Cloud migration - successfully optimise costs and processes

by | 16 September 2021 | Basics

Cloud migration is the transfer of corporate data and content to the cloud. This trend is spreading across various business sectors. The use of a cloud environment has many positive sides. However, the migration process of digital business processes needs to be well thought out. In this article, we take a closer look at the possibilities of data migration.

Increasing relevance of cloud migration

Since 2011, the number of German companies with more than 20 employees using cloud services has been rising steadily. According to a Statista survey in 2020, 82 percent of respondents were already using private or public clouds. In all these companies, some form of cloud migration took place. Providers, consultancies and cloud migration tools often helped. 
 
High expectations are often attached to the move of databases and applications from local computer infrastructure to an outsourced cloud. Quite a few company decision-makers see the migration to a Cloud an important companion to general digitalisation.

Process and cost optimisation through cloud migration

In many companies, digitalisation as well as process and cost optimisation are considered the primary goal of cloud migration. In detail, the advantages of server migration to a cloud solution are as follows: 
 

  • There are no high upfront costs. Cloud providers offer, on the basis of regular payments, maintenance, always up-to-date (security) software and support. 
  • Company employees need to worry less about IT infrastructure troubleshooting and server management. 
  • Corporate resources and data are protected by multi-layered security concepts with good cloud providers. Onboarding and offboarding processes, such as managing employee access and the use of external applications, reduce the number of security incidents. 
  • Cloud providers sometimes have teams of experts with compliance certifications in key industries. A suitable provider can relieve the company of compliance obligations. 
  • Scaling is easier in the cloud: Peaks in demand can be managed more cost-effectively and easily. 
  • Reliable cloud storage providers stand for higher data security as they provide features to prevent data loss. Built-in redundancy, failover and automatic logging, among others, reduce recovery time when needed. 
  • Cloud servers enable easy file sharing, real-time collaboration and simple version control. Employees in the home office or those working on the road thus no longer need a VPN. 

Challenges of cloud migration - avoiding failures and losses

Before migrating digital business processes to the cloud, companies should consider the following: If all (or most) of the workloads are in the cloud, a fast and stable internet connection is essential. To prevent productivity losses due to connection failures, some companies keep a backup internet connection.  

For larger companies, on the other hand, the amount of data and applications means that a plan must be made for ongoing operations. In order for the current system to be functional during the cloud migration, a temporary overlap between on-premise and cloud is necessary. Typically, the move takes place gradually. 
 
For the data migration of large corporate databases, the migration service of the respective provider often includes migration tools. Sometimes physical data transfer methods are used. But even if the data is transferred via the internet, a considerable amount of time is to be expected. Afterwards, a check of the data integrity must not be missing. For the successful operation of the cloud solution, it must be ensured that no losses or damage occurred during the data migration.

From strategy to conversion - typical steps of cloud migration

Migration planning can be guided by how other companies have proceeded so far. This helps, for example, with the timing of the changeover to cloud use. Goals should be defined at the beginning: 
 

  • What should be improved by the cloud migration? 
  • When is the infrastructure currently in use considered obsolete? 
  • How will we measure the success of cloud infrastructure in the future? 

 
Another thing to consider is that cloud solutions require a different security strategy than on-premise infrastructure. The company firewall used so far does not operate in the cloud. A special cloud firewall or a web application firewall can help. This should already be taken into consideration when selecting a provider. 
 
When choosing a provider, offers and services are compared. Professional advice can help. After a contract has been signed, the data must be copied in a planned manner. Existing databases must be replicated. This is best done continuously during the migration process so that the new cloud database is always up to date. 
 
Moving the business intelligence is the next step. Whether it is necessary to refactor or rewrite the code depends on the migration strategy chosen. This migration can be implemented in one piece or gradually. Finally, production is moved from on-premise to cloud. Companies have the choice of shutting down their on-premise infrastructure or keeping it as a backup system. It is also possible to continue using it as part of a Hybrid cloud strategy.

5R - Proven Cloud Migration Strategies

As early as 2013, Gartner, a market research and consulting company for information technology, described five options for cloud migration strategies. In the meantime, these have become widespread under the keyword "5 R".

1. rebuild 

With this sometimes complex strategy, one designs one's application from scratch with a PaaS provider. Such a Platform as a Service provider not only provides the servers and storage space, but also middleware and monitoring. With this migration strategy, developers can fully benefit from the functions of the respective cloud platform.

2. refactor

Companies also use the services of a PaaS provider for refactoring. However, existing code and frameworks are used. The applications undergo only minor or no adjustments to run on the cloud platform.

3. revise

Another possible strategy is to rewrite the programme codes completely or in parts, or to expand them. Afterwards, these and the company data are made available via rehosting or refactoring on the servers of the Cloud Providers ready.

4. rehost

Here, the migration process to the cloud environment consists of recreating the same application architecture as before on the cloud servers of an Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider.

5 Replace 

Another migration strategy aims to shut down the previous applications altogether. Instead, in this case, a company opts for third-party SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) applications that have already been developed.

The connection between AI and cloud migration

AI applications require very high processing power. In many cases, the company's own IT infrastructure cannot provide this. For this reason, migration to a cloud is a prerequisite for modern AI applications. In addition, machine learning requires large amounts of data. The data needed to train the AI can be better handled in a cloud. 
 
This is especially true when cloud and AI functions come from the same provider. For example, Amazon AWS not only offers a cloud solution including migration tools. AI services, e.g. for the automatic recognition of patterns in images and videos, can also be found in the Amazon offering. These can be used, for example, to recognise certain work steps or employees with inadequate protective equipment. 
 
Furthermore, the migration of corporate data to a cloud supports the use of many cloud-native applications. This decouples workloads from specific hardware and operating systems. Cloud-native apps are often aimed at new innovative products or services. They are therefore an important tool for the digital transformation of companies.

Benefit from a cloud migration with the right strategy

Moving to a cloud solution offers many long-term benefits. The process of cloud migration includes some challenges, but with the right strategy they can be managed successfully. A Individual advice from experts helps to find a suitable cloud provider and migration strategy. 

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