Cloud Migration – The Essential Types and Steps


Leveraging cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offers numerous benefits, so many companies of all sizes are choosing to host their infrastructure in the cloud. IaaS enables organizations to focus on business tasks, drive growth, increase flexibility, and reduce capital expenditures. 

There are several options for moving your infrastructure to the cloud, which can make it difficult to determine the right one for your business. This article describes different options to cloud IaaS migration.

What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration is the process of moving business applications from on-premises infrastructure or cloud to another provider's cloud platform. The company gets a virtual pool of resources – compute, networking, and storage – instead of physical.

There are many arguments towards migration to a cloud platform, and every company has its specific reasons. Some opt for IaaS cloud model to expand data storage capabilities or accelerate computational processes, while others choose the cloud as a backup site for testing, a development environment or to host non-critical services. That is, depending on specific business goals, the cloud can help in different ways.

Renting virtual server in the cloud helps improve overall business performance. The company receives the opportunity to use computing capacities, data storage, communication channels without capital expenditures, and the need to maintain on-premise infrastructure.

Migration to the cloud is the first step to digital transformation, which is essential for any business that seeks to remain competitive in the market and be able to launch new IT projects.

Types of IaaS cloud migration

There are two types of migration:

  • From physical infrastructure to cloud infrastructure
  • From one cloud platform to another (from another provider)

This process requires planning, but it is usually worth the effort, as the cloud saves money and provides greater flexibility.

There are several approaches to migrating applications to the cloud, ranging from migrating old applications "as it is" to create a new application that will replace the old one.

Lift-and-shift. The organization's applications are not changed but simply placed in the cloud. Lift-and-shift can include copying application binaries, creating and configuring virtual machine (VM) images, creating security groups, setting up elastic IP and DNS addresses, and moving to a new database in the cloud.

Refactoring. Involves optimizing the application to work in a cloud environment. This process may take some time, as it entails reconfiguring the components of the application, and making changes to the code. But as a result, the refactored application can take full advantage of cloud architecture. 

Re-platforming. A hybrid approach implies a partial refinement of the systems architecture. For example, implementing a managed database or using dynamic scaling functionality. This migration strategy takes longer than the first method, but the company becomes more efficient and adapted to the cloud. 

The main steps of cloud migration

IT-infrastructure differs from company to company, so the process of migration is always different. But the plan usually includes the following steps: 

Step 1: Data Migration

Creating a copy of the company's data in cloud storage is a mandatory first step when migrating to the cloud. It is important to choose a robust storage facility with backup systems. After all, the more security levels the storage system offers, the more reliable your databases will be.

Please note that copying raw data is only part of the initial migration process. Be sure to check the formats and schemas of data exported from one repository to another.

Step 2: Replication

Once the export of the local storage snapshot is complete and the data is moved to the cloud, you need to set up synchronization processes. Ongoing replication is more complex than the copy process, as it is a series of incremental copy operations. Each operation requires logging changes to the data and its schema and applying those changes to the cloud storage.

Any data synchronization solution in the cloud and on-premises infrastructure (or another cloud) needs to be tested for latency and reliability. Synchronization can be set up independently or you can choose a data pipeline service to handle continuous data and schema replication. When everything is set up, you can migrate the rest of your infrastructure.

Step 3: Ensuring Security

Organizing a cloud infrastructure, while technologically complex, is easier than building a physical one. Do not rush into this, because the threat of information security is one of the reasons companies refuse to implement the cloud. With cloud platforms, corporate assets are no longer behind a manually configured firewall, and the network perimeter does not seem to exist. That is not true; there are both firewalls and perimeters. 

To be effective, the protection process requires the involvement of a variety of specialists beyond the IT department, because migration entails technological changes and structural modifications.

Moving to virtual servers in the cloud can change the functional roles and operations within your business. And employees may need help with learning new systems and work algorithms. Although the business processes themselves will not change, the work environment usually remains unchanged.

In general, the main difficulties for the company are choosing a provider, configuring security, and ensuring that applications and services interact with the cloud environment. The rest of the processes have long been established and do not cause problems.

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author: Daria Kravtsova
published: 03/24/2022
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