description of each approach and when to believe it is below. Note that #1 and #3 may occasionally overlap and be the same.

Refactoring – or rewriting – an product for the cloud is the recommended approach by public cloud vendors. The goal of refactoring an product is to take advantage of the features and functionality specific to native cloud computing environments. Your application will run faster and be more cost-efficient in the cloud, while your developers can control new cloud abilities that can improve speed, flexibility, and quality. However, refactoring an application, while maintaining all of your rich includes and high customer experience, can take years depending upon how complex the product is. Also, the cost, risk, and chance of failure are high. Keep in mind that shifting data from one public cloud to another, or back to on-prem, may require a rebuild and there is the potential to be locked-in to a single vendor.

Lifting and shifting is the process of copying your product (installer and file system data) and reinstalling it in the cloud on a platform (typically Windows or Linux). Lift and shift is faster and presents less risk and cost than refactoring, but you may not get the elements and scalability that come with native cloud.

Containers can help you gradually migrate an product to the cloud without needing to refactor the entire application ahead of cloud migration. Containers allow you to lift and shift some of the application elements while refactoring others to decrease Time to Mitigation (TTM), cost, and risk.

A vessel is an executable unit of software in which product code is packaged along with its libraries and dependencies so the product can be run anywhere. Containers encapsulate only the runtime code required by your request. You can self-execute these containers without maintaining the overhead of running the whole environment. If you need extra features from the product, you can access them through a shared public library.

Remember that not every application should leave the enterprise data center and migrate to the cloud. Pay special attention to applications that are mission-critical, have high data, require low latency, or have stringent data placement constraints.

Step 3: Do a Cost Assessment and Review the Benefits Driving Cloud Adoption

Now armed with an knowledge of the application’s cloud readiness and the approach to cloud migration, it is time to do a cost evaluation of running the application on-premises vs. the cloud. This includes the time and effort it takes to refactor or update the application for cloud migration. You will need to look at your assets in hardware transportation and software and their related costs, and the cost structure provided by cloud vendors. Compare the operation and cost of capabilities running on-premises vs. in the cloud.

Also, and crucially, take an inventory of the business benefits driving cloud adoption.

Step 4: Identify the Right Cloud Environment

Enterprises have more than one cloud ecosystem to choose from:

  • Public cloud – Access compute resources via the internet and shared across groups
  • Private cloud – Access compute resources via the internet or private internal network and not shared across groups
  • Hybrid cloud – Mixes public and private cloud models
  • Multi-cloud – Uses more than one public cloud vendor

As you consider the cloud environment for the product, also consider how well it will perform once it is migrated. Without proper planning, a migration could degrade workload performance and lead to higher IT costs which negate the benefits of migrating the product to the cloud.

Step 5: Identify the Right Cloud Service Provider and Make the Move

The big Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Oracle Cloud, and IBM Cloud Services. Note that no two CSPs are the same. When evaluating which CSP to use, you will want to calculate the options that each provider offers and how they help your business plans.

Factors to consider contain (as borrowed from a tip on Cloud Industry Forum):

  • Certifications and standards
  • Technologies and service roadmap
  • Data security, data governance, and business policies
  • Service dependencies and partnerships
  • Contracts, commercials, and SLAs
  • Reliability and performance
  • Migration support, vendor lock-in, and exit planning
  • Business health and company profile

Be prepared to monitor cloud bills to avoid unexpected revelations.

The Challenges of Migrating Mission-Critical Applications to the Cloud

Enterprises have been willing to dip their toes in the cloud by transferring applications that are not mission-critical, saving their “crown jewel” applications for a future round of cloud migration. This allows the enterprise to start taking advantage of cloud assistances without exposing themselves to unnecessary risks by running mission-critical or line-of-business applications in an environment that does not fully match the feature/functionality, resilience, or presentation of their on-prem production surroundings.

When it comes to mission-critical workloads, concerns about performing (IOPS, throughput, and latency) cause enterprises to pause and calculate their options. Public clouds can only guarantee certain levels of IOPS and latency requirements. Sometimes, IT leaders find out that their applications do not work as well in the cloud as they did on-premises.

Unpredictable cloud bills have also proven to be a challenge, and performance is a major lever running up cloud spend. In addition to the complexity of migrating mission-critical applications, there are real matters about implementation and cost.

Signs That It’s Time to Improve Your Cloud Strategy

Performance issues

If you migrated an application to the cloud and now feel unstable performing or long wait times, it is time to improve your cloud strategy. Perhaps, for agility purposes, you moved a mission-critical workload to the cloud and it needs higher performance than it is receiving, or maybe your workload previously ran as expected, until the amount of data grew, and modifications were made to the workflow. Take a look at where your capabilities live to determine if there is a way to increase performance ahead of making a move to another natural environment.

Unpredictable cloud bills

If cloud bills have become unpredictable and leave you with sticker shock, it is time to rethink your plans for cloud governance and cloud expenditure. If you are pushing for high levels of performance, you will pay for it. As your capacity in the cloud increases over time, whether it’s from growth of data or data duplicates and snapshots taking up space, it will improve your cloud bill. There are many tips for reining in cloud spend. In Control the cloud spend and avoid unexpected costs, TechTarget advises there is a learning curve to avoid overspending after a migration or cloud-native operation. Increased costs do not have to be permanent. The article expounds upon four tips, involving:

  • Account for cloud computing costs
  • Pinpoint application performance issues
  • Minimize cloud scaling costs
  • Avoid wasteful spending

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