Businesses stand a chance to leverage their applications by migrating them to the cloud and improving cost-effectiveness and scaling-up capabilities. But like any other migration or relocation process, application migration involves taking care of numerous aspects.
Some companies hire dedicated teams to perform the migration process, and some hire experienced consultants to guide their internal teams.
Owing to the pandemic, the clear choice to migrate applications is to the cloud. Even though there are still a few underlying concerns about the platform, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. According to Forbes, by 2021, 32% of the IT budgets would be dedicated to the cloud.
These are some of the interesting insights about the cloud, making it imperative for application migration.
Overview: Application Migration
Application migration involves a series of processes to move software applications from the existing computing environment to a new environment. For instance, you may want to migrate a software application from its data center to new storage, from an on-premise server to a cloud environment, and so on.
As software applications are built for specific operating systems and in particular network architectures or built for a single cloud environment, movement can be challenging. Hence, it is crucial to have an application migration strategy to get it right.
Usually, it is easier to migrate software applications from service-based or virtualized architectures instead of those that run on physical hardware.
Determining the correct application migration approach involves considering individual applications and their dependencies, technical requirements, compliance, cost constraints, and enterprise security.
Different applications have different approaches to the migration process, even in the same environment of technology. Since the onset of cloud computing, experts refer to patterns of application migration with names like:
- Rehost: The lift-and-shift strategy is the most common pattern in which enterprises move an application from an on-premise server to a virtual machine into the cloud without any significant changes. Rehosting an application is usually quicker compared to migration strategies. It reduces migration costs significantly. However, the only downside of this approach is that applications would not benefit from the native cloud computing capabilities without changes. Long-term expenses of running applications in the cloud could be higher.
- Refactor: Also called re-architect. It refers to introducing significant changes to the application to make sure it scales or performs better in the cloud environment. It also involves recoding some parts of the applications to ensure it takes advantage of the cloud-native functionalities like restructuring monolithic applications into microservice, modernization of stored data from basic SQL to advanced NoSQL.
- Replatform: Replatforming involves making some tweaks to the application to ensure it benefits from the cloud architecture. For instance, modernizing an application to make it work with the native cloud managed database, containerizing applications, etc.
- Replace: Decommissioning an application often makes sense. The limited value, duplicate capabilities elsewhere in the environment, and replacement are cost-effective with something new to offer, such as the SaaS platform.
The cloud migration service market value was USD 119.13 billion. It is predicted to reach USD 448.34 billion in the next six years by 2026. A CAGR value of 28.89% is forecasted from 2021 to 2026.
Key Elements of Application Migration Strategy
To develop a robust application management strategy, it is imperative to understand the application portfolio, specifics of security, compliance requirements, cloud resources, on-premise storage, compute, and network infrastructure.
For a successful enterprise cloud migration, you must also clarify the key business driving factors motivating it and align the strategy with those drivers. It is also essential to be more aware of the need to migrate to the cloud and have realistic transition goals.
Application Migration Plan
There are four stages of an application migration plan. It is critical to weigh potential options in each stage, such as factoring in on-premise workloads and potential costs.
- Stage#1: Identify & Assess
The initial phase of discovery begins with a comprehensive analysis of the applications in the portfolio. Identify and assess each process as a part of the application migration approach. You can then categorize applications based on whether they are critical to the business, whether they have strategic values and your final achievement from this migration. Strive to recognize the value of each application in terms of the following characteristics:
-How it impacts your business
-How it can fulfill critical customer needs
-What is the importance of data and timeliness
-Size, manageability, and complexity
-Development and maintenance costs
-Increased value due to cloud migration
You may also consider an assessment of your application’s cloud affinity before taking up the migration. During the process, determine which applications are ready to hit the floor as it is and the ones that might need significant changes to be cloud-ready.
You may also employ discovery tools to determine application dependency and check the feasibility of workload migration beyond the existing environment.
- Stage#2: TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) Assessment
It is challenging and complicated to determine the cost of cloud migration.
There will be scenarios like “what-if” to keep the infrastructure and applications on-premise with the ones associated with cloud migration. In other words, you have to calculate the cost of purchase, operations, and maintenance for hardware you want to maintain on the premise in both scenarios, as well as licensing fees.
The cloud provider will charge recurring bills in both cases and migration costs, testing costs, employee training costs, etc. The cost of maintaining on-premise legacy applications should be considered as well.
- Stage#3: Risk Assessment and Project Duration
- Stage#4: Legacy Application Migration to The Cloud
When the final stage arrives, you have to establish a feasible project timeline, identify potential risks and hurdles, and make room.
Older applications are more challenging to migrate. It can be problematic and expensive to maintain in the long run. They may even present potential security concerns if not patched recently. It may also perform poorly in the latest computing environment.
Application Migration Checklist
The application migration approach should assess the viability of each application and prioritize the candidate for migration. Consider the three C’s:
– Where did you develop the application – in-house? If yes, is the developer still an employee of the company?
– Is the documentation of the application available readily?
– When was the application created? How long was it in use?
– How many more workflows or applications in the organization depend on this?
– Do users depend on the application daily or weekly basis? If so, how many?
– What is the acceptable downtime before operations are disrupted?
– Is this application also used for production and development and testing, or all the three?
– Is there any other application that requires uptime/downtime synchronization with the application?
– What are the regulatory requirements to comply with?
Application Migration Testing
An essential part of the application migration plan is testing. Testing is vital to make sure no data or capability is lost during the migration process. You should perform tests during the migration process to verify the present data. It ensures data integrity is maintained and data is stored at the correct location.
Testing is also necessary to conduct further tests after the migration process is over. It is essential to benchmark application performance and ensure security controls are in place.
Steps of Application Cloud Migration Process
#1: Outline Reasons
Outline your business objectives and take an analysis-based application migration approach before migrating your applications to the cloud.
Do you want reduced costs? Are you trying to gain innovative features? Planning to leverage data in real-time with analytics? Or improved scalability?
Your goals will help you make informed decisions. Build your business case to move to the cloud. When aligned with key objectives of the business, successful outcomes realize.
#2: Involve The Right People
You need skilled people to be a part of your application migration strategy. Build a team with the right set of people, including business analysts, architects, project managers, infrastructure/application specialists, security specialists, experts in subject matter, and vendor management.
#3: Assess Cloud-Readiness of the Organization
Conduct a detailed technical and business analysis of the current environment, infrastructure, and apps. If your organization lacks the skills, you can consult an IT company to provide an assessment report on cloud readiness. It will give you a deep insight into the technology used and much more.
Several legacy applications are not optimized to be fit for the cloud environments. They are usually chatty – they call other services for information and to answer queries.
#4: Choose An Experienced Cloud Vendor to Design the Environment
Choosing the right vendor is critical to decide the future of work – Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and AWS are some of the most popular platforms for cloud hosting.
The apt platform depends on specific business requirements, application architecture, integration, and various other factors.
Your migration team has to decide whether a public/private/hybrid/multi-cloud environment would be the right choice.
#5: Build the Cloud Roadmap
As you get an in-depth insight into the purpose of cloud migration, you can outline the key components to make this move. The first moves are the business priority and migration difficulties. Investigate other opportunities, such as an incremental application migration approach.
Keep on improvising the initial documented reasons to move an application to the cloud, highlight the key areas, and proceed further.
A comprehensive cloud migration roadmap is an invaluable reserve. Map and schedule different phases of cloud deployment to make sure they are on the right track.
The application migration approach can start new avenues for changes and innovations, such as application modernization on the journey to the cloud. Several services are already available to assist enterprise strategies, plans and execute successful application cloud migration. But you must always choose to go for application migration consulting before going onboard.