Motivated by the significant advantages that the cloud offers, businesses of all sizes are striving to move their operations to the cloud. Moreover, the cloud is a critical technology that accelerates enterprises’ digital transformation initiatives. Discussing the benefits, cloud adoption enables your organization to be more agile, improve operational efficiencies, and provide superior customer experiences.

Despite the numerous benefits and heavy spending on cloud, 33% of organizations have seen no or slight improvement in organizational effectiveness after cloud adoption. The stats clearly signify that cloud migration is a complex and costly process as a single mistake can cause time-consuming delays, disruptions, and outages.  

So, how do you successfully migrate your digital assets to the cloud?

The answer – proper planning and choosing the right cloud migration strategy for your organization.

By the end of this blog, you will understand the significance of a cloud migration strategy, the types of cloud migration strategies, and the best practices to ease your migration process.

Let’s get started with understanding cloud migration strategy and its significance to help you smoothly transition to the cloud.

What is a cloud migration strategy?

Cloud migration is the process of moving all digital assets to the cloud from on-premise data centers or from another cloud. Planning a robust cloud migration strategy is the initial step toward migration. A cloud migration strategy is a plan that an organization prepares to move all the assets in its infrastructures, including services, applications, and data, to the cloud.  

Is cloud migration strategy applicable only for enterprises moving their legacy systems to the cloud for the first time? No, even the existing cloud users planning to optimize their costs and performance.

Reasons why cloud migrations fail

It’s highly imperative to ensure that your organization’s cloud migration efforts succeed and is aligned with the unique demands of the business. At the same time, one should keep in mind that the journey to the cloud varies from one enterprise to another and there is no one-size-fits-all migration strategy.

Falls short in strategy – One common reason for failure is the lack of proper planning. It is essential to conduct a cloud readiness assessment as it helps to have a sufficient understanding of the existing infrastructure and the target environment. Moreover, strategic planning helps to predict the amount of work required to ensure that your current workloads will function well in the cloud.

Neglecting the interdependencies between the various applications – Yet another common mistake is neglecting the fact that a single migration project may involve multiple applications, cloud platforms, and services. Hence, it’s ideal to migrate all applications that share data or processes at the same time, all the while ensuring that they are able to interoperate in the target environment.

Inadequate skills or experience – By handling cloud adoption internally without adequate expertise, your organization might fail to manage the critical details of cloud selection, workload sizing, deployment, security, or management.  

An ineffective migration not only wastes time and money but may let down your organization from adopting future cloud-based projects, thus preventing its ability to innovate. However, a robust cloud migration strategy can help ensure that your cloud adoption efforts succeed and is aligned with the company’s objectives.

Types of cloud migration strategies

The Gartner group defined five common migration strategies and called these ‘the 5 Rs of migration strategy’. Over time, these strategies evolved into six categories, and are broadly known as ‘the 6 Rs of migration’. These strategies provide a benchmark for defining your cloud adoption strategy and essentially answer the question of how to migrate your digital assets to the cloud.

The 6 R’s of Cloud Migration

  1. Rehosting – As one of the fastest and easiest cloud migration strategies, it is commonly known as the ‘lift and shift’ strategy. It involves migrating a direct copy of the data assets from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud without code-level changes. This migration approach makes sense for smaller companies with simple workloads, large-scale enterprise migrations, and whose infrastructure relies heavily on virtual machines.
    Use Rehost strategy if you are:
    • Migrating a large-scale enterprise
    • New to the cloud
    • Migrating off-the-shelf applications
    • Migrating with a deadline
  2. Replatforming – Known as the ‘move and improve’ strategy, ‘replatforming’ is a modified version of rehosting.  It makes minor configurational changes to the application enabling it to better suit the cloud environment. However, the core application architecture remains untouched.  
    Use the Replatform approach if you need to:
    • Migrate within a tight schedule
    • Migrate a complex on-premises app with minor tweaks
    • Leverage the benefits of the cloud without refactoring the app
  3. Repurchasing – A few segments of your legacy architecture may become difficult to maintain and prove impossible to scale up. This is when you need to adopt the repurchase strategy. Commonly known as the ‘drop and shop’ strategy, it refers to your organization’s decision to replace the on-premise application with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application, ending existing licensing and repurposing services on a new cloud platform. An example for repurchasing is moving from on-premise CRM to Salesforce or Hubspot. Such a newer version of your app will facilitate savings on app storage and maintenance costs.
    Use the Repurchase strategy if you are:
    • Replacing software for standard on-premise functions like finance, accounting, CRM, ERP, email, etc.
    • Using a legacy app that is not compatible with the cloud
  4. Refactoring – Refactoring is typically rewriting or rearchitecting your applications from scratch in order to make them cloud-native. This strategy helps you to reap maximum benefits from the cloud. Refactoring is the most expensive and time-consuming approach as it involves rebuilding the existing code and frameworks from scratch. At the same time, this approach will prove most valuable in the long run.
    Use Refactor approach if:
    • Your application should gain the most from the cloud
    • There is a strong drive to add scalability and performance
    • Your on-premise app is not compatible with the cloud
  5. Retiring – Sometimes, you may come across certain modules of the infrastructure that have become obsolete post the cloud move. As per the retire strategy, you can get rid of such modules which are not worth migrating to the cloud. This approach saves costs and improves security by eliminating obsolete components.
    Use the Retire strategy if:
    • You discover redundant and obsolete apps
    • Apps are not compatible with the cloud
  6. Retaining – Certain applications or modules of your digital assets are retained due to latency requirements, security reasons, regulatory compliance, etc. Referred to as revisiting strategy, this approach allows you to revisit the applications and figure out the applications that will have to remain on-premises

Top 8 cloud migration strategy best practices for 2023

  • Have a better understanding of your IT portfolio – Evaluate each asset in your existing environment, including data, applications, and infrastructure in terms of performance, cost, complexity, and internal dependencies.
  • Plan and develop your migration strategy – Considering both the 6Rs of cloud migration and your business goals, formulate a step-by-step plan for your cloud migration strategy.  
  • Choose the right managed services provider for cloud migration – A key aspect of driving a successful cloud migration is securing a managed services provider with proven experience, a diverse portfolio, and managerial expertise.
  • Prepare your team for the transition – Enable your team to better adapt to the transition and optimize the existing environment to facilitate smoother migration.
  • Take advantage of automated tools – Identify repetitive tasks and start automating them using automated tools or managed services such as AWS Directory Service and Amazon DynamoDB.
  • Continuously monitor the migration process – Continuous monitoring helps to identify and remediate any performance issues during the migration process.  
  • Document every step of your migration – Your documentation checklist can include goals, assets, migration strategies involved, cost analysis, and testing and training plans.
  • Test and validate the success of your migration project – During the post-migration phase, you need to test the services and applications that have been migrated to new cloud environment.  

Cloud migration can be a complex journey. However, with the right strategy and planning, you can ensure that your cloud migration is going in the right direction. At SecureKloud, we follow a phased approach to ensure a smooth and hassle-free cloud migration. Do you have a cloud migration challenge? Connect with our cloud migration experts.