6 Strategies for Migrating Applications to the Cloud


AllCloud Blog: Cloud Insights and Innovation

When it comes to migrating your organization’s applications to the cloud, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. A good start is to focus on grouping your IT portfolio’s applications into buckets defined by migration strategies.

Generally speaking, your migration strategy should depend on your organization’s environment, interdependencies, what’s going to be easiest to migrate, what’s going to be hardest to migrate, and how you plan on migrating each application. From there, you can formulate a plan.

Read on to explore the six migration strategies to determine the best bet for your specific organizational situation. 

1. Rehost | Lift-and-optimize

For a large legacy migration scenario where your organization is looking to accelerate cloud adoption and scale quickly to meet a business case, we find that most applications are rehosted. Benefits of this type of migration include the ability to:

  • Quickly realize the reduced TCO of the cloud, then continue to optimize rapidly after your workloads have moved
  • Vertically scale your workloads on-demand, without having to navigate typical IT procurement processes and delays
  • Switch quickly to an on-demand Opex accounting model where you have elasticity in cost and you don’t have to over architect or over-buy

2. Replatform | Lift-tinker-and-shift

This type of migration entails making a few technology stack modernizations to achieve some tangible benefit without changing the application’s core architecture. Benefits of this type of migration include the ability to:

  • Take advantage of additional TCO reductions, as compared to a lift-and-optimize, by making use of managed Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings, while still being able to achieve accelerated cloud adoption
  • Potentially save on licensing costs because many PaaS offerings have cost-effective licensing built-in (such as Windows licenses, billed by the hour)
  • Reduce platform management overhead—for example, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) that handles database provisioning, patching, and backups

3. Repurchase | Drop and shop

Replacing your current environment, casually referred to as “drop and shop,” is a decision to move to a newer version or different solution.

Choosing repurchasing as your migration strategy likely means that your organization is willing to change the existing licensing model it has been using and move to a SaaS platform. Benefits of this type of migration include the ability to:

  • Move away from legacy solutions that are difficult to maintain and no longer meeting your business requirements
  • Take advantage of modern, cost-effective solutions—for example, SaaS solutions that typically charge on a monthly basis, rather than requiring the typically large capital expenditures of legacy solutions

4. Refactor | Re-architect

This type of migration changes the way the application is architected and developed, typically by employing cloud-native services. 

Refactoring is usually driven by a strong business need to add features, scale, or performance capabilities that would otherwise be difficult in the application’s existing environment. It allows your organization to migrate from a monolithic architecture to a modern service-oriented architecture. Benefits of this type of migration include the ability to:

  • Take advantage of cloud-native services, which potentially offer the most cost-effective cloud solutions available—for example, with Function-as-a-Service (FaaS) you only pay for executions of your code, meaning that FaaS-hosted components of your workloads will not incur costs if they are not being executed
  • Make use of services that require minimal to zero management, and that can scale to virtually unlimited levels—for example, Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) offers exabyte-scale data storage, with 11 9’s of durability and zero management overhead
  • Use cloud-native services that allow you to embrace modern development philosophies and architectures such as DevOps and microservices—this enables innovation delivery in hours or days instead of the weeks or months typical of traditional development lifecycles

5. Retire | Remove

As suggests its name, this migration strategy involves decommissioning or archiving unneeded portions of your IT portfolio. By identifying IT assets that are no longer useful and can be turned off, this strategy will help boost your business case and focus your team’s attention on maintaining the widely used resources.

AWS Amazon found that as much 20 percent of an enterprise IT portfolio is no longer useful. Benefits of this type of migration include the ability to:

  • Reduce application portfolio management overhead
  • Redirect costs associated with cloud adoption and improve your cloud business case
  • Focus your resources’ attention away from workloads that offer your business no value

6. Retain | Do nothing and revisit later

Finally, many organizations opt to retain portions of their IT portfolio because through the early stage application discovery process the ROI or business case does not justify the move.You should only migrate what makes sense for the business. Benefits of this retention include the ability to:

  • Direct your budget and energy appropriately don’t spend energy and time where you shouldn’t Rapidly achieve cloud adoption by migrating higher priority workloads, then turn your focus to retained workloads with increased preparedness and expertise

Migration is the beginning of what’s possible with AWS adoption and cloud capabilities. Looking at migration as an organizational change project helps you generate buy-in across your organization and maintain communications through each stage of the process.

To learn more, download our AWS Migration White Paper and contact our experts to start your migration process.

Justin Mungal

AWS Solution Architect

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