Cloud migration is the process of relocating an organization’s data, applications, and workloads to a cloud infrastructure. Your organization may choose to relocate all of its computing assets to a cloud; however, in most cases, some applications and services still remain on-premise.
Migration may involve one or more clouds. Some clouds are public, whereby services are delivered over the public internet, and some clouds are private, consisting of secure cloud infrastructure available to only a specific organization. Organizations commonly use several clouds, both public and private, in a hybrid cloud environment that also includes on-premise computing assets.
Check out our video, "What is Cloud Migration?" for more of an overview:
The following are a few of the ways your organization can benefit from migrating data and workloads to the cloud:
In short, enterprises typically migrate workloads to a cloud to improve operational performance and agility, workload scalability, and security.
Migrating data and applications to the cloud requires a set of tools that help avoid common pitfalls. Many legacy applications in an organization’s network are not optimized for the cloud, so they must be prepared for the transition with tools designed specifically for the task. Currently, you can choose from a multitude of tools in the market, giving you plenty of choices to handle specific aspects of migration.
Migration tools are necessary because they simplify and accelerate the migration process with minimal disruption to your day-to-day operations. Automated tools, specifically, are designed to remove the complexities of migration and speed the process.
Various migration tools are available, including the following types:
Be sure to choose tools that are compatible with your operating systems and platforms. It is also important to look for tools that provide monitoring, reporting, and graphing capabilities that enable your project managers to track and document the progress of your cloud migration.
Organizations planning a cloud migration have access to an abundance of vendor services that offer a combination of tools, expertise, and varying levels of automation to streamline the migration process. Look for automated services that provide dashboards that allow project managers to track progress and make adjustments as needed.
Secure cloud migration services that have been tested and employ best practices can accelerate the process, minimize risks associated with migration, and help prevent downtime. Migration services can provide organizations the necessary tooling, automation, and expertise to successfully execute a secure migration to the cloud. Depending on an organization’s requirements, services can be set to move entire workloads at one time or in groups.
A successful cloud migration requires the planning and execution of a comprehensive strategy that sets migration goals, creates a timeline, anticipates challenges, and defines the project’s success.
Migration strategies take into account which workloads to move to the cloud, which to keep on-premise, and which new capabilities and applications to add once in the cloud. Your migration strategy should cover specific use cases for the workloads to be migrated. This may include mission-critical enterprise applications, data backup and recovery, productivity and collaboration applications, or software development projects. Defining use cases upfront enables you to create a solid strategy and sets the foundation for a properly executed migration process.
Migration strategies typically cover risk assessments, budgeting, and security, as well as the type of cloud—public or private—that will host each of the workloads being relocated. Increasingly, enterprises are using a multicloud approach, creating a hybrid cloud environment that could potentially become quite complex. Migration strategies should address the management of the environment in a consistent and simplified manner.
Elements of the security plan should include whether to encrypt all or certain types of data, compliance with regulations pertaining to data in motion and at rest, and replication requirements.
Make sure your migration strategy also includes a communication component to not only keep all stakeholders abreast of the progress of the migration but also define their specific roles and responsibilities in the project
Once your strategy has been formulated and approved, it’s time to proceed to the planning stages of migration. A migration plan must take into account all the workloads to be transferred to the cloud and the sequence for migrating them. A step-by-step approach can help with the success of migration by giving your team of implementers a chance to learn as they go along. Sometimes implementers choose a single workload to start a migration so they can test the process and assess the outcome. This makes it possible to make adjustments if deemed necessary.
Migration plans cover roadmaps, scheduling, project metrics, migration tools, and services, and they include a communication plan for organization leaders, implementers, cloud vendors, and—as appropriate—all stakeholders. The latter includes the users who will be affected by the changes resulting from the migration.
To be effective, your migration plan should include the following elements:
To ease your transition to the cloud, prepare a checklist that helps keep the project on track by checking off each task as completed. A checklist can be as basic or exhaustive as project managers choose to make it. The following are some items to include:
More than three-quarters (link resides outside IBM) of enterprises currently use the cloud in some form. The number of use cases grows from day to day as organizations turn to cloud migration to modernize their IT infrastructures, improve efficiencies and offer a better customer experience.
American Airlines, for instance, recently enabled passengers to rebook canceled or delayed flights (02:50) via its website, kiosks, or a mobile app. Previously, the rebooking system was accessible only to employees; customers would be told what their best alternative was, but had no way to verify it. Now passengers can see options for themselves and pick one through a cloud-based, self-service application that they can download to their mobile devices.
American Airlines made the application available in the midst of hurricane season when flight disruptions are common and unavoidable. The airline credits the cloud migration with its ability to provide technology that enables the company to keep pace with customer expectations.
Weston Foods leveraged a cloud transition to modernize its online ordering system. The company is one of two officially licensed bakers of Girl Scout cookies, which account for USD 800 million in annual revenue. With demand growing in recent years, Weston Foods realized its online ordering could not keep up with demand. Performance would be particularly strained on Sunday evenings when as many as five orders per second were placed. Sunday evening is the weekly cutoff for placing orders and when most of the troop leaders try to order cookies simultaneously.
Weston Foods deployed a new order management system that can autoscale whenever necessary to meet demand. If CPU usage stays at 80% for five minutes, the system can seamlessly spin up another virtual machine to share the workload. As a result of cloud migration, Weston Food has increased its cookie sales by 8% yearly.
When LiquidPower needed to become a standalone company within Berkshire Hathaway, it turned to cloud migration in order to modernize its systems and processes without disrupting services to customers. LiquidPower manufactures and sells pipeline drag-reducing agents. The products are injected into crude oil and gasoline pipelines to increase flow and reduce the energy used in the process.
LiquidPower migrated its SAP applications (02:34) to the cloud without any disruption to the business. The move increased the company’s scalability, preparing it for future growth, while also improving its ability to meet customer needs.
Calculating cost is one of the most challenging aspects of cloud migration. There is a tendency to underestimate the expenses incurred by the full process. With that in mind, make sure to not only consider the costs of migrating workloads but also the tools and services involved in the transition.
Other considerations include investments in network connectivity to handle increased bandwidth demands and post-migration costs to run workloads in a cloud environment. While cloud migrations reduce upfront costs when adding new technology, the cloud-based model of technology consumption generates new and ongoing costs that require planning and budgeting.
A 2017 Forrester Consulting study, "Due Diligence is the Cornerstone of Public Cloud Migration Success," (link resides outside IBM) found that many organizations fail to properly budget for cloud migration, often missing the need to treat costs as an ongoing, rather than finite, expense. The report’s main findings included the following:
To better plan your costs, you can take advantage of cost calculators available online, which walk you through the compute model and other options relevant to the cloud migration process.
Financial planning is critical to successful cloud migration. When setting a budget, be sure to factor in current costs associated with the workloads being moved as well as the expense of moving those workloads and running them in the cloud. Proper budget planning also benefits from clearly defining project goals and setting a realistic timeline for migration.
Many organizations have found it beneficial for effective budget planning to work closely with consultants, cloud providers, and financial experts to conduct the necessary assessments and prepare accurate cost projections.
As with any other type of business project, cloud migration poses some risks to an organization. The better you understand these risks and address them upfront, the less likely they will be to cause delays, raise unexpected obstacles, or even completely derail the migration project. The main risks to be addressed include the following:
Cloud adoption by the enterprise is increasingly common. Currently, the overwhelming majority of enterprises use the cloud in some form, and, in most cases, organizations are leveraging multiple clouds.
Most enterprises have a cloud strategy, and 85% of them use multiple clouds. The current trend in the enterprise is to leverage four to five clouds on average. The multicloud trend is fueled by the practice of mixing and matching applications to the cloud infrastructure that is best suited to each specific workload. Multicloud strategies, therefore, add stability while increasing flexibility and scalability.
Digital transformation is another driver of cloud migration trends. Organizations are turning to cloud infrastructures to accelerate their digitization plans to spur innovation, hone go-to-market strategies, and enhance customer experience. Companies are leveraging the elasticity of the cloud to accelerate development projects to introduce new services and products in their respective markets.
Lastly, another major driver of cloud migration is the Internet of Things (IoT), which aims to connect devices with other devices and humans to collect, review, and act on data in myriad ways. As it expands, the IoT will depend heavily on cloud infrastructures to process, store, and analyze the massive volumes of data captured by sensors, trackers, and monitoring devices in a wide variety of settings. Enterprises looking to kickstart their IoT implementations naturally are turning to the cloud to accelerate their deployment plans.
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