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What is a Cloud Migration Strategy?

“Cloud Migration” is an umbrella term referring to the effort of an organization or individual to move some or all of its digital resources (applications, database, etc.) to a target cloud infrastructure such as Google Cloud Platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS), or Microsoft Azure.

Cloud migration can be performed from a physical (on-premises) data center or another cloud infrastructure/environment, and to ensure secure, fast, and reliable cloud migration, having the right cloud migration strategy is needed.

A strategic approach to cloud migration ensures you can make the most of your new cloud environment to improve your workflow efficiency and competitive advantage. However, planning the right cloud migration strategy is sometimes easier said than done.

In this guide, we will discuss all you need to know about a cloud migration strategy to help you plan and execute your own cloud migration with success.

What Is a Cloud Migration Strategy?

A cloud migration strategy, in a nutshell, is a high-level plan adopted by the organization or individual looking to move its application workloads and/or data into a target cloud environment.

Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

There are various techniques and methodologies we can use to move application workloads to a target cloud infrastructure. Cloud migration strategy is about choosing the right methodology according to the various factors related to the workload and current environment’s conditions, including but not limited to: 

  • How different the current environment is from the target environment. If the current environment is an on-premises data center, the migration process will be more complex.
  • Whether the application workload to be migrated is already cloud-native. 
    • If not, can the application be modified to fit the cloud environment better? Or will decommissioning it and investing in a cloud-native application be more cost-effective?
  • Whether the application has dependencies or is a dependency to another application that will also be migrated
  • How critical the application workload is to the whole workflow. How fast must it be migrated.

Based on the concerns above (and more), there are five basic cloud migration strategy frameworks you can follow.

Basic Cloud Migration Strategy Frameworks

Below are five main strategy frameworks businesses and individuals can adopt when they are looking to move their workloads to the cloud. You may choose just one framework or a combination of different frameworks depending on your system’s needs and available resources.

These five frameworks are:

1. Rehost

Also called “lift-and-shift,” the application workload is migrated as-is (without any modification) to the target cloud environment. Typically migration with this strategy is fully automated via virtualization, so this strategy is typically the easiest and the fastest to implement.

Although this is, on paper, the ideal strategy to follow, not all application workloads can be migrated with a lift-and-shift strategy, for example, if the workload is not yet cloud-native. Also, even if the workload is already cloud-ready, sometimes a lift-and-shift workload will result in a non-optimal migration where the user doesn’t get the full benefits of the new cloud environment.

2. Refactor

Also called “lift, tinker, and shift.” 

As the name suggests, this framework involves tweaking and fine-tuning the application workload before migrating it to the cloud. 

In the refactoring framework, the core architecture of the application workload remains intact, and adjustments are only made so that the application is more suited to the target cloud environment. However, more major adjustments may be made when needed, depending on the application’s requirements.

Refactoring can be cost-effective and will enable the application workload a better use of cloud-based tools. However, refactoring isn’t always possible (or can be too expensive/too long to implement) if the application is not yet cloud-native.

Considered the ideal way to migrate to the cloud for most scenarios, provided you have the resources and time to do it.

3. Replatform

Also called “lift-and-reshape.”

Replatforming falls somewhere between rehosting and refactoring: it is the cloud environment that is tweaked/optimized rather than the application workload, mainly by replacing parts of the cloud environment with managed services so the migration can be optimized without any tweaks to the application’s programming.

This strategy is typically easier to implement than refactoring, especially for experienced engineers. However, keep in mind that each reshape made to the platform increases the risk of technical problems.

4. Repurchase

Called “drop-and-shop,” this framework involves decommissioning the current application workload and then purchasing alternative, cloud-native applications, especially those that are already optimized for the target cloud environment.

This is an easy and quick way to make the most of your new cloud infrastructure, but depending on the cost of the new application, it can be very expensive. Also, there isn’t always an adequate replacement for custom-tailored applications.

5. Retain or Retire

When other strategies aren’t possible, then the last option is to either leave the application workload as-is in the current environment (retain) or decommission the application without replacing it (retire).

Pythian: Migrating With Confidence

Finding the right cloud migration strategy for your system and application workload can be easier said than done, as you’ll need a deep understanding of your current system, as well as your application’s requirements and dependencies.

This is where cloud migration solution services can help you.

Pythian is a professional, enterprise-grade cloud migration services company that will deliver a secure and reliable migration to Google Cloud. Pythian will help you identify and build plans to modify and migrate your current apps and databases to the cloud.

With 24/7 ongoing operational support from its global, certified teams, you can make sure you’ll always get help during and after the cloud migration process.