3 approaches to cloud migration

3 approaches to cloud migration

Richard Brown

15 June 2022 - 9 min read

Digital TransformationCloud Computing
3 approaches to cloud migration

Cloud adoption continues to rise across industries. Flexera's State of the Cloud survey shows that users with large workloads in the cloud increased from 59% in 2021 to 63% in 2022. These findings indicate that more companies are advancing on their cloud journeys.

As a highly scalable means of transferring enterprise infrastructure, it’s unsurprising that so many are making the move to cloud. Research group Markets and Markets estimate that the cloud industry will have a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 16.3% over the next four years. This finding further highlights the value of cloud technology in the global market — both today and in the future. 

Cloud migration is not without challenges, however. 96% of IT decision makers have faced significant challenges in their cloud migration, according to a recent survey by Foundry. Respondents cited cost control (36%) and data privacy (35%) as two main areas of concern, along with the ongoing skills gap.

It is essential to find an approach to cloud migration that will allow your business to meet the demands of your customers and stay competitive. There are an array of options to consider for your cloud migration. These options vary depending upon the current architecture of your applications and the goals of your business both today and tomorrow.

This article looks at three popular approaches to cloud migration. We also detail case studies for each approach to show how businesses can benefit from the cloud. 

1. Rehost

This approach, also known as ‘lift and shift’, involves moving your existing data and applications from an on-site premise or data centre to a cloud server. No code needs to be recompiled or configured during this approach.

This approach allows businesses to move their operating systems and applications to their cloud computing provider using virtual machines. Once this infrastructure has been migrated to the cloud, your business will maintain control over these virtual machines just as it did on-premise.

Many organisations rehost applications because it can provide quick wins. By deploying your applications into a cloud environment, businesses can reduce costs and scale their operations. 

Cloud migration provides a secure and robust infrastructure for your hosted environment. Businesses will be able to set up application gateways and will benefit from real-time monitoring of factors like dependency alerts and irregular request patterns.

This approach is suitable for organisations with little experience in cloud computing, since it is a relatively straightforward process. Businesses can access useful cloud resources without having to make big changes to their processes. This migration is also helpful when businesses want to move an application without upgrading products.

However, there remain some factors that businesses should consider in this approach. For example, your software might still require a lot of maintenance and might not be robust enough to handle this migration. Businesses would then need to invest in refactoring or engineering their applications so that they can be successfully moved to the cloud. 

This approach can, therefore, provide a good short-term solution for businesses who are not yet looking to replatform or rebuild their applications. 

Case study: a specialist in financial services

As a lender who was regularly dealing with clients' financial information, this company was handling a lot of sensitive data. This data was being stored in a bare-metal server at a local internet service provider. This cloud storage method had high costs for the company, who were required to maintain these servers.

Working with their cloud migration partner, the company chose a rehosting approach for their migration. This project involved moving existing data from on-premise servers to virtual machines based in Microsoft Azure Cloud

The solution provided a more secure alternative to their existing architecture. On top of this the company benefited from reduced maintenance from employees. As a managed service, cloud delegated server maintenance away from the company and significantly reduced costs. 

2. Replatform

This approach involves making changes to existing applications in order to adapt the application for the cloud. The applications will retain a lot of their existing architecture, but minor changes are made to ensure that they can be successfully migrated to the cloud. These changes will then allow businesses to get the full benefits from this migration process. 

Businesses still retain some flexibility over their cloud migration strategy with this approach. Using this approach, businesses have the option to retire their existing applications or migrate to the cloud in the future. The replatforming approach also enables developers to use resources they have experience with, such as legacy programming languages and existing frameworks. 

As with rehosting, this approach maintains the core architecture of applications. Businesses will also see similar benefits; they will save on costs required for maintaining infrastructure and software licences.

Another key benefit is that it gives businesses access to a range of beneficial cloud services. For example, Microsoft Azure offers Azure App Services. Using this service, businesses can build enterprise-ready applications for any platform or device quickly and easily. After they are built, they can then be deployed on a scalable, reliable cloud infrastructure.

However, businesses should consider the extra complexities involved with refactoring applications for the cloud. Application code needs to be changed and then tested thoroughly to avoid a loss in functionality. 

It is possible that an organisation will only require cloud rehosting if its infrastructure is already performing adequately. Before committing to any changes, businesses should consider how those changes will affect the functionality of their applications.

While these processes can be time consuming, the long-term cost savings and performance of applications still make this a viable choice for businesses migrating to the cloud. 

Case study: global leader in computer hardware manufacturing 

This company had a large catalogue of products with up to eight different naming conventions. A major challenge was building a database that could return search results quickly. 

The application could not adequately support these business processes. Server performance was a bottleneck and every time a job ran the website would slow down. To avoid lost sales, they required fast search capability.

Replatforming was an appropriate approach because it offered improved performance to the company’s application while reducing the costs that would come with a complete rebuild of their architecture. The solution was a secure product management platform which manages over 200,000 product types. Hosted in Microsoft Azure, the platform was integrated with core systems and provided real-time visibility of stock and sales. 

The platform is compiled of an intelligent search mechanism within a database application, which optimises core business functions whilst maintaining application performance. Leveraging Azure tools, including Autoscale, the platform facilitates 50% product count increase annually. 

The main objectives of this migration were achieved. For one, the system has seen 100% uptime over the last 12 months. This performance ensures efficient business operations at all times. 

Before a release to live, fixes can be deployed using automated release pipelines through internal testing environments. This process ensures agility for the company at each step of their cloud migration. 

3. Rearchitecture

With this approach, the architecture of your application is redesigned so that you can take full advantage of cloud computing. Usually, the application code needs to be restructured or optimised so that it can successfully move to the cloud. 

This approach will take a long time to complete and is often driven by a business need that an application is unable to meet with the existing architecture.

Optimising the code of existing applications is a long and sometimes complex process. However, it will not alter the performance of the application. This consistency ensures business continuity throughout your cloud migration. 

Businesses who have executed this approach and moved away from an on-premise infrastructure are now cloud-native. These cloud-native applications are developed to take advantage of public cloud platforms. 

With these systems, businesses have access to advanced deployment tools that can optimise the agility of their enterprise architecture. Cloud-native environments simplify both the design and administration of traditionally complex infrastructures. 

This approach will, therefore, have the greatest impact on projects in the long-term. Businesses can easily scale up or down as needed and the added functionality of a cloud-native architecture ensures optimum performance of key business areas.

Case study: one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers 

This company is expanding rapidly into new global markets and requires an infrastructure that will allow them to carry out core business functions and maintain application uptime across different time zones and countries. 

Operating on three major servers, the company had faced challenges when carrying out critical business processes. The existing platform would go down, which caused employees to implement workarounds. 

The solution is to rebuild the company’s services in a cloud-native architecture. This approach will allow scheduled tasks to be carried out with greater reliability which will save valuable time and resources. 

Under this new architecture, application downtime will also be drastically reduced. Previously it was the case that increased activity in the company’s internal application led to downtime on the external facing application. Utilising Azure ‘Front Door’, this company will benefit from  a fast and secure access to their applications web content. 

This project will support the company’s existing business strategy by reducing the downtime of external facing applications. 

Conclusion

Cloud migration is one of many services that we offer at Audacia. With our experience supporting companies in all of these migration scenarios, we are adept in finding solutions that work for every business. 

We can provide a number of tools to facilitate your cloud migration and can help your business simplify complexities through managed hosting environments.

Examples of the technology we can offer include virtual machines and application hosting services. These solutions work to maximise the system uptime and improve performance. 

Interested in finding out more about cloud migration or other services that we offer? Get in touch with Audacia today on 0113 543 1300, or email info@audacia.co.uk

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Richard Brown is the head of engineering at Audacia, responsible for steering the technical direction of the company and maintaining standards across development and testing.