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Cloud Migration

Cloud Application Migration: A Practical Guide

What Is Cloud Application Migration?

The term “application migration” refers to the process of shifting software applications between computing environments. The process may apply to moving applications between a public cloud to a private cloud or moving applications from a local server to a cloud environment. Cloud migration helps organizations leverage the advantages of the cloud for their applications, including cost reduction, a higher level of scalability, and quick application updates.

In this article:

What Are Your Cloud Migration Options?

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) hosts infrastructure on the private and public cloud rather than the traditional on-premises data center. The service provider manages the infrastructure, delivered to customers on demand.

You can re-platform an application onto Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) by moving your application and making minor customizations. This method eliminates the daily costs and responsibilities of operating, managing, and owning the infrastructure hosting your application. You can usually use the same licensing structure as you had on-premises.

Platform as a Service (PaaS)

PaaS is a cloud computing model whereby a third-party provider delivers software and hardware tools to users via the Internet. Typically, a user needs these tools for application development. A PaaS provider hosts the software and hardware on its infrastructure.

Typically, PaaS does not replace all your IT infrastructure but does provide an optimized environment for application development. You can install data sets and applications in this environment. Developers can thus focus on creating and running applications instead of spending time on setting up basic services and infrastructure.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is a software licensing model, in which software is located on external servers and not hosted in-house. With SaaS, access to the software is provided on a subscription basis.

When you use this model, you can decide to give your cloud provider full responsibility for all parts of the application, including updates and maintenance.

The cloud provider configures their solution to your organizational requirements and takes responsibility for security. The downside of a SaaS model is that it is typically less customizable than an application hosted on-premises, and you might lose custom developments built for your organization in the past.

Software Migration Challenges to Overcome

Here are some of the main challenges involved in software migration.

Unexpected Costs

When you migrate an application, you could face unexpected costs resulting from the complexity of the migration process. For example, you may have to train staff in using the new system or toolset, requiring extra hours and expenses. For your migration to be successful, you need to assess the expected costs realistically, considering potential complications.

Disruptions and Downtime

Migration can impact processes that are critical to your business functions. If you experience an unanticipated outage, you may lose customers and revenue. To reduce unexpected downtime, you should consider the potential issues that may affect performance so you can address them in advance.

Maintaining Privacy

It is essential to protect the privacy of your business operations and data when migrating to a third-party system, such as a cloud server. Whenever you work with a third-party vendor, you need to carefully oversee the migration process and ensure the proper SLAs are in place.

Maintaining Compliance

You need to ensure that the new environment is compliant with regulations such as HIPAA. It is important to have a compliance strategy in place before you begin the migration process to find suitable vendors and solutions.

Stakeholder Commitment Issues

Migration projects often take a long time to complete, testing the commitment of key stakeholders. You need to have a clearly defined long-term with measurable targets to help keep team leaders and department heads on board.

Using Different Systems Simultaneously

Organizations typically migrate applications gradually to maintain business continuity, resulting in a period of overlap between the data and functions of the old and new environments. This overlap can create confusion as to which system should be used for each task. You need to have a clear plan outlining the data storage requirements of each migration phase.

Application Migration Plan Stages

Your application migration plan is key to making the process manageable. While the specifics of a migration plan differ for each organization, any application migration plan should address the following basic elements.

Related content: Read our guide to cloud roadmaps

Identify and Assess Your Applications

First, you need to discover and audit all applications used in your enterprise environment. You should assess the importance and complexity of your applications, categorizing them as business-critical or non-critical. An application assessment should include any requirements for modifications or re-coding, helping you decide whether to migrate or replace the application.

Determine Which Legacy Applications to Migrate

Most organizations continue to use legacy applications long after the introduction of new technologies. You might want to keep your legacy applications to avoid the expense or disruption of acquiring a replacement—as long as they perform adequately.

However, when migrating to a new environment, especially in the cloud, legacy applications can be difficult to migrate or maintain. You can migrate some applications unchanged or with minor alterations but replacing other applications with cloud-compatible alternatives could be cheaper.

Calculate Your TCO

Software migration carries a significant risk of unanticipated costs. Review your application migration plan to evaluate the total cost of ownership (TCO). You can compare various scenarios to see which options strike an acceptable balance between cost savings and performance. Consider factors such as the maintenance costs, the cost of replacing or acquiring new applications, and training.

Assess the Project Duration and Identify Potential Risks

Do your best to forecast the likely duration of your migration project and consider the risks of unexpected hurdles. Your forecast will not be perfect, but it should help reduce the risk of overblown costs and disruptions.

Managed Application Migration

Cloud providers offer managed services that can make it easier to migrate your applications to the cloud. Here are a few types of application migration services you can use to plan, execute, and automate an application migration.

Related content: Read our guide to cloud migration tools

Migration Blueprint

In a complete blueprint service offer, your vendor helps you define your migration objectives and strategy by recognizing your users’ needs and your organizational requirements. They also collect details about your environment and applications, developing a complete action plan for the migration process.

Migration Deployment

If you select a managed deployment, your vendor helps you strategize and plan your migration. They also help you manage the migration and any related troubleshooting and testing. This method is typically a turn-key option that features full-scale and end-to-end support.

Cloud Managed Services

A managed cloud service option provides observation and maintenance of your cloud-based IT environment. Your managed cloud service provider takes responsibility for functions, including acquiring as-a-service providing on your behalf. They also manage cloud security. Application migration may also be part of the packaged service.

Application Modernization

Application modernization services provide custom development services. They can help you prepare legacy applications for utilization in the cloud, by adapting them to run in virtualized environments or containers.

Cloud Application Migration with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP capacity can scale into the petabytes, and it supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP assists with lift and shift cloud migration. NetApp’s data replication tools SnapMirror® and Cloud Sync service will get your data to the cloud.

The NetApp Data Migration Services for Cloud helps customers to determine the best cloud transition strategy and it tailors and executes large-scale data migration plans to meet changing business needs.

Whether it’s Hybrid Cloud, Lift-and-Shift, or Cloud First, the NetApp Data Migration Services for Cloud helps customers migrate from legacy, on-premises environments to public cloud-native storage with minimal business disruption and while controlling migration costs and sustaining data protection and regulatory compliance policies.

The packaged services include Discovery, Planning, Data Movement, Testing/Validation, and Project Management.

Download our free eBook The NetApp Guide to Migrating Enterprise Workloads to the Cloud to learn more.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager