How should you approach cloud migration?

Board with strategy written on it

Cloud computing is increasingly integral to organisations with cloud adoption rates continuing to rise and looking to overtake traditional infrastructure. Organisations are migrating to the cloud because it offers the flexibility and scalability they need to compete and grow in today’s fast-moving market.

For most, this transition is a gradual process. Legacy systems, regulations and recent capital investment can hold organisations back, which is why a phased hybrid approach is popular.

While some elements can be quickly migrated, a long-term cloud strategy should focus on ongoing transformation and optimisation so that you fully take advantage of the benefits of cloud computing. The organisations that are succeeding with this have adopted an agile and cloud-native approach and use the cloud as a platform to enable their innovation and growth.

The Six R’s of Migration

In order to move to the cloud there are a number of different approaches and the most suitable would be determined by your current environment, complexity, timescales, budget and goals. The appropriate approach is also determined by your end goal – as organisations can consume cloud services in three ways– IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Generally, organisations gain more of the benefits of the cloud as they transition through these stages: the least value being gained with IaaS and the most with SaaS. 

There are six main migration approaches, which are also known as the six R’s of migration (or seven if you include ‘retain’ i.e. no change). These are:

Rehost – Also known as “lift and shift”, this approach lets you quickly migrate your applications to the cloud ‘as is’ with no code changes. The benefit is the speed of migration and simplicity, but the drawback is that very few of the powerful cloud capabilities are taken advantage of.

Refactor – Refactoring applications involves minor application code changes and is a quick way to modernise your apps to benefit from PaaS to better leverage cloud-native features and benefits.

Rearchitect - Some applications are not compatible with cloud services due to legacy architecture and need to be rearchitected or transformed before being migrated. Alternatively, cloud-ready apps can benefit from rearchitecting to improve cost or operational efficiency.

Rebuild – Key business applications may not be suitable for being rearchitected due to the cost, time and complexity involved. In this case, rebuilding can offer the best option where a solution is completely rebuilt in the cloud using PaaS or SaaS architecture for a cloud-native approach.

Replace – Organisations can choose to replace their applications – discarding an existing application and moving to a pre-built SaaS (or cloud-native) application. The benefit of this model is the flexibility and agility to launch new applications quickly, the reduction in internal management and the scalability.

Retire – Whilst not an approach, it is important to also consider that some services could be retired or decommissioned because there are no longer needed. By retiring redundant elements, you can save costs, time, and streamline your IT estate for better management.

Which approach is right?

The best approach will be determined by:

  • Your current setup - While some workloads may be easily migrated, others may require additional work or optimisation before being ‘cloud-ready’.
  • Your desired end goal – Do you want to use IaaS, PaaS or SaaS services? Is there a time limit, budget or deadline that will determine which option is best?

For many, the first choice is to migrate to IaaS using the ‘rehost’ or ‘lift and shift’ approach as this is the easiest and quickest method, which allows organisations to quickly start benefitting from the cloud. However, some organisations see the migration as an opportunity to optimise their services and will instead spend longer planning and optimising their migration approach to move towards PaaS or SaaS models.

Remember, you can run parallel migrations or iterative migrations to stagger workload migrations, or even migrate to IaaS and build in later optimisations as part of your ongoing IT strategy. The key is ensuring your cloud strategy aligns with your overall IT strategy and your business strategy.

Four Steps to Migration

When are your considering migrating resources to the cloud it is worth following a consistent approach – we recommend following these four key stages:

  1. Assess – Assess and review what you are considering migrating to gain a clear picture of current configurations, dependencies, limitations and any potential challenges so that you can adequately plan your migration.
  2. Migrate – Migrate your resources following a clear migration plan, which will include testing, quality assurance and project governance.
  3. Manage – Once migrated, you need to ensure that have a clear ongoing management plan or support service to support ongoing day-to-day operations.
  4. Optimise – Finally, do not forget to optimise and finetune your setup to streamline resources, optimise performance and ensure effective cost management.

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Looking for cloud migration support?

If you would like to discuss a cloud migration project or your overall cloud strategy, please get in touch. We help organisations securely move the Microsoft Azure, ensuring the best technical approach combined with the right level of ongoing support.

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