Moving your company to the cloud is one of the biggest business decisions you can make. However, cloud migration entails a bit more than transferring important data to off-site servers and building new digital infrastructure. You’ll also need to take a serious look at putting your company’s applications into the cloud.
Through cloud migration, you’ll have the opportunity to use your own apps but operate them on a vendor’s servers instead of your own. To help this process go as smoothly as possible, however, you should follow a number of key steps for success. From selecting the right partners to devising an effective strategy, here are five steps you should follow when migrating your company’s apps to the cloud:
Determine which apps are ready for the cloud
You won’t be able to determine how to migrate your apps to the cloud without first deciding exactly which ones you would like to move. Typically, you should only consider moving apps that a) are at most 15 years old, and b) employ a language that will work in your cloud environment.
In addition, you should never plan on migrating network-centric or mission-critical apps right away. You should start with only low-risk apps (i.e., ones that don’t contain customer information). Here are some types of apps that you could consider moving to the cloud early on in the migration process:
Disaster recovery (DR) apps
An increasing number of vendors are helping their clients engineer their DR apps for the cloud—and for good reason. Since the cloud makes it easy for users to access their stored apps at any time, DR apps are well-suited for use in a cloud environment.
All companies rely on collaborative tools such as conferencing and networking apps to keep their employees connected. Many of these platforms are already built with the cloud in mind, which makes them an ideal fit for migration. You should also consider moving apps that support employee productivity (e.g., presentation development platforms and spreadsheets). Apps such as these can still function well with high latency, so you won’t need to worry about performance issues during early migration.
Development and testing apps
Both of these processes require quite a large amount of computing power, which makes it far more beneficial to host them in the cloud rather than in-house.
Select the best vendor for the job
In order to make your app migration as successful as possible, you’ll need to choose the right cloud vendor. Look specifically for those that offer the services that will best accommodate your goals for migration. More importantly, you should evaluate potential cloud providers based on factors such as reliability, instrumentation, and industry expertise.
After you narrow down your list of potential vendors, you should determine which ones have the most experience with app migration. Use materials like case studies to gauge the kind of services they have offered to clients in the past. Do certain vendors have more experience with the migration of legacy apps? Do other vendors focus primarily on other types of apps? Choose a vendor that can provide the services you need to move your chosen apps.
Explore your strategies for app migration
As you move closer to migration itself, you should determine which strategy will help you safely move your applications to the cloud. If you’re looking for a low-cost option, then you should look into the lift-and-shift strategy. The most popular of app migration tactics, this will involve moving your existing apps to the cloud without modifying them. This will be most beneficial if you plan to use third-party infrastructure for app hosting.
You could also consider refactoring your applications to give them more “cloud-native awareness” when migrating them to the cloud. If you choose partial refactoring, then you will alter the app data and code to fit more seamlessly into a cloud environment. However, this doesn’t fundamentally alter the function of the app itself. Full refactoring will require you to completely overhaul the app to make it fully cloud-native.
Legacy apps, which are typically outdated and incompatible with the cloud, may need to be completely revised if you want to include them in your migration. During this process, you may need to overhaul the base code of these applications and employ refactoring strategies before moving them to the cloud.
Focus on app security
Before jumping in with cloud migration, you should ask your cloud provider about the level of security you should expect. To best protect the data contained within your applications, the cloud provider should use data encryption strategies. They should also employ access controls to ensure that no unauthenticated users will have access to your applications once in the cloud.
As part of your security considerations, you should also look at the various compliance guidelines that govern the way you use and store your applications. After migration, you may not be able to modify your security policies to meet these requirements, so it is best to ensure you are compliant beforehand.
Test your applications thoroughly
To facilitate a successful app migration, you’ll need to address potential problems long before they arise. As such, you should put your apps through testing before you begin to move them to the cloud. Through this process, you should determine a number of key factors, such as the level of storage input and output and CPU that your apps will require once in a cloud environment. You should also evaluate your app backups to determine how long they would take to recover in the case of a disaster or other lapse in business continuity.