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An ultimate guide to successful cloud migration

smartym profile image Sergey V. ・8 min read

Today many organizations are transferring their projects to the cloud with the view of raising scalability and reducing infrastructure costs. This will be especially useful if your app is built on top of the legacy technology stack or you need to develop a platform that will process thousands of requests per second. Although moving to the cloud introduces some challenges, there are many benefits it provides customers with.

First and foremost, it allows organizations to optimize budgets as having a local server requires ongoing maintenance. According to the survey by Rackspace, 88% of clients managed to reduce costs thanks to running services in the cloud. Improved system resilience to high loads, faster disaster recovery, higher flexibility, and scalable data storage are other important advantages of cloud migration.

Take a look at interesting facts and predictions about the transition to the cloud collected and published by Hosting Tribunal:

  • By 2023, the worldwide cloud computing market is anticipated to grow to $623.3 billion increasing from $272 billion (Report Linker).

  • Spending on cloud infrastructure exceeded $80 billion in 2018, growing from $55 billion in 2017 (Canalys).

  • Data access from any place in the world is the primary reason for cloud migration (Sysgroup).

  • 47% of the surveyed organizations said that cost reduction was the main reason to transfer to the cloud (Opsramp, Skyhighnetworks, Directive).

However, when migrating to the cloud, you will have to resolve some challenges. In order to help you successfully transfer, we’ve prepared a step-by-step guide that consists of 6 steps. Take a look!

6 steps for successful cloud migration

steps

1. Define how much cloud capacity you will need

Traditional internet infrastructure vendors sell computational resources, not computational power. To be more specific, they provide servers that run 24/7 while companies pay per hour even if they aren’t employing these resources at some moment. Unfortunately, this may result in extra expenses as you are charging for the server downtime.

Therefore, if your web application doesn’t have night-time operations, say, when serving numerous users in different time zones, it will have 12 hours of idle time. This means that 50% of expenditures will be wasted.

As sometimes even famous news and social media services face a few hours of slow traffic, they can also take advantage of reducing cloud computing costs.

However, buying a large server or many servers based only on abstract workload projections is not a way out. The purchase of one small server can be insufficient to ensure product resilience and availability during peak loads. In the worst case, the system can even crash under high pressure. If you choose to have lots of servers, you risk losing money.

That’s why it is so important to define how much capacity you really need. For example, you can use the pay-as-you-go model for the cloud that enables auto-scaling. Or you can build a serverless architecture using AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, or another cloud computing platform.

The key feature of these services is automatic on-demand scaling: when the load increases, the system provides more computational power, when the traffic is slow, you pay less. As a consequence, you take advantage of either pay-as-you-use and pay-as-you-go payment models.

Serverless is a cloud architecture that allows software engineers to delegate various tasks such as server management and resource allocation to the vendor. Hence, developers have more time on making and deploying applications while you optimize expenses.

To increase app performance and improve the response, consider remaining with a local data center or using advanced tools and approaches, for instance, creating a serverless or microservices architecture. For instance, Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading media company, built serverless with AWS for its usage analytics service that processes 4,000 requests per second.

If there are some doubts, you should turn to a software development company that has extensive experience in cloud migration to receive a project consultation.

2. Choose the right architecture

Although the cloud is often considered as a great way to save money, there are some issues that you should take into account. First and foremost, companies often mistakenly perceive cloud transition as cloning of the existing infrastructure. The second point is the cost of the cloud provider that you pay for infrastructure management and maintenance.

If you decide to transfer the system as is, the price of cloud migration will be higher compared to local storage. With the view of reducing expenses, you should adjust the architecture before moving to the cloud. You should also pick the right technologies and find a reliable cloud service vendor to simplify this process.

One of the best ways to address these challenges is to define what product components can be left on-premises and what should be migrated. By optimizing your architecture, you will make this transition a cost-efficient option.

Another approach is to develop a microservices architecture, for instance, using AWS or Microsoft Azure cloud computing platforms. As of today, AWS and Azure are the providers of choice for 93% of cloud newbies, with 52% and 41% of early-stage cloud users respectively.

3. Optimize service utilization

The next step of your cloud migration strategy is to balance service utilization. Analyze the load on services before making a transition to define which of them are overloaded and which are underused.

To optimize the load, we recommend you to do the following things:

  • Employ infrastructure components that include message queues, load balancers, caching services, etc.

  • Transfer all static resources to CDN (content delivery network) to reduce the load on the system servers.

  • Replace simple backend services with those that cope with a sporadic load and ensure better response time.

  • Define routines and services that are rarely utilized. Then, replace them with serverless handlers, for example, AWS Lambda. As a consequence, your company will be charged for only the consumed computational resources, which will also allow you to save money.

Thanks to load balancing, you will be able to increase the system resilience, availability, and infrastructure maintenance. Providing fast response time, you will improve customer experience.

4. Estimate the cost of cloud infrastructure

In order to estimate the budget that you will need for infrastructure monitoring and maintenance, you should consider the cost of servers, resources, and equipment deterioration. There are various tools that help calculate the final cost, for instance, AWS Monthly Calculator provided by Amazon Web Services. However, you can significantly cut the price by following our recommendations described in the previous steps.

Let’s consider an example. Say, you have a complex software system that runs on-premises. This web application has to store over 10 TB of data, analyze large amounts of information, and process about 10 million user requests daily. In this case, you should prepare a 2-phase cloud migration strategy.

Firstly, software engineers need to rebuild infrastructure components and replace some of them with serverless handlers. Secondly, the team should use cloud services available out-of-the-box. This way, you will optimize software infrastructure, provide on-demand scaling, and successfully transfer to the cloud.

5. Provide data security

Many companies operate with large amounts of sensitive data including payment, customer, enterprise, personal, and financial information. If you’ve decided to migrate to the cloud, you should ensure data protection against hacker attacks, malware, unauthorized access, and other threats. In case your budget doesn’t let you hire qualified security specialists, you can turn to a trusted cloud vendor for providing data safety and privacy.

According to “2019 Global Cloud Security Study” by Gemalto:

  • 48% of all enterprise information is stored in the cloud in comparison with 35% in 2016.

  • 49% of companies encrypt sensitive data in the cloud to protect it against various threats.

  • 44% of companies are careful about sharing sensitive information with other organizations.

  • 53% of organizations plan to increase data security stored in the cloud employing advanced techniques such as multi-factor identification.

Today businesses are especially concerned about providing data privacy. Surely, cloud migration presents more technical challenges to the healthcare, government, financial, and banking sectors.

Companies generally have to not just protect information but also ensure compliance with various standards and regulations. However, despite security concerns, this transfer is still possible if to make everything right.

What you should do:

  • Turn to a reliable cloud vendor (e.g., AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, etc.) based on the company’s security acknowledgements.

  • Prepare a service-level agreement that takes into account not only vendor-customer relationships but covers all third parties involved.

  • Create and follow a security management plan to ensure a quick response to various threats as they arise.

  • Don’t migrate the whole system to the cloud. Instead, you can employ hybrid approaches when enterprise software solutions with personal customer information are stored and secured on-premises.

What a cloud vendor should do:

  • Analyze the existing system for possible risks.

  • Continuously monitor the system to instantly detect security vulnerabilities and prevent any data leaks.

  • Prepare a detailed threat management plan that clearly explains what to do in each particular case.

  • Manage security risks that may be caused by the Internet of Things or BYOD employing virtual machines, containers, or other tools for access control.

6. Prevent vendor lock-in

When migrating to the cloud, a common challenge that organizations should prevent is vendor lock-in, which means that you won’t be able to change a cloud vendor. This also includes the issue of apps’ interoperability when partnering with another cloud provider. Resolving this problem can lead to spending extra time and expenses.

If you decide to commit to only one vendor despite these points, you should carefully plan a cloud migration strategy considering all possible risks.

However, if your goal is to avoid vendor lock-in, you should research the vendor’s documentation and negotiate an agreement or consult an expert. Employ cloud-managed services created with open-source components. As a result, you will get the ability to easily switch cloud vendors.

In order to address issues associated with lock-in and interoperability, you can apply AWS services such as Amazon Aurora (if fully compatible with MySQL database) and AWS ElastiCache (employs both Redis and Memcached on the backend).

Another way is to employ cloud services that use both standard or open protocols. Consider if the cloud vendor offers its own proprietary protocols together with open ones. Here we recommend to always choose open protocols as they offer higher flexibility in terms of changing the provider or deploying custom service instances.

Summing it up

Transition to the cloud is rather a challenging process that requires preparing an effective migration strategy and cooperating with a trustworthy cloud or IT service company. If implemented properly, you will take advantage of:

  • Reduced costs
  • Raised scalability
  • High resilience to peak loads
  • Improved infrastructure maintenance

Choose a reliable vendor, prepare a detailed SLA, consider using a hybrid model, prevent vendor lock-in, ensure data security, and employ open protocols. In case you need to update your system, say, migrate from the outdated technology stack, you should contact a reliable provider of app modernization services.

Following recommendations described in this guide, you will successfully transfer your system to the cloud. Good luck!

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smartym profile

Sergey V.

@smartym

I’m the CTO at software development company and a technical expert with more than 10 years of experience. Interested in blockchain, AI, Big Data, and cybersecurity solutions.

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