Most businesses with traditional IT infrastructure saw a new challenge with the onset of COVID19 in 2020. As remote work became a compulsion than just an option, conventional IT infrastructure was not up to the mark with such changes. Ultimately, many firms realized that it’s inevitable for them to conduct the migration of legacy systems to the cloud services for seamless operations.
Let’s take an example of a custom software development company operating in Los Angeles. The firm has backend servers at its headquarters in LA and has another one in New York. With a traditional IT setup, the company will have to create an on-site physical server with a huge investment. But with migration to the cloud, they can save on investment, physical infrastructure, and even IT teams to support business innovations.
But with cloud services, you get the flexibility of remote development. Such flexibility has allowed many firms to reduce their workloads on the on-site infrastructure from 59% in 2019 to 38% in 2021, a massive 41% drop.
With more options in cloud computing services, the shift from traditional IT infrastructure is gaining momentum with a year over year growth in spending at 31%, 27%, and 28% in three quarters of 2020.
While there are so many companies migrating to the cloud, are you having any second thoughts?
The answer to this question is complicated, as there are several factors that you need to consider before migrating to the cloud. The shift towards the cloud from IT infrastructure has been phenomenal. Understanding the cloud shift will help you know how different it is from a traditional IT infrastructure.
A paradigm shift in IT infrastructure
The paradigm shift towards the cloud began with the enterprises innovating the infrastructure for maximum output. For example, web app development in the traditional sense meant the physical installation of servers. The problem with them was scalability. They did not scale up or down as per need.
It led to infrastructure innovation- VMs or Virtual Machine, which were the first step towards cloud computing. The real paradigm shift began in 2008 with the introduction of Elastic cloud from AWS or Amazon Web Services. With EC2, AWS introduced instances that diminish after the use, so you don't have to pay for excellent infrastructure.
So, let’s understand more about cloud services and how to migrate strategically from your traditional IT infrastructure.
What are Cloud Services?
Cloud services is a network of infrastructure equipment that is manageable over the internet(Cloud). Take an example of a streaming service like Spotify that uses Google Cloud service to stream music, podcasts, and other audio content for more than 248 million users across 79 markets.
Cloud services are categorized into three main types based on their application.
SaaS(Software as a Service)
Software as a Service approach explores the idea of offering a single application to multiple users. A SaaS service will provide a single application or software instance that is serviceable to various users. For a user, the need for exclusive licensing and server costs reduce substantially. At the same time, SaaS providers do not need to invest in hosting and maintaining separate apps for users, which reduces the cost of execution.
From Microsoft to Google and Salesforce, there are many such SaaS providers in the market. The SaaS model’s best thing is that it reduces the need for separate software for each development team member. For example, a custom software development team does not need different servers for the front-end and back-end. A SaaS provider like Slack can help keep all your file-sharing activity stored at its cloud servers.
Platform as a Service(PaaS)
Platform as a Services is a great model for app and software development. It offers a common platform for multiple development teams and designers to build applications. A PaaS provider provides software or hardware tool access over the internet rather than the physical server. It helps businesses to scale the development process quickly without the need for separate infrastructure.
Take the example of Magento Commerce Cloud that helps developers with eCommerce development. It allows businesses with hosting, customization of Magento store, and building an eCommerce platform.
IaaS(Infrastructure as a Service)
IaaS providers will offer your storage, networking, and virtualizations over the cloud servers. Several servers, data centers, virtual machines, and networking tools are pooled together to form a network of services. AWS or Amazon Web Services is an example of IaaS. The services from AWS like EC2, Lambda, Beanstalk, RDS, S3, and others are prime examples of IaaS.
Any IaaS provider will offer virtual servers that are easy to maintain with better security. For tech companies in regions like Los Angeles or San Diego known for upcoming startups, IaaS means inadequate IT infrastructure and flexibility.
The first step is moving the legacy systems of Los Angeles county to cloud services and then the rest 57 counties will follow. The cloud-based system will offer testing and development environments for automation of state-owned softwares.
Apart from this classification, cloud services are also categorized based on their vendors.
Public cloud providers offer computing services over the public internet. Public clouds are operated by third-party vendors and deliver economical solutions for multiple customers. It explores a pay-as-you-go approach for individual clients and reduces the cost of infrastructure. All the customers share the same infrastructure pool and security protocols.
Google Cloud Services, mostly Google Drive, is a prime example of the public cloud. The most significant advantage that you can have with public clouds is the ability to scale because they have infrastructure larger than the enterprise cloud.
If you are dealing with highly-sensitive data and need a more secure environment, a private cloud can be your best option. But, colocation providers are quite popular in the private cloud space. They offer physical space, security, power, and cooling with networking equipment for different firms and connect with network service providers or telecommunication services.
The main difference between a public cloud and a private cloud is secure access. With a private cloud, you can still access your data from anywhere, but the difference is that others can’t access it without authorization.
Private clouds can be on-premise or remote based on the type of business need. It offers better compliance, security, and customizations for your resources with low TCO or Total Cost of Ownership.
Multi-Cloud & Hybrid Cloud
When you choose cloud services from multiple vendors simultaneously, it is often referred to as the multi-cloud strategy. These cloud vendors can be public, private, or both. The strategy helps businesses distribute the resources across different cloud services making the entire operation flexible. Due to the distributed nature of computing resources, the downtime reduces, and costs are optimized.
As you can see, an ideal multi-cloud solution may have an IaaS service and public cloud service deployed simultaneously. At the same time, a hybrid cloud strategy allows the mutual sharing of resources or data between multiple cloud vendors working in the same environment.
Steps for migration to the cloud services
Step1: Migration Architecture Planning
Before you even strategize the entire migration of legacy systems to cloud services, you need to formulate an architecture. The architecture will help you configure the data migrations, defining the business requirements for migration, production switchovers, and identifying the elements that need refactoring. Here are some migration architectures that you can use,
Cloudification: With this architecture, you can host your app on-premise, and once the migration is complete, it can use different cloud services for computations and storage.
Multi-Cloud Relocation: The difference between this architecture and cloudification is that the entire app is migrated from the on-premise server to the cloud platform. Then app services are split among different cloud services.
Refactoring: In this approach, the entire application is re-architectured to host different components on multiple cloud services.
Rebinding: This approach is to re-architecture an application and then host some of the cloud components and some on the on-premise servers.
Rebinding with broker service: With this approach, you can deploy a broker service that ensures the application’s functioning with partially cloud-hosted components even if the on-premise architecture fails.
Step2: Strategizing Cloud Integrations
When you have your architecture in place, the next step is to deploy a centralized position- “migration architect.” It is a critical position that will handle all the core responsibilities for the migration process. The first responsibility for the migration architect will be to decide the level of cloud integration.
There are two levels of cloud service integrations for your systems.
- Surface level integration
- Deep level integration
Surface level integration is just taking your applications or software to cloud servers without any tweaks. So, you are only making fewer changes to your software or app to adapt to a cloud environment and not using cloud capabilities.
Deep level integration helps you use all the cloud capabilities for your applications and software. You can make changes to your products using cloud tools and services. For example, AWS offers several tools like Lambda functions, DynamoDB streams, and others.
Step3: Finding the right cloud vendor
Once you have figured the cloud integration level, the next step is to find the right vendor. The selection of a cloud vendor depends on interoperability, scalability, security, and virtualizations. Finding the right vendor is quintessential to avoid vendor-lock because it will restrict your operational capabilities to some extent. You can even split your application into different functions that run across multiple cloud services. Here are some top cloud vendors that you can choose for your business,
Amazon Web Services(AWS): It was one of the first cloud services to market back in 2008. AWS cloud services offer more than just storage, computations, and virtualization. You can easily use services like AWS Lambda, AWS EC2, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, and others.
Microsoft Azure: Azure is the part of Microsoft's cloud services that mostly offers SaaS-based solutions. You can leverage hybrid cloud services through Azure’s Azure Arc, Azure Stack, and Azure Stack Edge services.
Google Cloud: Google cloud services are IaaS based services that also offer PaaS capabilities with its development environment. It has partnerships with cloud-based companies like Salesforce, Informatica, VMware, and SAP to provide better business solutions.
Step4: Data integrity & uninterrupted operations
Now that you have opted for the cloud vendor services to which your app will migrate, it is essential to maintain the data integrity. Ensure that the migration of legacy systems to cloud services does not hamper customer experience, and there is no data loss. You should devise the necessary steps to provide uninterrupted app performance during the migration.
Step5: Prioritizing the migration components
To ensure that your app performance does not suffer during migrations, you need to prioritize the components. Make a checklist of app components that you need to migrate first while keeping the system running. It will help you execute the migration smoothly without downtime.
Step6: Refactoring the resources
The next step is to refactor your application or software components before executing the migration. Refactoring your apps will help them adapt according to dynamic scaling needs and instances running over cloud environments. It will help you take advantage of cloud services’ resource allocation capabilities and maximize the storage space.
Step7: Executing the migration strategy
Execute the migration strategy maintaining operational continuity. There are two approaches to production switchover from legacy system to cloud services: migrating the entire app at once, and the other is to execute in phases.
Shopify used one sprint migration strategy to move their applications to Google cloud services. While at the same time, Spotify used two sprint strategy for migration of their applications to cloud services from on-premise infrastructure.
Step8: Monitoring and Tracking the Cloud KPIs
The last step in this process is to monitor and track your applications and software for post-migration performance. For better efficacy, you should predefine cloud KPIs before the execution, so monitoring them becomes easy. This step will also help you with fewer tweaks in your cloud strategies to extract better performance.
Benefits of migrating to cloud services
There may be different reasons for migration towards the cloud from your traditional IT infrastructure, but it is essential to know the exact need. As you will plan your migration, an idea about the business needs will make it easier. So, let’s discuss some reasons for migration to cloud services.
With cloud migration, you can easily manage both backend and frontend with greater flexibility in development. In cloud services, the data exchange is secure and efficient, so when you make changes in the frontend on the go, it will not hamper your application’s performance.
2020 brought with it a new problem for most businesses- mobility of resources. With most of the employees working from home, traditional IT infrastructures became hurdles rather than supporting companies. Due to the data access restrictions for most employees with conventional infrastructure, operational capabilities were limited.
With a cloud service, you can enable remote operational capabilities enhancing the mobility of resources. A multi-cloud strategy can be best for remote work as you can use private and public cloud services in tandem.
Whether it’s application development or custom software development, you need the flexibility of resources to enable customizations. For example, you are developing a mobile application with two different frameworks—one for the backend and the other for the frontend. With a traditional IT setup, you will have to install different servers for both of them. It increases the cost and reducing the flexibility of dependency.
Legacy systems have been a choice for many due to security concerns, which is a myth. When you migrate to cloud services, there is security on a granular level. You get access to data exchange and authorizations with higher security options.
Let’s take an example of data capturing and security. For a social media giant like Facebook, security becomes quintessential. As the user base is vast, heterogeneous data capture can be problematic. A legacy system will need immense infrastructure capabilities to capture data and ensure screening before stored in the database.
Cloud computing can help you screen a large amount of data on the go and capture every detail enabling complete security. For example, you can use the AWS Lambda function with DynamoDB streams to achieve functionalities like cross-region replication, filtering, monitoring, and auditing of data.
#4. Hardware Agnostic
Hardware agnostic is an approach that explores multi-platform compatibility. For example, if you are into custom software development, the final product must run across operating systems like Windows, Linux, macOS, etc. Now with a legacy system achieving cross-platform compatibility becomes difficult because each platform has a different environment.
Cloud services offer virtualizations that can easily replicate different environments for development and testing. So, you can create products that are hardware-agnostic.
#5. Infrastructure Costs
Legacy systems need immense infrastructure as you scale your business to handle more data. As traditional IT infrastructure is physically installed, the cost of resources is enormous. While with cloud computing services, the cost of infrastructure reduces substantially.
As cloud vendors offer virtualizations, the cost of tools and equipment needed for testing products reduces, and even integration expenses are lower. Legacy systems need modernization and regular upgrades, which can induce huge costs redundant in cloud services.
Migration of legacy systems to cloud services ensures no or little downtime, reducing the cost of production delays. Another advantage of the cloud is that you can reduce expenditure on employees’ workstations and tools due to remote capabilities.
Scaling your business becomes comfortable with cloud services, as you can handle more data. Cloud computing also allows you to create apps and software that work across platforms, making the scaling quicker.
Earlier, businesses use to keep storage spaces, software licenses, and other tools in reserves for future use to avoid uninterrupted operations. Such investments never come into play because the same software becomes obsolete by the time you upgrade it. With cloud services, you can quickly upgrade your package in minutes as per business needs.
#7. Real-time Synchronizations
Real-time data synchronization with legacy systems is a challenge because you need to manipulate every data on the go. Cloud services offer real-time synchronizations through virtual servers. You can develop mobile applications or software that provide real-time data to users without the need for data manipulations.
Now, you know the need for the migration of legacy systems to cloud services. Let’s explore a migration strategy step-by-step that you can follow for your business.
Migration of legacy systems to cloud services enables businesses to offer resilience against the pandemic’s adverse effects. It has been the go-to approach for many companies while dealing with an economic downside and scarce resources. It has also enabled the business to integrate innovative solutions like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
If you are looking for migration to cloud services from your legacy infrastructure, contact us for an assessment. Our team of experts can help you with an effective strategy of cloud migration and technical support.