Cloud Migration

Cloud migration -
complete guide and strategies

Understand how to build an optimal cloud migration strategy with this Vertice guide.

We’ll also describe the main benefits, challenges, and strategies alongside a step-by-step walkthrough.

What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration involves strategically relocating an organization’s IT infrastructure, applications, and data to a cloud environment hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and other platforms. This generally moves away from on-premise infrastructure towards a cloud-based ecosystem. 

Legacy IT departments have physical data centers and servers prone to deterioration that can struggle to cope with scaling demands. A successful cloud migration strategy optimizes an organization’s entire computing architecture with a digital transformation from physical IT operations to cloud solutions. 

In rarer cases, cloud migration can work backwards – from a cloud platform back to local servers. Edge computing’s increasing prominence works on this model, providing ultra-low latency and real-time decision-making at the physical location of the data source. For example, a traffic management company could leverage cloud migration in this way, creating a hybrid cloud environment with pertinent data processed at the edge and then uploaded to the cloud for broader analysis and historical trend identification. 

Cloud migration strategy may also involve cloud-to-cloud migration, where organizations leverage the unique strengths of each cloud provider, hosting SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS applications on whichever platform suits best. 

All types of cloud migration require careful planning, as the undertaking often involves sizable and mission-critical considerations. For example, let’s imagine a major manufacturing enterprise relying on a complex network of legacy applications running on aging on-premise data centers and infrastructure. 

Migrating this vast IT ecosystem to a public cloud like AWS presents a unique opportunity for modernization. The organization could leverage machine learning to optimize production processes, improve efficiency, and scale with enhanced flexibility. 

But meticulous cloud migration planning is crucial to minimize downtime and disruption to critical manufacturing options. CAD software, ERP systems, supply chain management and other legacy applications – alongside associated data like engineering files, production schedules, and customer records – would all need transferring with meticulous attention to detail.

The benefits of migrating business functions and data to the cloud

 The benefits of cloud migration can greatly outweigh the negatives. Here are the main advantages:  

  • Lower costs – Cloud migration can generate a cost-effective alternative to on-premise IT infrastructure due to the pay-as-you-go model many cloud services provide. Organizations only pay for the resources required, saving on upfront and maintenance costs for hardware and software. 
  • Robust security – AWS, Azure, and other providers invest heavily in cloud security tools, with resilient firewalls, advanced intrusion detection systems, encryption protocols, and more. Organizations can also leverage SaaS security posture management vendors to orchestrate and continuously monitor their computing landscape. For example, a business could automate its configurations to ensure correct access controls. 
  • Versatile scalability and provisioning – Cloud computing enables organizations to seamlessly scale resources like storage or bandwidth based on business needs. This eliminates concerns regarding physical hardware provisioning, keeping an agile IT infrastructure that adapts to fluctuating demands and blends seamlessly with Cloud FinOps principles. 
  • Holistic management – Migrating to cloud architecture provides organizations with a centralized platform for managing their IT ecosystem. Platforms like Vertice offer a unified view of SaaS applications and resources with dashboards helping businesses manage their computing landscape with enhanced cloud visibility. It’s far easier compared with a traditional on-premise approach. 
  • Optimized workloads – An effective cloud migration strategy significantly optimizes workloads compared to on-premise computing. Cloud infrastructure enables organizations to identify underutilized resources and ensure optimal cost allocation. Platforms like Kubernetes can help businesses leverage containerization techniques, allowing them to package and deploy applications as microservices for greater efficiency and scalability. 
  • Enhanced reporting – Cloud migration facilitates enhanced reporting with comprehensive dashboards displaying real-time metrics on resource usage, application performance, security posture, and cloud cost optimization benchmarks. Organizations can consequently make data-driven decisions to drive profitability and improve ROI. 
  • Increased business value – Cloud migration significantly enhances business value by enabling faster innovation, improved agility, and access to advanced cloud-based services like machine learning and analytics. Cloud adoption gives organizations the keys to various use cases unavailable for on-premise landscapes. For example, building data lakes for business intelligence or deploying AI-powered chatbots for customer service.
  • Fewer physical dependencies – Moving to cloud infrastructure reduces reliance on physical servers and hardware. This minimizes maintenance costs, simplifies disaster recovery planning, and offers greater flexibility for a remote or hybrid workforce.

The challenges of cloud migration

Despite the considerable advantages, organizations must also consider the following cloud migration challenges before pressing ahead: 

  • Safeguarding sensitive data – A cloud migration strategy must always consider the dangers of sensitive data transfer and subsequent storage. Data loss prevention, granular configuration controls, multi-factor authentication, strong encryption algorithms, and other security best practices are crucial during data migration. 
  • Compliance requirements – Organizations undergoing cloud migrations must understand industry regulations and data privacy laws (i.e. HIPAA and GDPR) to maintain watertight compliance. Failing to do so can cause hefty fines and reputational damage.
  • Application migration and integration – Migrating existing applications, especially those reliant on specific on-premise infrastructure or operating systems, can be complex. The time-consuming nature and potential for disruption can be a cloud migration drawback, so evaluate existing applications and dependencies carefully.  
  • Downtime management – An effective cloud strategy must minimize downtime as much as possible to avoid disruptions. Otherwise, any upgrades will be offset by potentially vast operating losses. Thorough planning, testing, and a phased approach minimizes downtime. Cloud migration tools can also streamline the process with automation and other useful features. 
  • Spiraling cloud costs – Unmanaged cloud costs can quickly balloon. Developing a cloud spend management strategy before, during, and after cloud migration is fundamental. This involves promoting organization-wide Cloud FinOps best practices, rightsizing resources, and introducing chargeback models.
  • Negotiating SaaS vendor pricing – SaaS applications generally offer cost-effective pricing models, although negotiating these contracts can be difficult. Leverage strategic procurement negotiation to avoid increased costs after cloud migration when building SaaS stacks. At Vertice, we can help you by negotiating directly with pricing benchmarks garnered from what our partners are paying for similar services.

The cloud migration process

Cloud migration takes time and a carefully coordinated strategy to ensure optimal delivery. Here’s a breakdown of the fundamental steps involved: 

  • Define specific requirements and build a business case – Identify cloud migration business goals. Do you want to reduce costs, improve scalability, increase security posture, or leverage advanced cloud services? Building a strong business case helps secure buy-in from stakeholders to get the project off the ground. 
  • Assess the current IT landscape – Evaluate current IT infrastructure, particularly focusing on on-premise applications and databases. This can also potentially include virtual machines (VMs) running on VMware environments. In doing so, you can identify the most relevant applications or data for migration and highlight categories better left on-premise. Additionally, you can understand specific requirements in more detail.
  • Choose a cloud platform – Utilize the insights gathered from the previous two steps to make a qualified decision on a cloud platform. Public cloud providers have different strengths. For example, AWS is widely regarded as the most comprehensive for SaaS functionality, but Microsoft Azure can integrate easier with legacy on-premise Microsoft systems. A private cloud may also be a strategic alternative for advanced security requirements. You could even roll these options into one with a multi-cloud approach. 
  • Select a migration strategy – Decide on an optimal cloud migration strategy using the 6 Rs we’ll explore in the next section. The decision requires careful analysis to deduce which option will create the most value. 
  • Planning and preparation – Once the foundations are in place, partner with a reliable migration services provider who can offer expertise and tools. Engage in thorough planning, considering how to navigate the challenges outlined further up the page.
  • Migration and post-migration optimization – All systems go. Excuse a phased migration strategy, prioritizing less critical applications first. Leverage migration services to automate tasks and ensure smooth data transfer. Once finished, continuously monitor performance and optimize resource allocation to ensure maximum benefits.

Cloud migration strategies - the six Rs

Cloud migration strategy falls under six main areas. Check below for a rundown of the six Rs: 

  • Rehosting – The most straightforward option, also called “lift and shift”. This cloud migration strategy migrates existing applications and data to the cloud with minimal changes. 
  • Replatforming – Similar to rehosting, but also involves tweaking to optimize cloud-hosted applications and data storage. Automation and scalability features are the most common. 
  • Repurchasing – Ditch legacy applications altogether by repurchasing cloud-based SaaS applications to replace those used previously. This can ultimately be cost-effective and drive innovation, but also has a longer settling in period as employees learn new applications. 
  • Retaining – Cloud migration isn’t all or nothing. Some applications are better left on-premise, either due to security concerns or an imperative to reduce latency. In these cases, a hybrid cloud approach is most sensible. 
  • Retiring – Cloud migration is a great opportunity to completely retire redundant applications. Jettison these during migration to streamline your IT landscape and reduce unnecessary costs.
  • Rearchitecting – Completely rebuilding applications during cloud migration is the most complex option, but it can also unlock the cloud’s full power. This can involve rearchitecting with microservices, serverless computing, and other cloud-native innovations.

Pinpoint savings opportunities with total cloud visibility

Not only is a manual approach to cloud management incredibly difficult, but even with a dedicated cloud FinOps team it’s virtually impossible to uncover every saving.

With continuous monitoring of your cloud health, Vertice can uncover all idle and underutilized resources, enabling you to make more informed decisions on which services need to be right-sized, suspended or shut down.

The platform also provides you with full visibility of your Reserved Instance (RI) inventory, allowing you to manage everything in one place, while benefiting from Vertice’s advanced algorithms that trade these RIs on your behalf.


Reduce friction between Finance and DevOps

In many organizations, there’s an ever-growing tension between finance and tech teams. While the CFOs goal is to manage the cost of cloud utilization and ensure the budget is spent wisely, the CTO is focused on leveraging technology to become a market-leading solution and achieve a competitive advantage.

With limited cloud visibility, finance leaders are often reliant on their technical colleagues to demonstrate cloud efficiency and provide a breakdown of how the budget is being spent. For many, this is a challenge, with 55% citing the lack of transparency as their number one issue.

With Vertice’s Cloud Cost Optimization platform, this no longer has to be a problem. By providing all stakeholders with a unified and simplified view of cloud spend and usage, Vertice reduces friction between teams, while further improving collaboration.

Ready to cut your cloud spend by up to 25%?

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Cloud migration FAQs