Top Cloud Migration Techniques

Introduction

If you are looking to migrate your application to cloud, then this article is for you. Whether you are migrating from on-premise to cloud, or just moving from one cloud to another cloud, or even moving within same cloud but to a different platform, this guide will immensely help you. Today we will go through the top cloud migration techniques. Each of these techniques caters to a specific need. We will discuss not only the pros and cons of each strategy, but will also present the relevant use cases. You will also learn the exact steps involved in each of these migration techniques. Let’s start with the most common technique; which is “Lift and shift”.

1. Lift and Shift (Rehosting)

This approach involves migrating existing applications from on-premises infrastructure to the cloud without making significant changes to the application architecture. It is also called “Rehosting”. As the purpose of this technique is to avoid any disruption during migration, hence the name “lift and shift” because you life the whole infrastructure and shift as it is to the cloud. Here the choice of cloud vendor is also an important factor. Do check out our previous blog on how to select the right cloud provider for your needs

Steps:

  1. Gather the requirements for the cloud infrastructure:
    • Identify the existing application’s components, dependencies, and infrastructure.
    • Understand the application’s resource requirements (CPU, memory, storage).
  2. Set up the target cloud infrastructure:
    • Provision a similar environment in the cloud (e.g., virtual machines, containers).
    • Set up networking, security groups, and access controls.
  3. Migrate the data:
    • Transfer data from on-premises storage to cloud storage (e.g., Amazon S3, Azure Blob Storage).
  4. Deploy your applications:
    • Deploy the application in the cloud environment.
  5. Perform testing:
    • Ensure that the application works correctly in the cloud.
    • Test performance, security, and scalability.

Pros:

  • Fast Migration: This option requires minimal disruption so this is the fastest option among others.
  • Cost-Efficient: Lower upfront cost compared to other approaches.
  • Minimal Risk: Less impact on existing functionality.

Cons:

  • Suboptimal Cloud Benefits: It doesn’t fully leverage cloud-native features.
  • Technical Debt: May inherit inefficiencies from the existing setup.
  • Limited Scalability: Scalability improvements are limited without architectural changes.

When to Use:

  • Urgent need for migration: When time is critical, and you need to move applications quickly.
  • You are using legacy application: For older applications where refactoring is not an option.

Example:

Let’s say you have an aging legacy application running on an in-house on-premises data center. You decide to lift and shift it to a cloud environment. The application remains largely unchanged, the only difference is that it runs on cloud infrastructure.

Source: https://cloudacademy.com/blog/cloud-migration-benefits-risks/ 

2. Refactoring / Re-architecting

In refactoring, you redesign applications to take full advantage of cloud-native features. It involves modifying your existing architecture and often includes breaking down monolithic applications into microservices.

Steps:

  1. Decompose into smaller services:
    • Break down monolithic applications into smaller, loosely coupled services (microservices).
    • Identify boundaries for each microservice.
  2. Optimization:
    • Optimize code, data storage, and architecture for the cloud.
    • Leverage cloud-native services (e.g., serverless, managed databases).
  3. Integration of micro services:
    • Integrate microservices using APIs or event-driven communication.
    • Implement load balancing and auto-scaling.
  4. Testing/validation:
    • Test each microservice independently.
    • Validate end-to-end functionality of the whole product.

Pros:

  • Optimized Performance: Applications are tailored for the cloud, as a result the overall performance is improved.
  • Scalability: Applications can scale horizontally by adding more instances.
  • Cost Savings: It results in efficient resource utilization and leads to cost savings.

Cons:

  • More complex: Requires significant development effort.
  • Possible downtime: May involve downtime during the transition.
  • Involves learning curve: Teams need to learn new cloud-native practices.

When to Use:

  • Modernization is your priority: When you want to fully embrace cloud capabilities.
  • You have scalability needs: For applications that need to scale dynamically.

Example:

Imagine you have a monolithic SaaS-based healthcare application. The application is growing large and it is difficult to handle the changes and deployments. You decide to break it down it into smaller independent microservices by using serverless functions. This approach will result in better scalability, control, and cost optimization.

3. Replatforming

If you want to move your applications to a different platform within the same cloud provider, you should go for replatforming. The goal is to improve overall application experience including performance, scalability, security, etc.

Steps:

  1. Assess areas for improvement:
    • Evaluate existing applications and identify areas for improvement.
    • Assess the current platform’s limitations.
  2. Select the platform:
    • Choose a different platform within the same cloud provider (e.g., move from VMs to managed services).
    • Consider factors like scalability, performance, and cost.
  3. Execute the migration:
    • Migrate the application to the new platform.
    • Update configurations and settings.
  4. Optimize the architecture:
    • Leverage cloud-specific features (e.g., AWS Lambda, Azure Functions).
    • Optimize resource allocation.
  5. Test the application:
    • Validate that the application works as expected on the new platform.

Pros:

  • Take advantage of platform optimization: Takes advantage of cloud-specific services.
  • Minimal downtime: Less disruptive than rearchitecting.
  • Scalability requirements: Can scale based on demand.

Cons:

  • Vendor Lock-In: Tied to a specific cloud provider.
  • Moderate migration effort: Still requires some adjustments.
  • Limited Transformation: It is not as transformative as rearchitecting.

When to Use:

  • Platform Upgrade: When you want to leverage a new, modern platform by the same cloud provider.
  • Lowering your costs: When you plan to reduce overall costs by moving to a new platform.

Example:

Take the example of a Java application running on virtual machines (VMs) in AWS. You want to replatform it by migrating to AWS Elastic Beanstalk. AWS beanstalk is another platform on AWS that provides a managed platform for Java applications. It automated a lot of operations that you might have to perform manually if you are using EC2 machines for managing your Java application.

Conclusion

Migration to cloud requires careful thought and impact analysis. In this article we covered the top cloud migration techniques. Lift and shift migration is best if you want quick migration with minimal disruption. Re-architecting is best if you have a monolith application that you want to transform into a microservices based application. Finally, replatforming is best if you want to migrate to a better platform in the same cloud.

Vizzon can you help you with the cloud migration regardless of which technique you intend to adopt. With our experience in application modernization, cloud migration, and refactoring, you do not need to reinvent the wheel. Our skilled team will help you cross this bridge with ease and simplicity. Contact us today to know how we can help you with cloud migration.