What is Cloud Data Migration? Strategy, Challenges, and Risks

Many organizations are now considering migration all or part of their IT infrastructure to the cloud. Despite the benefits of moving to cloud hosting, one argument against migration is the complexity of the process. Customers are concerned that data will be lost and systems and services will be unavailable.

In this article, we explain how to migrate to the cloud and what risks to consider.

What is Data Migration?

Data migration is the process of moving digital assets from an organization’s premises to a cloud platform. This migration allows you to leverage your provider's infrastructure to reduce IT costs, scale faster, and deliver services from anywhere.

Typically, organizations move their IT systems to the cloud when they need to add capacity to their infrastructure. For example, for a temporary project or during seasonal peaks, etc.

Another reason for migration is to reduce costs. In-house infrastructure requires capital expenditure (CAPEX). The cloud offers the opportunity to use IT as a service, i.e. to shift costs to the operating expenditure (OPEX). This is beneficial for medium or small businesses that move their entire infrastructure to the cloud, keeping only critical services in-house. The subscription model helps not only to optimize costs but also to plan for periodic increases in computing capacity.

Strategies for Migrating to the Cloud

There are five basic cloud migration strategies, commonly known as the 5Rs:

Rehosting — the existing system is migrated to a cloud platform. With this strategy, an organization selects an IaaS provider and then rebuilds its application architecture on top of the new infrastructure.

Refactoring — using the existing code and framework and running the applications on the PaaS provider's platform.

Revise — the strategy involves partially rewriting or extending the code base before migrating to IaaS or PaaS.

Repurchase — involves rewriting and rebuilding the application from scratch on the provider's platform (PaaS).

Replace — organizations completely abandon their legacy applications in favor of third-party software as a service (SaaS) applications.

Every organization faces different challenges. Therefore, the process of migrating to the cloud will be different. Moving data to the cloud should start with a comprehensive process analysis.

Here are the key steps to cloud migration:

  1. Define your migration goals. Before buying a cloud solution, it is important to outline what you want to achieve with the cloud. For example, to reduce costs or to scale quickly without capital expenditure. This will help you determine the right deployment model and find the right provider.

  2. Assess your existing infrastructure. Take a thorough inventory of your existing portfolio - this will help you identify potential limitations and choose the right deployment model in the private, hybrid, or public cloud.

  3. Review the status of your data: sensitivity, format, and will the migration change that. By identifying potential problems before they occur, you can modify and adapt your migration plan to avoid data loss.

  4. Back up your data. Data migration is a massive task, and if something fails to go as planned, you need to make sure that your business information is kept safe.

  5. Select a provider. This should be based on your specific requirements, such as migration costs, the type of cloud you need, and the vendor's ability to customize a solution or build a hybrid cloud solution where part of the infrastructure is outsourced and part is retained by the customer.

Once the migration is complete, some organizations may choose to shut down their on-premises infrastructure, while others leave legacy systems as redundant capacity.

What are Common Cloud Migration Challenges?

It is very important to follow the principles of migration to ensure that the migration is successful, does not take a long time, and does not exceed the budget.

The most common problem is incompetence. For example, sending large amounts of data takes much longer than planned, and may require additional investment in specialized software.

The next problem is a mismatch between operating system (OS) and database (DB) versions. This means using outdated versions and software that is not supported by the vendor. And it cannot be transferred to the cloud.

Migrating a specific network solution to the cloud can also be challenging. For example, solutions with multi-layered security, multiple VPN channels, and different SW and HW network components. Despite the flexibility and elasticity of the cloud environment, there are certain limitations.

Cloud Migration Risks

Server in the cloud offers many benefits, but it also brings new threats and risks that need to be considered:

It is important to remember that security is a shared responsibility between the provider and the customer. The cloud is not completely isolated from external attacks. Cybercriminals actively seek out vulnerabilities in cloud systems to gain access to sensitive data. This can lead to leaks and financial and reputational damage to the organization.

Cloud infrastructure provides access to data and
applications from anywhere in the world via the internet. While this is
convenient for businesses, it also expands the opportunities for potential
attacks. Any device connected to the cloud can be a vulnerable entry point for

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author: Jennifer
published: 11/16/2023
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