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Cloud Migration Strategies

Embracing cloud may be an inevitable part of growth but moving data from traditional infrastructure to a cloud platform can be intimidating. Cloud migration is complex and the process has to be customized to the needs of the individual organization. You will need a cloud migration strategy that ensures the least disruption to services and addresses both your short-term and long-term organizational goals.

Primary questions that need to be answered before a cloud migration are what, where, and how to migrate.

A detailed exploration of your application and infrastructure estate along with business drivers for migration is imperative to effectively respond to these queries. Considerations over data security, regulatory compliance, conformance with SLAs, disaster recovery, and skills to build and operate the cloud environment can also influence your decisions.

Cloud Migration Consulting and Strategic Advisory Service

  • Assessment of cloud operational maturity
  • Architectural assessment
  • Review and adherence to compliance standards
  • Identification of issues and risk mitigation options
  • Evaluation of cost and capacity optimization possibilities
  • Formulation of a roadmap toward the target state

What: Identifying Applications to Migrate

Cloud Fit Analysis

Application DiscoveryServers, Software, Network devices, Storage

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Dependency MappingSoftware dependencies, Server-to-storage relationships

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Risk AssessmentSoftware license models for migrated applications, Security and compliance

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PrioritizationSequencing and scheduling apps

We usually suggest a cloud fit analysis to help clients identify applications for migration. Through this estate-level exercise, we aim to categorize applications according to their complexity and suitability for migration (application discovery and grouping). The least complex and the most suitable applications are identified as first movers, while complex applications can be saved for later migration phases.

Typically, the complexity of an application is determined by its nature and dependencies on other applications and servers. Applications with lesser dependencies will be easier to migrate. So will applications that have the least impact on your business and customers. Similarly, applications that consume less resources can be migrated quickly. You may also want to schedule applications that have a variable usage pattern for early migration to reduce infrastructure costs and missed SLAs.

Ideal for Initial Migration Phase

  • Development and staging environments
  • Disaster recovery solution
  • HR app, apps for internal users
  • Applications with service-oriented architecture
  • Apps with dynamic workloads

Mission-critical applications and those exposed to external users can be migrated later. If an application requires a rewrite for the cloud environment or if you plan to rebuild the app using microservices architecture, it should be migrated later considering the effort involved.

In summary, the cloud fit analysis can provide clarity and direction for your organization in migrating applications. Enterprises with a large portfolio of applications will especially require careful sequencing for the success of the migration project.

Where: Choosing Your Cloud Platform

Cloud Platform

While identifying applications for migrating to the cloud, you also need to consider the platform where it is to be deployed. Security, compatibility, tooling, and cost model are all valid players in this decision.

Moving to a public cloud, such as AWS, Azure, or GCP, is a popular choice as it provides on-demand resources without having to purchase hardware and software. In the public cloud, resources are owned and operated by third-party providers and often shared between tenants.

Organizations that demand strict data privacy, government agencies, financial enterprises, or media houses may opt for a private cloud. With dedicated resources, the private environment offers greater flexibility, security, and control, making it suitable for hosting business-critical applications.

A hybrid cloud setup is when you operate with a mix of both public and private cloud environments. You may choose to move only certain applications to the public cloud. Legacy applications may be hosted in a private environment either on-premises or at a colocation data center. Alternatively, an application hosted in a private environment can burst through to the public cloud (cloud bursting) and tap into additional resources when there is a spike in demand.

Most organizations tend to leverage multiple cloud platforms considering the numerous value propositions and tradeoffs. In the multi-cloud approach, your applications can be deployed across one or more public cloud providers and/or a private cloud. With a mix of environments utilizing different providers, vendor lock-in risk is mitigated and you will have the flexibility to switch providers depending on specific needs and workloads.

Single Cloud Strategy

  • Uses a single provider to serve any or all applications or services
  • Limited to the offerings of the chosen provider
  • Just one set of cloud APIs to learn; relatively simple to manage
  • Vendor lock-in issues

Multi-Cloud Strategy

  • Run applications across cloud environments from multiple vendors
  • Flexibility to choose providers according to workload requirements
  • Complicated strategy that needs an adept IT team
  • Easily shift from one provider to another

How: Ways to Migrate

The third piece of the puzzle is the how of the migration process. Most businesses looking to move out of their data centers or from one platform to another broadly do so in one of the following ways.

Lift and Shift (Rehost)

It is the easiest and least expensive way to migrate to a cloud platform from an on-premises setup. As the name suggests, this mode of migration involves moving your application as-is without any code modifications (shallow cloud integration). It provides the original application experience on the cloud and can use the same security mechanisms that were used on-premises. Consequently, rehosting can be effected fast or within a limited time. However, you may have to come back later to optimize the cloud solution for cost as well as performance.

When to Rehost
  • If you are new to cloud computing, rehosting is an easy way to migrate to the cloud.
  • It is also the most viable cloud migration strategy when you want to cut down on-premises infrastructure costs almost immediately.
  • You can indeed consider lift and shift for applications that just need to be kept running without disruption or modification.
  • In the face of a disaster, you can choose to rehost your applications to be up and running quickly.
Spotlight

As the demand for their flagship recruitment solution soared, it became necessary for our client to migrate their application infrastructure to a robust platform that offered a high level of scalability and security. They had to move urgently and without disrupting customers.

We adopted AWS cloud migration strategy, migrating their servers (live recruitment portal, testing site, and blog site) to the AWS platform using the lift-and-shift approach. Failover mechanisms and elastic computing were implemented to ensure optimal performance and better user experience. Read the full story

Cloud Native (Rebuild)

This mode of approach to cloud migration seeks to take advantage of cloud-native features such as elasticity and availability. You may need to rebuild the application or recode some portion of it to take full advantage of cloud frameworks and functionalities. As a result, the process is time- consuming as well as resource intensive but provides a mature solution. This cloud migration strategy offers a fallback option where you can implement canary deployments before transitioning in full and roll back to the old setup if any problem arises.

When to Rebuild
  • When your application is old and outdated, you may opt to start from scratch since the value you get out of rebuilding it exceeds that of maintaining it.
  • If you want to scale your application, add features, boost performance, or improve business continuity, you could rebuild it cloud-natively.
  • You can also use this approach when you are ready to move to service-oriented or microservices architecture.
Spotlight

Our client wanted an IoT processing Lambda layer in the cloud. The solution had to be highly available and capable of supporting multiple deployments per day. In parallel to the solution development, the client wanted us to create the architecture for their environment in the cloud.

We designed a highly available solution based on services available on the AWS cloud, which included ELB, EC2, VPC, Subnets, RDS (Multi-AZ), and S3. To build the solution from scratch, we created Cloud Formation templates and maintained the scripts to be used as infrastructure as code. Gitflow Workflow was used for source code management. For Python, React, and Java-based apps, we created docker images to easily move the code between environments. For the remaining Spark and Scala apps, we used traditional deployment procedures.

We created Ansible playbook for each component within the tool. The playbooks would install all the various packages being used within each server in the environment. Another set of playbooks would deploy the codebase (docker and non-docker) to the respective servers. Finally, we used Jenkins to create custom jobs that could be triggered to pull the code, build the respective solution, and deploy the artifact/docker image to the respective environment.

Containerization (Refactor)

An increasingly popular and commonly used cloud migration approach is the containerization strategy. This involves creating a container for your application that bundles together necessary components (application, libraries, configuration files) and migrating the container to the cloud. You can make use of a container orchestration mechanism to organize your containers. This approach affords portability as the container is abstracted away from the underlying OS and the infrastructure.

A small amount of up-versioning may be effected during this migration approach to take advantage of basic cloud features such as autoscaling or managed database. It may involve modifying the application, application framework, or runtime environment without making major changes to the core app architecture.

When to Containerize
  • When you want to move your app to a different environment quickly and make it immediately scalable, containers help you do so.
  • It is a good option if you want to cut down on development and testing time.
  • Containerization approach also allows you to distribute your application across multiple environments to optimize for cost and performance.
Spotlight

Once the alpha phase was completed, our client required the solution to be moved out to either their cloud or a custom data center. So we created a DevOps platform for the solution. We decided to build the solution based on Microservices architecture with Docker containers for each service. To host and manage these docker containers, we opted to use Kubernetes and to ensure the containers remained stateless, we followed the “twelve-factor” methodology.

This approach allowed us to easily migrate the solution between clouds and data centers. It also ensured the solution was independent of the system it was being built upon. Most importantly, since containers remained stateless, it allowed us to easily carry out multiple deployments and rollbacks on a daily basis, with minimum worry.

How: Ways to Migrate

The third piece of the puzzle is the how of the migration process. Most businesses looking to move out of their data centers or from one platform to another broadly do so in one of the following ways.

Comparison of Cloud Migration Strategies

Lift and Shift

Faster and easier Needs reoptimization later Least risky as changes are minimal Easy to move Does not benefit from cloud-native features Least expensive but long-term cloud costs might increase due to lack of optimization

Cloud Native

Complex and time-intensive Mature solution built to leverage cloud frameworks and functionalities Higher risk due to multiple changes Vendor lock-in Takes full advantage of cloud-native functionalities Minimizes long-term cloud costs though short-term costs are higher

Containerization

Does not take as long as the cloud-native approach Finds a middle ground with code alone migrated to containers and the rest built as cloud-native solutions Risk involved can be limited with smart use of container features Cloud-agnostic Benefits from base cloud features such as scalability Increased short-term costs and lower long-term cloud costs

In addition to the above, there are two other cloud migration strategies that may be appropriate in certain scenarios.

Replace

Sometimes enterprises are able to achieve their goals by shifting from a commercial, on-premises system to a SaaS version. Many applications such as SharePoint have upgraded versions that run on the cloud. We help clients make transitions similar to moving from an on-site CRM to Salesforce or migrating to SharePoint Online from SharePoint 2016/2013 versions.

Retain

If you have recently upgraded an application, you might not be ready to invest in migrating it just yet. In such a case, you can choose to maintain status quo and revisit the application later. Also, not every application can benefit from cloud migration. We help you evaluate applications and move only those that make good business sense to migrate.

Deciding Your Cloud Migration Strategy

There is no single best solution for migrating applications to the cloud. Each approach has its benefits and downsides. What approach you choose would be determined by the nature of applications to be migrated and its underlying infrastructure.

You may choose a hybrid deployment model over a strict AWS cloud migration strategy or decide for python-based apps to be deployed onto the Google cloud platform while legacy applications are retained on premises. Deep cloud integrations may be beneficial in certain use cases while a quick lift-and-shift approach may be better for certain others. You may even employ more than one approach when migrating multiple apps and services.

To ensure a smooth and successful cloud migration, we will work with you to develop a migration plan that takes into account the complexities, challenges, and costs involved.

Migration Strategy

Stages in Cloud Migration

Discovery Decision Transition Cloud

Inventory of existing infrastructure

Assess dependencies and risks

Prioritize Applications

Choose a cloud deployment model and provider

Private vs Public vs Hybrid

Single vs Multi-cloud

Determine the migration path

Rehost (Lift and shift using migration tools)

Refactor (Lift, tinker, and migrate using containers)

Replace (Set up SaaS version)

Rebuild (Redesign and build from scratch)

Retain (Take no action)

Migrate as small workloads

Test and deploy

Monitor log and performance

Assimilate learnings and apply to next migration

Operate the cloud environment with continuous monitoring (24/7 support).

Make periodic enhancements to take advantage of new functionalities introduced by the cloud provider.

Stages inCloud Migration

Executing the Migration

During cloud migration, applications need to be ported and tested in a streamlined manner. We set up beta environments and fine-tune applications using test data. Once the new cloud environment is ready, production data is moved to the cloud.

Production switchover can be done either all at once or in phases. We can move the entire application to the cloud and verify it works there while consumers continue to access the on-premises database. With one-way synchronization to the cloud-based database, we just need to switch the traffic from on-premises stack to the cloud stack when it is ready.

A phased approach is when we move consumers of the data in batches with bi-directional syncing between on-premise and cloud databases. Cloud and on-premises environments operate in parallel, allowing data, applications, and users to move in phases without disrupting normal operations. Post migration of each phase, we test, verify, and move the next batch. Once all the customers are moved to the cloud-based application, we remove the on-premises version.

Post migration and verification, we start the monitor-optimize cycle. We move the application to its steady state where our managed services practice can run and maintain it. Our runbooks will make sure everyone has the information necessary to keep your apps running and supported through the rest of their lifecycle. Learnings from the initial migration are used to improve and tweak the migration plan of the next set of applications or services.

Cloud Migration Steps Adopted by QBurst Team

Cloud Readiness Assessment
Beta Environment Setup
Migration Strategy
Migration
Continuous Monitoring
Cloud Readiness Assessment

クラウド準備度評価

  • 既存インフラのインベントリを準備
  • 内包される依存性やリスクを評価
  • 最適なクラウドサービスプロバイダの特定
  • 既存環境に取り替わる、または改善する、適切なクラウドツールの提案
  • DRおよび障害許容力オプションを含む最終構築ダイアグラムの計画および準備
  • 関連してかかる時間とコストを測定
Beta Environment Setup

ベータ環境のセットアップ

  • 既存環境のベータ環境をセットアップ
  • テストデータおよびテストデータベースを利用して、アプリケーションをテスト/改善
  • 生産と同等のテストデータをロード後、拡張性をテスト
Migration Strategy

マイグレーション戦略

  • アプリケーションおよびデータベースの段階的マイグレーションを計画
  • マイグレーションに必要な時間を推定し、必要に応じてダウンタイムも推定する
Migration

マイグレーション

  • 新規の自動/非自動生産環境を構築
  • 生産データを移行し、ストレージ、DRおよび障害許容力をセットアップ
  • DNS記録およびその他設定をアップデート
Continuous Monitoring

持続的なモニタリング

  • モニタリングツールのセットアップ
  • ログ、パフォーマンス、レスポンス時間および負荷を監視し続ける