Across a range of industries, cloud computing has shown no signs of stopping in terms of its popularity.
Having left its early adopter phase and now firmly in the mainstream of information technology, some businesses may feel as though they need to play catch up with cloud computing’s new modes and processes. And it’s perhaps easy to see why. Migration to the cloud can be hugely beneficial when it comes to IT cost reduction, offers a rapid speed of deployment and can be scaled up and down as necessary.
Additionally, cloud computing’s ability to enable business transformation – one that improves customer engagement, creates new partnerships and drives competitiveness all in a future-proof solution – has been much heralded. However, while deploying a few applications and cloud projects is all well and good, using the cloud across many different lines of business at a large scale is another challenge entirely.
This means that cloud migration must be done in a measured and strategic way. If a company’s cloud setup has been poorly managed, it could mean many a costly performance challenge stands in their way. In this walkthrough, we’ll explain what cloud migration entails, learn about the benefits of developing a cloud migration plan, and discover how to manage a migration successfully.
- What is cloud migration
- What are the benefits of developing a cloud migration plan?
- How to successfully manage migration
Cloud migration refers to the process of moving digital business operations into the cloud. Rather than physically moving things, cloud migration involves moving physical data, applications and IT processes from a set of data centres to another.
Typically, cloud migration describes the move from on-premises or legacy infrastructure to the cloud. Legacy infrastructure itself refers to hardware or software that is outdated but still being used by a company in its day-to-day activities. Legacy products and processes tend to less efficient and secure than their present-day counterparts, and as such, businesses still using them run the risk of falling behind their competitors as well as leaving them open to data breaches.
And because legacy products are outdated, they may become unreliable, perform slowly, or may no longer be supported by the original vendor. Companies that rely on legacy infrastructure are unable to experience the benefits of cloud computing, which is why many businesses have made at least a partial migration to the cloud.
As businesses increasingly move towards the cloud, their hasty migration leaves many without a clear plan and provides them with a variety of long-term challenges. Poor migration can lead to major performance challenges and management costs that can worsen the deeper a company gets into the cloud.
Cloud computing can also run into other barriers caused by latency, in turn created by virtualisation systems that exist on other services. Additionally, a lot of public cloud configurations depend on the internet to deliver data, an issue that leads to companies depending on limited network service plans. When these things combine, it means businesses become dependent on fairly restrictive systems with shared resources and the weakest part of the enterprise network to support their core cloud solutions.
These difficulties can be overcome with a sound cloud migration strategy. By knowing how your business is going to migrate its tech and the actions it will take to carry out the process, you’ll not only ensure that steps towards migration go smoothly, but that the systems and processes run properly once the migration has been completed.
Once you know why you want to migrate to the cloud (overcoming technological problems, cultural changes, increasing market competitiveness, for example), you’ll need to assess the business’ application environment and the underlying systems that support these applications. This intersection is vital to the performance of your business.
For instance, if you have applications that can become data bottlenecks, then they can quickly derail operations, especially if said applications use the legacy infrastructures we mentioned before. It’s vital to understand the interaction between applications in going through with your migration, as this provides further insight into whether networks may need updating too.
Since applications can behave a bit differently in various IT configurations, you’ll need to assess which applications can make a transition to the cloud smoothly. For instance, keep in mind whether the following applies to any of your applications:
- Interact with data that may be too sensitive for the public cloud
- Handle data that is regulated in such a way that trusting a third-party service provider wouldn’t be viable
- Feature legacy programming code or architecture that will react poorly to a virtualized environment
- Depend on such diverse data sources that moving them off-site would create excess latency when communicating with databases
In virtualised environments, performance can differ slightly based on specific architectures used by virtual machines, which can lead to unpredictability in cloud migration. Additionally, sending data from the internet by cloud can add further latency issues on top of the possible delays created by virtualisation.
This is why applications must be monitored in their existing configuration. This helps to identify how much disruption is considered acceptable for performance-sensitive solutions. The cloud’s scalability is undoubtedly a boon for data-rich apps and services, but failing to carry out assessments can leave businesses having to make costly compromises as a result.
Human factors are also worth noting too. Consider the way users interact with your systems as you make plans, paying special attention to the following:
- Users accessing applications on a wider range of devices
- Data being delivered to both internal and external sources
- Increased dependence on wireless networks as users leverage mobile devices to access cloud applications
Once you’ve analysed everything, you’re ready to actually migrate and move your tech to the cloud. Generally, the steps are as follows:
Choosing your service providers
With businesses having more options now than ever, choosing the right provider is an essential first step. With so many to choose from, it gives businesses across sectors the opportunity to leverage specialised services to align with their individual needs. It’s even possible to work with multiple providers if necessary.
Identifying responsibilities in the relationship
Once you’ve chosen your provider(s), make sure that each others’ responsibilities are understood and that you’re aware of how much control you have over your applications. Different cloud providers offer varying levels of customisation and client responsibility; what you need may differ between applications as a result.
You might be OK with your apps as they are, or you may want to work with a cloud provider that allows for greater collaboration for more performance-sensitive applications. What’s crucial is that you understand who does what in the relationship.
Adjusting the internal configuration around cloud services
As users become familiar with the benefits of cloud services, they might also want the same from internal applications. Additionally, the streamlined data and integration within cloud environments leads businesses to add similar processes internally. This means that management resources are needed to oversee and maintain cloud systems, which means businesses need to re-address how they manage traditional configurations alongside the cloud.
Getting users on board
Lastly, your employees need to be comfortable and on board with the technology. It’s important to let them know how they’ll be affected by cloud technology, so they’re ready to work with everything once it’s been set up.
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