This blog provides a Cloud Migration overview and insight in to what is involved.
Cloud Migration initiatives can appear complex and out of reach of all except large enterprises. However, Small and Medium businesses can benefit significantly from successfully adopting the Cloud.
We’ve worked with many large customers on complex Cloud migration projects. Each initiative is different however there are major commonalities that we feel it worth sharing to prepare you.
As we embark on some new exciting projects for customers, this feels like an ideal time to re-iterate our thoughts and tips that we share with all our clients.
Cloud migration overview
In our current world, where more businesses have been forced to quickly digitalise their services and workers have been displaced from colleagues, there is an ever growing need to offer cheaper, fast, flexible, scalable and reliable services to survive and thrive.
Now more than ever, Cloud adoption is vital to support businesses with delivering their services and products, and to support their customers and workers.
What is a Cloud migration?
Cloud migration is the process of moving an organisation’s services, applications or assets to a Cloud-based service provider (for example Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud). We need to be clear though that migrating to the Cloud is more involved than simply a technology move. Companies must consider their strategy, ways of working and outcomes; what will life look like once an application or service is in the Cloud?
What are the benefits of Cloud computing?
Cloud computing can offer businesses many benefits including supporting remote working, quicker access to data, faster time to deploy applications, cost reduction and many more benefits.
We’re seeing a big push for large businesses to reduce their expensive in-house or physical data centre use and realise massive cost savings by migrating to Cloud services. Typically, large enterprises are also able to vacate costly premises once they complete a data-centre migration to the Cloud.
A note of caution though; a poorly managed Cloud migration program can result in higher first-year run costs especially if you just migrate as-is assets to the Cloud.
What does a Cloud Migration programme involve?
A cloud migration programme typically takes on three distinct phases as follows. We recommend you follow these in order:
- Strategy – businesses need to be clear on why they wish to used Cloud services and how this will impact the way they work or do business. As a business, what do you hope to gain by adopting Cloud services?
Once you’re clear on why you wish to move to using Cloud services, you can begin to formulate a Cloud Migration Strategy. We know from experience that there are certain types of applications that are great candidates to move to the Cloud with ease; others we know to be problematic. If you haven’t already, do you wish to include the set-up and roll-out of Microsoft 365 as part of your overall Cloud adoption strategy?
- Discovery and Assessment – once you have an agreed Strategy, the next step is to gather an inventory of every asset that your business runs. We need to thoroughly review each item to assess whether it can (or even needs to) be migrated to the Cloud, the recommended set-up when in the Cloud, ease for which the asset can migrate to the Cloud and an estimate of the cost/resource/time to migrate.
The outcome of this Discovery and Assessment phase will result in the production of a Business Case showing projected Cloud costs for all applications or services that a business wishes to migrate to the Cloud.
- Cloud migration – this phase takes care of planning and executing against the approved Business Case. A clear Roadmap is produced to shows what assets will migrate and in which order, highlighting any dependencies and constraints.
Using the Migration Scope and Plans, businesses begin migrating applications and services, usually getting some simple solutions live in the Cloud as ‘proof of concepts’, enabling the process to be fine-tuned. Migrations can be straight-forward however even the simplest of application will require some tweaks to enable them to work in the Cloud.
The ultimate goal is to ensure that businesses become Cloud-native; that is to say that every new application is built in the Cloud.
What are the various types of Cloud migrations?
Depending on the complexity and suitability of your application or service, migrating the asset to the Cloud may take on a different feel from one asset to the next.
There are three key different types of migration options that will have been recommended from the Discovery and Assessment phase for each asset:
- Re-host (lift & shift) – whilst moving to the Cloud as-is may be the easiest way of getting an application or service to the Cloud, there are no real improvements made to the application or service and you do not gain a lot other than you’re now running the asset in the Cloud; effectively you’re just moving from one server (or data-centre) to another.
- Re-platform – this involves migrating an application to the Cloud without making any major changes but taking advantage of some of the benefits that Cloud computing offers.
- Re-factor / re-architecture – this involves upgrading key components within an application to make use of Cloud services. Typically, a re-factor project will modernise an application to make it more suitable to take advantage of all the Cloud has to offer including scalability and flexibility.
As per the outcome of the Discovery and Assessment phase, we know that not every application or service can be migrated to the Cloud. Anything left behind on-prem or the customer’s alternative data centre needs a different approach.
What are the options if you do not (or cannot) migrate to the Cloud?
What about services and business apps than cannot be migrated? What do we do with them?
As an example, there may be legal, compliance, data residency or contractual challenges preventing a migration to the Cloud. Businesses may be able to be overcome some of these challenges with work and time, however, these applications will likely stay on-prem for some time.
You may encounter technology barriers to adopting Cloud services. Would it surprise to learn that we have still seen customers running critical application in-house on 20-year-old versions of Windows and SQL?
Letting old services or applications ‘die on-the-vine’ is an option but not great business strategy. What happens if you have a major disaster, data breach, would you be able to recover the application? Highly unlikely we think.
Therefore, for services or applications that cannot be migrated to the Cloud, we need to be clear on the alternative options. Our choices are:
- Retain – this is akin to the ‘do nothing’ approach however we recommend that a plan is put in place identifying how long this application or service needs to be retained for. How can the retained service / application be kept current and supported?
- Retire – can the application or service be retired now? It may surprise you to learn that a simple inventory review can identify up to 33% of your assets as redundant; burning costs when they are not needed. If these can be shut down, we recommend it. If a service or application cannot be immediately retired, then you need a clear exit strategy to shut-down as swiftly as possible
- Replace – the last option is to consider replacing the service or application. For example, can you adopt a new or different SaaS based product or service that will enable you to stop using your legacy application or service? This may involve a different type of migration project but one that is necessary.
Businesses stand to gain a lot of benefit from migrating to the Cloud; not only with cheaper and more flexible solutions in the Cloud, but also that going through the exercise usually identifies a series of other cost reducing initiatives that can be executed.
Cloud Migration programmes can take time and they can become complex quite quickly; especially in larger organisations with 100s or 1000s of applications and services to migrate.
Having successfully completed many Cloud migration projects, we are well placed to help you with your Cloud Migration journey. If you would like to discuss further, then please contact us and we will be delighted to talk through a Cloud Migration programme with you.