Organizations big and small are increasingly realizing the value of cloud, more specifically the public clouds led by AWS, Azure and Google Cloud (GCP). The depth of services from these providers with continued focus on improved maturity of existing services alongside a steady addition of new services every quarter is breathtaking to say the least. It is not a question of ‘If?’ or ‘Why?’ anymore, it is more about ‘When?’. The sooner you get there the better, so the tangibles and the intangibles can kick in.

The chart below from Gartner provides the revenue summary for 2016-17 and forecast till 2020 highlighting the pace of cloud adoption.

(source: Gartner, Forbes)

The obvious question for those new to the public cloud is ‘why move to cloud?’ And ‘what are the benefits?’. Some of the key benefits of the public cloud environments are highlighted below –

Even though there are a few challenges like data transfer costs, security, cloud provider lock-in, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

With the value proposition for the cloud asserted, the more pertinent question is ‘what is your cloud migration strategy?’ and the migration roadmap. There are three prevalent approaches –

Rehosting

This is the most popular strategy. This is a lift and shift approach where the os images are moved as is to the cloud. This is the least complex and fastest path to the cloud. This helps organizations to get off their on premise capex expenses and set them up for scale on the cloud. This also gives them the time required to reevaluate their architecture for replatforming or refactoring.

Replatforming

This is the second most popular approach. The strategy here can range from minimal changes like adopting some of the cloud native services while retaining the application components at large to going full blown with all of the application constructs. The effort and time to completion here are directly proportional to the extent of components replatformed. Many organizations see considerable cost savings (as much as 80%) and efficiency gains with this approach.

Refactoring

This is the least chosen option as it involves the most effort and time to completion. Organizations are expected to achieve the most value from the cloud with this approach (in most cases). This involves total re-architecting of the applications to make the most of the cloud native and other third party services. In some cases organizations decide to migrate to cloud native business applications.

Most organizations choose one of the above options or a combination of them depending on their timelines, personnel skill set, business and operational goals. Next up is the execution of the cloud migration strategy which can be achieved with the following high level activities –

1. Choosing the right cloud provider

2. Preparing and planning

3. Migrating applications and data

4. Checking and validation

Organizations embark on the cloud migration with varying degree of automation ranging from fully manual to a very high level of automation. Automation of the cloud migration to a large extent will enable the following benefits –

1. Accelerated time to market.

2. Reduced migration cost.

3. Minimal rework/errors during migration.

4. Auditing capabilities.

Cloud providers do offer migration utilities like server migration service, database migration service from AWS and Azure Migrate from Azure but they require reasonable effort and steep learning curve of the cloud services.

Cloud migration tools provide high level of automation bringing the above benefits to fruition. Organizations save millions of dollars and expedite their cloud migration by 50% or more (6-9 months in most cases) using these automation tools. While some of these tools only offer migration automation, those like Kaiburr enable both migration automation and subsequent operations on the cloud thereby providing more long term value.

Where are you with your cloud journey? Are you testing the waters or in the middle of a large scale migration? Are you still standing on the shores waiting for the high seas to calm down? Wherever you are in the process, this article should arm you with the right information.

Good luck for a fruitful cloud venture and a fantastic 2018! (Check this out if you are looking to build products on the cloud or this if you need to optimize your IT operations)

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