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Cloud Migration Strategies – The 6 Rs
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Cloud Migration Strategies – The 6 Rs

Embracing the power of the cloud has become inevitable to succeed in today’s digital era, especially when organizations are increasingly migrating their applications to the cloud to drive growth. According to Gartner, the worldwide spending on public-cloud services is forecast to grow up to $304.9 billion in 2021, up from $257.5 billion in 2020. By 2024, more than 45% of the IT spending will shift from traditional solutions to the cloud.

Despite such heavy spending on the cloud, one in every three organizations fail to realize its benefits. 33% of organizations have seen no or slight improvement in organizational effectiveness after cloud adoption, as per Unisys Cloud Success barometer report. Cloud migration is a complex and costly affair. So how do you avoid a cloud project failure?

The answer lies in proper planning and selecting the right cloud migration approach for your IT assets. This blog aims to give you a better understanding of a suitable cloud migration strategy to help you create a path for migration and smoothly transition to the cloud.

Let’s get started with understanding cloud migration.

So, what is cloud migration?

Cloud migration isn’t just about moving to the cloud; it is an iterative process of optimization to reduce costs and reach the full potential of the cloud. It impacts all the organizational aspects including people, processes, and technology. But with flexible consumption and pricing models, the cloud can support high scalability, performance, agility, remote work, and cost-efficiency.

The journey to the cloud is different for every organization, as there is no one-size-fits-all migration plan. Each IT asset to be migrated is unique in terms of cost, performance, and complexity. So you cannot move all components to the cloud with one common method. Making a roadmap for the migration will answer the questions of what, how, and in what order to move these components. This is where the cloud migration strategies come into play.

Broadly known as the 6 R’s of migration, these strategies essentially answer the question of how to migrate your IT assets to the cloud.

The 6 Rs of cloud migration

1. Rehost

Say you want to move your on-premises Oracle database to an EC2 instance in AWS with little upfront effort. Then rehosting is for you! It’s one of the quickest and easiest cloud migration strategies that moves data without code-level changes.

Rehosting transfers data assets from on-premises infrastructure to cloud infrastructure, especially adopted for large-scale migrations. What’s more, it also enhances the speed and performance of the cloud at a lower cost. Rehosting can be automated using tools like CloudEndure Migration and AWS VM Import/Export, but you could also go for manual implementation to gain cloud maturity.

Despite these numerous benefits, you may not be able to fully avail features like ephemeral compute and autoscaling. Legacy and resource-intensive apps can also face latency issues due to non-compatibility with cloud environments.

2. Replatform

Replotform strategy or the ‘lift, tinker and shift’ strategy is a modified version of rehosting. Replatform enables you to make a few configurational changes to the apps to better suit the cloud environment without changing their core architecture. Developers commonly apply this approach to change the way apps interact with the database so they can run on managed platforms like Google CloudSQL or Amazon RDS.

Having said that, it’s also crucial that you review your project in intervals, so it doesn’t convert into a complete refactor. The key is to avoid unnecessary changes to deal with this risk.

3. Refactor/Re-architect

Refactor or Re-architect method involves rewriting your applications from scratch to make them cloud-native. This strategy allows you to realize the full potential of cloud-native technologies like microservices architecture, serverless, containers, function-as-a-service, and load balancers. For example, you can refactor assets when you move your digital assets from an on-premise monolithic architecture to a fully serverless architecture in the cloud. These refactored applications are scalable, agile, efficient, and return ROI in the long run, even in the most competitive markets.

This approach is the most expensive, resource-intensive, and time-consuming compared to the others but will prove most worthy in the long run. Some other challenges you might face can be the lack of cloud skills, complex projects and program delivery, or potentially significant business disruption. The key is to prioritize smaller chunks of your monolithic application as microservices, and then refactor them. Also, allow the legacy applications to run on-premises while you rebuild in the cloud to avoid disruption.

4. Repurchase

Repurchase, also known as the “drop and shop” strategy, replaces the on-premise application with a cloud-native vendor-packaged software. It typically means moving to a SaaS (Software as a Service) application with the same capabilities. Effectively, it entails a licensing change sometimes––you drop the existing on-premise license and start a new license agreement with the cloud provider for their solution. The newer, upgraded cloud version offers you a better value with higher efficiency, savings on app storage, and maintenance costs.

For example: moving from on-premise CRM to Salesforce or Hubspot, moving to Workday for HRM, migrating your built-in CMS to Drupal. This method is simple, fast, and eliminates a lot of migration effort.

5. Retire

In the ‘retire’ strategy, you get rid of applications no longer needed or productive for your IT portfolio. If an application is considered not worth migrating to the cloud, it can either be eliminated or downsized. It allows you to explore all your applications in terms of their uses, dependencies, and cost to the company. It is a rather passive strategy as there is no migration. According to Stephen Orban at AWS, as much as 10% of an enterprise IT portfolio is no longer useful when migrating to the cloud and can be simply turned off.

Though it sounds easy, decommissioning apps is a complex process and critical to deciding which apps to retire. It should be done in the initial stages of planning so you can migrate pivotal applications or services, reduce the scope of applications to migrate, and save resources.

6. Retain

Retaining, also referred to as re-visit, is revisiting some critical applications/portions of your digital assets that need a significant amount of refactoring before migrating them to the cloud. Eventually, you may figure out some applications are more suitable to on-premise arrangements or have been recently upgraded and need to be retained. In other cases, applications are retained due to latency requirements, compliance or regulatory constraints, or it’s simply not cost-efficient.

Retaining is often used in hybrid cloud deployment by organizations to ensure business continuity during large-scale migrations that take several years. For example, Johnson & Johnson and Hess Corporation, created a hybrid cloud environment to support their ongoing migrations to AWS. It offers benefits of the cloud as well as keep the critical workloads and confidential data on-premise.

We’re OutsideThePC – Your Cloud Solutions Partner

Cloud migration is a difficult journey, but it doesn’t have to be with the right knowledge and direction. These strategies aren’t definitive but surefire ways to get started with migration planning. The selection of approaches also depends on which migration model you choose or have in place for your organization, for instance, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS). Your migration plan can be a mixture of some of these strategies or include all of them, as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

At OutsideThePC, we are committed to making lives easier for our partners by redirecting their focus to their core competencies through streamlined cloud solutions. Our cloud experts start by understanding your business challenges in detail before tailoring unique solutions specific to your requirements. We’re seasoned cloud professionals, having solved crucial business problems for clients across industries and verticals - from manufacturing and healthcare to education and IT.