Cloud migration best practices: Optimizing your cloud migration strategy 


As businesses adapt to the evolving digital landscape, cloud migration became an important step toward achieving greater efficiency, scalability and security. Cloud migration is the process of transferring data, applications and on-premises infrastructure to a cloud computing environment. This shift involves a fundamental change in the way a company operates.   

Why migrate to the cloud? 

There are many reasons for migrating from on-premises infrastructure to cloud. Businesses are increasingly embracing cloud infrastructure due to its scalability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness, among other benefits. Recent statistics indicate a significant rise in companies adopting cloud services to meet their operational and cost saving needs.   

Cloud-based collaboration tools enable team members to work together from diverse locations, enhancing productivity and enabling remote work. Cloud migration can also help reduce a business’s carbon footprint.  

Additionally, cloud providers regularly update their services, supplying access to the latest features, security patches and technology advancements. 

Types of cloud migration  

The specific strategies and scenarios for cloud adoption and migration depend on the needs of the organization and its current IT infrastructure. It is important to understand the cloud migration best practices for effective execution.  

Complete data center migration involves the transmission of all company data to the cloud.  This migration approach is favored when businesses seek to fully use the benefits of the cloud, including scalability, flexibility and advanced features. By transferring all data and operations to the cloud, organizations can reduce operational costs and retire traditional on-premises setups. 

Hybrid cloud migration is relocating a portion of resources to the cloud while keeping some data on-premises. This approach suits scenarios where businesses have specific data compliance needs, keeping sensitive or critical data on-premises while leveraging the cloud for other operations. The hybrid model allows organizations to gradually transition to the cloud, managing risks associated with a complete migration while benefiting from cloud scalability and flexibility. 

Cloud-to-cloud migration occurs when organizations move resources from one cloud to another. This migration type is driven by the pursuit of cost efficiency or for better security. 

Multicloud migration is a strategic approach that involves utilizing services or resources from multiple cloud service providers. Multicloud environments range from leveraging software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions for portability to orchestrating enterprise applications across various platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings from leading cloud vendors like Amazon Web services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP), through a centralized management console. 

Cloud migration strategies 

There are several types of cloud migration strategies that organizations employ, based on their specific needs. These include rehosting, re-platforming, refactoring, repurchasing and retiring.  

Rehosting 

Rehosting, also known as Lift and Shift, involves moving applications from an on-premises environment to the cloud without making significant changes.   

Re-platforming 

With a re-platforming migration, some adjustments or optimizations are made to the applications before moving them to the cloud.  

Refactoring 

Refactoring involves modifying or redesigning applications to fully leverage cloud-native features. This migration type often involves breaking down monolithic applications into microservices, making them more scalable in the cloud environment.  

Repurchasing  

Repurchasing involves retiring an existing application and replacing it with a SaaS alternative. Instead of migrating the application to the cloud, businesses opt for a cloud-based SaaS solution that meets their needs.

Retiring 

Retiring involves decommissioning outdated or unused applications as part of the migration process. This helps in reducing maintenance costs and eliminating redundant resources. 

Common cloud migration challenges  

Performance bottlenecks  

Performance bottlenecks particularly occur during the testing phase when migrated resources are validated, which can pose a significant challenge during cloud migrations. The transition to a cloud environment can introduce differences in performance compared to on-premises setups, necessitating careful identification of bottlenecks, latency, issues and other performance-related challenges. Successfully addressing these issues during testing is essential to make sure that applications and services operate smoothly post-migration, minimizing disruptions and maintaining optimal performance for end-users. 

Cost overruns  

Estimating and controlling expenses throughout a cloud migration and beyond is hard work. Although cloud services can offer long-term cost savings, the initial migration phase often incurs significant expenses related to data transfer, re-architecture and training. Additionally, without proper monitoring and optimization, ongoing cloud usage costs can escalate rapidly, leading to budget overruns and financial strain. To address this challenge, organizations must implement robust cost management strategies, leveraging cost optimization tools and continuously monitor and adjust their cloud resources to promote cost-efficiency and alignment with business objectives. 

Time and resource commitment  

Achieving a successful cloud migration entails significant time and resource commitment due to the intricate nature of cloud migration projects. These endeavors demand meticulous planning, extensive testing and skilled personnel, all of which can strain an organization’s resources and divert attention from other critical business initiatives. Without adequate planning and resource allocation, businesses may face disruptions to operations and potential project failure, emphasizing the importance of careful consideration and investment in cloud migration initiatives. 

Scalability and performance  

Scalability and performance present notable challenges for cloud migrations, despite the inherent scalability benefits of cloud computing. It’s critical to make sure that the selected cloud solution can effectively manage the increasing volumes of data and processing demands, both at present and as the business expands. For instance, a rapidly growing online gaming company migrating to the cloud for scalability might encounter issues if auto-scaling features are not configured optimally. This could result in subpar performance or unexpectedly high costs during peak traffic periods, highlighting the importance of thorough planning and testing for seamless scalability and performance in the cloud environment. 

Vendor lock-in  

Vendor lock-in causes organizations to risk becoming dependent on a single cloud provider’s proprietary services, APIs and pricing models. This dependency can limit flexibility, hinger innovation and cause costs to increase over time. Moreover, transitioning away from a cloud provider can be complex and costly because of data transfer fees, re-architecture efforts and potential app rewrites. To mitigate this risk, you must carefully consider your cloud strategy, adopt multi-cloud or hybrid cloud architectures and implement cloud-agnostic solutions wherever possible to maintain flexibility and avoid being locked into any one cloud vendor’s ecosystem. 

Service disruption  

Due to the complexity of transitioning mission-critical applications and services during a migration from on-premises to the cloud, service disruptions pose a significant challenge. Migrating workloads from on-premises data centers to the cloud often involves reconfiguring network settings, transferring large volumes of data and adapting to new cloud-native architectures. During this transition, any interruptions or downtime can lead to lost revenue, decreased productivity and damage to your organization’s reputation. You must safeguard seamless continuous service to minimize disruptions and maintain business operations throughout the migration process. 

How to avoid cloud migration challenges 

There are many benefits to cloud migration but that doesn’t mean the cloud migration process is not without its own challenges. A well-developed strategic approach is crucial for a smooth migration and to navigate potential challenges, but a strategic approach alone is not enough to avoid the associated challenges. What’s needed is a comprehensive solution that not only manages, automates and continuously optimizes your cloud environment in real-time but also helps you in planning and executing a successful cloud migration, whether you are transitioning from on-premises to the cloud or migrating between cloud providers. IBM® Turbonomic® supports your cloud provider, whether it’s private or public cloud. 

With IBM Turbonomic you can avoid many challenges associated with cloud migrations, like 

  • Service disruptions: Dynamically optimizes workloads performance and resource allocation for uninterrupted operations 
  • Vendor lock-in: Provides insights and recommendations for workload placement across multiple cloud providers, reducing dependency on any single vendor’s ecosystem. 
  • Cost overruns: Continuously optimizes resource utilization and provides insights to help control cloud spending (during a migration and after). 
  • Time and resource commitments: Automates workload placement and optimization, reducing manual effort and streamlining the migration process. 
  • Performance bottlenecks: Dynamically identifying and addressing workload performance issues for smooth operation post-migration. 

IBM Turbonomic What-If Planning: cloud migration edition  

IBM Turbonomic makes sure your cloud migration runs smoothly no matter what challenges are thrown your way, but what makes the platform special is its ability to run What-If planning scenarios. IBM Turbonomic has a plan specifically tailored for cloud migrations called ‘Migrate to Cloud’, offering invaluable foresight and strategic insight for a seamless transition to the cloud.  

The plan simulates the migration of on premises virtual machines (VMs) to the cloud, or the migration of VMs from one cloud provider to another. This plan focuses on performance and cost optimization by selecting the most suitable cloud resources for your VMs and their associated volumes. Additionally, the plan can recommend cost-savings measures such as transitioning workloads from on-demand to discounted pricing and purchasing more discounts. 

The ‘Migrate to Cloud’ plan calculates costs based on your negotiated billing and price adjustments with your cloud provider, covering compute, services (for example, IP services) and licensing fees. Additionally, the plan factors in discounted purchases for VMs eligible for discounted pricing.  

The plan results show: 

  • Projected costs 
  • Actions to execute your migration and optimize costs and performance 
  • Optimal cloud instances to use, combining efficient purchase of resources with assured application performance 
  • The cost benefit of moving workloads from on-demand to discounted pricing 
  • Discounts you should purchase 

Turbonomic shows results for two migration scenarios, Lift and Shift and an optimized cloud migration. For the Lift and Shift results, Turbonomic shows the migration of your VMs to cloud instances that match their current resource allocations. As for the optimized plan, Turbonomic actively seeks opportunities to optimize both cost and performance. Through the analysis of historical VM resource utilization, Turbonomic discovers instances of over-provisioning. In an optimized migration scenario, Turbonomic will suggest transitioning these VMs to more cost-effective instances without compromising performance, showcasing the resulting cost savings. Furthermore, when examining the actions for an optimized migration, Turbonomic provides charts that plots the historical utilization data used in the analysis. 

By simulating cloud migrations, Turbonomic enables organizations to anticipate potential challenges, such as resource constraints or performance bottlenecks and proactively address them before implementation. This capability empowers businesses to optimize their migration plan and strategy, mitigate risks, reduce cloud costs and maximize the success of their cloud migration initiatives. With Turbonomic’s What-If planning, organizations can confidently navigate the complexities of cloud migration and achieve their desired outcomes with minimal disruption. 

Read more about Turbonomic’s cloud migration planning capability.

Book a Turbonomic engineer-led demo

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