1. Superior scalability and flexibility
Cloud migration improves organizational scalability, allowing companies to commission or decommission IT resources instantaneously, as required. Similarly, the superior flexibility offered by cloud migration translates to swift expansion or contraction of memory, processing, and storage resources to meet business demands and ensure cost savings. A key advantage of cloud migration is data storage optimization, which enables enterprises to fulfill dynamic business demands without worrying about planning and mapping cloud capacity.
In action, these benefits translate to never worrying about an unexpectedly large influx of users. It would be impossible to cater to such an influx with traditional on-premise infrastructure, which would lead to requests being denied and business being hampered. However, a cloud-ready business has access to virtually infinite computing resources, allowing it to handle spikes in demand efficiently.
The instance mentioned above is an example of the autoscaling process: cloud services can be scaled up or down automatically based on the time of day, YoY statistics, and consumption of processor resources, among other factors. This ensures superior scalability and flexibility.
2. Enhanced efficiency and cost savings
Scaling up business infrastructure is a costly affair. It requires planning and implementation that can take months or even years. Requisitioning the relevant hardware is a large upfront cost, as is the motive power and dedicated staff for day-to-day maintenance. This hardware is also bound to become outdated, forcing organizations to repeat the entire process or risk falling behind their competitors.
Additionally, traditional IT infrastructure requires sufficient resources to handle peak demand, regardless of ‘average’ or ‘low’ demand levels. For instance, a U.S.-based ecommerce platform with self-hosted infrastructure must have IT resources that can cater to record numbers of Black Friday shoppers, even though these resources will remain vacant for the rest of the year. On the other hand, a cloud-enabled ecommerce platform in a similar situation can scale its IT resources up and down based on demand for that particular year, month, week, day, or even hour.
A cloud-first organization has access to the latest computing resources whenever required. Such a company does not need to pay the associated implementation and maintenance costs to stay up to date, nor does it have to wait for months or years to enjoy the latest tech in the market. Instead, it pays only for the resources it uses, which can be accessed on demand.
An organization that has migrated to the cloud also shifts its IT costs from a CAPEX model to an OPEX model. This means that its IT infra goes from being a depreciating investment to becoming a recurring cost of business, which enhances liquidity and is almost always more economical in the long run. The bottom line is that cloud infrastructure is more affordable, permanently cutting-edge, and highly efficient to access and use.
3. Increased agility
Cloud agility refers to the ability of a business to create, test, and release applications swiftly and efficiently. However, this is not the only ‘agility’ provided by migrating a business to the cloud. A cloud-first organization is also able to respond rapidly as business needs evolve.
With a cloud environment, enterprise size no longer matters. Even the smallest businesses gain access to the same cutting-edge IT infrastructure, platforms, and software that the big corporations in the market enjoy. Access to the latest resources is always only a few clicks or taps away, allowing businesses to respond near-instantaneously to new challenges, demands, or opportunities.
A company that is supported by the cloud is also location-agnostic. This means that employees can work at the office, from home, or anywhere else, all they need is an internet-enabled endpoint. This feature is handy in 2021, as many companies are exploring the possibility of shifting to a permanent remote work environment.
4. Better reliability and maintenance
Most leading cloud vendors operate a global network of advanced infrastructure. Choosing such a vendor enhances reliability through many advantages, including low network latency and robust business continuity. In fact, cloud-enhanced companies enjoy faster, cheaper, and easier redundancy, as the responsibility of data backups lies typically with the vendor. As a result, a cloud-powered enterprise rarely, if ever, has to face downtime.
In the same vein, the maintenance of enterprise software and hardware is traditionally a resource-intensive obligation. However, migrating to the cloud removes the need for dedicated employees for the maintenance of IT infrastructure. Instead, the cloud provider takes care of everything related to infrastructure, thus allowing client companies to focus on their core business objectives.
5. Stronger cybersecurity and compliance
Cloud vendors are large corporations with equally large client companies relying on them for their day-to-day business operations. This means that these vendors are obligated to lay a strong focus on cybersecurity and regulatory compliance. Vendors achieve this by staying updated with the latest security and regulatory trends, which ensures secure and hassle-free storage and processing of data.
The vendor implements all relevant policies, technologies, and control mechanisms as per the most stringent industry standards. These factors can also be modified based on the specific needs of a client company.
Cloud Migration Process: 5 Key Steps for Planning
The cloud migration process is a resource-intensive endeavor that needs the go-ahead of stakeholders from across the organization. At the same time, once the process begins, it can be challenging to scale back or make effective changes to the roadmap. This makes comprehensive planning a necessity.
The following steps can help ensure a successful migration to the cloud. Insights from an experienced consultant can help at every stage of planning.
Cloud Migration Process: 5 Key Steps for Planning
Step 1: Ensure business use case and stakeholder support
Why migrate? This simple question can have many answers: business continuity, DevOps, and a perpetual remote work environment, to name a few. However, it’s not always as straightforward as giving a two-to-three-word answer to this question. A common issue faced by management teams during cloud migration is the lack of a clear business goal behind the process.
Begin by understanding whether it is the right time for your company to migrate to the cloud. Consider factors such as cost, short- and long-term effects on productivity levels, and employee awareness. This step of the plan should involve thorough, meaningful discussions with stakeholders at all levels of the organization.
Step 2: Create a comprehensive migration roadmap
Once you are confident that your organization would benefit from migrating to the cloud and that all stakeholders are on board, it is time to create a comprehensive migration plan. Some cloud migration experts report that managers begin the implementation process without a fully-baked plan and then come to them once they hit some form of cloud paralysis. At this stage, it is often costly and time-consuming to roll back the already implemented measures and go back to the drawing board.
Therefore, begin by considering the use case that migrating to the cloud will fulfill—this would be the outcome of the previous step. Next, assess your business environment and understand the factors that will play a critical role before, during, and after the migration. These factors include legacy data, critical application data, and application interoperability. It is equally important to take into consideration the reliance of the business on data. Take stock of the data that needs frequent resynchronization, sensitivity levels of different databases, and regulatory and compliance needs.
Once all these factors have been considered, you will draft a robust cloud migration plan. Factors that need to be given special consideration include the classification of data to be migrated, timelines for the migration of each class of data, tools needed for migration, the requirement for destination volumes, need for data scrubbing, and whether or not encryption will be required while the data is either in transit or at rest.
Step 3: Understand which solution is best suited to your plan
Once the business requirements for migrating to the cloud are clear and a detailed roadmap is in place, it is time to explore the various solutions available with cloud vendors, consultants, and other service providers in the market. Ideally, the cost is a primary factor that needs to be considered.
A realistic estimate of expected costs can be arrived at by calculating the quantity and quality of storage to be used, processing power and other computing resources that will be needed, and the expected operating system versions, instance types, and other particular networking and performance requirements. Cloud cost calculators provided by several leading vendors can be useful here. Naturally, input figures need to be as accurate as possible if realistic estimates are to be generated.
Once you arrive at an accurate cost estimate, it is time to compare it with the existing business model’s total cost of ownership (TCO). Most leading cloud providers have a sales team that would be happy to understand your cloud deployment roadmap and help you lower costs wherever possible. Cloud providers generally offer flexible pricing, and your chosen vendor might be able to help you save even more in exchange for a long-term partnership.
Step 4: Execute the plan in a phased manner
Now that you have worked with your chosen vendor (and maybe a team of experienced consultants) to understand which cloud migration solution best suits your business needs, it’s time for action. The aim is to complete the migration with the minimum possible level of disruption to daily business operations while incurring the lowest possible costs and consuming the least possible amount of resources.
Begin by extensively mapping the business environment- this should be easy if the planning and roadmap creation stages were completed correctly. This mapping is important to ensure that stakeholders are not locked out of critical databases during migration. Once you have an in-depth map of business operations, migration of systems to the cloud can formally begin. The chosen vendor and consultants will do the majority of the heavy lifting here.
Once the initial migration is completed, it is imperative to continue the synchronization process and update all systems to ensure that data and processes have been effectively moved to the cloud. Ensure that every application that has completed the migration process works in its new cloud environment. Work with experts to sync any changes in the source data while the migration continues.
Step 5: Ensure everything is up and running smoothly
The process isn’t over once all systems, applications, and data have been migrated to the cloud. Even though the vendor will continue to do all the heavy lifting in hands-on maintenance, you will have to work with them in the initial stages to ensure that all on-cloud entities are secure, optimized, and easily accessible by all stakeholders.
It is also a good idea to retain a few experts for the short term to monitor critical infrastructure and operations in real-time and predict workload needs. These experts can also help ensure data security and compliance with industry regulations, including GDPR, PCI DSS, or HIPAA. Another aspect to be kept in mind is the fulfillment of availability and performance benchmarks according to the business’s RTO and RPO objectives.
Finally, a responsive and efficient feedback loop is critical in every business process, especially as major as cloud migration. Make sure no stakeholder is left stranded before, during, or after the migration process, no matter how small their grievance may be.
Top 7 Cloud Migration Trends Shaping 2021
The post-pandemic corporate world has seen businesses prioritize investments in cloud solutions to enhance communication and productivity levels in increasingly popular remote work environments.
Here are seven key trends adopted by organizations that are migrating their workflows to the cloud.
1. Cloud to cloud migration
Cloud solutions have been gaining popularity since before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they have captured the spotlight during the months after lockdowns came into effect globally. Increased focus on innovation continues to lead to the development of cutting-edge cloud solutions. As a result, organizations that have already migrated to the cloud are finding new cloud-based solutions developed by competitor vendors more appealing for fulfilling their business needs.
A basic example of this trend is a company moving from one cloud provider to another, like Azure to AWS or vice versa. In this case, the physical or virtual machines present with the existing vendor and associated operating systems, configurations, storage, and applications, are transferred to the new vendor.
This trend is popular among companies that need to switch cloud providers without first transferring all workflows and data back to in-house data centers. Cloud vendors are picking up on this trend, and in the spirit of competition, are ensuring that clients do not suffer from ‘vendor lock-in.’ Most leading vendors make it easy for clients to move between cloud providers quickly.
2. Lift and shift migration
This trend is popular among new cloud adopters for its relatively quick turnaround time and low implementation cost. Also known as rehosting or shallow cloud integration, lift and shift migration entails moving on-premise applications to a cloud platform with minimal changes to their architecture.
The applications being migrated are only changed enough to enable them to operate in a cloud environment. This trend is known as ‘lift and shift’ because the workflows are ‘lifted’ and ‘shifted’ to the cloud with slight changes.
Organizations that are migrating their workflows to the cloud prefer this method because it needs minimal refactoring. However, there is a downside to this. Organizations that get in on this trend may not gain all the benefits of migrating to the cloud. This is because applications that are ‘built for the cloud’ have advantages that ‘tweaked for cloud’ applications lack in terms of both functionality and cybersecurity. This might translate to higher costs in the long run when compared to adopting other migration models.
3. Move and improve migration
Also known as replatforming, this trend is popular among enterprises that wish to make modern improvements to their legacy applications and move them to the cloud. It is a step ahead of lift and shift because the applications get more advantages of being cloud-based.
For instance, aspects of the application can be automated or made scaleable, giving them a dynamic edge and making them future-ready. And again, it is cheaper and less time-consuming to move and improve existing workflows than to build new ones from scratch for the cloud. However, depending on the use case, following this trend might result in a migration that does not fulfill the long-term technological needs of the organization.
4. Rip and replace migration
Also known as re-architecting or refactoring, this cloud migration trend is followed by those organizations that want the real deal. It entails scrapping all legacy applications and rebuilding them to be ‘cloud native.’ Naturally, this is the most resource-intensive migration option and calls upon the organization to either re-skill or upskill its existing IT personnel or hire experienced consultants for this project. Regardless of the route chosen, following this migration trend unlocks all the benefits of the cloud. However, make sure that your company will benefit from going all out before proceeding with this.
5. Drop and shop migration
Also known as repurchasing, this trend is especially popular among organizations finding it unwieldy to continue scaling up and maintaining their in-house HRMS, CRM, payroll, email and chat, and other systems. Instead, such organizations choose to hop over to mature software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions available with third-party cloud vendors at low prices. Enterprises with legacy applications that aren’t easy to rehost, replatform, or refactor need to get in on the drop and shop migration trend.
6. Retention of legacy applications
Companies across industries are migrating their workflows and applications to the cloud. However, just because something is a trend doesn’t mean everyone should hop onto the bandwagon. A ‘counter-trend’ on the cloud migration front is noticing that an application or workflow is critical and cannot be retired just yet but is also not ready to be migrated to the cloud. In such a case, it’s often a good idea to keep things for later. Besides, as already covered above, it is critical to have a convincing business case for migration before the process begins, something that is clearly lacking in this case.
7. Retiring existing applications
Finally comes the applications that you realize are no longer required either on the cloud or on-premise after taking complete stock of the business environment. At this time, forward-thinking organizations are known to depreciate such assets instead of migrating them to the cloud or retaining them. While this trend may be relatively uncommon, it is picking up pace as more and more management teams reassess their business operations and revisit whether certain workflows and applications are required. Retiring can save money, enhance the company’s cybersecurity posture, and make daily operations easier and more streamlined.