Demystifying cloud migration: A practical framework for businesses

Cloud computing concept represented by a server room
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Cloud migration has become a ubiquitous term in today's business landscape. Many companies have already transitioned to cloud-based solutions, while others are actively considering the leap. This includes businesses who might be considering not only a first-time migration to the cloud but also a migration between cloud models to optimize their existing cloud environment. However, with an abundance of information, including misconceptions, surrounding cloud migration, making informed decisions can be challenging.

This article provides a practical framework for businesses to navigate their cloud migration journey, whether it's their first foray into the cloud or a strategic move between cloud solutions. Here, we'll explore some common myths, outline a step-by-step approach, and discuss key considerations for a successful migration strategy.

Jon Lucas

Co-founder and Director at Hyve.

Dispelling the common myths

Myth #1 – A one-size-fits-all cloud migration solution

A successful cloud strategy should be tailored to individual business needs – there is no single, universal approach that works for every business. Factors like existing IT infrastructure (on-premises servers, virtual machines), budget constraints, and application complexity all play a role in determining the most suitable approach and which cloud model to opt for. A one-size-fits-all strategy might lead to inefficiencies or unnecessary costs, particularly when considering the limitations of certain cloud offerings.

For instance, businesses migrating entirely to the public cloud might face unforeseen expenses or performance issues if their usage patterns change significantly down the line, as public cloud solutions offer less control over underlying infrastructure compared to other models. This can also be particularly concerning for businesses with strict data security or compliance requirements, as tailoring security measures to specific needs might be limited.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, consider the benefits of migrating to alternative models like private and hybrid solutions. In contrast to the public cloud, the private cloud offers the highest level of control and security over the infrastructure, making it a compelling choice for businesses handling sensitive data or subject to strict compliance regulations.

Meanwhile, a hybrid cloud approach offers a middle ground, combining the strengths of both public and private cloud environments. This allows businesses to leverage the public cloud's scalability and cost-effectiveness for non-critical workloads while maintaining complete control over sensitive data residing in the private cloud. With hybrid solutions, you're not locked into a single vendor's ecosystem. This allows you to choose the best tools and services from different providers based on your specific requirements, fostering greater agility and future-proofing your cloud strategy.

Essentially, it's important to consider your business’ long-term needs and priorities. By carefully evaluating your needs against the pros and cons of each cloud model, you can make an informed decision for a successful cloud migration journey.

Myth #2 – Cloud migration needs to happen as fast as possible

This misconception overlooks the benefits of a well-planned approach. While speed can be desirable, prioritizing a rapid migration without proper planning can lead to compatibility issues, security vulnerabilities, and unexpected costs. For instance, inadequate configurations due to a rushed migration can open security gaps to potential threats and lead to data breaches. As well as this, if compatibility problems arise between existing systems and the cloud environment, this can disrupt operations and will likely require additional time and resources to fix.

While a phased approach with thorough testing at each stage may take more time upfront, it can ultimately save time and resources in the long run by ensuring a smooth and secure transition to the cloud.

Myth #3 – Security is handled entirely by the cloud provider

Cloud security is a shared responsibility. Cloud providers invest heavily in securing their infrastructure, but ultimately, the responsibility for data protection lies with the migrating company. Therefore, businesses must actively manage security during the migration process and implement appropriate security measures like access controls, data encryption, and threat monitoring. A well-defined security strategy is crucial for a successful cloud migration.

Now that we’ve explored the biggest misconceptions around cloud migration let’s dive into some practical and actionable steps you can take to successfully migrate your applications to the cloud.

A step-by-step approach

The first step in migrating to the cloud involves evaluating your current IT infrastructure, applications, and data. You'll also need to define your migration goals and desired outcomes. This will help determine the scope and direction of your migration journey.

Based on your assessment, you can choose a migration approach. There are several models, such as "lift and shift," refactoring existing applications, or re-platforming them entirely for the cloud environment. Whilst “lift and shift” is the simplest and fastest approach that involves moving your application to the cloud environment “as is”, refactoring involves modifying the existing application code to make it better suited for the cloud environment. Re-platforming, on the other hand, involves rebuilding the application from scratch - a more resource-intensive and time-consuming model that can be a more efficient approach. The best approach depends on your specific needs and the complexity of your applications.

Once you have a strategy, it’s time to research and compare different cloud providers. Consider factors like their service offerings, pricing and exit models, security capabilities, and how well they align with your specific requirements, budget, and security needs.

With a plan and provider in place, the next step will be to execute the migration. This should be done in a phased manner, with proper testing and rollback procedures in place to minimize disruption and ensure a smooth transition.

It’s important to note that your cloud migration journey doesn't end after the initial move. You’ll need to continuously monitor and optimize your cloud environment to ensure performance and cost-efficiency. This may involve adjusting resource allocation or exploring new cloud-based services that can further enhance your operations.

Key considerations for a successful migration journey

Before diving headfirst into the cloud, it's essential to address some critical aspects that will ensure a smooth and successful migration.

Firstly, data security should be a top priority throughout the migration process. It’s vital to establish robust security protocols within the cloud environment and maintain best practices for data protection.

Cost management is another crucial consideration. Cloud pricing models can vary, so be sure to carefully analyse costs associated with storage, compute power, and network usage to avoid unexpected expenses. There are often opportunities to optimize costs through efficient resource allocation and choosing the right pricing model for your usage patterns.

Another important step is to prepare your workforce for the transition - after all, a successful cloud migration extends beyond the IT department. Providing business leaders and other stakeholders with a clear understanding of the process, potential challenges and expected outcomes will encourage buy-in and ensure a smooth transition across the organization. This may include training on new cloud-based tools and processes to ensure smooth adoption of the new environment. Provide ongoing support and resources to help employees feel comfortable and proficient with the new system, and be sure to monitor user activity and address any adoption challenges that arise. All of this can be done effectively by partnering with a cloud expert or managed service provider — a well-resourced team of cloud experts who can provide comprehensive training programs and technical support.

Gartner’s prediction that cloud computing will become a core business necessity by 2028 isn't a distant prophecy – it's a clarion call for action in 2024. By understanding the most common misconceptions, adopting a structured approach, and considering these key factors, businesses can embark on a successful cloud migration journey, unlocking the potential for increased efficiency, agility, and scalability.

Good luck with your migration!

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Jon Lucas is Co-founder and Director at Hyve.