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How to Build a Cloud Migration Strategy
Moving your data, tools, and apps to a cloud provider can be a powerful strategy that gives your business flexibility, scalability, and reliability far beyond what you’ve ever achieved using internal servers and strategy. But getting from where you are now to a cloud-first environment is a complex change.
Shooting from the hip with a change of this magnitude can lead to disaster. With this in mind, many businesses create a cloud migration strategy to guide them through the process.
Below, we’ll answer your questions about cloud migration and cloud migration strategy. We’ll show you the what and the why, and then we’ll give you five steps toward building a resilient, effective cloud migration strategy.
What Is Cloud Migration?
Cloud migration is the process of transferring a company’s digital infrastructure from its current location (often legacy technology or on-premises servers) to a cloud provider’s infrastructure. Any function that can be performed or data type that can be created or edited in a data center can be moved to the cloud, including the data itself, workloads, applications, and other IT resources.
You’ve likely seen multiple ads encouraging you to “do more with the cloud” or something similar. Cloud migration is the necessary (and sometimes quite complex) first step toward gaining all the benefits associated with cloud architecture. Before you can do more with the cloud, you must get your stuff there. The “getting your stuff there” process —that’s cloud migration.
More and more businesses are already using the cloud, so cloud migration now also refers to transferring assets from one cloud provider to another.
The reasons that businesses move to the cloud are many, and we could devote an entire post or series of posts to the topic. But, in brief, most businesses embrace the cloud for reasons such as these:
- Scalability: Scaling up server capacity in-house is expensive and time consuming. Doing it via a cloud provider is instantaneous and frictionless.
- No limits: With a cloud provider of sufficient depth, you’ll never encounter any limits in terms of computing power or storage capacity.
- No maintenance: Maintaining your own internal server architecture is costly and complex, and outages are on you to fix. Cloud providers absorb the maintenance and upkeep costs.
- Better reliability: Firms that deal in cloud services stake their reputation on uptime, and differing levels of cloud service offer increasing levels of availability.
What is a Cloud Migration Strategy?
Getting all your data, applications, and workloads from where they currently reside to your cloud provider isn’t quite as simple as flipping a switch or clicking a button. The process is nuanced, and it takes planning and careful execution. It takes a cloud migration strategy.
A cloud migration strategy is the high-level approach or pattern that you use to guide your transition to the cloud, along with the more detailed steps of how you’ll accomplish this transition.
Not every cloud migration looks the same because businesses move to the cloud for differing reasons or in differing amounts. You’ll find numerous categories and labels for the various cloud migration strategies. We like Gartner’s five categories, which capture most of the approaches:
- Rehost: Sometimes called “lift and shift,” this is the lightest approach, where a business just moves its existing data and applications to the cloud without tweaking them to take advantage of the cloud. It’s simple to execute, but it usually isn’t optimized, as certain apps don’t run as cleanly as in other approaches.
- Refactor: This strategy adds some tinkering to the lift-and-shift model. Businesses retain their core applications but tweak them to better integrate with cloud-based tools.
- Revise: To fully maximize the benefits of moving to the cloud, businesses may need to reshape certain processes and applications, sometimes with major code updates.
- Rebuild: Sometimes an application or service can’t, or shouldn’t, make the jump to the cloud. If a critical function can’t make the transition, rebuilding it as a cloud-native solution is an option (though one with heavy time and resource costs).
- Replace: In many situations, replacing is a better answer than rebuilding. A business’s cloud provider may offer a tool that provides the same functionality, or a third-party cloud-native app may fill the same need.
Many businesses mix and match these cloud migration strategies or move from one to the next as their cloud environment matures.
Why Build a Cloud Migration Strategy?
Simply put, businesses build a cloud migration strategy before migrating because they want their cloud migration to succeed.
Moving to the cloud without a cloud migration strategy is like building a space shuttle with no training or instructions and then expecting it to deliver you safely to the moon. It’s just too complex and too important to do without proper planning.
Characteristics of a Good Cloud Migration Strategy
A good cloud migration strategy is one that achieves the following:
- Clear and thorough in scope: What is and isn’t included? How will cloud and non-cloud systems work together once complete?
- Realistic: Can what is planned be accomplished within the timeframe and budget provided? Does the cloud provider offer all functionality that the strategy relies on?
- Measurable: How will we measure progress?
- Clearly defined success: What objectives must be met to declare victory?
- Conversely, a bad cloud migration strategy is one that fails on one or more of the points above. Additional signs of a bad cloud migration strategy could include these:
- Lack of specificity or detail
- Lack of clarity on expected outcomes
- Produces significant budget overruns
- Execution results in unexpected loss of function
- Quality of life post-migration is qualitatively worse than before
How to Build a Cloud Migration Strategy
Building a resilient cloud migration strategy is a process that will look different for every business. Your cloud provider will likely offer numerous tools to help you execute your strategy and may even offer some help in crafting your strategy.
Consider these five points of advice as you continue building and honing your cloud migration strategy.
Identify What Your Business Wants to Accomplish
The first step in building a cloud migration strategy is to establish your overarching goals. Why does your business need to execute cloud data migration? What functions or efficiencies do you need that you don’t have (or don’t have enough of) currently?
Cloud migrations can grow quite complex. Without a set of clear anchor points—big-picture goals of what the business wants to accomplish—cloud migrations can grow chaotic and unfocused.
Plan the Infrastructure
Next, you’ll need to plan out your cloud infrastructure (as well as your on-premises infrastructure, if not everything is moving). This is the stage where you identify what exactly you’re moving to the cloud (and what you’re not moving).
This is also the time to determine what level of cloud service you’ll need for various assets. Most businesses have multiple asset types with differing availability needs, and cloud services are priced higher for higher availability.
You’ll also need to decide between various cloud environments (public, hybrid, multicloud, private) and consider whether you have any physical infrastructure needs related to this transition.
Employ the Right Cloud Provider or Software for Support
One of the biggest decision points in any cloud migration is selecting a cloud provider. There are numerous tech firms offering an array of cloud services, including the big three: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Each company offering cloud services, including Seagate, has its own array of features and software tools that can aid your migration.
Seagate Lyve Cloud is a simple, efficient object storage solution from one of the most trusted names in data storage. Lyve Cloud provides businesses with object storage as a service, mass capacity cloud data transfer, and much more.
Manage Risk to Protect Data During the Migration
In theory, the actual migration of your data from one location to another can be one of the riskiest IT tasks your business may perform. But with effective backup solutions in place (including cloud backup), businesses can easily manage this risk. Simply retain a full backup of the pre-migration environment until the post-migration cloud environment is stable and all assets have been accounted for.
Test, Execute, Repeat
Nothing new to the world of technology implementation, “test, execute, repeat” is a worthwhile mantra in cloud migration strategy. Before implementing your strategy in an actual migration, test the strategy for soundness. Then, as you begin to execute, note any issues, resolve them, and then test again. Through an iterative process such as this, you’ll have a vetted, well-established strategy by the time you get to the actual migration.
Learn more about Lyve Managed Migration services.