Cloud Migration: Strategies, Process, Benefits and Challenges

The pandemic accelerated technological adoption among small and midsized businesses (SMBs) by five years, forcing them to upgrade their IT infrastructure by adopting cloud-based and digital tools to stay competitive and service clients remotely. According to the 2022 IT Operations Survey Results Report, the percentage of respondents using cloud cost management tools increased from 7% to 24% as cloud adoption climbs.

Cloud services are a boon for the fast-expanding mid-market segment who can pay on the go and expand and scale their business without incurring high IT infrastructure costs. The report also highlighted that nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents spend as much as 25% of their resources on cloud infrastructure.

With cloud technologies becoming increasingly popular, this blog will aim to answer common questions such as what cloud migration means, why it’s important, top migration strategies and other key queries. Dive in.

What is cloud migration?

Cloud migration refers to moving company data, applications and other IT resources from on-premises data centers and servers to the cloud. Companies can either transfer their data to public cloud service providers like Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, or Amazon Web Services (AWS), set up their private cloud computing environment or create a hybrid environment.   

With cloud services gaining popularity, there is also an increasing rise in cloud-to-cloud migrations in which companies move their resources from one cloud service provider to another. Another concept under the umbrella of cloud migration is cloud repatriation, or reverse cloud migration, in which users move their data and resources from a cloud environment to a local server.

Why is cloud migration important?

Cloud migration is important because it gives SMBs the capability to support a diversified and hybrid employee and client base efficiently. Cloud computing is the future of IT, and not migrating to it will result in you falling behind. Consider these points:

  • Cost: Every company, big or small, needs a robust IT infrastructure to run its operations. Cost-sensitive small businesses may find it difficult to grow if they have to set up an entire infrastructure from scratch. The cloud, with services like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS), gives small businesses, like MSPs, all the IT tools and resources they need to kickstart and manage their business for a fraction of the cost.  
  • Scalability and capacity planning: Moreover, capacity planning is difficult for businesses in the growth stage due to cyclical change in demand that places an unpredictable load on IT infrastructure. Cloud computing allows a company to scale up or down its usage based on demand and only pay for what it uses. By doing this, they do not have to spend money on expensive hardware that may result in the underutilization of resources during non-peak periods. As a result, operational costs shrink further and free up funds for revenue-generating projects.
  • Automation and cybersecurity: On top of being a good fit for cybersecurity management, cloud technologies help automate processes. With cloud storage, businesses can quickly recover data in case of an incident while technicians can automate software patching for applications on the cloud to save time and improve efficiency.
  • Digital experience: Cloud resources allow users to deploy technology in minutes and start working, testing and implementing their ideas and strategies immediately. The technology also provides users with a global reach, so they can deploy their applications and provide services anywhere in the world without hassle.   

What are cloud migration strategies? 

Cloud migration strategies are in-depth plans companies make to migrate their data and resources from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud or from one cloud provider to another. No two businesses will have the same cloud migration strategy. It will vary depending on their expectations from cloud adoption, its impacts on their business operations, the money they expect to save and other business factors.

The 5 Rs of cloud migration 

Migrating to the cloud is not a simple one-size-fits-all process. For migration to be successful, each application, dataset and workload must be mapped out in detail. According to Gartner, there are five categories of cloud migration strategies, dubbed the FIVE Rs. Let’s take a look at what they are:

  • Rehost: It is the easiest and simplest way to migrate workloads to the cloud by leveraging IaaS. Rehosting, also called lift and shift, is an ideal strategy for organizations new to the cloud who want a clean migration experience without undertaking major code modifications.    
  • Refactor: Refactoring is similar to rehosting, with the difference that organizations use PaaS instead of IaaS, which allows them to make small modifications to applications and datasets so they can be optimized for the cloud. For this reason, refactoring is also called lift, tinker and shift.
  • Revise: Organizations can take full advantage of cloud services and capabilities by adopting this method, but it requires making major code changes to applications, database architecture and systems. Choosing this strategy requires careful and in-depth planning.
  • Rebuild: In a rebuild, the old code is thrown out and rewritten from scratch for the cloud. As this process is time-consuming and costly compared to others, you should only do it when you are sure your current methods aren’t working effectively and starting over is more cost-effective.
  • Replace: Replace is similar to rebuild, except instead of developing a native application from scratch, you move your data to an application provided by a third-party vendor.

What are cloud migration deployment models?

The cloud deployment model indicates how you’ve configured the cloud infrastructure, which determines how much access and control you have over it. A deployment model determines where and who controls cloud databases and servers. There are four primary deployment models, which are:

Public Cloud 

The public cloud setup gives users access to comprehensive IT resources like virtual machines, computing power, application storage and data backup over the internet without requiring them to maintain the hardware themselves. The public cloud service providers share the computing resources with multiple tenants and charge them on a pay-per-usage or subscription basis.

Private Cloud

A private cloud setup is for use by a single customer. Companies create the cloud environment for personal use and do not share it with others. This option combines the benefits of public cloud with the security and control of an on-premise IT ecosystem. Although this setup is costly due to upfront investment in technology, many organizations find the security benefits outweigh the costs.

Hybrid Cloud

A hybrid cloud setup is when a company uses a mix of on-premise, public and private cloud environments. Companies use data management processes to connect systems running on traditional architecture that they may not want to expose to the cloud. Often, companies keep confidential resources and data on-premises and use the cloud for services like analytics. The hybrid model is where most businesses end up.

Multicloud 

Multicloud setups involve connecting multiple public clouds in one architecture to create a single user experience.

What is the cloud migration process? 

A successful cloud adoption strategy will vary based on unique business needs and requirements. However, all cloud migration takes place in the following four stages:

  1. Planning: In this step, you determine what use cases transition to a cloud model will serve, such as backup, storage or DevOps. It’s essential to ensure that the vendor supports your use cases. Decide whether to work with a public, private or hybrid model. The next step is to determine which applications and data are critical, and it’s best to migrate non-necessary data first. You should also consider the issue of interoperability, data compliance and security. The more detailed your plan, the smoother the migration process will be.
  2. Build the business case: After planning, the next step is to create a business case for each application, dataset or workload you plan to migrate to the cloud. Add up the costs of all the cloud services you plan to use and compare them with your current setup. Are there savings to be made? It would be best if you also considered which cloud services you plan to use in the future. Consider the operational and cost savings and the architectural benefits of going to the cloud. For instance, prices will go up when you implement new features, increase workloads or add capacity.Get to know the different cloud vendors and their pricing models, as well as the discounts you can get for long-term commitments or promising a certain level of cloud usage. The purpose of adopting cloud migration is to improve business operations and reduce costs. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the cloud service vendor you choose will help you achieve the desired results. 
  3. Execute: You have the blueprint for cloud migration and have run the numbers that prove it’s a wise and profitable move. Next comes the execution phase, where you must ensure that the migration does not disrupt business operations, result in cost overruns and happens as quickly as possible.The best approach is to follow a phased migration process, allowing each dataset to be tested in the new environment before the next lot gets migrated. Public cloud service providers offer a range of tools that make migration easy and seamless.
  4. Maintain: Successful cloud adoption is not the end of the story. The final step is optimizing cloud usage, keeping data secure and making it easy to retrieve. Additionally, it would help if you tracked KPIs to ensure that the results you expect from moving to a cloud setup are coming through.

What are the benefits of cloud migration? 

Cloud computing technology and cloud-based services have matured. Their capabilities and reliability have advanced to a degree that for most organizations it’s no longer a matter of if they will launch a cloud deployment or expansion, but when. Here are some of the top benefits of cloud migration:

Cost management

With no upfront commitments or long-term contracts, you pay only for the resources (storage, compute power, etc.) you use. This reduces your IT operational costs and helps boosts profits. You can spend the money you save on introducing innovation at the workplace and improving your own services.

Easy scalability 

Cloud services offer high scalability and availability to their users. It’s easy to scale your usage up or down, depending on the changing needs of your business. You can also modify the computing power required with just a few clicks.   

Boosted performance

Cloud-hosted websites or applications run better for end users since the cloud provider will naturally have significantly more data centers. As these data centers are located around the globe, you can host your data in a market you want to serve and remove location-based latency. As a result, you will be able to provide better service to your users.

Improved flexibility 

Cloud adoption provides businesses with flexibility and scalability by not restricting them to the physical limitations of on-premises servers. In addition, you can also take advantage of the reliability of multiple cloud data centers as well as responsive and customizable load balancing that evolves with your changing demands. This way you never have to worry about high fixed costs since everything is variable.

What are the challenges with cloud migration? 

Even though migrating to the cloud has many benefits and is the inevitable next step in information technology, several challenges remain.

Inadequate planning

Successful migration to the cloud requires proper planning, and most companies don’t pay enough attention to this step. Whether it’s due to lack of time, inattention or management’s inability to get on the same page, errors during migration are preventable if all the wrinkles are ironed out during the planning phase.

Upfront costs 

Technology adoption comes at a cost. Many technicians see migration as a net new cost rather than considering its long-term cost-saving benefits. When companies are on a tight budget, migrating to the cloud can be challenging. However, the cloud can be a great way for companies to save money and unlock efficiencies in their business.

Data security 

Cloud operates on a shared responsibility model where the service providers supply robust security controls but the responsibility to configure them correctly is up to the users. There is also a risk associated with mass data transfers, as information can get intercepted during the transfer. When using cloud services, users must exercise all cybersecurity precautions.

Compliance maintenance 

Compliance is another challenge. When deploying cloud technologies, you must ensure compliance with the various rules and regulations that will vary based on your industry and location. Ensure you’re compliant with the standards appropriate for your organization.

Support cloud migration with Kaseya

The migration to cloud computing has rapidly accelerated in the past year as organizations have digitally transformed their business. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) extends your IT environment from on-premises to the cloud. The global market size of IaaS is expected to reach nearly $82.2 billion this year. Needless to say, IT teams need an endpoint management solution that enables them to manage cloud-based environments on services such as Azure and AWS, as well as hybrid on-premise and cloud environments.

With Kaseya VSA, you can automate the discovery process of all endpoints and network devices, including virtual hosts, virtual machines and cloud infrastructure for services such as Microsoft Azure. You can deploy our automation agents to Azure Active Directory (AD), with more cloud providers on the horizon. VSA gives you the visibility and functionality you need to manage all of IT in a single UI. If your RMM can’t manage your hybrid IT ecosystem, it’s time to upgrade. Request your demo today!

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