Cloud Migration: Whatever You Do, Have a Plan

May 7th, 2013 by - 4,152 views

Every company adopting public cloud computing as part of its IT service delivery strategy is faced with the decision of which applications to migrate to the cloud and how. Some common cloud migration options we discuss with customers include:

  • Migrating to a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider
  • Rebuilding an existing application in the cloud
  • Migrating an existing application “as is” to the cloud

Determining the right option depends on your business objectives and the application itself. Each option has benefits and drawbacks, but a business will often decide on an approach without adequately researching a comprehensive migration strategy. And without ample planning and consideration, the cost and complexity of migrating these applications can lead to delayed cloud projects that are over budget.

Cloud Migration - have a plan

Migrating to SaaS

For a new business looking for application services at a low up-front cost, a SaaS application is often a “no brainer.” However, when a business decides to migrate from an existing on-premise application to a new SaaS application, things get more complicated. There are data migrations to consider, transition time and labor, lost customizations, training, and “sunk costs” that can’t be recovered to factor in. Many SaaS vendors offer tools and services to help customers migrate data from legacy applications to the new SaaS application, but it’s important to research the migration process thoroughly before making a purchasing decision, especially if you’ve invested a lot of time in customizations or IT service integration.

Depending on the application and the availability of migration tools to assist in the migration, these factors can offset some of the gains of SaaS. Plus, the business risks additional time and expense if unforeseen migration challenges arise along the way. Businesses considering moving to SaaS should also consider what I call “SaaS in a box” or “SaaS-lite” applications. These applications are typically offered by vendors as part of a partner program or ecosystem like the GoGrid Exchange and deliver some SaaS benefits with more customer control. These templates can also be used to simplify the migration of an existing on-premise application to the cloud.

Rebuilding in the cloud

Rebuilding an existing application from scratch in the cloud allows you to re-architect applications to take advantage of cloud services and benefits such as scaling on-demand. Or perhaps you have an application that’s based on an older version of an OS or component application like SQL, and you’ve been reluctant to upgrade. A cloud migration project can be the perfect time to do a version upgrade because it involves similar considerations and planning.

To help with these migrations, GoGrid offers pre-built application images via the GoGrid Exchange. This approach lets customers quickly spin up the latest version of the application and then migrate the configuration, security, and data manually, delivering a number of the benefits of SaaS while providing complete control over the application. Having said that, businesses should recognize that rebuilding these applications will still require significant manual effort, and they should factor that into their capacity planning and budgeting. Without the appropriate planning and budget, the time and expense surrounding issues such as manual data and configuration migrations, re-engineering of customizations, compatibility issues, design issues, and extended regression testing cycles can negatively impact project timelines and the initial cost benefits of moving to the cloud.

Migrating “as is”

The third option is to migrate the application, or application components, “as is” to your cloud provider of choice, such as GoGrid’s cloud platform. If you’re happy with your current application configuration and are looking to move to the cloud because you’re due for a hardware refresh, or want to move expenses from capex to opex, improve accessibility, or maybe save money on highly utilized applications, this is likely the right option. In this option, the entire “stack” (OS, application, configuration, and data) of a server is captured and migrated to a new cloud server instance.

This approach works for a range of applications, from simple web applications to complex multi-tier hybrid apps, and you may still be able to take advantage of cloud services such as on-demand scaling, depending on the application and your cloud service provider. Migrating these applications is typically fast and cost-effective because it can be largely automated via a solution like Racemi Cloud Path for GoGrid. Using an automated migration solution lets you maintain your time-tested server configuration, minimize potential migration errors, and save a significant amount of labor, typically between 8-16 hours per server vs. a manual migration.

In our next post, we’ll talk about how Racemi can migrate existing physical, virtual, and even other cloud servers to GoGrid’s cloud platform “as is” free of charge.

This article is part of a GoGrid partner guest post series highlighting how migrating to the GoGrid cloud using Racemi solutions can be powerful and easy. To learn more about the GoGrid and Racemi solution, please visit the Racemi Cloud Path page or the GoGrid Exchange.

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James Strayer

VP of Product Management & Marketing at Racemi, Inc.

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