Whether due to cost savings, operational agility, or flexibility, the imperative to move to the cloud is becoming pressing for all kinds of organizations large and small. There are numerous ways to implement a cloud migration strategy, and having a solid plan will determine how successful that migration will be.
In this post, we'll cover what a cloud migration is, how it works, benefits, strategies, and solutions that simplify the migration process.
A cloud migration is the process of moving files, data, applications, and other critical digital business systems to the cloud. The “cloud” in cloud migration is shorthand for a cloud computing environment.
Cloud computing refers to data centers and services available to many people over the internet, granting the capability to access files and perform tasks from any enabled computer or other device. Cloud computing has been around for a couple of decades, and at this point, consumers use cloud computing all the time to check their email, use social media, and communicate via messaging apps.
Additionally, businesses are increasingly migrating files, systems, and processes to the cloud. This fact—and other benefits of cloud migration—have created a major shift in enterprise storage. "The cloud" refers to servers, resources, data storage, and more that are accessed on-demand over the internet instead of hosting, managing, or running physical servers.
There are various ways to migrate to the cloud, depending on the use case and the objectives of your project. It’s important to note that a cloud migration can also refer to migrating content, data, and services from one cloud to another.
In the IT space, there are typically six different types of cloud migrations. These are commonly referred to as the 6 Rs of cloud migration:
Rehost — Also called “lift and shift,” this type of cloud migration refers to moving applications from on-premises environments to the cloud in a relatively straightforward way
Replatform — Like rehosting, but some of the components of the application are replaced or retooled to take better advantage of cloud services
Repurchase — Decommissioning an application and replacing it with a cloud-based version
Refactor— Re-architecting an application from scratch to build a cloud-optimized application from the ground up
Retire — Simply shutting down a redundant legacy application without moving it to the cloud
Retain — This version of cloud migration is not actually cloud migration at all, but rather, deciding to stick with a legacy on-premises solution because it works for now.
Not only is cloud computing cheaper, more flexible, and scalable, it's also more secure, and easier to use than on-premises options. Here are the main benefits of cloud computing.
Flexibility and scalability: Cloud migration ultimately offers companies more flexibility because they can scale server needs up and down as business requirements fluctuate. For a similar reason, cloud services are ultimately more scalable and efficient than on-premises solutions.
Lower cost: It can be more economical for companies to use cloud-based resources because they no longer have to procure and maintain expensive service infrastructure and the IT staff to support them. Often, cloud services come with pay-per-use billing, which also optimizes the spend. Cloud migration might come at an initial cost, but ultimately, that cost is paid back in lower ongoing maintenance costs.
Mobility: Cloud migration frees a business from being anchored to a data center and makes it possible to administrate from anywhere. There’s also the cost of collaboration and productivity to consider. In a time when remote work is becoming more and more of a norm, office workers can’t be tied to a workstation. Files and services held in the cloud grant the ability to work from anywhere, on any device, speeding up work and producing quicker outcomes.
Ease: The reduction in IT effort isn’t just a cost savings for companies. Cloud migration makes the IT organization more effective because most cloud services are managed externally.
Performance: On-premises high-performance computing hardware does not age well, requiring staff to constantly replace, maintain, or improve equipment. Cloud-based platforms and services are able to offer continuous high performance at a lower cost and for greatly reduced IT effort.
Security: The threat of cybercrime against your cloud-based files is largely a myth. Most cloud-based applications and platforms have robust built-in security mechanisms. Statistically, the majority of data theft occurs inside of an organization. Cloud migration to a secure repository can actually be a safer way to store data and files. And cloud-based services typically offer fast data recovery in the event of an incident.
Compliance: Along the same lines, for certain industries and types of organizations, staying in compliance with specific regulations like HIPAA and FedRamp is a concern. Most sophisticated cloud-based services offer a range of security and governance settings that can help your organization stay in compliance.
There are various ways to move to the cloud, depending on the use case and organizational objectives. From migrating content, data, and services between cloud services, to large scale infrastructure changes, there are typically six ways to implement cloud adoption.
In the IT space, these are commonly referred to as the 6 Rs of Cloud Migrations:
Rehost: Also called “lift and shift,” this type of cloud migration refers to moving applications from on-premises environments to the cloud in a relatively straightforward way
Replatform: Like rehosting, but some of the components of the application are replaced or retooled to take better advantage of cloud services
Repurchase: Decommissioning an application and replacing it with a cloud-based version
Refactor: Re-architecting an application from scratch to build a cloud-optimized application from the ground up
Retire: Simply shutting down a redundant legacy application without moving it to the cloud
Retain: This version of cloud migration is not actually cloud migration at all, but rather, deciding to stick with a legacy on-premises solution because it works for now.
Cloud migrations are complex, and even with proper planning, they often take years, if not months. While there are numerous cloud migration tools and services that offer change management or consulting arms, there are numerous challenges to consider. Planning ahead will not only reduce risk, but help streamline the process.
Multi-cloud data integration: Often, businesses must contend with a multi-cloud environment for reasons such as business regulations or variable requirements. It’s also not uncommon for individual lines of business to undergo cloud migration for specific use cases without ultimately coordinating to ensure a cohesive cloud experience across the company. For this reason, companies must often integrate data across more than one public or private cloud.
Data and application portability: Data comes in numerous forms, and every application is different. Moving applications and data from one cloud provider to another often brings compatibility issues and complexities. Application integration and seamless, multi-cloud data pipelines are crucial for true hybrid cloud interoperability.
Security: Cloud migration efforts must be configured around data security, including abiding by modern authentication, authorization, and encryption standards. Not only is it important to have built-in security at the outset, but in the cloud, companies must have the ability to log, monitor, and analyze data in real-time to detect anomalies and breaches as they happen.
Business continuity: While cloud adoption brings an array of benefits, there are many challenges of cloud migration that interrupt business objectives. The need for deeply skilled personnel and upgrades in software, application, or databases add to cloud adoption challenges, in addition to creating a seamless bridge between legacy and cloud systems.
In other words, the more seamless your move to the cloud is, the less likely your business is to experience downtime, a loss in productivity, and in turn, a loss in revenue. With the right cloud migration tools, your business can focus on productivity and revenue generating, day-to-day activities.
Confluent is the industry’s most powerful multi-cloud data platform that bridges legacy, on-premises, cloud, and serverless data in real time, regardless where your data resides.
For the on-premises user, Confluent Platform includes event streaming with Apache Kafka, Stream Processing with ksqlDB, simplified data integration with 100+ data sources (with Kafka Connect), plus hundreds more available within our open-source community, and resiliency with Confluent Replicator and multi-region clusters.
While it’s possible to run Confluent Platform in any cloud of your choice, Confluent also offers Confluent Cloud, a fully managed service in AWS, GCP, or Azure. You can incrementally migrate to cloud with a hybrid cloud solution from Confluent, which usually includes an on-premises instance of Confluent Platform for capturing event data from local data sources such as message queues, databases, distributed file systems, and so on.
Event data can be replicated between Confluent Platform instances and between Confluent Cloud and Confluent Platform via Confluent Replicator, enabling more of the workload to be handled by Confluent Cloud over time. Data enrichment, aggregation, filtering, and other real-time processing can be provided with ksqlDB. Event data can then be replicated to Confluent Cloud via Confluent Replicator. Over time, more of the workload is handled directly by Confluent Cloud.
Confluent is the industry’s most powerful multi-cloud data platform that bridges on-premises, cloud, and serverless data. Confluent can be your single source of truth for all of your business’s mission-critical services and storage of your valuable data.